I love the Mortal Kombat series. I have loved it since the very beginning, tried to enjoy the series as much as I could during the 3D days and then continued to love it again once the complete overhaul that was Mortal Kombat (technically MK9) on the 360 and PS3.
But since the past game Mortal Kombat X and now with the reveals of the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11, I’ve been noticing something that I don’t quite like, nor do I understand. It’s not a deal breaker necessarily, as when it comes to the game, I’m more concerned about the mechanics and the gore, because that’s what the game is supposed to be, but there’s one thing that they’ve changed recently that seems way too coinciding with the current political climate.
So look, I’m just going to say it flat out. I am 100% in favor of what Mortal Kombat used to have with specifically its female cast. Yes, I’m talking about the overly sexual outfits.
I should’ve noticed this change right away when for the first time EVER, Mileena’s outfit was very conservative. Anyone who’s played the series before the MK9 comeback knows that Mileena has always been the sex symbol of the franchise, which is pretty ironic given she has the ugliest face in the game, aside from Baraka.
But in MKX, she shows so little skin in comparison to every game before that, in retrospect it’s shocking I didn’t really pay attention to it when I first played the series. She no longer has the one-piece “ninja” outfit that has several other characters wearing similar if not the same gear with a different color palette. Those girls included Kitana, Jade, Frost, Khameleon, Tanya and even Skarlet, who at one point was a glitched red colorization before becoming a real character in the series.
And now in the past game and the soon to be released MK11, all of these girls have been changed significantly to alter their outfits in order to show less skin, while several male characters have largely remained the same. Hell, the new male character Geras? Shirtless.
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the outfits that we’ve seen characters like Jade, Sonya and other female characters aren’t cool, I will never do that. But why all of a sudden are outfits that are 10, 20, some almost 25 years old now, being completely erased? In a genre that sees characters have several different outfits, why does it appear that the ones that your average third-wave feminist would immediately scream at, they’re the only outfits truly affected?
I mean take a look at Skarlet for example, hence why she’s the cover image for this article. This is what she first looked like in the 2011 redesign. Is it over-the-top? Sure, but this is Mortal fucking Kombat we’re talking about here. This isn’t a “realistic” game, nor is it a realistic world. But now, in MK11? She looks like she’s preparing for a winter storm, not a fight. And another thing, REALLY?! YOU GAVE HER A PIXIE CUT AND YOU THOUGHT THAT LOOKED GOOD?! SHE LOOKS TERRIBLE!!! Skarlet looks more masculine than feminine now, are we seriously going to start playing that game?
I’m not saying every character needs to be sexy, don’t get the wrong idea here. But why are characters that have always been sexy suddenly not sexy? Is the solution not to make new characters that aren’t automatically fan service characters? Isn’t that what D’Vorah is? Cassie Cage and Jacqui Briggs? You are laying down a foundation of new characters, so if you want to make characters who aren’t revealing 75%+ of their skin, you can do that. But don’t erase the characters you had, Skarlet was fine as a sexy, powerful assassin, same with Kitana, Jade and especially Mileena, who I’m pretty sure at this point got killed off in MKX so they could show to the world they’ve “changed”, by taking out the most sexualized woman they had.
So this all goes back to the leftist, feminist approach of we can’t sexualize women in video games. So once again I will say it, why the fuck not?! This isn’t a realistic, present day game, this is a game that features several different realms with ridiculously over-the-top fantasy setting characters, such as an undead ninja, a man who controls ice, a sorcerer who takes people’s souls, several characters with more than two arms, a minotaur, a man with bionic arms, a motherfucking dragon, you get the idea, right?
This isn’t real, who are you to say that this world doesn’t have a different cultural and societal approach? How do you know wearing clothes akin to a one-piece swimsuit isn’t normal battle attire for women in that world? How do you know that women don’t normally wear more revealing clothing because perhaps their world is hotter than ours normally is, or hell, maybe that’s just their fucking choice? That’s my favorite counter argument, how do you know that this world wouldn’t be one that’s different from ours, with characters who think different than we do? Why does everything today have to be 100% reminiscent of our present day?
I don’t want to play something 100% realistic, that’s boring as shit, I want to play a game where I’m playing as ridiculous characters, doing ridiculous fighting moves and pulling off ridiculous kills like the fatalities have always done, ramping it up each and every installment.
I want these characters to be over-the-top in every way. I want 9-foot tall giants with four arms who can rip a normal person’s limb off with ease. I want shirtless karate legends with abs on top of abs pulling off absurd fighting moves that even Jean Claude van Damme couldn’t even pull off. I want to see scantily clad women who look like strippers, but can kick anyone’s ass at the drop of a hat, in the same way I want to see women who are also dressed conservatively and can pull off the same thing. Or maybe they can do other things like they’re mages/sorceresses, they’re a medieval looking knight with a giant Claymore sword, anything that can make sense of things.
But a girl who just fights with a Sai and martial arts, like Mileena? There’s no reason for her to cover up as much as she can, she needs the extra speed and agility, to be able to move faster and be able to make that critical shot. It’s harder to do that when you have more clothing pulling on you. I’m not saying she HAS to fight in a thong, but why can’t she? Because it could offend women? Well the game for almost 30 years has gone strong being a game that has a primary demographic of men aged 13-35, so why change now?
Can we stop making changes to please everyone? Because we never can. Make the game that suits your primary demographic first, that’s where the money is. And for fuck’s sake, Netherrealm, you have been making a series of fighting games that politicians have always been against because of the violence, why are you even bothering changing anything at this point? Nothing you do will change what you are now with this series.
Want to make a game for everyone? Start a new franchise. Oh that’s a risk and you might lose money doing so? Then what are you doing right now by changing so much about the characters? Isn’t that a risk to the fanbase you’ve collected for decades now? Ask EA, Bethesda and Blizzard, they’ll tell you a few stories.
Once again, I’m not saying every character has to be sexualized. But in a world where limbs are lying everywhere and there’s more blood than an Olympic swimming pool can hold, how ridiculous is a couple of girls with DDs in a skimpy one-piece?