animality n : the physical (or animal) side of a person as opposed to the spirit or intellect [syn: animal nature]
In the Mortal Kombat series of fighting games, a Fatality is a special finishing move that can be used against one's opponent at the end of the final match. When the announcer says "Finish Him/Her," the player can choose to kill him or her through a fatality move.
Unlike special moves, a fatality may require certain distances and quick button sequences in order to achieve the desired result (for example, in Mortal Kombat 3, Sub-Zero's Break Down Fatality requires that he stands close to the opponent and quickly execute Block, Block, Run, Block, Run). Every character has their own special fatality that must be performed at a certain distance from the opponent. The number of fatalities varies depending on the game; while characters in Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance had only one, Mortal Kombat 3 and its updates featured as many as four. Traditionally for the main and important characters of the games (such as Sub-Zero, Raiden, Scorpion etc) their fatalities are usually a reflection of either their storyline or their special abilities- eg, Sub-Zero's fatalities have traditionally involved the use of his powers of ice (though his spine rip was found to be the most infamous of the fatalities), whereas Scorpion's storyline of a hellspawn ninja spectre involves the use of setting someone alight or using his famous spear in a fatality.
With Street Fighter II dominating arcades, Mortal Kombat co-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias wanted to create a fighting game that retained Street Fighters gameplay without being a complete copy. Originally, the project revolved around actor Jean-Claude Van Damme; this idea was eventually dropped and Mortal Kombat was born.
Tobias and Boon started with the idea of Street Fighter IIs system and retained many of its conventions (fireball-style projectile attacks, one on one matches, minigames, etc.), but tweaked others (the block button, special endurance matches, juggling, etc.). The most notable additions were graphic blood effects and fatality finishing moves. Traditional fighting games ended with the loser knocked unconscious and the victor posing for the players; characters never died during a match. The idea of a fatality proved very popular with fans, resulting in Mortal Kombat's success.
ReactionWhile it's basically unknown when the first Fatality was shown, many believe it was Johnny Cage's head uppercut fatality. Nevertheless, it was in fact Sub-Zero's spine rip fatality that garnered the most controversy, yet also simultaneously contributed to the success of the game. Mortal Kombat attracted numerous fans because it featured blood and the ability to perform fatalities. The new feature addition helped make Mortal Kombat a successful game franchise that challenged the supremacy of Street Fighter II.
The fatality concept caused considerable controversy, and many parents disapproved of the violence and the brutal endings of the game, deeming it disturbing.
The newly-founded ESRB gave Mortal Kombat a rating of M (for "Mature"), deeming the game too violent for audiences under the age of 17. It's worth noting that, in the United States, the ESRB has no legal standing to prevent the sale of video games to minors, and therefore many people under the suggested age were able to play the game. Although arcade owners were asked to monitor the ages of players, very few did.
Mortal Kombat II added some extras when it came to fatalities. The characters were given two or three fatalities each, and the fatalities were more violent. Many angry parents and protesters wrote letters and complained about the content of the game, fearing the violence would negatively influence young children, but since the ESRB had already rated the games, nothing came of the protests.
After the crash of the arcade market, new Mortal Kombat games can no longer be found in arcades; new releases are targeted at the home console and PC markets.
- Animality —This finisher allows the player to morph
into an animal and maul or eat their opponent alive. This style of
fatality debuted in Mortal Kombat 3.
- Mercy —In order to perform an Animality, the player must first grant his opponent Mercy. This act revives the opponent in lieu of delivering a final blow or performing a Fatality by restoring a small amount of health. Should the opponent be defeated again, an Animality may be performed.
- Babality — Introduced in Mortal Kombat II, the Babality turns an opponent into an infant version of the character, often clad in a diaper. Sometimes the opponent will wear a miniature version of the clothes he or she wore when fully-grown, complete with smaller versions of accessories such as Raiden's hat or Johnny Cage's shades. After a Babality is performed, the sound of a baby crying plays and the victor strikes a winning pose. The announcer proclaims: "[victor] wins; Babality!" In Mortal Kombat 3 and its updates, the generic green "Babality!!" text used in MKII is replaced with pastel colored alphabet blocks and a short lullaby.
Babalities were introduced as a deliberately absurd counter-argument to the controversy that the original received for its violent content, and a tamer counterpart to the typical Fatality. Fan reaction was mixed; some found them humorous and enjoyable, but others felt they were an unwelcome, out-of-character intrusion in what is otherwise a serious game. The moves were later dropped in an effort to abate this criticism.
Babalities appeared in Mortal Kombat II, Mortal Kombat 3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy. A similar move, the Animality, was introduced in Mortal Kombat 3.
Their initial appearance in Mortal Kombat II Revision 2.1 came with some glitches including one that allowed players to perform attacks after the babality was performed.
- Brutality —Introduced in Mortal Kombat Trilogy and the SNES and Sega Genesis ports of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, this finisher allowed players to perform a combo which would cause the opponent to explode. Brutalities were not very popular, as they were extremely difficult to accomplish, requiring the player to memorize and perform a special 11-hit combo. Many felt the pay-off was lacking with the only result being a fiery explosion where the victim disappears and an unrealistic amount of bone and flesh (at least 3 rib cages, 4 legs, 3 arms and 3 skulls) are sent flying and covering most of the screen. In some versions, the bone and flesh flies completely offscreen. This finisher didn't appear in another game until Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, in which it wasn't explicitly used as a finisher, but rather as a power-up.
- A move similar to the Brutality appeared in Mortal Kombat: Deception, in the form of one of Li Mei's Fatality. Her Fatality was to rapidly strike the opponent repeatedly, then to step back and pose as her opponent twitches for a moment, before exploding in a pile of gore.
- Friendship —The fighter performs a somewhat silly act on a "FINISH HIM/HER!" area at the end of the fight. They will do something such as Sub-Zero making a snowman, Noob Saibot throwing a bowling ball and hitting a few pins or Jax taking out a jumprope and using it. This was mostly done to mock the parents and the ESRB who complained about the violence in the game. In Mortal Kombat II Shao Kahn would then announce "Friendship!!... Friendship?!", and in Mortal Kombat III and Trilogy he would say "Friendship!!!... Friendship?! Again?!"
- Fergality —Mortal Kombat: II for Sega Genesis/Megadrive featured an exclusive finishing move, one which would allow Raiden to transform his opponent into Fergus McGovern who worked on that port of the game.
- Hara-Kiri —See the "Hara-Kiri" section below
- Multality —Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks also features multalities, which are fatalities performed on multiple enemies at one time.
Stage fatalitiesStage fatalities brought a new level of environment interaction within the series. A stage fatality occurs when a player uses a part of the stage or map to execute a fatality that is not a standard character fatality. Some examples of stage fatalities are having the victim fall into a pool of acid or a pit of crocodiles, or to be run over by a subway train. Stage fatalities are present in the series from Mortal Kombat through Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, though are absent from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.
Mortal Kombat: Deception features more stage fatalities than any previous Mortal Kombat game. Renamed "Death Traps", there are more stages that allow death by stage interaction than not. No longer is a special button combination required as the opponent only needs to be either standing or hit in a particular spot on the stage. Unlike previous stage fatalities, "Death Traps" can be initiated anytime during a round and only require the opponent be hit into them, meaning an instant victory. However, if they are not executed in the decisive round, the fight does not end, going on to the next round. This action acts as a ring out.
Hara-KiriThe newest kind of fatality is the Hara-Kiri. The Hara-Kiri (which is Japanese for a certain type of ritual suicide, and literally means belly cut; even though Kenshi is the only character who uses the Hara-Kiri in this form) is a move in which the losing player kills him/herself upon defeat at the end of the last match, rather than be finished off by his/her opponent. It is the first and only time in the Mortal Kombat series in which the defeated player is allowed to perform a finishing move. The move Hara-Kiri made its debut in Deception and seems to be a popular feature with the fans, although is not included in Mortal Kombat Armageddon due to the new Kreate-a-Fatality feature.
Although it was called a fatality in-game, the first example of a suicidal finishing move in Mortal Kombat was Cyrax's "self-destruct" move from Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Gold; Cyrax, a cyborg, enters a code on to his arm panel and moments later explodes along with his opponent in a manner reminiscient of the ending of the first Predator movie. Smoke went farther with his fatality since he destroys the whole planet with giant bombs. In Mortal Kombat Gold, Cyrax adopted this Fatality together with his own while Smoke adopted Cyrax's self-destruct as his Hara-Kiri in Deception.
Kreate-A-FatalityFor Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, the fatality concept was completely revised. In all previous games, fatalities and finishing moves were in the form of a button combo, activating a scripted animation sequence. For MK:A, the old system was replaced with a new Kreate-A-Fatality, or "custom chain-fatality" system. After defeating an opponent in two rounds (with default settings), players are given a limited amount of time to perform one of several violent moves (such as ripping an organ out) attributed to a button and direction combination. The time then resets and the player can perform a second move, but the timebar decreases more rapidly after each move. The longer a player is able to continue the chain, the higher ranking his fatality receives:
- 1: Fatality
- 2: Deadly Fatality
- 3: Killer Fatality
- 4: Bloody Fatality
- 5: Mortal Fatality
- 6: Brutal Fatality
- 7: Evil Fatality
- 8: Vicious Fatality
- 9: Savage Fatality
- 10: Extreme Fatality
- 11: Ultimate Fatality
This has been met with a mixed reaction, with some fans and critics preferring the more interactive nature and freedom of the Kreate-a-Fatality system, and others missing the previous games' character-specific ending moves and alternatives to killing the opponent. Also, originally, there was individual character-specific Kreate-a-Fatality moves for each character, but this feature was dropped, reportedly due to such a feat's unfeasability (especially in regards to the Kreate-A-Character option, where individual moves would not translate to).
Fatalities in other gamesMortal Kombat has had a large influence on other games and has inspired many to add the ideas of Fatalities and other variants. Games such as Killer Instinct, Primal Rage, Eternal Champions, Weaponlord, Samurai Shodown V Special, and many others both ran with the idea, and created variants (The closest to Mortal Kombat's being from "Primal Rage", "War Gods", and "Killer Instinct" since they were also developed by Midway). Some games, such as Tattoo Assassins took the idea so far that they may have faced being banned before release. In Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, the players have the ability to perform a fatality while using a melee weapon. This is among the other MK references, as the game was published by Midway.
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