Mortal Kombat has popped back into gaming media with a frenzy that I haven’t seen since 1995.

This mysterious movie “proof of concept” has been all over the internet this week:

(This is not intended for younger viewers or the squeamish.)

As far as the trailer goes, it’s an alternate take on the MK universe, but the people did their homework on a lot of the background info.

I know this is being touted as a “pitch trailer” to get Warner Bros. interested in the possibility of a new film, but I’m calling suspect as this just happened to “coincidentally” appear just a few days before the launch of the next game in the series:

Having been involved with Mortal Kombat for as many years as I had been, this is another sign that the series may be finally getting back on the right track.

Mortal Kombat 4, Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon, all took the series to 3D, which replaced the special move-centric and easy combo gameplay with a combo system that was too complex for its own good, lame new characters flooding the roster, and a feeling that each title never lived up to its potential.

The beat-em-up Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks was actually a fun brawler (and better than any of the previous adventure games, not that was a hard accomplishment to achieve), but the dialogue writing and acting was sub-par (someone clearly loved Dude, Where’s My Car?, and decided that this game was the perfect place to quote all of their favorite lines from the movie). It took a lot of the intrigue out of learning more about Mortal Kombat II‘s backstory.

Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe was ridiculed for its concept (Somehow the Marvel Vs. Capcom series made more sense?), but it presented a decent story for itself where it could have failed in trying to explain the merging, and brought the gameplay back more to its pseudo-2D roots, focusing on moves and combos. Gamers gave this installment a hard time for its watered down Fatalities (again, Finishing Moves in the series lost their “oomph” over a decade ago, making this once most controversial series one of the tamest long before Batman ever fought Sub-Zero), but it was probably the best Mortal Kombat fighters in the last decade.

Which leads us now to the simply titled Mortal Kombat, meaning that they are attempting to take it back to where it began. An emphasis on 2D gameplay, more brutal moves, and hopefully correcting the trainwreck that the overall story had become. A lot of old stages and characters (Nightwolf? Really?) have been reintroduced, and while I expect new fighters to make an appearance, I hope that they look at the ridiculous character designs of 4-Armageddon as a template of what not to do. I do hope that Sonya Blade and Scorpion enter this new roster, then my needs are pretty much met.

The fact that it’s coming out in 2011 also bodes well. These games used to get pushed out for an end of year release date no matter what to meet sales quarters and make investors happy, but it hurt Midway’s flagship series in the long run, and some of the potential that the titles had were lost. Warner Bros. Interactive seems to have realized this, and hopefully will give the designers time to implement all of the ideas they want and need to do. Fan influence seems to be shaping this title’s direction as well, and I hope they take the “good” elements, and not all the crazy “We must have every single character included and a billion types of finishing moves” that began to hurt the series. Mortal Kombat is meant to be over the top and bloody, but it also had a twisted sense of humor as well.

I liked this new trailer. I hope they take the gameplay elements that they reintroduced in Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, and use that as a template to get the series back on track. I’ve always had a nostalgic fondness for the Mortal Kombat series, and hope that under a new company’s direction they can make it a fun, arcade-style brawler like it used to be.

Just don’t rush it just to get it out on the market, pay attention to the lore, pretend the 3D characters and story events never happened, give us original, over the top Finishing Moves, and use the MKVsDC gameplay as a template on how to make it play… then improve on that.

Could Kombat-mania finally return as a relevant contender after all this time? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it can.

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