Mortal Kombat And R18+: "We Knew It Might Happen"

As a 12 year old kid, playing Mortal Kombat felt dangerous - like playing truant or sipping booze for the first time - that was part of its charm and perhaps one of the major reasons why it was so successful. So it's strange that, as a result of coincidence and circumstance, going hands-on with the new Mortal Kombat elicits that precise same feeling all over again - the feeling that I'm doing something I'm not supposed to. This is Mortal Kombat, it's gone full circle, and this is the way it's supposed to be played.

"This game is sort of an evolution of the series," claims Erin Piepergerdes, Associate Producer on Mortal Kombat, and our guide for this hands-on session. "Last time we did MK vs DC Universe and it was a teen rated title, so it didn’t feature the fatalities - it didn’t have the blood and the gore. We had some great iconic characters in it, but our fans really wanted us to go back to our roots. So that’s exactly what we did."

Mortal Kombat goes directly to the core of what made it successful to begin with - a combination of stylised violence and a control scheme that is almost nostalgically clumsy - the team seems to have abandoned attempts to reinvent Mortal Kombat, and instead worked towards recreating the original and polishing it to a point where it feels like you're indulging in your own rose-tinted memories of the franchise. It's better than the originals could ever hope to be, but still tied to that history.

It's a smart change of direction for the series, and one that was partly inspired by negative reaction to the Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe.

"The fans, while they enjoyed the game, wanted to get the chance to pull off fatalities," claims Erin, "to them it wasn’t really a Mortal Kombat game, it was just a fighter, so that inspired us to go back to our roots."

Fatalities - they're the direct reason why Mortal Kombat has been refused classification in this country, but at the same time no one wants to play a Mortal Kombat game without them. This is something the team seems to understand implicitly - a significant period of development was spent simply brainstorming and polishing the numerous ways in which characters can dismember and brutalise one another.

"Obviously the new consoles provide us with a lot a lot of opportunities to do really over the top things," begins Erin. "We have design meetings where people get together and just start brainstorming the craziest things you can imagine so that we can develop these fatalities and put them in the game. So it’s a long evolving process.

"It usually starts off with some sketches from Ed Boon himself. Then we start talking about it and refining it. Some of the fatalities are going with the theme of the game – modern takes on some of the classic fatalities – Kung Lao is is a good example because one of his fatalities is a combination of his fatalities from MK2 and MK3. So there are new ones, and a couple where you’ll recognise some aspects of it. So yeah – it’s starts with Ed and we get together and go from there. If you could be a fly on the wall in those meetings…"

Ironically, Mortal Kombat's violence has always represented a child-like hyper-stylised view of violence. It's gory, obviously, but hardly realistic and in that regard playing Mortal Kombat almost requires that you play from the perspective of a mischievious, giggling child. It's Axe Cop style violence, and it has a certain kind of naive charm. We completely understand why the Classification Board has banned Mortal Kombat, considering the guidelines they have to follow, but there is a sense that we might be overreacting here.

That being said, Mortal Kombat, from day one, was designed as a game for adults.

"Well we’re disappointed," says Erin, when discussing Mortal Kombat being refused classification in Australia. "We’re making a game that we want as many people to play as possible - but we knew what we were getting into. We’re designing it to be M-rated here in the States and that isn’t necessarily going to fly in Australia. We knew it might happen, but the reality is that we can’t really remove features from the game without giving people a game that we feel is not complete."

The tragedy of the whole situation is this - Australians, fully grown adult Australians, will be forced to either import or indulge in piracy if they want to play Mortal Kombat. Our rating system is treating us like children - literally. They've placed Mortal Kombat on the highest shelf like some bizarre, twisted Cookie Jar, conveniently forgetting that it's all too easy for us to drag a step ladder from the kitchen and munch on the forbidden fruit regardless.

The sooner we start getting treated like adults the better.


Comments

    Perhaps it's not a good idea to bring up the fact we can import RC games too often, in case someone decides to close that loophole - technically it's not permitted to import RC material, it's just that customs don't have time or ability to evaluate all the packages that come into the country. There's always a chance they'll randomly inspect your stuff, and if it's questionable it can be siezed. Also in some areas of Australia, RC material is illegal to own.

      Not Really for them to close the ability to ship the game to Australia. Would put even more Pressure on the argument.

      Because While the Law Says these Games Are illegal, They Are all banned on the basis of the risk of getting into the hands of children.

      Now As a Single Consenting adult who has no children, the odd's of my imported game's ending up in the hands of children is zilch. yet i can't play it because of archaic rules.

      It would also direct people to piracy for these games which im sure there is a study somewhere that suggest's that the one of the reason's people don't pirate at the moment is because they don't know how. Pushing someone into an area where the only way they can obtain the game is through Piracy as opposed to purchase.

      Could cause a negative trend in future game purchases by that person. As Pirate copies are often available prior to a games release and once you've got everything in place the only thing realistically stopping them from pirating everything else is their conscious.

      Realistically anything they do to prevent access to the games that australia has banned while under these stupid laws. will bring more people to arms against these laws. i know people who don't care what the australian ratings system does because everything is imported, that would change if suddenly there packages started getting picked off by customs.

      If they bought R Rating's in and then used custom's to check the packages there would be more merit in it. But considering there shouldn't be much that gets rated RC aside from the "Japanese game that shall not me named" :P. It would be a collosal waste of custom's workforce

    Nice mixed metaphor at the end there.

    Great article, you're putting your US counter-parts to shame!

      But cookies ARE a delicious fruit!

      Wait, what?

    I like the cookie jar on the shelf analogy, it is very apt.

    I import everything anyways since Australian prices are ripoff, even now when we have a high currency that the US its still ripoff. Lesson learnt don't buy Australian its a waste of money.

    it's nice that the Australian Government is supporting international game retailers like ozgameshop and play-asia and forcing us to buy our games from them.

      Exactly, I just made an ozgameshop purchase a few hours ago.

      There is no reason whatsoever for purchasing games at Aussie prices.

      EB Games are a joke, I was shopping there back when it was Electronics Boutique and actually worth looking through. It does not help that their preowned games are more expensive than other stores' brand new titles.

      There is little more satisfying than exploiting their price-matching though.
      Getting Batman: AA on PS3 for $1 was awesome (and for all you skeptics, Dick Smith had a PS3 Slim bundle for $1 more than EB games' PS3 Slim console only). Only reason I even made that purchase was because I was on the rebound from a nasty eBay purchase...

    It's a shame, but I must admit that it was not entirely unexpected. If it means that Aussie gamers have to resort to deviant means of acquisition, then that is the price the Australian economy will pay.

    I've noticed that you can no longer pre-order MK from ozgameshop.com, so I might have to go back to Play-Asia.

    Mmmm... Kookies

    I've tried to get riled up about this, I honestly have. It's just that, well, Mortal Kombat just isn't very good and it hasn't been very good for a long while.

    The R18+ debate is a pretty important thing to me, I'm not even convinced that the premise the pro-censorship crowd bases their entire point on (that some material is harmful to children) has even been demonstrated. It's just that after December's SCAG meeting, I'm a little burnt out on all this.

    Sure, if they RCed a better game I'd probably get bent out of shape, but I'd prefer that doesn't happen either.

    - How do I download from the US PSN store when living in OZ? Thank-you.

      You have to make a new account with a US address. And then you'll need to buy a US$ PSN card to be able to buy anything from the Store.

        Ironically you can buy a $50 US psn card for less than $50 from chinese ebay sellers. That combined with the US psn store's cheaper prices means that really there's no reason to use the Aussie store at all.

          only when theres a regional conflict between DLC and local copies

            - Thank-you so much, guys! Looking for PSN Cards on Ebay now! :D

            I read that the downloads are slower, though! Any truth to that?

    So..... what's the go here? Has Warner Bros appeal failed?

      No, that's still happening.

        Do you have any idea of how long it might take? Don't want to go off and spend my money only to have it released here! lol Made that mistake with AvP I think :P

          If previous appeals are anything to go off, it should roughly take a week or two.

    Well, if there's a chance of it getting a classification, I'm more than happy to support my local retailers and our economy. If not, well.... then we play russian roulette with customs.

    I doubt customs will ever block games at the border, they're aimed more at trying to get drugs and other forms of concealed material out of the country.

    I'm sick of the lack of action on behalf of the SCAG, the public is overwhelmingly in support of this and the whole thing boils down to a handful of middle to late aged politians who serve themselves first and occasionally throw us the public a bone.

      Customs do randomly open things. We've had a couple of things opened, with a note inside from customs saying they opened it.
      Also, a fair few people have had RC games confiscated by customs. Like Broken Code said above, it's like russian roulette.

      Jamesmacusedmyhandle claims to have a game blocked twice by customs and then received a "You're Naughty" letter.

    very well written and enjoyable article. thankyou :)

    +1 for the Axe Cop ref.

    If I import US version for PS3, will I only be able to download dlc from US psn store? Thanks

    OK, is anyone following WBIE's appeal to the ACB? According to a friend of mine, It's not looking good. Neither side is budging. Warner Bros refuses to tone their game down for us, whilst the ACB aren't even offering that compromise. However, I can't find any links to confirm this.

    I strongly suspect that I will get my hands on this game but what bugs me is that I am literally paying the government to treat me this way.
    I was going to get myself the speccy edition for my birthday and now I can't.
    How is that right?
    I am 28.

    >Axe Cop-style violence

    Axe Cop for the next Mortal Kombat.

    It /must/ happen.

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