Tagged "Mortal Kombat"

Apr 25
By Matt Gander In Features, Retro No Comments

The creators of the vastly popular PlayerUnknown’s Battle Grounds made gaming news headlines last week, taking legal action against a handful of games mimicking PUBG a little too closely.

One clone features a frying pan as a melee weapon, while another uses the term ‘Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner’ in their marketing. Both are under heavy scrutiny and may end up being yanked.

While PUBG Corporation/Bluehole have every right to protect their brand, some allegations push the boundaries somewhat. It’s almost as if they’re taking credit for creating the whole Battle Royale genre, despite a few examples – including DayZ and H1Z1 – existing before PUBG’s release.

Can you imagine if Nintendo claimed ownership of the side-scrolling 2D platform genre following the success of the original Super Mario Bros? The NES would have missed out on several key titles, most of which became long-running franchises.

Indeed, it’s impossible to stop rival developers from copying currently popular trends. Once a studio finds themselves with an unexpected hit, a dozen imitators will surely follow. This is how new genres are formed, inducing some friendly competition.

In fact, blatant plagiarism in the video game market can be traced back all the way to gaming’s inception, as we dare to delve into below.

Breakout – 1976

Clones of Atari’s Breakout were so rife that you may not even know it by its original name. Even the genre it belongs to has different monikers. In France, the genre is known as ‘casse-briques’ (brick breaker), while Japanese gamers refer to it as ‘block kuzushi’ (block destruction). Generally, though, Breakout clones are known as either ‘paddle’ or ‘bat and ball’ games.

Arkanoid was Taito’s rendition – released ten years after Atari’s original – and it became a huge arcade hit, gaining numerous sequels. The Game Boy also had its own brick breaker in the form of Alleyway. Although a popular release, being one of four GB launch games, it wasn’t rated highly by critics due to failing to add anything new to the genre.

The Watara Supervision (known as the QuickShot Supervision in the UK) even came packaged with a bat and ball game, known as Crystball. It wasn’t the best choice to bundle with the system, highlighting how blurry the screen became when handling fast moving objects.

Sticking with handhelds, SEGA had their own take too. Woody Pop for the Game Gear was a popular release during the system’s early days, so called due to the bat being a wooden log known as Woody. A tree spirit, no less. It was a darn sight more imaginative than dull old Alleyway.

Space Invaders – 1978

We don’t need to tell you that Space Invaders was a colossal hit. It was a pop culture phenomenon, leading Taito’s classic to become a household name. Even now, 40 years on, it’s still possible to purchase Space Invaders merchandise. T-shirts, keyrings, baseball caps, mugs and more are readily available in high street stores and supermarkets.

It has to be one of the most imitated games of all-time. Why didn’t Taito clamp down on clones? Quite simply, the copyright of the original game hadn’t been properly protected – only the name ‘Space Invaders’ had been trademarked. In short: it was a free market.

Pretty much every system ever released has a Space Invaders style game, with early examples including the Intellivision’s Space Armada – the first Intellivision game to animate more than eight sprites – and the Fairchild Channel F’s Alien Invasion.

We can’t forget Galaxian either, which was Namco’s attempt at creating a bonafide rival rather than a mere clone, boasting full-colour graphics, a scrolling starfield, and background music. In many ways, it set the standard for all arcade games that followed.

Pac-Man – 1980

The moment Atari felt somebody treading on their toes, they beckoned their lawyers. After the biggest name in gaming bagged the prestigious Pac-Man license from Namco, Atari’s rivals tread very carefully when it came to developing their own Pac-Man style maze games.

This pussyfooting resulted in K.C. Munchkin, published by Philips for the Magnavox Odyssey. The creators went great lengths to add several key differences to Pac-Man, so that should they end up in court they’d have a leg to stand on. Instead of four ghosts, there were just three. Mazes – which featured optional random generation – had just 12 pills (known as munchies) to collect, and K.C himself was blue rather than yellow. Sadly for Philips, these changes weren’t enough – Atari managed to convince the courts that Phillips had copied Pac-Man, and so K.C. Munchkin ended up being pulled from shelves. It had a good run, however, making it to store shelves a whole year before the notorious Atari 2600 rendition of Pac-Man.

Lock ‘n’ Chase – published by Data East in Japan and Taito in the US – managed to elude Atari’s grasp by taking the cops ‘n robbers route, adding the ability to erect walls. Other clones tasked players with filling a maze with indefinable pills and pellets, rather than emptying it.

Atari’s reach extended to the European microcomputer market, forcing Commodore to yank the Vic 20’s Jelly Monsters – one of the system’s most impressive looking games. Luckily for Sinclair, Hungry Horace for the ZX Spectrum got off scot-free.

For those unable to afford a microcomputer or console, Grandstand’s Munchman tabletop electronic game was the only way to bring the Pac-Man experience home. It wouldn’t be fair to call this a knockoff as it was, in fact, a rebranded officially licensed Pac-Man game from Tomy.

Later Pac-Man clones were far more creative and unique than those that preceded them, including Shigeru Miyamoto’s Devil World, an innovative maze game that was denied Nintendo of America’s approval due to religious imagery.

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Jan 18
By Matt Gander In Retro 1 Comment

Sonic, Mario and Mortal Kombat – if there was a franchise guaranteed to sell magazines back in the ‘90s, it was one of those. After appearing in arcades in 1992, Mortal Kombat had become a phenomenon, fuelled by the controversy caused in its wake.

mk1-flyer01Today, Mortal Kombat looks incredibly tame. Comical, even. Back in 1992, though, digitized actors pulling out spines and other vital organs was a cause for concern for many. Nintendo allegedly requested the gore to be removed from the SNES version. Instead of blood spurting all over the place, SNES owners were exposed to harmless puddles of sweat. Cue plenty of Nintendo fans writing into NMS and other magazines asking what the “gore code” was.

Asking how to “be Goro” was another popular question back in the day. Would you believe that only the Game Boy version allowed gamers to play as the penultimate boss?

Anyway, we digress. The SNES version ended up being was heavily outsold by the Mega Drive version – at quite a significant rate – and so Nintendo, no doubt begrudgingly, allowed the gore to be included in the sequels. The amusing thing about this is that Acclaim’s European boss Rod Cousens said that the SNES version wasn’t as violent as the Mega Drive due to “restraints of hardware”. This caused SEGA diehards to excitedly proclaim that the SNES “couldn’t do violent games”. Good old ’90s console rivalry, there.
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May 03
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

The original Sniper Elite on PlayStation 2 and Xbox became something of a cult classic. A quick look on Amazon reveals that even the 2010 Wii version has held its value, with the current cheapest copy knocking on for £18. As such, there’s probably more people eagerly awaiting Sniper Elite V2 than most realise. It’s a sequel that has certainly been a long time coming – seven years, no less. Worth the wait? Hard to say as reviews have been mixed. EDGE gave it a 4, claiming it to be “occasionally gripping but frequently unfulfilling”, while GameSpot UK liked it a little bit more and handed out a 6/10. Everybody agrees though that it’s incredibly gory, if over the top violence always tickles your fancy.

We were mildly excited when it was announced that Telltale bagged the Back to the Future license, but after seeing some mixed reviews of the first downloadable episode that excitement quickly faded. Deep Silver have picked up the publishing duties for a retail release and at £14.99 it’s hard not to recommend it for curious fans of Marty McFly. Nintendo Gamer weren’t very impressed with the Wii version, however, which is apparently riddled with frame-rate issues.

Arguably Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition on PS Vita should have been released at a budget price too, but it’s a full price release. It’s not really the system seller the format needs right now but it should suffice until Resistance Burning Skies arrives next month. The original PSP receives a new game this week too – RPG Fate / Extra from Ghostlight. The cheapest price online appears to be £26.99 on Play for the collector’s edition.

Another less-than-full-price release this week is MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship, out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Reviews haven’t been brilliant (GamesMaster magazine gave it 60%) but seeing as THQ have ditched their MX series then it might be worth a look for motocross fans. There’s a demo to try out on Xbox Live, too.

A couple of casual 3DS games round the week off – Cats & Dogs 3D: Pets at Play and Phil Taylor’s Power Play Darts 3D.

Next week: Starhawk (PS3), Akai Katana (360), Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted (PS Vita) and Mahjong Mysteries: Legends Of Athena (DS).

Jul 27
By Matt Gander In Cache in the Attic No Comments

You can’t get any rarer than something that’s one of a kind. With this in mind, I’m surprised that there aren’t more people out there customising their consoles. There’s certainly a demand for them on eBay – a NES-style custom GBA SP went for £51 (14 bids) earlier this month. You have to wonder though why they didn’t just buy the official Nintendo NES edition GBA SP.

Not every unique console is desirable though – if you don’t do a very good job on it then it’ll end up selling for peanuts, like this horrifically butchered GameGear which sold for £3.20. That’s less than what normal GameGears usually sell for. Then there’s this Xbox 360 fitted with blue LEDs and plexiglass that sold for a mere £41 (7 bids).

Coloured GameGears are pretty uncommon full stop. The UK never received any other colour other than black while the US only received black and blue ‘Gears. Japan was another story with Sega’s 8-bit semi-hit available in half the rainbow. The white GameGear and Cola-Cola branded red GameGear are the most desirable. I’d say that after those two comes the yellow GameGear, one of which bagged a German seller 112 Euros (£98.86). As mentioned several times on Games Asylum, there are more than a few GameGear games worth a pretty penny about, like the uber rare Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle. A loose copy went for £48.99 (13 bids). This is one of the first games Eurocom (of GoldenEye on Wii fame) ever developed and, well, it certainly looks and plays like somebody’s first attempt at making a game.

Last month we reported that the Zelda edition GBA SP had shot up in value. There’s no sign of that price dropping just yet – one sold for £190 via best offer. Another went for £77 (8 bids). I assume that when the seller describes it as being in “good condition” he was talking about the handheld rather than the box it comes in. Also of note is this GBA SP bundle that ended at an incredibly high £82.80 (10 bids). It was unboxed and half the games were trashy kid’s titles. It did though come with a fair few Pokemon games. Or perhaps somebody was desperately after the Mega Man game?

Speaking of the blue hued bloke, a copy of Mega Man – The Wily Wars on Mega Drive ended at £210 (20 bids). It may not please the fashion police but a Sonic 2 jacket – supposedly only given away to Sega employees – broke the £200 barrier too attracting 15 bids.

On the flipside, here’s a bargain – a bundle of 98 new and sealed Japanese Dreamcast games that sold for only $309 (£189). Who can spot Pen Pen Triceleon in that photo? I’m still amazed it kept that name when it was released in the west. You would have thought that the publisher would have changed the name to Crazy Animal Racing or something similar.

The seller of this PS1 three game bundle must have known that Konami’s Azure Dreams is rare as he started the auction off at £70. Only one person bid. A Crash Bandicoot soft toy fetched a fair old whack too – £55 via best offer. I’m pretty sure I saw those as prizes on Brighton pier once.

I’m not sure why the following always sells for a bit on both PS1 and Sega Saturn, but a copy of Mortal Kombat Trilogy on the latter punched £46 out of somebody after 17 bids. And what better way to play it than on a proper arcade joystick, like this Namco branded one which sold for £41 (8 bids).

Jul 18
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

It must have been a slow week for sales last week. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 makes #7 in the top 40 UK chart yet Chart Track claims launch sales have been the lowest for any Harry Potter game. Even lower, believe it or not, than ‘Part 1’ which only made it to #20.

Zumba Fitness stays at #1, giving it a five week run, while Transformers: Dark of the Moon rises up from #3 to #2. L.A Noire has left the top ten this week, falling from #5 to #13.

The actually pretty good sales at Game and GameStation continue to propel recently released titles up back the chart. Most notable is Marvel vs Capcom 3 which rockets back from #39 to #14. Dungeon Siege 3 is up from #19 to #11 while Mortal Kombat uppercuts from #31 to #19.

Despite apparently being pretty good, Sega’s Captain America: Super Solider fails to make a top 40 appearance. The best the Captain can do is #30 in the PlayStation 3 chart and #34 in the Xbox 360 chart. The tie-in is nowhere to be seen in the Wii chart, fuelling further speculation that Sega hasn’t bothered releasing it in Europe.

May 31
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Even with a few days extra sales behind it (it was released on a Tuesday) DiRT 3 hasn’t been able to shift L.A. Noire from the top of the chart. Instead, it has to make do with a respectable #2 placing. The Wii price drop has also helped a couple of titles re-enter the top 10 – Mario Kart Wii rises from #23 to #10 while Wii Sports Resort goes up from #13 to #6.

Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat have subsequently left the top 10 falling to #12 and #15 respectively. The apparently very good The Witcher 2 has had a very bad week too going from #5 to #29. This is always the way with big name PC games though – flying high one week, down low the next.

There’s not much to report about in the single format charts apart from Art Academy taking the top spot of the DS chart for the umpteenth time, while Puzzle Bobble Universe makes #8 in the 3DS chart due to being reduced to £12.99 at Game last week.

May 10
By Matt Gander In Reviews 1 Comment

Playing this Mortal Kombat revamp is like meeting up with an old school friend. They’ve become a lot wiser and more mature, and also better looking, but because you can still remember all the stupid things they did back in the day it’s kind of hard to take them seriously. But since when did people take Mortal Kombat seriously anyway? For me all sense and sensibility went out the window after performing a fatality in the arcade original and witnessing (approximately) three skulls and six rib cages burst out of my hapless opponent.

But I digress: what the developers have done here is strip away all the tat and clutter that they used to bulk up the last 3D Mortal Kombat games and go back to basics, much like Capcom did with Street Fighter IV.

The roster is compiled from the pick of the Mortal Kombat litter, and every character has had a tweak to make them look more modern and edgy. Johnny Cage now resembles a movie star from this era rather than the ’90s, while space pirate Kano looks like he’s walked off the set of Bulletstorm. Backdrops are renditions of those from the first three games too, including Mortal Kombat II’s living forest and Mortal Kombat 3’s subway station. There’s plenty of detail to take in and there are stage-unique fatalities – easily the series’ goriest yet – to learn.

Story mode takes around three hours to finish and retells the stories from the original three Mortal Kombat games. Fans of the series are in for a treat – you get to see Cyrax and Sektor before they became cyborgs and learn how Jax lost his arms. Everybody else will be left wincing at the corny dialogue: “You fight pretty well… for a girl” says Johnny Cage painfully. You have to admire the way that the cut-scenes and fights are seamlessly blended together though. The sound effects really impress too, especially the sound of Nightwolf’s arrows piercing through the air and the metallic clunks as you knock the anti-freeze out of Cyber Sub Zero and his robotic chums. And yes, Liu-Kang still makes still makes those pleasingly daft high-pitched noises when leaping through the air and whatnot.

As you may expect, there’s a gimmick. But rather than just for show it does add a tactical element. Blocking attacks and performing special moves builds up a meter with three different segments. When partly filled you can perform enhanced moves, like unleashing three projectiles instead of one. When half filled you can perform a breaker to instantly stop an enemy’s combo, and when fully filled an absurdly detailed bone-breaking x-ray move can be used that’ll knock off around 40 percent of your rival’s health. The thing to consider here is that the x-ray attack can be blocked, and if this happens the power meter will go back to being empty.

When performing a throw you can also choose which direction to lob your opponent in, ready to set them up for another attack or combo. Tag matches can be quite tactical too, although they could have been made even more so if your partner’s health rejuvenated while out of battle. It is however quite satisfying defeating two opponents without even having to call in your second pugilist.

AI is a mixed bag; you can usually spam the same special move two or three times before the AI notices what you’re doing and decides to block. Goro has some very cheap attacks – his ground slam has quite a large damage radius – while final boss Shao Khan more or less has the same attack patterns as back in 1993, even stopping to gloat now and then by putting his hands on his hips.

As well as online play and arcade, tag ladder, story and challenge modes there are a few mini-games. Nothing in the same vein as Deception’s Puzzle Kombat or Armageddon’s Mario Kart-inspired Motor Kombat, but they’re nice enough. Test Your Luck starts off with a fruit-machine reel which dishes out items that will either boost or hinder your chances of survival. Test Your Might pays homage to the arcade original’s button bashing block smashing game of the same name. Then there’s Test Your Sight – a grizzly take on the ‘cup and ball’ gambling game where instead of a cup and a ball a severed head and an eyeball are used.

With a solid feel and a surprisingly refined and technical fighting system, Mortal Kombat certainly proves that ‘less is more’.

May 09
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Despite being around since the days of the PlayStation 2, Zumba Fitness was 505 Games’ first ever #1 when it was released about a month ago. It has now taken the top spot for a third time, knocking off Portal 2 which was #1 last week. Portal 2 is now at #2, followed by Mortal Kombat at #3.

A belated PlayStation 3 version of Sniper: Ghost Warrior – which was ruddy rubbish on Xbox 360 but still sold very well – sees it re-enter at #15. I wonder if it would have sold this well if PSN was back up? It’s primarily a single player game, after all.

Worryingly, there isn’t a single 3DS title in the top 40. Proving that the original DS isn’t dead yet though is Plants vs Zombies, which makes a surprisingly high entry at #16 in the DS chart.

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