Mortal Kombat was released on October 8th, 1992 in the USA. It was renowned as the first fighting game to use digitized characters and blood (as opposed to the hand-animated, more cartoon-like graphics of competing games). Mortal Kombat was developed as a reaction to the popular Capcom game "Street Fighter II - The World Warrior
", with simpler controls and digitized graphics. Some say the game's graphic violence was gratuitous, and was only included in order to generate a public outcry and controversy that would increase publicity for the game.
Although highly controversial, the mix of realism and violence propelled Mortal Kombat to the height of popularity. An example of the game's innovations was the Fatality, a special finishing move executed against a dying opponent to create an even more gruesome death. For example, one character would grasp a defeated, wobbling opponent by the head, then rip the head and spine out of the opponent's body, which then crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood. Another aspect of gameplay that became a recurring element in games that followed was the so-called 'juggle', where a series of moves could be executed against an opponent who was kept in mid-air by the force of the attacks, and who hence had no defense against further attacks as long as the 'juggle' could be maintained.
The original concept of Mortal Kombat was modeled after the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie 'Bloodsport', which is a cult classic martial arts film. The character of Johnny Cage is directly modeled after Frank Dux, Van Damme's character in the movie. Johnny Cage's film-star motif is an obvious link to this. Cage also wears the same costume (plus shoes) that Van Damme's character wore in the final battle of the movie. Cage's splits punch was originally seen in Bloodsport during the fight against the Sumo wrestler. Since Midway was unable to get Van Damme for this game, they kept the same kumite/martial arts movie concept and added the Kombat story.
Mortal Kombat arcade was the first video game to have an official release date countdown in U.S./U.K. and Australia. This momentous day was known as 'Mortal Monday'.
The code for this game includes the ASCII string 'NOOBSAIBOT' (originally in "Mortal Kombat II
" rev. 3.1), suggesting that the character may have made his first appearance here, instead of Reptile (which took up less memory).
The heads used in the background of the Courtyard and Pit stages are actually those of the programmers themselves! The statue of Buddha in the background of the Courtyard stage was actually a lawn ornament from a neighbor's yard.
While fighting on the Pit stage, if you look closely at the glowing moon in the background, you will sometimes see a silhouette fly past it. These shadows will either be Peter Pan and the Darling children, a witch on a broomstick, a kite, a blimp, a rocket, a flying saucer, or Santa Claus in his reindeer-pulled sleigh. The shadows appear about every 6 games.
Liu Kang is Midway's homage to Bruce Lee.
Raiden really is the Japanese God of Thunder. His appearance in myth is quite different though : he has red skin and a demonic face, his feet have two claws on them, and he carries either a wheel or drums on his back. He also is thought to eat human navels so people are advised to lie on their stomachs during storms.
Kano make an appearance on the 2012 animation movie 'Wreck-It Ralph' from Walt Disney Animation Studios.
In the Palace Gates stage, above the red door on the right side, you can see Pac-Man, a ghost and a power pellet carved on the stone.
A hacked version also exists - every stage had a black/night sky and every time you got frozen by Sub-Zero, your fighter would rise up and stay there 'till you either got hit or the freezing effect went away. The same thing would happen if you were using Sub-Zero and froze your opponent. The machine would boot up just like a regular MK machine boots up, except another black screen with red letters and asterisks labeling it as "Mortal Kombat Black Ninja Edition" was displayed before the title screen.
A Mortal Kombat unit appears in the 1995 movie 'The Doom Generation'.
Midway released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Mortal Kombat II: Music from the Arcade Game Soundtrack - 123770-C1) on December 1, 1993.
Michael Jackson used to own this game. It was sold at the official Michael Jackson Auction on April 24, 2009.
The Premium Pack and Kollector's editions of "Mortal Kombat - Deception" for the Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft XBOX, respectively, both released on October 4, 2004 in North America, contain a bonus disc containing an arcade-perfect version of the original game.