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From the Mouth of Madness:
Fight!

By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
Vol. 2, Issue 6 
December 13, 1999 

The really cool thing about it was the social aspect to SF2. Because the game was so popular (and there really wasn't anything like it) it became a big deal to be the best at any given time. There was always a crowd around the Street Fighter II machine, and typically there was that one kid who sat there kicking everyone else's butt. If you could march in there and beat him? Damn, it was the greatest feeling in the world. More often than not me and my friends just lost our quarters…but who cared? This was some crazy fun.

It's safe to say that Street Fighter II launched the genre, just like so many games have launched their individual genres. Capcom was also pretty tricky with their releases for Street Fighter II. They released the Championship version, and the Turbo version, and jeez…there was just a ton of different releases. But every time they released a new one, we all flocked to play it. Life was good.

When Mortal Kombat was released, I first dismissed the game entirely. First of all, the game looked cheesy to me. I mean, what was up with these digitized people? Hand drawn characters were the way to go, right? And blood? In a fighting game? No way! I can't remember what caused me to give it a shot…but once I started playing Mortal Kombat, I was hooked. I very quickly learned a fatality (Scorpion's fatality: block + up, up) and boy…it was one thing to kick someone's butt in Street Fighter II. You felt good, you had the admiration of your peers…but when you won, and got to set his sorry butt on fire? Man…that was a whole other world. Especially when it was after a particularly close battle. I was hooked.

And I was good at it, too! That was probably what had me sucked in the most. I wasn't bad at Street Fighter II…I could do fairly well, but when it came to Mortal Kombat, jeez…I was just the man. I would proudly walk into an arcade and slap my quarters up on the machine, wait my turn, and humiliate whoever attempted to challenge me. Ooooh, I was good.

The sad thing, is that while I'm decent with more recent fighting games, I've never been half as good at them as I was with the original Kombat. Heck, I can honestly say I know every move in that game. Every single one. But then, that wasn't so difficult. With Mortal Kombat 2, they started getting a little crazy with the extra stuff. By Mortal Kombat 3, there was so much stuff in there, that if you didn't have an Internet connection, you needed to find someone who did so you could find out some cool stuff to do. And even then, it wasn't half as simplistic as the original.

But with each Mortal Kombat, the popularity grew exponentially. I never saw any signs that read, "we have Street Fighter II Turbo Championship Edition Release III!" But there were plenty of "we have Mortal Kombat 2!" signs around. Heck, I even remember the "only fourteen days until Mortal Kombat 2 arrives!" signs. And heaven help you if you wanted to try the game in that first 24 hours after its release.

I still play fighting games by the ton…I've got a copy of Virtua Fighter 3: TB sitting in my Dreamcast right now, with Marvel vs. Capcom and Soul Calibur just waiting for me to play 'em. But no matter how good those games may be, nothing can compare to those early days of Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. That, like so many other games throughout the history of the industry, was the birth of a genre. Whether it's the release of Doom, or Street Fighter or Mario 64, whenever there's a release like that it changes the world. Maybe not in a real, tangible way, but for those of us who were around to witness it, those memories will never go away.

- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is funnnn-kay.

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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you cartoonish villian, you.