For two decades Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat have dominated the fighting genre. The series are recognized worldwide, and like many successful video game franchises, they've even spawned a fair share of awful movie adaptations. New series have come and gone, but this duo has a miraculous ability to adapt to an always-changing industry. Both series are successful, but which takes the cake? That's what we're here to explore today.
Since 1987, Street Fighter has been a mainstay in the genre. It's introduced us to a plethora of now iconic characters like Chun-Li, Ken, and Ryu, to name just a few. Walk up to any hardcore gamer and ask him to perform a Hadouken, and nine times out of ten you'll be met with Ken and Ryu's signature palm-thrusting attack. Over the last twenty-plus years we've seen dozens of games in the series and a multitude of spin offs; together the brand has managed the truly incredible feat of selling over thirty-million units worldwide. To put that in perspective, that's well over Doom, Dead or Alive, and Turok's lifetime franchise sales combined.
It's tough to say a series has had unanimous critical acclaim when there are so many games to take into account, but it's no stretch to say that both fans and critics have enjoyed each new installment. The most recent game, Street Fighter IV, and its follow-up, Super Street Fighter IV, garnered near perfect scores, proving the series hasn't lost any of its appeal over time. If anything, Street Fighter is more popular than ever.
Representing the grittier and more grotesque side to fighting games is the Mortal Kombat franchise. Known (and even criticized) for its use of gore, including the well-known Fatalities, this series is no rookie to controversy. With over twenty-six million units sold, the series' dragon logo has become an icon of the industry.
Now that Midway's gone under, the future of the series is in the capable hands of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and with much of the original team working on the highly anticipated reboot, due out later this year, I'm sure the series will remain on gamers' minds for a long time to come.
It's tough pitting two brands of this caliber against each other. On one hand we have Street Fighter, known for its slick visuals and polished combat, and in the other we have Mortal Kombat, a series known around the world for its gruesome action, executions, and story.
Both games received good reviews across the board, but every main installment of Street Fighter received incredible reviews. Mortal Kombat tends to be either unreliable or lukewarm critically, with both Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Armageddon getting tepid reviews.
Each series brings us into a new world, but Mortal Kombat's outshines Street Fighter's. I couldn't tell you much about Street Fighter outside of the characters and their abilities, but I know plenty about MK's Outworld and Earthrealm, and the feud between Sub Zero and Scorpion. Few fighting franchises have captured their audience's attention as much as Mortal Kombat.
With the games having different strengths, one must ask which game has a more powerful legacy. Mortal Kombat represented a stand against video games being children's playthings. With its hyper-violent action, mature story and characters, and different take on what fighting games could be, Mortal Kombat tried something new and took a lot of heat for doing so. Street Fighter's only controversy is how bad its movies have been. No series should be docked points because it didn't push boundaries, but it's also important to recognize a series that broke the mold, so with that Mortal Kombat gets itself another point. Now, who's keeping score?
In the end, the only thing that really matters in a fighting game is the combat. You can have amazing visuals and a compelling story, but it will count for nothing if the combat or controls aren't perfect. Street Fighter's controls have been tuned to perfection. The response times, intuitive combos, and stellar balancing are some of the many reasons this series is as popular as it is today. Mortal Kombat also offers excellent controls, but each character fights similarly, with the exception of their unique fatalities. Because of this, the third round goes to Street Fighter.
Like all good competitions we're left with a tie. Which fighting franchise is better than the other? No matter the answer, I'm bound to anger legions of fans. Yet, I believe Mortal Kombat is the better series. Sure, Street Fighter has been around the longest and has more polished controls, but when it comes to which series has had the biggest impact on its industry, Mortal Kombat takes the bloody delicious cake. That leaves me with one more thing to say: FINISH HIM!
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*