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Everything We Love and Hate About Mortal Kombat 1

Before we begin, this article is dedicated to an early build of Mortal Kombat 1, which I’m aware will have incurred changes and improvements by the time this article is published, but it’s likely that its overall message will retain relevance after the game’s official release. Also, a word of caution: this article equally serves as an open letter written from the perspective of a passionate fan who loves this series and wants to see it thrive. But I’m part of a collective of genuine fans, and I urge you to stick with me until the end as I make the case for the things many of us love and others, not so much about the series’ new entry and the era it’s ushering in.

On Friday, June 23rd, the stress test for Mortal Kombat 1 went online. Sadly, I wasn’t among the few who experienced the game firsthand. However, thanks to the feedback, trailers, and extensive commentary, there is ample information about  this highly anticipated game.

Our beloved franchise has returned, but not without challenges and controversies. From the moment its title was announced, Mortal Kombat 1 has sparked debates among its  community of fans. While a deep dive into all the issues is a task for another day, this article focuses on the consensus regarding various facets of Mortal Kombat 1. It’s also noteworthy that this release coincides with the closing out of the franchise’s 30th-anniversary celebration.

For over three decades, the Mortal Kombat franchise has continued to evolve, leading to some controversial outcomes. These include deviations in lore and gameplay, varied opinions about the extent of changes, and vocal disapproval from both new and longtime fans. Yet, many developers would probably agree that receiving criticism is better than being ignored.

For many fans of the franchise, Mortal Kombat remains a nostalgic first love that continues to captivate yet occasionally vex us. With the influx of new information about Mortal Kombat 1 and feedback from the stress test, now is the perfect time to reflect on this love-hate dynamic.

In tribute to Mortal Kombat’s indelible legacy and its bright future, I’ve compiled a list of 30 observations about the franchise’s new baby. This list covers both what we love and what we think could use improvement. I’ve aimed for a balanced scale, and while current opinions may lean more towards one side, I believe the good will ultimately dominate by the time the game is officially launched. These observations span gameplay mechanics, visuals, storyline, and more. It’d be great to end things on a high note, so, we’ll start with the negatives:


Cons of Mortal Kombat

1. The title

When the title of the next Mortal Kombat game was leaked, many fans dismissed it as a silly rumor. But when it was officially announced that “Mortal Kombat 1” was, in fact, the title for the next game, noticeable was the look of horror and dread on many faces, followed by complaints that it was nonsensical, uncreative, and confusing.

2. Directional layout

In Mortal Kombat 11, the imprecise directions for some characters’ moves forced players to go through the grueling task of trying to figure them out on their own. Similarly, some people who played Mortal Kombat 1 have said that the directional inputs can be a bit janky. At times players were confused about the instructions, such as whether to go forward-back or back-forward or whether or not they were supposed to be pressing what was being displayed.

3. Slow ground and air movement

The overall pacing of gameplay has received a lot of attention. The reception of the walking speed alone has been mixed among the community. Some have said it feels like wading through quicksand, while others have said that the walking speed is perfect but the strings feel clunky. I think the conflict lies somewhere between ground and air movement, including jumping, dashing, and combo strings, all of which feel very sluggish.

4. No run button

The removal of the run button in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance seemed to be an attempt by the developers to emulate the feel of the early 90s classics. Yet many players believed that the run feature, introduced in Mortal Kombat 3, had actually improved the pacing of the gameplay. Despite the negative feedback from the 11th installment regarding the absence of this feature, it’s still missing, and the dashing mechanic doesn’t seem to be an adequate replacement.

5. Insufficient dash range

Many people who have played the game complained about the lack of dash range, not only in ground coverage but also in variety, with no dash blocking, wave dashing, back dashing, or dash canceling in sight, features  which were present in other entries like Mortal Kombat 9, for instance.

6. Input delay

A number of people have complained about hit detection. They’ve reported that they had to press the buttons at just the right time to get lucky enough to perform a certain action or combo. Otherwise, the computer often performed a completely different command than what was intended. Or a character would respond to a hit without being touched, even while being inches away from the opponent.

7. A cluttered screen

With all the sparks, projectiles, explosions, and assist fighters running back and forth, the gameplay, at times, feels  overly busy. For example, Liu Kang’s flip kick, accompanied by a dragon, seems less impactful than if it were just the kick itself. Things like this can make the environment feel cluttered.

8. Post-mortem fatalities and fatal blows

Over-the-top fatalities are a staple of Mortal Kombat, without question. But even fatalities once had boundaries without compromising creativity. They weren’t always so accessible or explicit but had a sense of mystique about them. They were like the cherries on top of an already delicious cake. Now with every new entry, the fatalities have become more and more grotesque until they’ve lost the meaning of dying with honor and have taken on a more literal demeanor as opposed to creative, and seem more focused on cruelty and overkill. It’s basically become “murder porn,” which has even crossed over into super moves called fatal blows.

9. Lack of classic moves

The song “Dance With the One That Brought You” resonates when considering the changes to character move sets in Mortal Kombat. Characters are iconic not just for their personalities but also for their distinct skills. These “special” moves help define them. Take Sonya Blade’s leg grab, for instance. It’s as emblematic of her as the moonwalk is of Michael Jackson. Its absence in Mortal Kombat 11 made her feel incomplete. While Mortal Kombat 1 restores her iconic moves, other characters seem to have lost their unique identity.

10. Unrecognizable characters

Smoke, Rain, and especially Tanya, have undergone significant changes in their moves, lore, and appearance. While fans appreciate reinvention, some characters now seem unrecognizable. We value innovation, but there’s a fine line between refreshing a character and distorting them. Striving for freshness shouldn’t forsake the continuity and essence that made them fan favorites to begin with.

11. No advancement in graphics

When many viewers first saw the gameplay trailer, it was jarring to them how different the in-game graphics were from the cinematic trailer. The moment it stood out to most people was when Johnny Cage’s face was shown, but even from the point of Kung Lao’s reveal, people couldn’t help but notice that not only had these character models not improved, but they seemingly regressed when compared to the previous game.

12. A downsized Goro

“Who is that?” and “Why is he so small in this game?” was the inner dialogue many fans had in common after Goro’s new design was shown in the first gameplay trailer. The difference was so noticeable that it provoked many to voice this concern openly. Goro is a powerhouse of iconic proportions, so naturally, seeing him shrunken down to an average height feels, to many, like a flagrant disservice to his character.        

13. Contact/hit sounds

When playing a fighting game, music isn’t the only sound that sucks us into the action; it’s also the sound of a fist striking flesh, the slicing from a blade, the clanging of metal, the emission of energy waves, the cracking of lightning, and the roaring of thunder. It seemed this was understood in the earliest  Mortal Kombat games and even carried over into some of the  3D entries, but in the last few games, the sound quality has been notably muffled and dull, an issue that it doesn’t seem has been resolved.

14. Weapon stances only

In recent Mortal Kombat games, fighters have seemed defined by their weapon choices, making these characters feel more like toy soldiers than people. For instance, in Mortal Kombat 1, Rain, previously a ninja skilled in hand-to-hand combat and also known for his water-bending powers. In this game, he now wields a scepter, which, like the three-bladed katar in the previous game, pronouncedly deviates from his established lore. Kitana, too, while always associated with steel fans, was previously portrayed as more than just a fan lady but a warrior princess with diverse battle skills. Mortal Kombat’s essence is hand-to-hand combat, and focusing too much on weapons seems to diminish the depth of its characters.

15. No dialogue in Classic Towers

Pre-fight dialogue has been a thing in fighting games for many years and a fixture in Mortal Kombat since Mortal Kombat X. Intros give a lot of life to the characters and insight into the world of Mortal Kombat. Taking away connective elements such as this, even if it is only during a certain mode, robs players of the full immersion experience.

16. A hostage Kameo situation

The biggest concern people have shown for Mortal Kombat 1 is the new Kameo system. However, while many have despised the concept, others have embraced it, making it the most divisive feature to kick off this new era. I think this mechanic has, both, benefits and drawbacks, but the fact that it is a required feature in combat instead of an optional one causes the bad to outweigh the good.


PRO's of Mortal Kombat

17. New meter burn system

Many people didn’t like the automatic refilling meters in Mortal Kombat 11, and some even considered it a step backward. It appears the developers understood this, and unless things change between now and the game’s release, fans will be happy to know that the meter will not fill itself automatically this time.

18. Return of the classic breaker system

Many players complained about the breakaway system in Mortal Kombat 11 and how it was a downgrade from the older breaker system, so what a pleasure it is to see that the classic system has made its return!

19. Higher Combo Potential

With more juggles, mix-ups, and a bigger emphasis on aerial combat, it appears that we have a more malleable string system, providing more creative potential in the area of combos.

20. No more variations

Variations may have been something fun to try out at first, but the more players utilized them, the more we all realized that we had to choose between incomplete versions of our characters. Many gamers echoed this sentiment after Mortal Kombat 11 and now rejoice at the news that Mortal Kombat 1 is giving us only one definitive version of our favorite character with a complete move set.

21. Upward block mechanic

One development that seems promising is an up-block mechanic. Apparently, by holding up when you block, your character can adopt a high-blocking stance that allows instant recovery and gives the character the ability to hit someone out of a jump. I sincerely hope we get to see a tweaked version of this new feature in the game’s final version!

22. Beautiful stages

I must say that all of the stages that I’ve seen so far look breathtaking. Since its genesis, intriguing environments have been a staple in the Mortal Kombat franchise, but not all stages are created equal, and at times, some of the surrounding environments looked  washed out and lifeless. Fans worldwide will be happy to see the lively and colorful stages of Mortal Kombat 1.

23. Better costumes

During Mortal Kombat’s early 3D era, many fans observed characters donning overly elaborate costumes.” While intricate outfits have their place, the majority of fans prefer simpler styles. In Mortal Kombat 1, character outfits mostly achieve a balance between elegance and simplicity, though there’s always room for improvement.

24. No more loading screens

That darn loading screen! We’ve had to deal with it since the days of the first PlayStation   up to the last Mortal Kombat installment. I think I speak for everyone when I say I’m glad the loading screens are gone!

25. Smooth transition to intros

I’ve heard many people echo my own thoughts on the seamless transition between the fighter clashes right into their intros and fighting stances. Some have complained that the clash screen is too much like that of an Injustice game, but many find them reassuringly similar to the classic “versus” screens that started all the way back in Mortal Kombat 3.

26. Better music

The music of Mortal Kombat 1 seems to have a tempo that’s more congruent with the  essence of the original Mortal Kombat trilogy. The soundtracks of the last few game seemed to be monotonous and forgettable. absent of  Kombat , which led to many unhappy fans. Thankfully, it seems the game’s developers listened to the fans and provided new catchy soundtracks inspired by the classic games. The difference is clearly noticed and is music to our ears!

27. An immersive story

The Konquest mode in Mortal Kombat: Deception was a fan favorite, and for many years, fans have wanted it to make a return. Based on the developers’ promise of “an immersive story mode,” we can only deduce that something very similar will be included in Mortal Kombat 1. An immersive experience is what we want, and a well-thought-out storyline that allows some level of interaction is an intricate part of that experience.

28. A new storyline

Most fighting game enthusiasts have agreed that Mortal Kombat has the most intriguing storyline out of them all. However, many also agree that the story has become riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies over time. As much as we’ve loved the Mortal Kombat storyline, thankfully, the studio seems more in tune with the mass of fans who felt that it was time for a momentous flip in the script.

29. People and items on the stages

While it’s unclear how interactive the environments will be, or if background interactables will be included, we’ve observed items on stages that move or break upon impact. In the bar stage, bystanders react to the fights. The number of stages that include such background interactions remains to be seen, but these details bring vitality and realism to the settings.

30. The return of 3D-era characters

Many fans thought that the 3D era of Mortal Kombat brought some of the most attractive and interesting characters to the series. Unfortunately, they were soon dropped like a hot potato. It looks like the studio has listened to the years of fan outcry for their return, and what a treat it is for us to finally see many of our favorite unsung characters alongside the classic ones!


I’ll close out this article with some candid thoughts. Watching the cinematic announcement trailer for Mortal Kombat 1, I was thrilled until a certain phrase was followed by an abrupt change from colorful and deep to dark and debased. As someone who experienced the debut of Mortal Kombat in arcades and felt the mystique it once held, it was disheartening to see its change in direction.

Though Mortal Kombat 1’s campaign slogan is “a new era,” every Mortal Kombat game by NRS has seemed like a soft reboot. This one borrows many graphical and gameplay elements from Mortal Kombat 11, which lacked the compelling depth of its predecessors. It also carried over the tradition of erasing the identifying traits of its established characters and tacking a familiar name onto them, as though players were expected to not feel their absence. Many feel that the game is either not different enough or too divergent, leading to mixed reviews.

However, notwithstanding my reservations after the trailer and being witness to a gamut of mixed reactions, my excitement for the franchise prevailed. I preordered Mortal Kombat 1 from GameStop on Day 1, and despite everything, my faith remains unshaken. Mortal Kombat is an icon, a movement, an experience. And like any cultural phenomenon, it’s bound to be divisive and controversial on occasion. I genuinely believe that the good in this game will ultimately outweigh the bad, and that this franchise will continue to improve. Overall, the game looks fun and reminds me of the joy the original brought me 30 years ago. I’d say this is a franchise worth investing in.

This article is written by “Fire 7”. Check out his Twitter account @Fire7Beyond for more. Also, enjoy the references below.


Mortal Kombat has fostered an incredible community over the years. Engaging with fellow fans and sharing creative ideas is always enjoyable. Though we sometimes have differences, we unite over our shared passion. Among this community lies an array of valuable treasures. Many fans might recognize the unCAGEDgamez channel, but other noteworthy contributors in this community worth checking out are: History Behind the Warrior, TrueUnderdogGaming, Realm Kast, NetherKast, Kenny Bomb, Kombat Kings, and BruskPoet, among many others. I’ve highlighted some video analyses below that offer insightful feedback on Mortal Kombat 1 pre-release.

1. Mortal Kombat 1 Has These AMAZING Features, by Tooten

2. How Good Is Mortal Kombat 1?… by Super 

3. Let’s Be HONEST With Mortal Kombat 1…, by BruskPoet

4. Mortal Kombat 1: The BIG PROBLEM W/ Smoke and Rain Reveals…, by BruskPoet

5. Holy Sh**! Mortal Kombat 1 Online Stress Test GAMEPLAY THOUGHTS!, by NetherKast

6. Mortal Kombat 1 SDCC Trailer Thoughts! (NetherKast ep. 157), by NetherKast 

7. Shredcast Ep. 20 – Consistency and Continuity in Mortal Kombat feat Shaf and Razor of NetherKast, by Shred Gaming 

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