[Friday Five] Most Overlooked Elements of Mortal Kombat

Perhaps one of the most unfortunate similarities amongst fighting games is that there are always a number of aspects that are misunderstood or ignored amongst the inexperienced. Knowing everything there is to a fighting game is paramount in determining the probabilities of your wins, as well as setting yourself apart from the newbies and gimmick chasers. Mortal Kombat is no exception. Here are the top five most misconstrued elements of MK9. Pay attention: you might learn a thing or two.

There’s a ‘Block Button’

It may sound silly to have something so apparent brought up, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Being that MK9 is the only fighting game that uses such a feature, the acquired habit of holding back to block tends to induce amnesia of defense. It’s good to develop an itchy trigger finger syndrome for the block button, especially since there is no auto-blocking in the game. Furthermore, it allows one to take an immediate stance of defense at any given point.

Know Which Way to Block

Knowing if an attack hits low, mid, or high has always been a quintessential part of offense and defense. While it’s easy to identify attack ranges in other games by sight, MK9 makes it a very odd deal. Some attacks that look as though they’d hit low actually can be blocked high (Freddy’s Hell Spike), and some attacks that look as if they’d hit high are overheads (Sub-Zero’s F+RK). Whoever you choose to play as, it’s always good to go into training mode, turn on the attack identifier, and find out the ranges to all your characters’ moves. It may seem tedious, but one player’s ignorance can be another’s victory.

Don’t Turtle

Given the fast paced nature of the game, it’s not a good idea to rely on turtling. A lot of beginners assume that blocking low and sitting in one place is an excellent fortress tactic. But all anyone has to do is walk up and throw you. So much for that idea.

Another important note, never start or participate in fireball wars. In Street Fighter, this is a sound tactic as projectiles collide with one another – an integral variable of zoning strategy. However, in MK, projectiles pass through one another, therefore both parties will take damage. If you have a life lead, it’s tempting to give in to fire fights, but the tables can easily turn if your opponent is sitting on an X-Ray.

Meter Management

Most fighting games nowadays have you managing multiple meters. The Street Fighter IV series provides an Ultra and Super meter. You get to manage your EX attacks but you can sit on an Ultra for however long you want for a needed comeback or moment of dominance. MK9, on the other hand, only gives you one meter (segmented into three parts) and every bit of it is precious.

Keep in mind there are 5 ways to build meter in Mortal Kombat:

  1. By taking damage from your opponent.
  2. When your opponent blocks your attacks.
  3. By performing any special move.
  4. A free segment of meter is granted to whoever lands the first attack.
  5. Full meter granted to whoever lands a hit after Dan Forden shouts “Toasty!”

For two bars spent, you can perform a Breaker for escaping high damaging combos. A lot of newbies tend to forget its existence, which is calamitous. While this feature is a godsend, it’s not meant to occur on a consistent basis due to its high cost. A Breaker is meant to give you a second chance so use it to regain the fight rather than waiting on the next time you can use it. Furthermore, forcing someone to use a breaker is a strategy all to its own as it could drain your opponent’s entire meter. Also remember, you can only use breakers against attacks where the opponent is striking you with their limbs, except X-Rays. That means you can’t break out of projectiles, certain grabs, and attacks where energy is used as an extension (Raiden’s Vicinity Blast).

X-Rays are probably the most recognized meter feature. While it’s definitely a sight to combo into one, remember that damage scaling is still a big factor. Thus, depending on the character you’re playing, getting combo happy isn’t always advisable. After all, you’re spending an entire meter. X-Rays also come with a complimentary initial startup of super armor – ideal for up close, uninterrupted surprises. However, each character’s X-Ray attack comes with its own unique properties. As mentioned before, fireball wars can be negated by certain X-Rays. Examples: Scorpion’s and Smoke’s causes them to teleport to the other side when initiated, and Reptile’s gives him the ability to pass through projectiles. With such ingrained properties, such characters are usually best off performing “naked” X-Rays.

Finally, enhanced attacks shouldn’t just be perceived as providing extra damage compared to their originals. Certain enhanced attacks also yield unique properties, such as Scorpion’s enhanced Spear, which grants super armor (great against enemy fire), while others open possibilities of high damaging combos – Cyrax’s enhanced Bomb can net 56% – 73% damage combos while the highest possible damage with an X-Ray combo yields only 50%-60% damage. That’s one meter spent compared to spending an entire meter. Which would you rather do?

Nothing lasts forever

Ever since MK9 hit the scene, there’s been a flood of combos and strategies brought to light, many of them viewable on YouTube. However, due to NetherRealm Studios making a conscious effort to create auto-update patches, many of these findings become irrelevant in a matter of time. Examples include the removals of Kung Lao’s Dive Kick Loops, Cyrax’s Bomb Trap, and Kabal’s Block String Infinite.

As of now, more is being discovered, especially in the case of Skarlet, Freddy, Sonya, and Cyrax. It’s not a bad thing to commit these findings to your list of Things To Do in Training Mode, but don’t be surprised if the day comes that they’re either erased or modified. It’s best to keep your expectations to a minimum.


Posted on August 12, 2011, in Friday Five and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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