I started playing Mortal Kombat II before trying out the original fighting game from Midway, in an era when video games didn’t mean too much for me. However, this particular title, due to its violent nature and my young age (way under 18) was incredibly appealing and a total charmer. But that’s not what makes Mortal Kombat II such an important game in my life as a gamer (and a very fun fact, too), but how I started playing it.
It wasn’t in arcade rooms, it wasn’t during a trip to Japan, nor on my personal computer: I started playing this incredible game in a school’s computer lab (it wasn’t even my school). The fact is that always, during weekends, a bunch of kids met at this particular school and started playing various games on the ultra computers there. I was one of those kids, a friend with a friend’s friend who knew somebody… (you know the type). That fact is that, somehow, I got there, ready to have my life changed, because that’s the place where I first played Mortal Kombat II.
Yes, it might sound strange – it was a school and the game is clearly not suitable for kids, but back then things were different: we had no GTA murders, no Halo shootouts, no violence related to video games. It was all too amazing to care about doing other stuff than play ’til your fingers hurt. It was the golden age of gaming, it was magnificent.
I remember I always played with Liu Kang, as boring and cliché as it might sound today. The thing is that he was the only fighter I knew how to play with: back then we had no Internet to quickly google “MKII moves” or something similar and find out the right combinations. Back then we had just basic computer skills, so even if there was a folder or an in-game menu telling you what buttons to press, we didn’t know how to get there. We were kids playing a game for grownups and having a great time. And trust me, none of the kids I used to play with turned into degenerate killers, influenced by the VG violence!
And MKII was indeed violent – just consider the fatalities: Liu Kang turning into a dragon and eating half oh his opponent, Kitana kissing her opponent just to turn them into big piles of bones and guts, and generally tons of blood coming from everywhere. It was that time when games were not afraid of keeping it real, it was a time when profit was not as important as today, when publishers and advertisers were not deciding the game’s content, when fatalities were FATALITIES, for god’s sake and not puerile attempts that would make Jakie Chan laugh!
It was a time when I was playing Mortal Kombat II with a bunch of kids in a school and nobody cared (probably nobody knew, either). When The Sun didn’t jump off the roof to catch a picture with us playing, when Jack Thompson was not militating outside the building with a banner reading “kill the violent games” and when everybody was, as I already said, too amazed of what the technology could deliver and cared less about politically correct gaming and green blood infusion. And we’re all alive and kicking, as you can see – we’re not cannibals, we’re not murderers, we’re not complete failures. Because, just like the young gamers today, we’re human beings, we’re sane, and we can make the difference between virtual reality and real life, between good and bad, between right or wrong. You don’t have to be 18 to know that!