Pixelated Playoff: ‘Street Fighter’ vs. ‘Mortal Kombat’
In the ’90s, Sega versus Nintendo was the big battle of the gaming scene. But if you were a fighting game fan, there was a more important debate to be had: that of Street Fighter against Mortal Kombat. Released to arcades in 1991, Street Fighter II didn’t just bring us an endless supply of Hadokens. It was also a fantastic way to shut up that one trash-talking friend who insisted he was better than you at games (the jackass).
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But when Mortal Kombat came out a year later, everything changed. It had a realistic look and the ability to inflict death moves on your opponents. It was, in essence, the X-rated, blood-splattering step up that fighting gamers were crying out for.
With Mortal Kombat 11 landing on PC and all current-gen consoles in April, the rivalry is set to ignite once more. But who is the reigning king of the fighting games? In this Pixelated Playoff, we decide who wins — and who gets the fatality. Fight!
Round One: Combat
Both games provide very different styles of play. Street Fighter spawned tons of imitators with its free-flowing battles and sensational special moves. Meanwhile, the basics of Mortal Kombat centered on a more fundamental martial arts style: punch flurries, roundhouses, and those devastating uppercuts.
Mortal Kombat can certainly put up a good fight. But Street Fighter’s more fluid, responsive controls (plus the sheer variety of moves available) means it beats its rival in this category.
Winner: Street Fighter
Round Two: Brutality
Street Fighter may play better than Mortal Kombat, but there is no question on which game deals the nastiest punishment.
For Street Fighter, its characters’ various Super and Ultra Combos can provide some jaw-dropping finishes to a bout. But Mortal Kombat has always been about the ‘fatality’ -- that climactic moment when the victor gets to "finish" their opponent and ensure they meet a grisly death (warning: video below is NSFW).
No contest on this one.
Winner: Mortal Kombat
Round Three: Graphics
Both Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat had incredible graphics when first released. One had superb artwork and animation, the other used digitized sprites and a grisly, bleak color palette.
On current-gen consoles, both have also stuck to their long-running styles, with Street Fighter V’s vibrant, comic-inspired look running counter to MK’s moody atmosphere and bone-breaking closeups.
As they say, art is subjective. And with both games delivering top-notch visuals in different ways, this one’s too close to call.
Round Four: Characters
Both Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat boast a horde of characters to fight with.
And for fans of MK, the duo of Sub-Zero and Scorpion carry just as much of a legacy as Street Fighter’s own Ryu and Ken.
But to earn this legacy, the series required a reboot -- one that occurred with the PS3 version in 2011. Before then, it suffered some terrible titles with some extremely bland fighters.
Street Fighter meanwhile hasn’t put a foot wrong since the start. It continues to build on its original cast with one awesome character after the next.
When comparing both series, this deciding round has to go to the SF posse.
Winner: Street Fighter
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So there it is! Street Fighter (unsurprisingly) continues to reign supreme. Mortal Kombat has had a wonderful resurgence and is still a great series in its own right. But it still suffers the KO to M.Bison and his kin.