Mortal Kombat 9 is a game that wields nostalgia with surprising subtlety. Familiar characters perform trademark moves and spout classic taunts, but nods to the past generally avoid crossing over into the territory of exclusionary in jokes. The game’s violence and camp sensibilities are presented in such a way that communicates the game’s mixture of both the shocking and the silly to new players, just as the original did nearly twenty years ago.
But twenty years is a long time, both in the video game world and in society at large. People change, politics change, and the medium changes. Despite its deference to the past, Mortal Kombat cannot fully recapture the essence of what made the original special for me and a generation of players.