Monday, April 18, 2011

The Klone Wars: The 10 Most Blatant "Mortal Kombat" Rip-Offs Ever

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Mortal Kombat, while now on life-support (Prove me wrong, Ed Boon, prove me wrong), was once a dominant force in the arcades and on the home consoles. Could there be any more proof of this than the commercial for Mortal Monday?

But when the arcades died down, so did much of Mortal Kombat’s steam, with a lot of the later 3D releases pretty much all looking the same for some reason, even when they had Sub-Zero beating the shit out of Batman.

That said, with an all new Mortal Kombat coming out this Tuesday that’s looking to bring the franchise back to its gory days, the series that almost single-handedly brought upon the creation of the ESRB is looking to become legendary again.
But this article ain’t about that.

This article is about some of the klones that Mortal Kombat spawned along the way. Some of them were decent, but most of them deserved to be burned by Scorpion’s flaming skull fatality. Toasty!


Remember that gag game on The Simpsons called Bone Storm that was meant to be a parody of Mortal Kombat? Well BloodStorm pretty much was that game. A semi follow-up to Time Killers, which actually came out the same year as the first MK, BloodStorm was a herky-jerky mess that actually did have a few cool features in it, most notably, the ability to acquire certain techniques from your opponent once you defeated them. That said, the game’s characters were less than memorable. Anybody remember Hellhound? How about Mirage? Anybody? Didn’t think so.

Primal Rage

While not a direct rip-off of Mortal Kombat—um, hello, monkeys that fart poison gas here, people—the element of gore that was taken straight from MK was definitely there. The advent of the fatality was one of the key features that MK brought to the arcades, and Primal Rage had some of the most brutal seen at the time. And they were performed by dinosaurs and monkeys, no less. The only problem? You had to pretty much hold down every single button on the cabinet and do some crazy joystick motions just to pull them off. In other words, the controls sucked ass. T-Rex ass. Is there any other ass that sucks more?

Street Fighter: The Movie

Yeah, even Capcom was on MK’s jock at one point. This game, which used real live actors for the roles of the characters instead of animated sprites, definitely doesn’t look like any of its predecessors or successors, and that’s a good thing. How many other games do we need with the Muscles from Brussels himself, playing all-American Guile or Australian pop sensation, Kylie Minogue, playing Cammy? I’m going to go with none. Besides looking like a failed MK side project, the game doesn’t even play well, with the controls coming off as stiff rather than fluid. Capcom made a rule of banning any following SF titles to have motion capture characters in them, and thank God for that. The only thing missing from this game was Ryu ripping Sagat apart with a shoryuken. Actually, that would have been pretty awesome. How come they didn’t include that in the game?

Way of the Warrior

Way of the Warrior, like most of the MK clones on this list, was laughably bad. But a part of me thinks that it was at least intentional for this title. Or at least, I hope it was, because any game that started off with a talking skull with a mouth that wouldn’t stop chattering and said, “Find the way, noble challenger. Find the way of the waaaarrior,” had to have been putting us on. Once the actual game started up though, the laughter stopped as the gameplay was beyond atrocious, even back then, and even for a 3DO title. Well, at least the soundtrack by White Zombie was killer. Not $700 killer, mind you, but killer nonetheless. It almost made up for the shoddy motion captured samurais and Bruce Lee rip-offs imitating Marky Mark with their victory poses. Almost, I said.

Eternal Champions

Eternal Champions, at the time at least, was actually one of the more successful MK clones, and probably because it picked only the best elements of the franchise to ape. Stage fatalities? Check. A rich mythology? Check? Pretty memorable characters? Check again. The only thing it was missing was blood by the boat loads, but this interesting title made up for it by adding two parts Street Fighter along with its Mortal Kombat, making it a strange hybrid between the two series. The only thing that sucked was the difficulty. To this day I still haven’t beaten it and I probably never will.

Kasumi Ninja

Many of the games on this list that imitated MK added their own little flair to them to separate them from the house that Goro built. But not Kasumi Ninja, one of the worst Jaguar games ever released in a sea of awful Jaguar games. How much of a clone was it? So much so, that it probably should have just been called “Here’s yer Mortal Kombat rip-off right here, mister!” The moves are pretty much identical, with uppercuts and sweep kicks, and the gore is all there, too, though, about ten times less gratifying and ten times more yawn inducing. And while I know I’m not the first person to mention this, just about the only thing good about this game was that it had a Scotsman who would lift his kilt and shoot fireballs from his junk. Well, that’s at least one thing that Mortal Kombat never attempted.

Thrill Kill

Thrill Kill was badass, man. How badass was it? So badass, that it was never released and was turned into a fighting game with the Wu-tang Clan instead, which later became known as Wu-tang: Shaolin Style. Looking to capitalize off of Mortal Kombat’s brutality, Thrill Kill was actually unique in that it one-upped MK in the gore department, and the characters in this game were all insane, like Cleetus, a redneck cannibal, and The Imp, who supported himself with stilts in battle. It also enabled four players to tear each other apart at one time. Still, if Mortal Kombat had never been created, a game like Thrill Kill would never have been conceived of, making it a definite Mortal Kombat clone. It was a clever one, most certainly, but a MK clone, nonetheless.

War Gods

War Gods has an interesting history behind it in that it was actually created by Midway itself, the same company that Mortal Kombat came from. Some people say that the game was solely created to test out a 3D environment in a fighting game for their upcoming MK4 release, but that’s probably just rubbish. The truth of the matter is, Mortal Kombat made a shit ton of money and it looked like a new franchise could be born from it, but War Gods was just not that franchise, as it had some of the wonkiest 3D ever this side of Battle Arena Toshinden. The fatalities in this game weren’t even impressive, and in a game meaning to harness some of MK’s fire MK, the fatalities were everything. War Gods should have been sacrificed.

Mace: The Dark Age

Mace: The Dark Age was another Midway title that didn’t stretch the boundaries enough to be considered much more than a copycat clone of MK. The gameplay was beyond generic, and the game didn’t even try that hard to mask itself as anything more than a riproff. For example, instead of “Finish him!” at the end of battles, the announcer said “Execute him!” instead, which was pretty much the exact same thing. It was a weapons based fighter though, so it had that going for it. If anything, it was like a more brutal version of Soul Edge, but Soul Edge was at least coherent, while Mace: The Dark Age was like its drunken step-brother that nobody ever wanted to be around. There’s a reason that you don’t remember Mace: The Dark Age, you know.

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct is probably the only game on this list that is far enough removed from MK that one might not even consider it to be a clone at all. But it was. Rare was smart to make combos the key highlight of the game, but they also just had to add those stage deaths and fatalities in there that were so popular at the time, didn’t they? While its influence is definitely far-reaching—the massive combos of the Capcom vs. series have this title to thank for its success—KI was still an MK clone, albeit, one with definite panache. And if you disagree with me, I’ma have to hit you with an Ultra, ultra, ultra, ultra…

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