Mortal Kombat 11 (Now w/ PTSD!)

Mortal Kombat 11 boasts a strong fighting engine with excellent potential for more technical fighting, diverse combos and amplified attacks. Unfortunately, I found the enhanced gore of the animations to be a heavy distraction from gameplay rather than a motivation to keep me engaged in learning finishing moves.

Mortal Kombat 11 boasts a strong fighting engine with excellent potential for more technical fighting, diverse combos and amplified attacks. Unfortunately, I found the enhanced gore of the animations to be a heavy distraction from gameplay rather than a motivation to keep me engaged in learning finishing moves.

Tagline, 1993. I’m 14. Living in a new town, 600 miles from everything I’ve ever known. Our house is a strange mix of cable-spools and lawn chairs for living room furniture and the smell of new waterbeds wafting down the hall.. I do have a computer and I eventually have a dedicated modem line to run my OBV/2 BBS, The Graveyard. At night, Razor1911 couriers are dialing into the PC to drop 0-Day Warez and I hear mom and dad in the other room arguing -talking about “maybe going to jail” because of [wah-wah - insurance, something-something - wah-wah] that I didn’t fully understand at the time.

We lived in a hotel the previous summer - The Ramada Inn on the Causeway in Mobile, Alabama that has since been demolished - near R&R Seafood. I suppose we were technically homeless but getting a new start. Growing up on 10 acres on the edge of an Indiana Forestry I found myself for the first time with the suburban freedoms enjoyed by kids in my favorite Spielberg movies.

Me, my bicycle and a BP gas station a few blocks away with a Mortal Kombat acade machine & Taco Bell Express. My teenage mind was blown with the opportunity. I fed so many quarters into that machine and played against football-playing high schoolers that were twice my size and a tendency to menace me when they lost. Admittedly, sometimes I let the Wookie win.

Sometimes, I didn’t.

This person named Hillary Clinton was on the television talking about censoring my favorite albums (2 Live Crew, RATM, Tool, Gravity Kills, God Lives Underwater) and the dangers posed by this new menace to America’s youth: Video Game violence.

- ”Is all the world Jails and Churches?”
(well, that was VietNow (1997) but you get the point)


Agreed that is a long walk to get you into my headspace. Now that you are here, pull up a lawn chair and let’s set at the cable-spool turned-coffee table and have a chat about video game violence, 26 years later.

I remember being annoyed when Mortal Kombat (1 and 2) were finally ported to home consoles with minimal gore, no-blood and paired down graphics. It just wasn’t the same game, anymore. Mortal Kombat 1 was the first arcade game I ever bought. I own and often still play a MK4 w/ MK1, MK2, MK3, Mk4 PCBs in it. I let my 13 and 9 year old kids play it and think nothing about it.

Enter, Mortal Kombat 11. MK11 (I’m playing on the Nintendo Switch) continues a trend in the MK franchise through the introduction of mid-fight super-move sequences that can be triggered during a match when a player’s health bar reaches a critical part. MK9 called these X-Ray moves because they used an X-Ray camera view to show the devastation being wrought to the opponents skeletal structure.

If you think of MK3, where there are improbable grapples where an opponent might crack the fighter’s neck or damage their spine during the match. It’s like that. The moves do an incredible amount of damage at the expense of player control for both players but do not necessarily completely drain the opponent. As unlikely has it might seem, Liu Kang can hop back up and keep fighting after Katana snaps his neck..

Mortal Kombat 11 calls these Fatal Blows and they are a strategic crutch that either player can employ to provide momentum for a comeback or level the health meters. The thing is: Fatal Blows in 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11 are the equivalent of 1993’s MK1 or MK2 Fatalities.

Which means.. the fatalities… are more so.
How much, more?

Maybe, PTSD levels of more.

In my best Obama, “Let… me.. be.. clear:” I’m not saying that playing through MK11 gave me any form of PTSD. But I will say that MK11’s fatalities in particular probed the edges of what I’m comfortable watching and classifying as entertainment. Several points during my initial play through of the game, I had a sensation that I can only describe as my neural-net-firewall throwing a warning. “Hey, there are things going into your eyeballs that you should be aware that we aren’t sure is good for us.”

Sure, previous Mortal Kombat games were equally horrible in the fatality death of a character through evisceration, explosion, decapitation and more. This installment in the franchise pauses at the worst bits of horror while the reward and menu system delay to return user control by to the player.

For instance: You get to see Kronica tear your character in half length-wise. Pause. Put you back together through a time-rewind and then tear your character in half at the waste. Repeat as many as 6 times until the menu renders allowing you to navigate the game.

Most fatalities now end in the complete drawn-and-quartered explosive destruction of the opponent and the game developer seems pretty proud of their bloody accomplishment as featured through the game credits.

Searching the web, I found that there is at least one case of an individual who worked on the game being treated for PTSD:

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2019/05/one_mortal_kombat_11_developer_had_to_see_a_therapist_after_violent_dreams

Take that with a grain of salt, it was picked up as click-bait by half of the internet. No such thing as bad publicity, right?

I’ve met soldiers who operated turrets from inside armored vehicles in Afghanistan. Instead of gunning from an exposed position, “Playstation Johnny" sits in the relative armored comfort of his vehicle as he mows down the enemy from a computer monitor and gamepad. Despite this, Playstation Johnny has just as much potential for combat fatigue and mental trauma as the guy with boots on the ground carrying a rife.

In the mid-90’s I found myself frowning at the Pant-Suited Politician trying to censor my video games and music. 26 years later I find myself wondering if the ratings label on this game is an adequate communication device juxtaposed to the affect it might have on an emotionally developing mind.

I feel like I should love this game but I don’t. The hazards of adulting, I suppose? If my 14 year old self could see me now, he’d probably kick me in the nuts.

“Go get laid, kid.”

About: Tales of the Arabian Nights

GAME DETAILS

Manufactured by: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
Date: May 1996
Type: Solid state
Generation: Williams WPC-95
Release: 3,128 produced\
Estimated value: $6840 - $7960
Cabinet: Normal
Display type: Dot Matrix
Players: 4
Flippers: 2
Ramps: 3
Multiball: 4
Latest software: V1.4 - October 15, 1996


DESIGN TEAM

Game Design: John Popadiuk
Mechanics: Ernie Pizarro Jack Skalon Joe Loveday
Software: Louis Koziarz
Artwork: Pat McMahon
Animation: Adam Rhine Brian Morris
Sound: Dave Zabriskie
Music: Dave Zabriskie

About: Medieval Madness

Game Details

GAME DETAILS

DESIGN TEAM

Manufactured by: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
Date: October 1997
Type: Solid state
Generation: Williams WPC-95
Release: 4,016 produced
Estimated value: $8690 - $10110
Cabinet: Normal
Display type: Dot Matrix
Players: 4
Flippers: 2
Ramps: 2
Multiball: 4
Latest software:V1.0 - July 25, 1997

About: Attack from Mars

What does Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan & Pinball have in common? Campy Little Green Men!

GAME DETAILS

Manufactured by: Bally Manufacturing Co.
Date: December 1995
Type Solid state
Generation: Williams WPC-95
Release: 3,450 produced
Estimated value: $6940 - $8060
Cabinet: Normal
Display type: Dot Matrix
Players: 4
Flippers: 2
Ramps: 2
Multiball: 4
Latest software: V1.1 - June 10, 1996

 

10 Minute Pinball-Shenanigans with Attack from Mars

About: Indiana Jones

GAME DETAILS

Manufactured by: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
Date: August 1993
Type: Solid state
Generation: Williams WPC (DCS)
Release: 12,716 produced
Estimated value: $6660 - $7740
Cabinet: Wide body
Display type: Dot Matrix
Players: 4
Flippers: 2
Ramps: 2
Multiball: 6
Latest software: L-7, November 22, 1993


DESIGN TEAM

Game Design: Mark Ritchie
Software: Brian Eddy
Artwork: Doug Watson
Animation: Scott Slomiany
Sound: Chris Granner Rich Karstens
Music: Chris Granner

About: Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Holy Pixelation, Batman!”

GAME DETAILS

Manufactured by: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
Date: November 1993
Type: Solid state
Generation: Williams WPC (DCS)
Release: 11,728 produced
Estimated value: $4160 - $4840
Cabinet: Wide body
Display type: Dot Matrix
Players: 4
Flippers: 3
Ramps: 3
Multiball: 6
Latest software: Unknown

 

My Ownership Experience w/ STTNG

This is my second time around of owning an STTNG. I think the first time, I ended up selling it to make room in the gameroom and bank account for a Monster Bash. The last one was signed by the cast & was pretty darned sweet. This one, is no slouch, either. It is claimed to have been a HUO at a collector in Pennsylvania before coming to me but they had no documentation of that, so I take that claim with a grain of salt.

I didn’t… actually.. intentionally… seek it out for a second ownership cycle - not exactly anyway. It was a trade situation involving Ghostbusters Premium where I ended up with another STTNG. You are thinking, “Wait, STTNG and Ghostbusters Premium values aren’t really lined up.” Yep! :(

At any rate, I really have history with the STTNG franchise and I think this pin is a pretty cool pin. When Stern released their Star Trek title based on the JJ Abrams movies, the general values of STTNG started to drop from an average of $6500 to the current sub-$5k area. The Stern game is a really good pin, afterall. Unfortunately, the best art packages for the Stern pin are only available from third parties that Stern has lawyered up against and the Pro and Premium are a little too “actors-focused” for my taste. (I also owned a Star Trek Premium for a couple of years.)

In the positive column: STTNG is built like a tank, the art scheme is pretty sweet, it is packed with toys, has a 6-ball multiball and generally is just a fun-to-shoot and impressive pinball machine. In the negative column: It has alot of mechanical complexity that give it a particularly scarring reputation on-route for opto-related maintenance, usually. The outlane geometry is tricky.

Status: For Sale

This is the only pinball that I have right now that I consider “For Sale”. If someone is interested, the price is $5,000, firm. I have my eye on a couple different titles to bring to the game room so I’m more than likely not interested in a trade but - hey it never hurts to ask. You will be at SFGE, I can buy a spot for it on the truck going up from Mobile but aside from that, a potential buyer would be responsible for pick up or shipping. I’d recommend someone like Bob Cunningham or Brett Butler for the move. Our local STI depot isn’t highly regarded.

Ten Minutes with Star Trek: The Next Generation

Glass On

Glass On

Glass Off

Glass Off

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About: Scared Stiff

Are you Ready to get Scared Stiff?

Scared Stiff Details

GAME DETAILS

Manufactured by: Bally Manufacturing Co.
Date: September 1996
Type: Solid state
Generation: Williams WPC-95
Production: ~4,000 produced
Pinside Price Range: $6470 - $7530
Cabinet: Normal
Display type: Dot Matrix
Players: 4
Flippers: 2
Ramps: 2
Multiball: 4

DESIGN TEAM

Game Design: Dennis Nordman Mark Weyna
Mechanics: Bob Brown Joe Loveday Win Schilling
Software: Cameron Silver Mike Boon
Artwork: Greg Freres
Animation: Adam Rhine Brian Morris
Sound: Dave Zabriskie Paul Heitsch

Sources:
https://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=3915
https://pinside.com/pinball/machine/scared-stiff




Pinside Club Thread: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/scared-stiff-clubmembers-only

FuLL MODDING AND RESTORE LOG

Full log of all of the stuff I’ve done to my Scared Stiff is on a running log that can be found here:
http://arcadeshenanigans.com/blog/2018/7/13/scared-stiff

Latest Stuff

The kind folks over at SFGE voted my Scared Stiff as Best in Show for Modern Pinball at SFGE 2019.

Super proud of this trophy and the very gracious compliments my game received at SFGE 2019.

Super proud of this trophy and the very gracious compliments my game received at SFGE 2019.

Thoughts on Value

My last Scared Stiff sold for ~$8,000 in 2016 along with 2 other B/W titles of similar value. Believe or not even at that price I didn’t actually “make” anything on that transaction. I’ve seen them sell for as little as $5k (off-route) to as much as $13,000 (Bryan Kelly or HEP Restoration). That is a broad range and I suspect this one would come in somewhere on the top end in the $8500-$9000 range, as of the time of this article. I don’t treat Pinballs like investments and I expect the value will drop over time.

Admittedly, that is more head-cannon than researched value than sales-data in the upper-end restoration, used pinball market. There is more supply than demand in pinball and prices are ticking down a little for some of the Bally-Williams 90’s titles as they get pressured by the CGC Remakes & Stern’s release cadence. Titles that were in the $10k range in 2015-16 are capping around $7k in late-June 2019. Some of those “Pinside Top 20” titles are starting to break loose out of collections. It’s a good time to be a used-pinball buyer!

Scared Stiff isn’t rumored for a CGC-PPS remake, at this time but an “Elvira 3” pinball is rumored from Stern to be announced this year. Stern’s remake of Star Trek largely decimated ST:TNG values but that isn’t always the case. Stern’s remake could influence the resale value of Scared Stiff but I suspect it won’t be a popularity coup d'état. Scared Stiff’s value is propped up by charm and x-factor. Solving for x-factor is hard and I’m not sure Stern is up to the task.

Acquisition, Restoration & Modding

There are symptoms of tension between the bean counters & the design team at Bally-Midway when this title was on the line. They were all factory-wired for LED eyes in the skull pile at the back right of the machine but those LED eyes were not included. The machined aluminum extension arms that go onto the kickers to support the finger puppets were also excluded from most production models. The enthusiast community answered both readily by providing the kicker extensions engineered from the original designs and by providing the mode-aware LED eyes that can be added to the skull pile.

My Full Ownership Log with this game can be found here: https://arcadeshenanigans.com/blog/2018/7/13/scared-stiff

10-Minutes w/ Scared Stiff

… here you find my poorly-played 10 minute review of this Scared Stiff machine. In my defense.. playing with the left-flipper hand woven between the tripod legs is weird. Also, I’m just an average player - so there’s that too :)

Pictures….

Scared Stiff is a very photogenic pin.

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Playfield Detail

The playfield on this particular machine is really-really good. Typically, they take a ton of abuse at the Terrifying insert at the foot of the crate because of bounce back and the kick-out scoop. A huge piece of factory mylar was applied in this area to protect it. The mylar on this machine is still pretty clear (not-yellowed) but there is a very-slight (2cm maybe?) nick in the mylar at that scoop eject point over the terrifying scoop. If left alone, it would eventually allow the ball to start abusing that insert.

At some point in the distant future, I’ll commit to a full mylar pull but for now I put down a floating playfield protector.

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Backbox Detail

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LED OCD Board

LED OCD Board

Pinball Pro backbox Speakers

Pinball Pro backbox Speakers

GI OCD Board

GI OCD Board

Pinball Pro Cabinet Speaker / Sub

Pinball Pro Cabinet Speaker / Sub

USA Production Run, #2517

USA Production Run, #2517

About: Mario Kart Arcade GP & GP2

Game Details

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Name: Mario kart Arcade Gp
Manufacturer: Namco
Year: 2005
Type: Videogame
Subtype: Driving game

Cabinet Styles:

  • Upright/Standard

source: KLOV

Name: Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
Manufacturer: Namco
Year: 2007
Type: Videogame
Subtype: Driving game

Cabinet Styles:

  • Upright/Standard

source: KLOV

 

10 Minutes with Mario Kart Arcade GP2

Mario Kart Arcade GP -> KLOV LInk
Mario Kart Arcade GP2 -> KLOV Link

ACQUISITION

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“Thank you for your service, Mario Kart”

One of my cabinets came by way of a hookup through a friend in Birmingham. This cabinet still has a stock tag on it from asset inventory or from an auction perhaps. The inclusion of an NSN number leads me to suspect it may have spent some time on a military base or perhaps it just passed hands through an auction authority that frequently deals with US Government or Military items.

The other cabinet came by way of a miniature golf closure in Southern Mississippi. Both cabinets are in good shape, they have a few cabinet repairs here and there and some scuffs in artwork or missing decals.

 

Hardware

The game is based on the Namco, Sega, Nintendo Triforce platform. Typically a IBM power PC w/ 512mb of RAM roughly similar in architecture to the Nintendo Gamecube. The cabinet is a JVS wiring class, includes a Triforce CPU, a JVS IOS Interface Board, a force-feedback controller board & sound amp.

This game also includes Namco’s Namcam(2) camera, a gimmick to snap photos of the player to be used in leaderboards or as in-race identifiers to distinguish players from bot-racers.

The game originally shipped with a 29” CRT but I was forced to put in Wells-Gardner (the video mentions Vision Pro but my memory for these details is crap) 27” LED Monitors in order to get support for Mario Kart Arcade GP2.

Gameplay

The gameplay shares similarity in racing dynamics to the console Mario Kart games with key differences and Namco cross-licensed characters (pacman, ms pacman). The original game advertised 6 worlds and 24 tracks but they phoned-in the effort in that each world really only had two track variations and then environment or reverse traffic flow on those two comprising the remaining 12 tracks.

Mario Kart Arcade GP2 expands the track offering by adding deeper variation between tracks, bringing the total up to 8 cups & 32 tracks.

MAINTENANCE, VALUE, RARITY, FUN-FACTOR

These games are pretty rare and tended to be higher maintenance games when placed on location because of camera failures and force-feedback failures.

I’m not sure what they are worth but I have roughly $1400 in the Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 upgrade, roughly $900 in the monitors, $400 in force feedback repairs on top of an average price paid of over $3,000 each. With incidental repairs I’d put the total cost of ownership in the pair a little over $9,000. After about 4 years of ownership they continue to be the most-played-arcade games in our game room. Pinball-inclined friends like to comment:

“You could put three pinball machines in the amount of space these consume”

With that out of the way, I estimate that the Mario Kart Pair has gotten more play in four years than every Pinball machine I’ve owned over that amount of time; combined.

It isn’t just kids and friends of kids, either. Adults have been known to use it as a form of rock-paper-scissors or as a sobriety scale. (Legal Disclaimer: Accuracy of Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 to determine a person’s ability to drive safely has not been established)

Is it fun? Yep.