It’s not your fault, Jax…. How exactly did something that began as a Triple-A aside end up being the lowest point in the in the Mortal Kombat franchise? After a slightly disastrous E3 showing, MK: Special Forces was pulled back for a dramatic retooling. Unfortunately, MK co-creator John Tobias exited the company, and basically left this very needy baby in the hands of Midway stockholders.
Above: God, it could've been so beautiful!
The game was originally supposed to co-star a playable Sonya Blade and feature a "dynamic 3D camera." WOW! But rather than bring on more people to fix the title and deliver on its promise, Midway stripped crucial features, axed the N64 version altogether, dropped cut the price to $20 as a nice way of saying “We know it sucks and we’re sorry” and Jax’s jagged, stillborn Loaded/Final Fight hybrid remains the biggest flop in MK history, both critically and commercially!
Above: Muzzle Kombat
Oh, and we don’t know where or when the bright idea of giving it a Blaxploitation vibe came in, but it’s certainly one of the most bizarre choices you’ll see in MK’s silly, strange chronology. Jax is a bad mother, apparently. Or possibly Austin Powers...
1. Mortal Kombat: The Live Tour
Above: Ever seen Scorpion look that bored?
What, you thought Charlie Sheen and Spider-Man invented shitting the stage, kids?! Please understand that by the mid-nineties Mortal Kombat had conquered damn near every medium in the universe, generating about TWO BILLION DOLLARS and cold, bloody beeswax. The games were at the height of their popularity on every conceivable platform, and had been successfully spun off into toys, comics, music, a live-action feature, and a direct-to-video animated movie. Yet there was one medium MK had yet to saturate… THE THEATRE: Get Over Here!
Above: Neither cosplay nor a LARP-about
In the summer of 1996, Scorpion and Co. embarked on a multi city tour of in-your-face jazz karate with Mortal Kombat: The Live Tour and no civic center was safe from the spandex-soaked Punch-capades. If you thought that the movies, TV shows or MK vs. DC nerfed the bloodening, try and imagine the safe-for-families violence that had to be pantomimed and lip-synched by a group of chop-socky actors not good enough to pose for in-game sprites. The storyline is said to have followed close to the events of the game, while also utilizing the audience for a few call-and-response “Finish Hims” and even for kids to hold up plastic Amulets to have been purchased at the event, but had *whoops* yet to be manufactured.
Above: ACT HARDER!
According to Henry Gilbert, the only person in our office with the ironic foresight to actually purchase tickets back then, his family’s plan to enjoy fake Fatalities was all for nothing. When they got there it was clear from the shuttered theater doors that it had been canceled without so much as an email from Shao Kahn. Sadly, video of the performance is scarce but at least we have this hilariously awkward news piece to help us remember it always.
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