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Mortal Kombat I [SNES]


Mortal Kombat I - Very Hard Mode

Combat. An act that precedes language yet has always defined the human race. If not through formal warfare, then through sport and entertainment. How else may primal Fight-or-Flight instincts be satiated?


As human civilizations advanced, so did hand-to-hand combat techniques. After a millennia of wrestling and a few centuries of boxing, the time honored sport of Martial Arts emerged. Even today, innovations continue as humans create alternate realities to wage digital combat in.


In one universe, Combat is spelled as Kombat. Here, an evil sorcerer calls forth the world's strongest martial artists to participate in the mystical Shaolin Tournament. Players must defeat a slew of mighty opponents in individual Kombat to claim the title of Grand Champion of Earthrealm.


The Challenge? Complete the 1-player Tournament on Very Hard Mode Difficulty.


Is this a worthy Challenge? Let's find out.


Mortal Kombat I - Very Hard Mode


Gameplay


On the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the games Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat helped define the two-dimensional fighting genre of one-on-one combat. In Street Fighter, you fight other mortals in a conventional fighting tournament. In contrast, Mortal Kombatants adhere to the Battle Plan in which players must advance through a ladder bracket of opponents in the Shaolin Tournament.


Mortal Kombat I - Very Hard Mode

Near the top of the ladder awaits Goro; a human dragon hybrid who has not lost the tournament for over 500 years. Attempting to overthrow an immortal reigning champion is incentive enough to attempt Very Hard Mode - the time has come to test The Lord's might.


To begin, seven other ruthless contestants must be defeated. From demigods to Hollywood fighters to esteemed warrior monks, a range of opponents anxiously await to kill the player. Each vie for the title of Grand Champion.


Mortal Kombat I - Very Hard Mode

Lord Rigor chose Raiden, the God of Thunder and honorable protector of Earthrealm. Who else but Raiden is strong enough to overthrow an evil sorcerer and his minions? Capable of searing mortal flesh with lightning, Raiden is up to the task.


Mortal Kombat I - Very Hard Mode


Very Hard Mode


To begin the Rigorous Journey, Lord Rigor had to develop a Game Over framework.


The traditional arcade version of Mortal Kombat only provided 4 tokens. On the SNES, there are no lives resulting in potentially endless deadly efforts without a Game Over. For sanity and thumb health, Lord Rigor followed the arcade model and simply let the timer run out after 5 deaths.


The battlefield is now defined - Fight!


Mortal Kombat I - Very Hard Mode

As expected, different opponents bring different hardships on Very Hard Mode. The most Difficult enemies were, of course, the Ninjas; both Sub-Zero and Scorpion launch long-range moves that stun vulnerable players. Death is swift if punctured by Scorpion's spear chain or if Sub-Zero successfully frostbites.


With enough practice and foresight, these special attacks can be blocked and perhaps counter-attacked. For example, if a player is retreating, one can expect Scorpion to use launch his Spear. Whilst launching, Scorpion is off balance and open to attack. Retaliate!




The Very Hard Mode competition demanded numerous Game Overs providing much reflective time to learn each opponent's idiosyncrasies. Yet, Lord Rigor's Battle Plan was inadequate against such ferocity and was unable to beat more than about 5 opponents per attempt. Notable deaths below:



Alas, as always, a sinister resource awaits the defeated: The Internet of the 21st Century AD. An abhorrent alternative for the desperate of which Lord Rigor has indeed become. Humble and willing, He conducted research into Raiden's special moves in order to survive.


In time, Lord Rigor learned the power of the Gods allowing for flight and teleportation! Although Raiden's lighting strike was never mastered, new offensive and defensive tactics took form. Offensively, the aptly named "Torpedo" attack yields enormous satisfaction by pummeling enemies across stages at subsonic speeds. Rayden could now properly return cross-map lunging favors in response to Liu Kang's Flying Kick and Kano's Spin Attack.



Teleportation to safety became an effective defensive maneuver. Although predictable, the move provides breathing room for the battered warrior. If blocked into a corner of the stage, Rayden's ability to warp to the opposite is of incredible benefit. However, like Scorpion being vulnerable when spearing, so is Rayden when initiating such transcendence.


Mortal Kombat I - Very Hard Mode


Mirror Match


Implementation of these new thunderous tactics helped Lord Rigor beat each individual opponent in one-on-one combat. However, victory was short lived as the Battle Plan took a treacherous turn. Inhabitants at the top of the competition ladder will take any means necessary to win.


One such mongrel includes Rayden, The Imposter. Despite wielding lightning where Lord Rigor could not, this charlatan's torpedo assaults and teleportation retreats were haltered. Beneath an obscured full moon on The Pit stage, The Imposter was thrust to the depths, impaled and left to rot.


Mortal Kombat I - Very Hard Mode


Endurance Match


Although weary yet prepared to bring a worthy fight to the legendary Goro, Lord Rigor was ultimately thwarted. Unbeknownst to Him, the previously beaten opponents regrouped as double teams!


Do those within the Mortal Kombat universe have no Honor? It would appear not.


Aptly titled "Endurance" matches, fighting these deadly squads of two become the next insurmountable Challenge. One opponent on Very Hard Mode is enough but fighting two enemies back-to-back without health restoration proved to be too Difficult.



Unfairness is demotivating. At a time when motivation is needed the most, these brutal battles are the final barriers to becoming the Grand Champion.


In comparison, Lord Rigor's victory in the Final Battle on Primal Rage (SNES) was fair and did not require internet research. At least on Urth, the Dinosaurs were provided the opportunity to gain additional health by eating humans. Yes, in that primeval setting, multiple enemies allied together but defensive health conservation assured success. Mortal Kombat offers no such remediation.


In a best of three match on Very Hard Mode, Lord Rigor managed to win a single Endurance match round. Kano and Johnny Cage swiftly ended the celebration. The Battle Plan was flawed from the outset and Lord Rigor never won again.



Conclusion


Is this a worthy Challenge? No.


The Shaolin Tournament does not reflect an honorable reality. As soon as the esteemed Raiden began to show too much promise of success, death was delivered immediately. One versus many on Very Hard Mode is simply not a worthy commitment of the soul. For the fair one-on-one Kombats, the lessons learned were gratifyingly Rigorous.


As such, Raiden proved Himself. He conquered each opponent fairly and is satisfied with His fighting achievements. It is time to shed human skin and teleport back to the thunder clouds. Never to return to the land of endlessly fighting humans.

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