You’re a martial arts master, skirmishing in a fantasy tournament that either saves or dooms your dimension. Bruised and bleeding, you get the better of your opponent… only to just knock him out?
The seductive truth about Mortal Kombat‘s ultra-bloody Fatalities is that those finishing moves scream, “Here’s what you’d do if you were really fighting against something you hate.” Mortal Kombat‘s digitized, grindhouse kung-fu and adolescent gore fetish awoke something primal and let it out to play in a cordoned-off virtual space.
Could Mortal Kombat have become the bogeyman for anti-games activists and politicians because it reminded them too much of their own campaigns? Maybe. But the reason the 1992 classic remains seminal is because it broke an implicit taboo about what was okay to put in a game. And Western civilization is still standing.