Monday, May 12, 2008

During the week this post should have gone to air Midway released the first artwork since their preliminary Sub-Zero/ Batman face-off, and materials contained within the corresponding trailer. Alas, better judgment was the loser of the day, as Midway showed off a movie-inspired costume for the hellspawn ninja, Scorpion.

It's almost counter-productive to be an MK fan if you don't have an affinity for the ninja costume that popularized the series in it's earliest incarnations. For my money it was 2002's Deadly Alliance that finally realised Scorpion and Sub-Zero as they were meant to be - distinct individuals with a greater sense of character pushing their stylized design.

The most recent costumes draw heavy inspiration from designs created for the adventure spin-off, Shaolin Monks.
Though details seperate the two iconic fighters, they are essentially once again sharing one design split by colour palette. Especially baffling is the uniform adoption of poorly adorned shoulder pads, and giant-size skull belt.

As yet no new characters have been confirmed beyond the initial four; Sub-Zero, Batman, Scorpion, and Superman; but hot rumors are already tipping the likes of Shang Tsung, Martian Manhunter, and Catwoman. The Infinite Wars will be keeping an eye on the storm to bring you any developments, next week!

[#344] :RANKING
[20%] :ODDS

ODDS: [30%]
Strength: Drahmin 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Eclipso 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Eclipso 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Eclipso 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Eclipso 2 (Average)
Fighting: Drahmin 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Eclipso 7 (Cosmic)

The Battle...
Alright, I have to admit. The way the groups are arranged, this isn't exactly the one you're going to write hom about, but if you're interested in some of the characters from each series not likely to make the game, this is the post for you!

MK4's mediocre reception left the series seemingly facing end, but 2002's Deadly Alliance was a big step forward for the MK franchise after a lengthy hiatus after series co-creator, John Tobias, had left the production team.
Deadly Alliance boasted a refreshed asthetic and a cast of characters drawing upon very diverse sources. Drahmin was one of the more visually interesting characters; an Oni demon from the Netherealm. The design drawed upon more Japanese influences than the recent past, and again captured the mystique of the series with a vague backstory of a warlord that had become trapped behind his mask (and clubbed hand).

Eclipso is a much less mysterious character, but far more evil.
As the Spectre's predecessor to the role of divine hand of vengeance; Eclipso was cast from his position as his evil intentions emerged. The entity now seeks to possess powerful beings so that he may again obtain godly powers and escape the black diamond prison that so often restrains him.

I'll admit, this isn't exactly a perfectly squared match-up, but Eclipso is a character that very much speaks to the Mortal Kombat asthetic. If these entries are to help bridge the gap suitably, I figure some give and take has to be made.

Highly unlikely to appear, Eclipso brings very little in originality to in-game mechanics. Capable of purple energy projection and possession, there isn't much about the character that speaks to gameplay, but you never know what story beats might be lurking behind the scenes, or in peripheral materials.

The Math: Eclipso Our Winner: Eclipso

[30%] :ODDS
Birds of Prey

ODDS: [25%]
Strength: Draw 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Huntress 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Draw 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Li Mei 3 (Explosives)

The Battle...
Can you tell I'm feeling a little sheepish about the connections between our cast of characters this week?

The common theme here actually isn't terribly detached. I mean, sure, they're a couple of raven haired young women with a taste for purple couture, but here's much more beneath the surface. Well, actually, if you want to get technical there's much less beneath the surface, and that's what makes these characters so well matched.

Both of these young ladies are proficient fighters in their own right, but neither petulant youth has reached their fullest potential. Though a decade ahead of her MK counterpart, I still tend to regard Huntress as a character in progress, gradually tweaked to be something more admirable than her Batgirl-lite origins.
While involved in lagging C-plots; Li Mei hasn't really had the opportunity to blossom as a character. Actually, chances are she probably won't, but what are you gonna do?...

Essentially an acrobatic martial artist with a utility belt; Huntress isn't likely to feature in a game already boasting Batman. While I would probably prefer the purple clad bird, she probably loses out to Batgirl, too.

The Math: Huntress Our Winner: Huntress

[#470] :RANKING
[35%] :ODDS

ODDS: [30%]
Red Dragon
Strength: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Zsasz 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Zsasz 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Mavado 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Mavado 2 (Projectile)

The Battle...
With sorcerors, ninja, demons, mysticism and gods, it's all too easy to forget there's a very urban side to the Mortal Kombat universe.

Movie goers will remember the joyously clich├ęd character-plot driving Sonya Blade's entry into the Mortal Kombat tournament -- Kano, an underworld figure responsible for the death of her partner. It's a tired old stalwart of the martial arts genre, but it didn't stop the growth of Mortal Kombat's cops and robbers.
The Black and Red Dragons represent not only ancient criminal organizations, but also very modern squabbles between warring gangs, and the constant pursuit for justice by agencys like the Special Forces.

DC has a strong pedigree of common criminal and psychotic crazy in the urban sprawl of their fictional cities. Mr. Zsasz represents just one of the many characters on call to do battle with the criminal element from this 'Earthrealm.'

There's little common ground between Mavado and his tallying counterpart.
The Red Dragon clan leader uses elastic ropes and hooks in his combat arsenal, as well as hookswords famously taken from his Black Dragon rival, Kabal.
Though these weapons make Mavado an impressive fighters, few escape the coloured gaze of Zsasz, whose only pleasure is to liberate men like Mavado from the prison of their own frivolity.

The Math: Mavado Our Winner: Zsasz

[#47] :RANKING
[60%] :ODDS
Justice League

ODDS: [35%]
Shokan Empire
Strength: Sheeva 5 (Superhuman)
Intelligence: Hawkgirl 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Sheeva 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Draw 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Sheeva 3 (Explosives)

The Battle...
Again, not exactly a thematic masterpiece, but a compelling showdown none the less!

In thinking through the odds of certain characters appearing, Hawkgirl struck me as one of the more interesting prospects. It's not that I have any particular affection for the character, actually, I'm really more of a Hawkman fan, but diversity is a funny old thing in media. It was the femme vote that saw Hawkgirl replace her male counterpart in the successful Justice League animated series. The exposure has since led to an elevation of status otherwise unlikely, making it difficult to really bet either way on a character that mechanically may be more work than the MK team are cut-out for (re: the wings).

2006's Armageddon, which brought most MK characters back from hiatus, infamously included the centaur Motaro at the expensive of his hind legs.
Still, as Sheeva and her Shokan ilk clearly show, the MK team doesn't have any trouble with extra arms, making the wings an X-factor for the character's inclusion.

Weapons seem likely to go the way of the fatality in this game, but like others, Hawkgirl is a character screaming out for compelling treatment of her Nth metal mace. Without it, trademark moves seem reduced to swooping attacks, but that all seems just a little too magpie in Spring, for my tastes.

The Math: Sheeva Our Winner: Hawkgirl

[25%] :ODDS
New Gods

ODDS: [50%]
Strength: Big Barda 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Sindel 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Big Barda 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Big Barda 6 (Generator)
Agility: Sindel 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Big Barda 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Big Barda 7 (Cosmic)

The Battle...
The recent Death of the New Gods series saw Big Barda meet her end at the hands of the Infinity-Man; murderer of most of the New Gods, and pawn to Darkseid.
A fitting scenario, really, given that this match-up pits the warrior woman from Apokolips against the once dead Queen of Edenia, Sindel!

Thematically these are two empowered women who command great power and respect in their respective worlds. Granted, the stats show this as quite a mismatch, but I felt it suitable enough. I have to acknowledge some of the fans I've seen undertaking similar tasks now, pairing the banshee squeal of Sindel against her shrieking counterpart, Black Canary. That seems perfectly valid, even if the characters have very little else to do with each other.

Though conceptually bringing very little to gameplay, I think just the thrill of seeing a well rendered 3D Barda would be a lot of fun. The bulky warrior woman's armor would no doubt sneak cleanly beneath the over rendered sheen of the game's Unreal 3 graphics engine, and would just be a lot of fun. In-game cosmic blasts and charging moves make Barda sound more a match for Shao Kahn, but you'll have to play a few more rounds to get to him!

The Math: Big Barda Our Winner: Big Barda

[#162] :RANKING
[35%] :ODDS
Justice Society

ODDS: [40%]
Shaolin Monks
Strength: Wildcat 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Bo' Rai Cho 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Wildcat 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Wildcat 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Wildcat 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Draw 1 (None)

The Battle...
We close out this week's fantasy fights with a pairing of elder masters from both universes!

Specific fighting styles will be discarded for the clash between martial artist and superhero, but it was far too difficult to pass up the notion of a superhero boxer in a beat 'em up videogame. Wildcat might not be all bells and whistles, but he proposes one of the more specific models for an indepth fighting system.
New close quarters fighting modes sound almost tailor made for Wildcat Grant, but it seems far more likely that one of his students, such as Catwoman, will make the game before he does.

Likewise, the slobbish belching of Bo' Rai Cho; funny for maybe a minute at best; will probably be overshadowed by the Liu Kangs and Kung Laos of the franchise. It might be some fun to pit drunken boxing against the fisticuffs of a taped up Wildcat, but I think we can notch this one up to pure fantasy...

The Math: Wildcat Our Winner: Wildcat

PREVIOUSLY: Don't miss out on rounds ONE, TWO, and THREE!

COMING: The Infinite Wars claws it's way back from a hectic week of delays to bring a healthy dose of IRON to the Invincible Month of May! More Mortal Kombat seems assured, as does the return of a new segment, Smash Hits! Stay tuned!


buzzlefett said...

Is really fair to put regular martial artists (although the best from their respective worlds) against people with superpowers? A number of these match-ups have been seriously one-sided.

Mike Haseloff said...

That seems to be the popular opinion. Obviously in-game graces will have to be granted to accept Scorpion defeating Superman, but on the whole, I think that's fair enough.

Because the next few months of Fantasy Fights are really more about giving both sides a chance to get to know the lay of the land, win/loss ratios have kinda fallen out of the picture.

There've been a lot of fights that really could've gone either way. I have to wear that I've paired up some horribly mismatched characters, but I imagine that will gradually improve as we get to more prominent characters.

"Mortal" Kombat is really a misnomer. Most of these characters have fantastic abilities far beyond mere martial artists, if only ki control that facilitates fireballs, or some other special attack.

Like the Street Fighters, they can definitely mix it with superheroes. It just depends who's up against who, in much the same way that applies to superheroes.

Anonymous said...

Sindel over Barda no doubt, and I can't say one sided, but the "our winners" have heavily favored DC characters. May not be that way but seems that way.

Anonymous said...

The main flaw with the Bo Rai Cho fight is nobody mentions him as a master martial artist, who trained Liu Kang in the move that allowed him to defeat Shang Tsung, and he's powerful, for a drunkard. He's also not human. He sides with Earthrealm, but he's from Outworld.

Mike Haseloff said...

@anonymous II: All fair points.

There's very little to suggest human-esque inhabitants of Outworld are any more powerful or capable than the corn-fed humans of Earthrealm.
I suppose there's also an assumption that Bo' Rai Cho has past his prime, but that might be under estimating the character, just a tad.

I can't say I'm especially comfortable with the thought that a fly kick was the key to defeating Shang Tsung, either, even though it's established fact (for now).

The question mark's definitely there, though. Nice one, chief!