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Question Why does every Mortal Kombat have to be completely different than the last?

IlluvialCE

Ruler of the Skies
Title. I have always been mildly interested in MK but I never really paid much attention to the series outside of playing MK9 a fair amount in high school. For some reason I recently had a hankerin for Mortal Kombat (probably due to the movie) so I dusted off my copy of MK9 and started having a blast! It took me a while to find a character that clicked with me but the moment I realized how unique and fun ice clone was, Sub Zero became an instant go-to pick for me. I've been labbing the character out for a while now and everyday I'm learning new tech and further optimizing my combos.

So then I hear that MKX is getting a sort of revival within the community. Cool, I haven't really played MKX but I enjoyed watching it. Oh cool there's an entire variation centered around Ice Clone! Oh wait, it doesn't really function like MK9's does. Also all of his buttons are completely different. Slide also doesn't feel or behave the same way either. Now there's a run button too. huh...

Then I play MK11 and its the same thing again. Oh so we have slower movement speed, slower dashes and no run button. All of Sub's normals are different and now we don't even have an ice clone.

So between all 3 games Sub Zero controls completely differently. Different buttons, different aesthetic (in MK11), different specials and playstyle. What the hell gives? In any other franchise characters are fairly consistent between games and while system mechanics change the core fundamentals of that franchise and how characters behave remains fairly consistent. I'm not saying that MK is never allowed to change, but every game feels like its entirely own thing and its just so jarring. The 3 NRS titles alone are complete paradigm shifts that play and feel almost nothing like each other and that's just on a systems level, let alone how characters get complete gameplay makeovers every game.

Why is this? Why does every game have to play wildly different and throw away mechanics while inventing new ones, and why do characters have to change almost entirely between games? Its probably the most frustrating thing about the franchise to me. How am I supposed to be invested in a franchise where the only thing that's consistent is the hyperviolence and names of the characters?

This isn't even a "MK11 bad" or anything like that. I'm just so confused why this company seems hellbent on reinventing the wheel with every release and why that's so appealing for some.
 

Cobainevermind87

Mid-match beer sipper
They always just demolish what they've built, and try to build from the ground up when it comes to their FLAGSHIP IP. I don't know why. It baffles me every time. I don't know of any other FG dev that does this with their most popular franchise.

Injustice 2 was a legacy game to IGAU. Not much changed. Wakeup/meterbuild/clash mechanics still intact. As were most of the strings for returning characters.

But for some reason, they love to just radically change every MK entry. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I wish they would just tweak and refine and build from what they've done in previous MKs, like they did from IJ1 to IJ2.

But nah, let's make it slow this time around. All about the neutral. Let's make it so that you have to spend bar to launch. Let's include KBs, but we'll give certain characters access to 6, whilst others have 1 or 2 viably. We'll do away with the usual wakeup system, we'll give you u3s and u2s and forward rolls and back rolls. Hell, who needs them even? Wakeup buttons do just as well. Some u3s will have massive range, and some won't, we don't care.

MK11 is the only fighting game in my life where I feel like I have to play defensively after knocking down/opening up my opponent. If they have two bars of defensive meter, you need to keep your juggles safe so as not to be punished if they breakaway mid juggle. Opener into launch into d2 to stay safe because they have breakaway. They know you know it, so they didn't spend their bars. Now you left damage on the table to stay safe for opening up/juggling your opponent.

On knockdown, it's still not your turn, even if they have no defensive meter. Throw out a meaty string, eat wakeup buttons or them just holding up. Whatevs.
 

Law Hero

Reach Heaven through violence
It’s to keep things fresh and it’s what the mass audience (non competitors) appreciate.
This SEEMS logical, but I don't know. Aren't series like Call of Duty, FIFA, NBA games, etc notorious for just being decades long rehashes of the same game over and over again? And yet those have been extremely lucrative amongst the casual crowd. The same goes for shit movies like Transformers. The casual audience may know it's garbage, but it's garbage they know, and they like that. That's usually how those things work. If anything, I think it's actually bold of NRS to change things up so much.

It's probably for the developers' sake that it changes so much from iteration to iteration. I'm sure it'd get boring doing the same thing over and over again, so they make something new to keep work interesting. That's just my guess though.
 
I love rotating between MK9, MKX, and MK11 and getting 3 totally different and fun experiences. I have little desire to go back to Injustice 1....it's too similiar to Injustice 2 for me. I also kind of regret buying it (I bought it many years after release) I know the saying if it isnt broken dont fix it, but why buy the same product twice if it's more or less the same thing? The graphic update isnt a big deal to me. MK9 is still a good looking game imo.
 

IlluvialCE

Ruler of the Skies
I love rotating between MK9, MKX, and MK11 and getting 3 totally different and fun experiences. I have little desire to go back to Injustice 1....it's too similiar to Injustice 2 for me. I also kind of regret buying it (I bought it many years after release) I know the saying if it isnt broken dont fix it, but why buy the same product twice if it's more or less the same thing? The graphic update isnt a big deal to me. MK9 is still a good looking game imo.
I think looking at something like Street Fighter can highlight how games can share DNA and build on each other while being wildly different. SF2 through SFV are all super unique and fresh experiences that share a lot of the fundamental gameplay and have characters doing all of their familiar moves in systems that allow for different results.

Its the ideal way to do it imo
 

Immortal

Blind justice....
Title. I have always been mildly interested in MK but I never really paid much attention to the series outside of playing MK9 a fair amount in high school. For some reason I recently had a hankerin for Mortal Kombat (probably due to the movie) so I dusted off my copy of MK9 and started having a blast! It took me a while to find a character that clicked with me but the moment I realized how unique and fun ice clone was, Sub Zero became an instant go-to pick for me. I've been labbing the character out for a while now and everyday I'm learning new tech and further optimizing my combos.

So then I hear that MKX is getting a sort of revival within the community. Cool, I haven't really played MKX but I enjoyed watching it. Oh cool there's an entire variation centered around Ice Clone! Oh wait, it doesn't really function like MK9's does. Also all of his buttons are completely different. Slide also doesn't feel or behave the same way either. Now there's a run button too. huh...

Then I play MK11 and its the same thing again. Oh so we have slower movement speed, slower dashes and no run button. All of Sub's normals are different and now we don't even have an ice clone.

So between all 3 games Sub Zero controls completely differently. Different buttons, different aesthetic (in MK11), different specials and playstyle. What the hell gives? In any other franchise characters are fairly consistent between games and while system mechanics change the core fundamentals of that franchise and how characters behave remains fairly consistent. I'm not saying that MK is never allowed to change, but every game feels like its entirely own thing and its just so jarring. The 3 NRS titles alone are complete paradigm shifts that play and feel almost nothing like each other and that's just on a systems level, let alone how characters get complete gameplay makeovers every game.

Why is this? Why does every game have to play wildly different and throw away mechanics while inventing new ones, and why do characters have to change almost entirely between games? Its probably the most frustrating thing about the franchise to me. How am I supposed to be invested in a franchise where the only thing that's consistent is the hyperviolence and names of the characters?

This isn't even a "MK11 bad" or anything like that. I'm just so confused why this company seems hellbent on reinventing the wheel with every release and why that's so appealing for some.
Simple answer is.... money.

Casual playerd don't want to play the same game for next 10 years. They want new exciting things, every time. NRS(WB) caters their games to casual players coz obviously that's where the money is. Doing endless updates to an already released (sold) product doesn't make sense for FG which was proven many times over and Capcom almost went bankrupt doing exactly that.

Usually the way its done these days - company just leaves a small "maintenance" team for support of already released game, to make patches / small content updates etc... and the rest of the studio is already working on a new / next game.

Anyway, like i said the asnwer is money.
 

NaCl man

Welcome to Akihabara
Street Fighter also does it. Every time a brand new game is made, it was made from scratch with different mechanics than the last one and the characters play differently than from before.
Mechanics yeah all games do that or at least add.
But the core game is still the same. You can throw a fireball in sf2 you can throw a fireball in sfv. Inputs don't really change and the core game is still there.
 

Zviko

Noob
Because if they didn't make it completely different it would be like most sport games where all they do is add new kits and transfer players - basically everything you can do by yourself except you don't have to pay triple AAA price for it.
 
But the core game is still the same. You can throw a fireball in sf2 you can throw a fireball in sfv. Inputs don't really change and the core game is still there
True. In terms of moveset Ryu hasn't changed much since SF2 beyond a few new supers and some extra normals. SF seems to change their characters based on move properties and the system mechanics define how they play in the game.

MK on the other hand seems to define it's characters by their story or background and/or specials/weapons. Characters may not necessarily play the same each game, but it's still quite evident who they are. Since most of the old double tap moves were removed long ago (3D games?), i think inputs have stayed pretty consistent.

As for why? Dev's might like the change or challenge of doing something different, or they might think their player base wants something different. Or they just feel that is one of MK's hallmarks along with the gore and fatalities.

As for whether it's a good thing or not, that's for each person to decide. I'd like for there to be some legacy beyond a characters traits. Even if it's 1 or 2 strings that carry over between games, even if it's different ones in subsequent games, it's just enough to have some familiarity. That said, i also don't really care if characters are changed dramatically, i play the characters i like rather than play an archetype which may be dictated by the character as in a legacy based game.
 
Mechanics yeah all games do that or at least add.
But the core game is still the same. You can throw a fireball in sf2 you can throw a fireball in sfv. Inputs don't really change and the core game is still there.
Inputs do change (tiger knee, uppercut and 360 motions for example) and the core game of SF2 is wildly different to say SF3 or SFV BUT, a lot of the movesets between different games usually stay the same.

Shoto low forward, Ryu's and Ken's overheads and so much more stay in the game.

Tbh though, I'm happy that NRS changes the moves of the characters. While SF and Guilty Gear have robust, good-looking and well animated moves in all their games, NRS has the jankiest shit imaginable.

Just think of any d3 before MK11...
 

Pizza

Thrill Kill
There's not much sense of legacy. Injustice would've been the perfect franchise to experiment and do weird things.
 

Juggs

Lose without excuses
Lead Moderator
The only time the gameplay was very similar to the previous MK, was from UMK3 to MKT. Is it a coincidence these 2 games are regarded as arguably the best MK games, or at the very least the most fun. They also happen to be a lot of peoples most favorite MK games. Aside from that, the only other ones I can think of, aside from like, MK4 to MKG or something, is Injustice to Injustice 2, which obviously aren’t MK games.

Anyway, to answer your question, there really isn’t much benefit to NRS for keeping the gameplay very similar. The only real benefit is less work they have to do, that’s pretty much it. Which to be fair, that’s a pretty big benefit if I’m being honest.
 

IlluvialCE

Ruler of the Skies
Anyway, to answer your question, there really isn’t much benefit to NRS for keeping the gameplay very similar. The only real benefit is less work they have to do, that’s pretty much it. Which to be fair, that’s a pretty big benefit if I’m being honest.
I'd also argue it would allow them to build on ideas and systems to create a more functional and fresh game.
 

Arqwart

Fatal Blowing at the Speed of Liiiiight
Not all fighting game franchises do the "reinvent every release" thing so at this point, I think it's just a holdover from the 90s for both Capcom and NRS. Ironically, the 3D era was basically the only time that the MK Midway team kept things predominantly similar and simply built on existing mechanics (breakers, aerial combat, weapons, etc.). I'd argue that in the modern NRS trilogy, the games are still pretty damn similar in style. They still feel like MK games no matter which of the 3 you're playing. The fundamentals are set to different paces, but the fundamentals themselves are mostly the same (save for MKX having run).

I totally understand the frustration of characters being partially or completely reinvented between games, though. It's very odd to me that they don't at least keep key iconic moves (and maybe even strings) between games to have solid bases for legacy characters. Jade losing returning razor-rang is jarring. Kitana losing fan combos is jarring. Sub's clone being relegated to a custom variation move is jarring. Kabal's low buzzsaw being a custom variation move and gas blast being removed is jarring. 2 of Rain's 3 iconic moves being relegated to custom variation moves is jarring. The list goes on. However, I believe NRS does a good job at making sure most characters retain their identity despite specials and strings being tossed around between releases.
 

Art Lean

Noob
Honestly one of my favourite things about Mortal Kombat is that most of the games feel very unique and self-contained, with only broad carry-overs from the previous titles. It really makes each game stand on its own and means that we can all love different titles for very different reasons.

The only thing that does kind of annoy me is when basic but very iconic special moves like Scorpion's harpoon and Sub Zero's freeze get their inputs changed for no valid reason - it makes playing the old titles quite disorientating.

If it's simply a similar move or a variation on a move, I don't mind a few button changes, especially as the controls understandably changed for the 3D era and then again for the modern "nu-2D era" (or whatever you want to call it), but a few of those moves are so iconic it feels like change for the sake of change; like why keep the same d-pad motion for Sub Zero's freeze but change the follow-up input button? Whilst Scorpion's harpoon for me feels so much more satisfying and responsive on the classic away-away d-pad input first rather than away-towards (not a big fan of away-towards or towards-away inputs on any special move to be honest).

But other than that I've always enjoyed the largely unique identity (beyond compilation titles or expansions) that each MK game has predominantly had even in the way that different characters played, controlled and felt. I never really "got" Kabal until MK11, maybe it's just his personality that hooked me (no pun intended) in the new game, but I love how he plays in the latest game, which proves to me that just because I didn't care for a character previously, that doesn't mean I'll dislike them in the next game. I don't think I even have a main character across the franchise because of this, it's changed so much from game to game that's one of the things that's kept my love for MK alive for so long because it's helped me truly love so many characters in constantly evolving ways because of that.
 
Whilst Scorpion's harpoon for me feels so much more satisfying and responsive on the classic away-away d-pad input first rather than away-towards (not a big fan of away-towards or towards-away inputs on any special move to be honest).
The change to Scorpion's Spear, as well as all F,F, or B,B inputs, where adjusted in Mortal Kombat X and beyond so they wouldn't conflict with Dash/Run inputs.
 

Art Lean

Noob
The change to Scorpion's Spear, as well as all F,F, or B,B inputs, where adjusted in Mortal Kombat X and beyond so they wouldn't conflict with Dash/Run inputs.
I can totally understand it in the present day, but I meant when it was first changed massively during the 3D era (but I can't remember the controls for those off the top of my head so maybe that was for a technical reason then too?). But I still don't like away-towards/towards-away inputs, I tend to fuck them up a lot. Either I've got terrible motor skills or my controllers are getting old (probably both... albeit mostly the former), but they're moves that often tend to fail to register when I try them. :(

Still at least we've got the vitally important 'switch stance' button to make up for it :D