Popular titles Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and King of Fighters have sequels. With the early 2017 release of Tekken 7 so close, I figured it’s time that we look into good and bad fighting game sequels. Before I get into more depth with the article, there is something that needs clarification in regards to fighting game sequels.
Unless you are new to fighting games, you will see a fighting game like Mortal Kombat and say, “Dang, there are ten MK’s already?” Well, actually there have been 13 Mortal Kombat games. In between Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat 4 there was Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy. In between Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance (AKA MK5) there were Mortal Kombat Gold. Also there was that nightmare MK vs DC universe that I won’t touch with a eleven and a half foot pole.
The reason for these games was to add more characters (also fatalities) and to buy some time before newer MK games came out. Capcom is notorious for doing this to Street Fighter as well. There are several Street Fighter 2’s, 3’s, and there are four street fighter 4’s. Each game has additional characters, different systems (like the parry system in 3rd strike), and different stages. So long story short, when I talk about sequels in this article don’t be surprised when it isn’t a direct canonical sequel. Now, lets get on with this.
Vampire Savior a.k.a Darkstalkers 3: Jedah’s Damnation
The Darkstalkers franchise is a series of 2D Gothic horror-themed fighting games produced by Capcom during the mid-1990’s using Capcom’s CPS II arcade hardware. There have been three main entries in the series with two “updated” titles and several compilations whiche include the current Darkstalkers Resurrection. The characters of Darkstalkers are based off well known fictional characters and monsters ranging from vampires to werewolves.
While the initial Darkstalkers started the series, it was in fact Vampire savior, or Darkstalkers 3: Jedah’s Damnation, which became the best sequel of the franchise. According to hardcoregaming101, Darkstalkers 3 blows the previous two games out of the water. Capcom tried giving Darkstalkers 3 a deeper backstory than previous installments. In addition to story, the stages were drastically improved, a fifteen character roster, and an overall faster paced game.
Vampire Savior to this day still gets decent play out of it in tournaments as well. Large tournaments like Combo breaker, CEO TAKU, and Canada Cup encourage players from the around the world to come enjoy watching or playing Vampire Savior. Unfortunately though, because Vampire Savior didn’t reach MKX levels of sales after being released, the game has yet to see another sequel by Capcom. Fans have been longing for a Vampire Savior 4 much like they have been waiting for Marvel vs Capcom 4 or a decent Resident Evil game.
Turning away from a fighting game sequel that did things right, it’s time to turn to a fighting game sequel which did pretty much everything wrong.
Mortal Kombat Armageddon
Damn, it’s really sad to admit this. Being a Mortal Kombat baby since I was 5 years old, it’s hard to admit when your favorite game franchise of all time got some things wrong. However, this is exactly the truth. Mortal Kombat has one of the most awful fighting game sequels of all time.
Mortal Kombat is one of the most iconic videogames of all time. So iconic in fact, it is pretty much responsible for the ESRB rating system for video games (Thanks Bi-Han). Being one of the most violent video games are the market also means Mortal Kombat got its fair share of blame for violence in the real world a la the moral crisis of the 90s (Thanks Jack Thompson).
Mortal Kombat was the first iteration in the MK series. It was developed as a reaction to Street Fighter II with digitized graphics. Mortal Kombat was noted for its simplicity of controls and exotic special moves, and it’s tendency to replace the letter “c” in a word with the letter ‘k’, thus deliberately misspelling the word “combat” in the title, as well as an other words that begin with the letter ‘c’ (with the exception of ‘Cage’ for some reason).
Mortal Kombat has since spawned 13 different fighting games and 3 action games featuring the original Sub -Zero (Bi-han), Jackson Briggs (Jax), and the Kung Fu twins (Liu Kang and Kung Lao). Each sequel after the first Mortal Kombat gets better and better until Mortal Kombat Armageddon.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon is the seventh title in the Mortal Kombat series. The story basically had all the playable characters from all previous iterations of Mortal Kombat games come together for a final fight which Shao Kahn is victorious. Now for the criticism.
Many characters in Mortal Kombat Armageddon don’t have biographies, the story didn’t make sense to many people, the lack of individualized fatalities, the limited resources in kreate a fighter mode, and the lack of combos each character could perform. An article by Brandon Jacobs of whatculture.com explains the issues of Mortal Kombat Armageddon perfectly.
“Mortal Kombat: Armageddon should have been the greatest Mortal Kombat game ever made, at least in theory. It contains every character from previous games. It also allows players to create their own custom fighters, and it even introduced custom Fatalities. Unfortunately, the execution of these ideas didn’t quite meet their ambition. The sheer amount of characters makes them all feel and play too similarly.
… The developers were so focused on packing the game with content that they forgot to give it the proper attention to detail so as to leave any lasting impact. It failed to advance the series to the next level.”
While Mortal Kombat will always hold a special place in my heart, no one can deny the ultimate disaster of Mortal Kombat Armageddon. NetherRealm Studios, Midway at the time, did make one more disaster before deciding to reboot the MK franchise with Mortal Kombat 9.
So what have we learned from Vampire Savior and Mortal Kombat Armageddon. For one, sequels work best when developers improve what already works. Second, when adding new elements in a game, play test them before releasing them into the public. If the majority of play testers say the new element is whack, swallow your pride and take the criticism. Pulling a Sonic Boom will only get your game a spot on the worst sequels list and laughed at for all eternity. Making a quality game gets your fans begging for more. Whether you give it to them or not like Capcom is a different story.