Come one come all. It is time for the circus of rants and raves that we like to call Gaming Hall of Fame. The master of ceremonies for today’s duel will be Jack and as always we have Matt and Ian fighting the corners. This week we are set to decide which the superior fighting game series is; Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. Commanding the Street Fighter army, flanked by his lieutenants M.Bison and Ryu, and looking to land a sweet Psycho Driver on his enemies, the hadouken master, it’s Matt! Looking to deliver a fatality and make his opponent look more ridiculous than Kintaro after a Babality, the ruler of the Kombat zone, it’s Ian! Anyway, Jack ring the bell, it’s show time!
Mortal Kombat vs Street Fighter
Ian: Mortal Kombat is so clearly the better fighting series that I can’t actually believe I’m having to debate it. Before we get into the technicalities of both games combat, lets talk about the style. Mortal Kombat has an incredible sense of style. Mortal Kombat is the only currently running fighting series made in the west, as a result the game strangely has a less cartoony feel to it than its eastern counterparts, yet still manages to swim firmly in the seas of fantasy. The characters in Mortal Kombat are all incredibly dark and menacing. The characters, whilst being dark, are incredibly diverse; Scorpion, who is a ninja that takes residence in hell, quite regularly cuts limbs off his opponents and burns them to a cinder, whereas Johnny Cage is a egomaniac (he even has ‘JOHNNY’ tattooed on his torso) whose special moves regularly consist of punching his opponents in the testicles. The stages often steal the show as well. Think a stage in a fighting game can only consist of a pleasant visual distraction from the game? Think again. In MK the sets are there to be used. If the fighting arena is surrounded by a lake of acid, then why not uppercut your opponent into it to burn off their skin? Fighting in a forest of trees with faces? Ram your opponent torso first into ones mouth to be consumed alive. Spikes, mincers, flames and piranhas aren’t there just for show!
Matt: Here’s the thing; Mortal Kombat is a great game, but Street Fighter is simply better. As much as I love the ultra violence of Mortal Kombat I also hate it. From time to time it just feels a little unnecessary. Plus, it’s thanks to the violence in Mortal Kombat that we have such strict regulation on gaming content nowadays. Mortal Kombat set all those special interest groups off at gaming. All those parents who needed an excuse for why their poor parenting had turned little Jonny in to a horror turned and blamed video games. Sure it wasn’t the first violent game, and it wasn’t the last, but it was the one that kicked the whole thing off. On another note, Street Fighter is also a much deeper fighting game. The move lists are more difficult to master, and have a more satisfying and strategic effect. In Mortal Kombat your special moves can be mastered by a quick glance at the move list. Case in point, I recently played Mortal Kombat on the PS3 for the first time in ages. With just a few quick glances at move list, I was teleporting behind enemies and dropping icicles on their head. Don’t get me wrong, it provides fun gameplay; it’s just not as deep as Street Fighter.
Ian: The regulation thing is ridiculous. All it shows is that Mortal Kombat was released at a time when games were maturing into a full mainstream form of entertainment. Plus its self regulation, the BBFC and PEGI are industry regulators set up and paid for by the industry with the purpose of informing customers what they’re purchasing without government censorship. These are good things, not bad. But we’re getting off point. I’m now going to talk about why Mortal Kombat is the better game series. Play Street Fighter online; go on, I dare you. All that will happen is that someone will pick Guile and constantly, without a second’s breath, spam you with Sonic Boom attacks so that your character gets trapped at the side just waiting for the game to end. If that happens in Mortal Kombat a character like Scorpion can use a special attack to appear behind them and burn them alive, thus teaching the cheating little shit a thorough lesson in messing with a satanic Ninja. Street Fighter probably has the better fighting mechanics when two people who really know the game play it, but this is the real world and what actually happens is people just spam attacks at you. Constantly. And it never ends. Mortal Kombat offers a fairer and ultimately more fun experience for people who just want to enjoy playing a good game. I’ve played online with both series and, anecdotally, I’ve had a far superior experience playing Mortal Kombat because it’s simply a fairer and more balanced game. Between the two, Mortal Kombat offers up a “Flawless Victory”… get it? Because that’s what the announcer says when you win without taking damage. Oh fuck off.
Matt: I get where you are coming from, I do. Mortal Kombat does offer a fairer system for your casual player…The casual player. What is the point putting the hours in learning a system when it is fairly easy to win a game with little knowledge of a move set? The difference is that when you play Street Fighter you have to be good to be good. Plus when you play online you can have a ranked match and face people with similar abilities to you. Also if you do end up against a sonic boom spammer you could always block and counter…Just saying, it takes a bit of skill is all. Also you can spam quite effectively on Mortal Kombat, trust me. I recently played right through Mk vs DcU on the hardest difficulty (not exactly a MK game but its close enough), just spamming the freeze move and the teleport thing with sub zero. I’ve done a similar thing online as well, so don’t tell me you can’t spam the game. What I’m trying to say is that Street Fighter is a more immersive and rewarding game. You put the time into Street fighter and you are rewarded greatly, you don’t get to dissolve someone’s skin, but you get different kinds of rewards.
Ian: You’ve massively oversimplified the Mortal Kombat gameplay. It’s fantastic for everyone. For the casual players, sure, you can learn the special moves and have some fun. But for the hardcore gamers Mortal Kombat offers a diverse and complex system of counter attacks and combos that mean no matter how much spamming can be done by a newbie, a dedicated gamer will always win. This just isn’t the case with Street Fighter, I’m repeating a point here but the spamming that happens online is atrocious, and no you can’t ‘just block it’. Honestly go play it. Go play it right now, I command you. You will be met by player after player who will fire off the cheapest moves again and again and again. But what if you don’t want to play online and would rather, for some bizarre reason, play single player? Well Mortal Kombat has got you covered my friend. Want to play the regular arcade tower mode? Sorted. But what about a full-blooded story mode, with full voice acting, that forces you to play as different characters as the story progresses so you can’t just learn the moves of one character and as such get to experience the full rang of what’s on offer? Why yes, yes it does have that. Whereas Street Fighter has… oh.
Matt: You are right in that Mortal Kombat does offer a more story based single player experience. I have to agree with you on that. The thing is though Street Fighter games are more of an arcade simulation. A Street Fighter game with a full and immersive story would feel foreign and possibly alienate the core fan base. I will concede that the lack of story could be interpreted as a weakness in the franchise, but at the same time it isn’t. Street fighter has a very simply story. A collection of the worlds greatest fighters come together to find out who the greatest fighter is. If you want you can get a bit more into it. Gouken trained both Ryu and Ken, he is also the brother of Akuma. Akuma doesn’t enter tournaments he sits in the shadows looking to find a challenger deserving of time. He finds this challenge in the man who can make his way to the finals and face bison. Bison is always flanked by his trusty troops Vega, Sagat, and Cammy. Cammy however turns out to be a clone that Bison wants to posses when his body is used up. Speaking of clones, Bison attempt to create a new body that was more powerful, Seth…and so on. You get the picture Street fighter does have a story. It’s just done a bit more subtly.
Ian: Well that was interesting. Let’s finish up. Mortal Kombat has it all. Great pick up and play mechanics for people who just want to have fun, companioned with a deep combo system for the enthusiasts. It also has an incredible sense of style, combining the artistic flair of eastern tales with modern western aesthetics. Arenas are not only numerous and diverse, but they also allow the player to fully interact with them to alter the rhythm of gameplay. The Mortal Kombat history is littered with classic characters as well; from Sub Zero to Scorpion (“Get over here!”) to Johnny Cage and Cyrax, the game has a character to fit every players play style. This debate is ultimately worthless as the best fighting series is Dead or Alive, but that’s for another day.
Matt: I’m going to ignore the fact that you could have just chosen to debate street fighter vs Dead or Alive…Which by the way was never brought up when we were planning this debate. Street fighter is also littered with classic characters and catchphrases. Who doesn’t shout hadouken when they throw scrunched up bits of paper into a bin…or friend? The final point I’m going to make is that Street Fighter offers a far deeper and more complex system. People take years mastering a character in Street Fighter people take minutes mastering a character in Mortal Kombat. As with every debate we have it comes down to personal choice. I prefer Street Fighter, you prefer Dead or Alive (I am aware that I said I wouldn’t mention it again but what ever). Once more it just comes down to who our judge decides argued better. And I guess that’s it. I don’t really have much else to say.
Ian: Street Fighter vs Dead or Alive isn’t a classic gaming debate, that’s why we didn’t discuss it. And in terms of a traditional fighting game I prefer Mortal Kombat, Dead or Alive has a different fighting style, which is why it’s an argument for another day.
Jack: Firstly I don’t think you can hold it against Mortal Kombat for the special interest groups that seized upon it and used it as a platform to shout nonsense. In fact it kind of makes the game better as each time you’re playing it you can imagine that somewhere in the world someone who is completely insufferable is irritated that you’re playing the game they hate the most. Its like driving a 4×4 just to annoy preachy environmentalists.
I like Ian’s point out the environments in MK being part of the game play rather than just a background; it means that there is more variety between levels. The ease of play is also a significant difference between the two games as both Ian and Matt pointed out. The GHoF is about which game is more fun for the most people (I’m sure that’s one of the rules, if its not it is now because I’m the judge and what I say goes) so a game that you can just pick up and play rather than having to train hours and hours in order to be good clearly wins.
I’m having difficulty with the story point that Ian and Matt both raised. MK having this single player story mode is helpful for those people who don’t want to interact with other human beings even in a gaming capacity. SF’s story on Matt’s summary seemed a bit pointless and I struggled to read it as I got bored half way through. That make it feel tacked on and MK seems to be the best all round mix of story, ease of play but with some specialities so the hard-core gamers don’t get bored.
So taking all that into account I don’t think it’ll come as much of a surprise for everyone to hear that I’m giving this week to Ian and Mortal Kombat. Congratulations to Matt on a good debate but Ian made the better case. This is where I normally get told I’m wrong but I’m the decider so shut up and post comments if you’re that bothered.