So Grandma doesn't hate you yet. You're still in the will (all you're now getting is that kidney stone she had removed in 1963 and kept like some grim family heirloom, but you're in nonetheless). Excellent, it's time to unleash NetherRealm Studios/Midway's classic fighter Mortal Kombat. No investigation of excessive violence in video games would be complete without this series. Last year's eponymous release, for me, took viciousness to a whole new level.
Other fighting games have often seemed quite tame. This is peculiar, considering the premise. Two tiny brawlers are trapped together in a minute speck of an environment. Your objective is simply to pummel the other guy's groin repeatedly, until they fall over (it's unclear what's going on with them at this point. Are they dead? Just knocked out? Are they fed to a crew of ravenous vultures? Nobody knows). The fact is, though, that there's something intrinsically harmless about the combat. Even the most vicious of blows seems completely painless. They're perhaps shrugged off with a comical-yet-cursory cartoon ouch! facial expression, but nothing more than that.
This is certainly not the case with Mortal Kombat. Here, both characters become increasingly bloodied and bruised as they fight. In a close match, even the victor looks as though he or she has just taken a long spin in a washing machine full of angry wolverines. It's an utterly ferocious take on fighting as well. A simple throw from awesome icy ninja Sub Zero involves some rather mean icicle-impaling. Others, meanwhile, are as fond of knife attacks as some of the more antisocial youths in the rough area of town. The weapon will sometimes be left poking out of the opponent, inhibiting movement. And hurting rather a lot, I'll wager.
Next, of course, comes the infamous fatalities. The best-known aspect of Mortal Kombat, and longtime usp for people who like these sort of hideous hijinks. When either combatant (or kombatant in the game's terminology. Oddly, no letter c is safe from these wacky guys and their incessant language-mangling) has their health depleted, you'll be invited to finish him! or indeed finish her! Your method of doing so differs by character, but you can be sure it'll be quite the horror show. Limbs are severed, body parts are eaten, and spinal chords are waved around proudly like the Predator alien. Suffice it to say, this is a game where Freddy Krueger is a playable character, and the notorious maniac fits right in.
I'd guess that Gamer Gran is quivering in hopeless jelly-like terror and despair by this point. That's before the new X-ray special attacks are mentioned. These are activated in a charmingly little cutscene allowing you to see exactly what internal damage you're causing. Disney movie fare, this is not (although the death of Bambi's mother was harsh indeed. Will the nightmares never end?). Mortal Kombat is notable not only for its controversial violence, but the apparent glee with which it revels in it. When the elderly relatives stop by, do them a favour and switch to Wii Sports for a while.
Relive Freddy Krueger's really rather wtf cameo below: