Fatality (Mortal Kombat)
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A Fatality is a gameplay feature in the Mortal Kombat series of fighting games. It is a finishing move that can be used against one's defeated opponent at the end of the final match, after the announcer says "Finish Him/Her." The Fatalities are usually lethal, featuring a brutal and morbid execution of the defenseless enemy character; however, some of them are actually non-violent and humorous, and some even result in the suicidal death of the losing character.
While creating Mortal Kombat, Ed Boon and John Tobias started with the idea of Street Fighter II-like system and retained many of its conventions but tweaked others. The most notable additions were graphic blood effects, more brutal fighting techniques, and especially the fatal finishing moves (this was a novelty as the traditional fighting games ended with the loser simply knocked unconscious and the victor posing for the players). According to Boon, it started with an idea to enable the player to hit a dizzied opponent at the end of the match with a "free hit", and that idea "quickly evolved into something nasty". According to Tobias: "Our first idea was to use them as a finishing move for final boss Shang Tsung, who was going to pull out his sword and behead his opponent. Then we thought, 'What if the player could do that to his opponent?' When we watched players react to the Fatalities, we knew we had no choice but to give them more." Former Midway Games programmer Mark Turmell stated that initially no one at Midway expected players to find the Fatalities in the game.
Unlike special moves, a Fatality may require certain distances and quick button sequences in order to achieve the desired result. Usually, every character has their own special Fatality that must be performed at a certain distance from the opponent, the three distances being: close (means that the finishing move won't work unless the player is right next to the opponent), sweep (means that the player should stand a step or two away from the opponent, but still within the distance that a sweeping low kick should hit) and far (means at least one jump's length away from the opponent).
Each character has signature Fatalities. Traditionally for the main and important characters of the games their Fatalities are usually a reflection of either their storyline or their special abilities: e.g., Sub-Zero's Fatalities have traditionally involved the use of his powers of ice (though his spine rip was found to be the most infamous of the Fatalities), whereas Scorpion's storyline of a hellspawn ninja spectre involves the use of setting someone ablaze or using his infamous spear. The number of individual Fatalities varies depending upon the game; while characters in Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance had only one, Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 and its updates (Mortal Kombat Trilogy and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3) featured as many as four.
The Fatalities were featured in ScrewAttack's "Top 10 OMGWTF Moments" due to the competition it gave to other games including Street Fighter II and how it popularized the arcades, as well as in machinima.com's list of top ten gaming memes. The 2012 film Wreck-It Ralph shows Mortal Kombat's Kano performing his signature heart-ripping Fatality move on a zombie.
"Fatality" eventually became also a generic gaming term for a lethal finishing move, including the official term Fatals in the Killer Instinct series. In the game ClayFighter 63⅓ the Fatalities were even parodied in the form of Claytality. "Fatalities" also expanded into the shooter genre, most notably in the Gears of War series as "Executions".
In many games in the franchises there are also different types of Fatalities and Finishers:
This finisher allows the player to morph into an animal and maul their opponent. This style of Fatality debuted in Mortal Kombat 3. According to Boon, his team "listened to what the players said about MKII and the Animalities that they thought were in there but really weren't. To answer all these rumors, we put Animalities in MKIII [sic]."
In order to perform an Animality, the player must first grant his opponent Mercy, the act which revives the opponent in lieu of delivering a final blow or performing a Fatality by restoring a small amount of health: should the opponent be defeated again, an Animality may be performed.
Introduced in Mortal Kombat II, the Babality turns an opponent into an infant version of the character. Sometimes the opponent will wear a miniature version of the clothes he or she wore when fully-grown, complete with smaller versions of accessories such as Raiden's hat or Johnny Cage's shades. In MK3 and its updates, the generic green "Babality!!" text and the sound of a baby crying used in MKII is replaced with pastel colored alphabet blocks and a short lullaby. Their initial appearance in Mortal Kombat II Revision 2.1 came with some glitches including one that allowed players to perform attacks after the Babality was performed.
Babalities were introduced as a deliberately absurd counter-argument to the controversy that the original received for its violent content, and a tamer counterpart to the typical Fatality. Some fans found them humorous and enjoyable, while others felt they were an unwelcome, out-of-character intrusion in what is otherwise a "serious" game. The moves were later dropped in an effort to abate this criticism. The Babalities, however, made a return in the relaunch game, featuring special animations for each character (for example, baby Reptile comes out of an egg and baby Raiden plays with lightning).
Introduced in Mortal Kombat Trilogy and the SNES and Sega Genesis ports of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, this finisher allowed players to perform a combo which would cause the opponent to explode. Brutalities were not very popular, as they were extremely difficult to accomplish, requiring the player to memorize and perform a special 11-hit combo. Many felt the pay-off was lacking with the only result being a fiery explosion where the victim disappears and an unrealistic amount of bone and flesh (including several rib cages and skulls) are sent flying and covering most of the screen (in some versions, the bone and flesh flies completely offscreen).
This finisher didn't appear in another game until Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, in which it wasn't explicitly used as a finisher, but rather as a power-up. A move similar to the Brutality also appeared in Mortal Kombat: Deception, in the form of a Fatality of Li Mei: her Fatality was to rapidly strike the opponent repeatedly, then to step back and pose as her opponent twitches for a moment, before exploding in a pile of gore.
The fighter performs an act of kindness, leaving the opponent unharmed at the end of the fight. These actions include Sub-Zero making a snowman, Noob Saibot throwing a bowling ball and hitting a few pins, Stryker holding out a stop sign as if to stop traffic and allowing all the other fighters to run past, or Jax taking out a jump rope and using it. Developers described the inclusion of Friendships as "a counter to all the blood and gore", saying they wanted a different aspect to the game. In MKII, Shao Kahn would announce "Friendship... Friendship?", while in MK3 and MK:T he would say "Friendship... Friendship? Again?"
The Hara-Kiri (which is Japanese for a certain type of ritual suicide, and literally means belly cut; even though Kenshi is the only character who uses the Hara-Kiri in this form) is a move in which the losing player kills him/herself upon defeat at the end of the last match, rather than be finished off by his/her opponent. Examples of Hara-Kiris are Sindel performing a back flip and landing head first, Liu Kang internally combusting, Kabal stabbing himself in the forehead between his eyes, and Darrius crushing his own head. It is the first time in the series in which the defeated player is allowed to perform a finishing move. The move Hara-Kiri made its debut in Deception and seems to be a popular feature with the fans, although is not included in any of its succeeding games.
Although it was called just a Fatality in-game, the first example of a suicidal finishing move in the series was actually Cyrax's "self-destruct" move from MK3 and Mortal Kombat Gold: Cyrax, a cyborg, enters a code on to his arm panel and moments later explodes along with his opponent in a manner reminiscient of the ending of the first Predator movie. Smoke went farther with his Fatality, since he destroys the whole planet (and every living being on it) with giant bombs. In MK Gold, Cyrax adopted this Fatality together with his own, while Smoke adopted Cyrax's self-destruct as his Hara-Kiri in Deception.
Heroic Brutalities appear in the Midway/DC Comics crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe as exclusive finishing moves for the DC heroes. While they are similar to Fatalities, a Heroic Brutality doesn't kill an opponent, since normally the DC heroes don't kill people. These can range from somewhat gruesome like Green Lantern's, in which he crushes his enemy in a bubble of green energy breaking all of their bones, to the Flash's where he lifts the enemy into the air with a tornado and simply punches them down. Heroic Brutalities are easier to pull off than the Brutalities of MK3, requiring hit combos identical to the normal Fatality hit combo. Given the fact that they are the least violent non-parody finishing moves in Mortal Kombat history, Heroic Brutalities were not well received among either the MK series' fans or the comic book fan community, as even the DC comics themselves are often far more brutal.
For Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, the Fatality concept was completely revised. In all previous games, finishing moves were in the form of a button combo, activating a scripted animation sequence. For MK:A, the old system was replaced with a new Kreate-A-Fatality, or "Kustom-Chain-Fatality" system. After defeating an opponent in two rounds (with default settings), players are given a limited amount of time to perform one of several violent moves (such as ripping an organ out) attributed to a button and direction combination. The time then resets and the player can perform a second move, but the timebar decreases more rapidly after each move. It is also possible to "fail" the Fatality by running out of time before performing a final finishing move (such as ripping the opponent's head off). Once the player reaches 12 chains, he/she must use a finisher or else the Fatality sequence will stop and the player will not receive a rank or reward. If time runs out before the player can end the chain with a final fatal move, no rank or reward is given and the Fatality is not counted, regardless of how many moves were completed.
This concept has been met with a mixed reaction, with some fans and critics preferring the more interactive nature and freedom of the Kreate-a-Fatality system, and others missing the previous games' character-specific ending moves and alternatives to killing the opponent. Originally, there were individual character-specific Kreate-a-Fatality moves for each character, but this feature was dropped, reportedly due to such a feat's infeasibility (especially in regards to the Kreate-A-Character option, which individual moves would not translate to). This kind of fatality has only been in this game.
Stage Fatalities brought environment interaction within the series, occurring when a player uses a part of the stage or map to execute a finishing move that is not a standard character Fatality. Some examples of Stage Fatalities are having the victim fall into a pool of acid or a pit of spikes, or to be run over by a subway train; the stage then does not darken. Stage Fatalities are present in the series from the first Mortal Kombat, though are absent from MK: Deadly Alliance.
MK: Deception features more Stage Fatalities, renamed Death Traps, than any previous Mortal Kombat game. A special button combination is no longer required as the opponent only needs to be either standing or hit in a particular spot on the stage. Unlike previous Stage Fatalities, Death Traps can be initiated anytime during a round and only require the opponent be hit into them, meaning an instant victory. However, if they are not executed in the decisive round, the fight does not end, going on to the next round. This action acts as a ring out.
Traditional Stage Fatalities, seen since the original MK game through MK4, made a return in the new Mortal Kombat. Button combinations are once again used to perform Stage Fatalities.
- Fergality: MKII for the Mega Drive featured an exclusive finishing move which would allow Raiden to transform his opponent into Probe Ltd. employee Fergus McGovern, who worked on that port of the game.
- Multality: MK:Shaolin Monks features Multalities, which are Fatalities performed on multiple common enemies at one time.
- Animality and Brutality were both rumored to be featured in MKII, but were only later added in MK3 in MKT, respectively. The rumored types of Fatalities that did not actually exist in any of the games included Hookality, Gangstality, Nationality, Nudality, Boobality, Rapality, Sexuality, Weirdality, among others.
- In December 1994, GamePro asked readers for their favourite Fatalities and three months later published the tally (all were from MKII):
- Jax's arm-ripping
- Sub-Zero's ice grenade
- Shang Tsung's soul sucking
- In 1996, GamePro also criticized some of the finishing moves in UMK3 as "weak and poorly conceived", singling out Kitana's rabbit attack as an example and commenting: "Come on guys!"
- In 1997, Baraka's "Lift'em-up" Fatality in Mortal Kombat Trilogy was given the third place in the category That's Gotta Hurt of Nintendo Power Awards '96.
- In 2006, IGN rated Jax's MKII "Arm Rip" Fatality the 10th best gore effect in the video games, calling it "intensely violent while remaining absurdly hilarious".
- Kitana shared #7 with Mileena for their respective "Kiss of Doom" and "Man-Eater" Fatalities on GamesRadar's 2006 list of "Top 7 Girls kissing girls", with a comment: "More visceral than sexy, sure, but the industry had to start somewhere."
- 1UP.com' 2010 list of Best Fatalities in Video Games featured Dairou's MK:D Fatality and, ironically, the censored Fatalities of MK vs. DC ("Included not so much for the gore, but as a reminder that Mortal Kombat went from Dairou’s rib-ripping to censoring a headshot in half a decade").
- In 2011, IGN published an article discussing progression of the finishing moves of the series' "four main characters" Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, Scorpion and Mileena.
Fatalities top lists were often compiled by various publictations, including:
- In 2008, GamePro published a list of The 12 LAMEST Fatalities. These from the Mortal Kombat series were Liu Kang's "Death by Arcade Machine" (#12), The Flash's "Tornado Slam" in MK vs. DC (#11), Raiden's "Mini-Raiden" Friendship (#10), Jax's "Amazing Growing Man" (#9), Scorpion's "Penguin Egg Grenade" and Rain's "Baby Elephant Blast" (#8), Sindel's "Killer Hair" (#7), Kano's "Stomach Pounce" in MK vs. DC (#5), Babalities in general (#3), and Kano's "Ripping Out an Invisible Heart" in the censored Super Nintendo Entertainment System version of the first game (#1).
- UGO.com counted down their top 11 favorite Fatalities: Kurtis Stryker's "Stun Gun" "(MK3), Sub Zero's "Fun with Ice" (MKII), "Pit Stain" (MK Stage Fatality), Kitana's Kiss of Exploding Death" (MKII), Friendships in general, Kabal's "Death by Face", Jax's "Big Finish" (MK3), Liu Kang's "Way of the Dragon" (MKII), Scorpion multiplying himself (UMK3/MKT), Kano's "Heartbreak" (MK) and Smoke blowing up the Earth (MK3).
- In 2010, Game Informer published a list of the series' best, worst "and downright confusing" Fatalities so far. According to this,
- the best were: Liu Kang's "Dragon" in MKII, Sub-Zero's "Spine Rip" in MK ("perhaps the most gruesome finisher from the first game in the series"), Reptile's "Head Snack" in MKII, Jade's "Head Gymnastics" in Deception, Sektor's Compactor in MK3, Jax's "Arm Pull" in MKII ("probably one of the only Fatalities that wouldn't immediately kill you"), Dairou's "Ribs to the Eyes" in Deception, and Sindel's "Scream" in MK3;
- the worst were: Liu Kang's "Cartwheel" in MK, Kano's "Knee Stomp" in MK vs DC, Kitana's "Kiss of Death" in MKII, Kabal's "Inflating Head" and "Scary Face"in MK3, Rain's "Upside-Down Uppercut" in Trilogy, Bo' Rai Cho's "Fart of Doom" in Deception;
- and the most absurd were: Liu Kang's "Arcade Machine" in MK3, Jax's "Giant Stomp" in MK3, Johnny Cage's "Three Head Punch" in MKII, Cyrax's "Self-Destruct" in MK3, Darrius' "Re-arranger" in Deception, Smoke's "Blow up the World" in MK3.
- Also in 2010, ScrewAttack published their list of the top MK Fatalities (from #10 to #1): Reptile's Facial Surgery in MK4, Quan Chi's "Leg Beating" (MK4), Dairou's "Ribs in the Eyes" (MK:D), Cyrax's "Trash Compactor" (MK:DA), Kano's "Skeletol Removal" (MK3), Baraka's "Blades-in-the-Chest" (MKII), Scorpion's "Party Popper" (MK:DA), Johnny Cage's "Punching Bag" (MK:SM), Liu Kang's "Dragon Transformation" (MKII) and Sub-Zero's "ESRB-Maker" (MK).
- They later published a list of their top worst MK Fatalities: Tanya's "Neck Breaker" (MK4), Kabal's "Scary Face" (MK3), Sindel's "Hara-Kiri" (MK:D), Kenshi's "Eyeball-Popper" (MK:DA), Quan Chi's "Neck-Stretcher" (MK:DA), Raiden's "Accident" (MK:D), Reptile's "Animality" (MK3), Motaro's "Head Yoink" (MK:T), Liu Kang's "Somersault Kick" (MK), and every Fatality/Heroic Brutality from MK Vs. DC.
- That same year, IGN also posted their "unofficial" Top 10 Fatalities list: "Giant Jax" (MK3), "Strykersaurus-rex" (MK3), "Kitana's Kiss of Death" (MKII), "Sub-Zero Crushed Ice" (MKII), "Reptile Gives You Some Tongue" (MKII), "Kung Lao's Hat Trick" (MK:SM), "Sektor Squash" (MK3) / "All Babalities", "Sheeva's Manly Forearms" (MK3), "Scorpion is Hot" (MK) and "Smoke Asplodes the Earth" (MK3).
- Midway. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Premium Edition. (Midway). Level/area: "The History of Fatalities" commentary. (October 11, 2006)
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- Ten years ago, "Mortal Monday" brought us controversy, game ratings, and Mortal Kombat, 1UP.com, September 13, 2003
- Leone, Matt (January 9, 2013). "The story behind Total Carnage's confusing ending". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
- "Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe: Ed Boon interview". CraveOnline. 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2010-03-13.[dead link]
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- "ScrewAttack Top 10 OMGWTF Moments". GameTrailers. July 11, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
- "Top 10 Gaming Memes". Youtube.com. 2011-01-08. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- Best Fatalities in Video Games, 1UP.com, May 13, 2010
- Greeson, Jeff and O'Neill, Cliff. "The History of Mortal Kombat - Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
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- Brad Shoemaker (2006-05-28). "The First Fighting Game That Let You Just Be Friends". Game Spot. CNET Networks. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
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- "The Top Ten Most Ridiculous Things to Come Out of Mortal Kombat". 4thletter!. June 22, 2010.
- Mortal Kombat II (GEN) FAQ/Move List by ineluki, GameFAQs, November 1st, 1994
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- Top 10 Tuesday: Best Gore Effects - PC Feature at IGN, IGN, April 4, 2006
- The Top 7... Girl-on-girl kisses, GamesRadar, November 28, 2006
- "The Evolution of Mortal Kombat Fatalities - Xbox 360 at IGN". Uk.xbox360.ign.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- Shaw, Patrick (2010-05-31). "The 12 LAMEST Fatalities, Feature Story from GamePro". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- "UGO.com Games - Top 11 Mortal Kombat Fatalities". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- Mortal Kombat's Best And Worst Fatalities, Game Informer, May 03, 2010
- Top 10 Mortal Kombat Fatalities, ScrewAttack, August 1, 2010
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- Fatality - The Mortal Kombat Wiki
- Mortal Kombat Secrets: Finisher Theater
- SydLexia.com - The MK Fatality Fest