Mortal Kombat has always been incredibly violent. That violence, however, wasn’t always rendered in the gorgeous high-definition textures of the latest game in the franchise. Anyone old enough to have played it during its humble beginnings will remember squinting through pixels in order to make out those gruesome fatalities.
Now, thanks to a new mod by Harrisonfog, Mortal Kombat 11 players can view the new game through a retro lens. The mod, which is available on PC, adds a filter to the game that gives it pixelated textures reminiscent of arcade machines, SEGA Genesis consoles, and Super Nintendo consoles of the early to mid '90s.
On the surface, this mod may seem like just a fun nod. But considering the way developers made the original Mortal Kombat games, the accuracy of this mod’s look speaks a lot to the capability of modern video game graphics.
The original Mortal Kombat games achieved their 3D look in the 2D era by using Full Motion Video (FMV). This meant that actors, or sometimes even the developers themselves, would dress up in costumes and perform the moves in front of a camera. They would then take those videos, import them into the game engine, and paint over them with pixels in order to create the blood splatters and violent visual effects.
This very early form of motion capture gave the game a visual style that blended realistic movement with pixelated gore. And as the games went on, that process became more robust. Now, we can achieve the same look by placing a filter over models that artists meticulously constructed in 3d.
Fans that haven’t seen Mortal Kombat gameplay from that era should look some up on YouTube and compare it to the mod. Not only will it instill a greater appreciation of the modern games and the work done by Harrisonfog to emulate that classic look, but it will also give an idea of just how much the game cranked up the gore over the past 11 entries. With the game now available on the Switch, it seems Nintendo has come a long way since they famously toned down the violence for the SNES release of the original game.
For older gamers, the mod will certainly conjure fond memories of sneaking in fatalities in secret while their parents were looking away.
Mortal Kombat 11 is out now for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.