A four-hour rain delay gives you a lot of time to think, and not all of those thoughts are devoted to baseball. So it was that between viewings of a post-game MC Hammer concert, a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and an interview with the Big Red Machine, my mind turned to more frivolous topics.
While some of the gamers out there might disagree, it’s hard to beat video games when it comes to frivolity. I have only a little-used Nintendo Wii at this point, but I used to love my NES and Sega Genesis back in the day. Most of the games we used to play had relatively little lasting impact on pop culture, but Mortal Kombat launched a significant franchise.
Since its launch in 1992, the game has spawned myriad (20 if my count is corrent) sequels and reboots, not to mention movies, TV series, comics, a card game, and even a live-action tour. Street Fighter was an incredibly successful competitor and had much of the same ancillary success, but lacked the visceral, illicit appeal of Mortal Kombat.
With it’s dark science fantasy vibe, secret codes, and legendary Fatalities, the game felt more like a movie that kids weren’t really supposed to be watching. Parent groups were, of course, appalled by the idea of children trying to disembowel or remove the spine of an opponent. The levels of violence and gore were enough to spur the first game rating system to help warn of the potential evils of gaming.
But just like N.W.A. or Michael Jordan’s all-black shoes, if you try to ban something and tell kids it’s bad for them, it’s only going to make them want it more. Rumors of these Fatalities spread through schools, creating a feeding frenzy for code combinations that fat little fingers could finesse in their next gaming session.
Mortal Kombat truly was a phenomenon that, despite its robust continuation, I tie most closely to the 90’s. So as songs like Funky Cold Medina and Do Me played over the PA at Great American Ballpark, I found myself getting a little misty with nostalgia. I suppose that could’ve just been the light rain, but let’s not ruin my metaphor.
Thus, I began to imagine the Cubs’ cast of characters as kombatants in a video game, devising unique finishing moves for some of them. Yes, I’m that big a nerd.
After defeating his opponent, radiant beams of light would burst forth from Bryant’s eyes and smile, essentially turning the loser into a charred and smoking husk. Then he signs a new endorsement deal. Now if only we could get Scott Boras into the game to square off with his client.
This is a very difficult one because the code changes in a semi-random pattern that’s very difficult for new players to recognize. You’ll typically miss on it badly, but when you do get it right, the character on the screen creates a concussive blast that obliterates his opponent.
Less of a Fatality than just a goofy Easter egg, punching in this code just means Castro gets distracted by something in the background and forgets what’s going on, then is so slow in getting over to his opponent that they simply die of boredom. This remains little more than a myth though because I’ve always been too lazy to try to try it.
When called upon to “Finish Him,” Ross emits an aging beam that turns his opponent into an old man (or woman). Trouble is, this move only works about every 5th time you try it.
He tries to throw baseballs at them to finish them off first, but after missing several times he just signals a crane to smother them with a huge pile of money.
While slight and frail-looking, this character is a genius who uses his mind to cause opponent to either explode or spontaneously combust because, you know. After all, he’s an Ivy League grad. You probably didn’t know that already, did you? It’s a well-kept secret.
This one’s actually really weird because even though he’s winning, his special move actually causes a self-inflicted fatality and gives the opponent the win.
Not so much a fatality as it is a general cheat code. It’s a secret combination that no one seems to know or even fully understand, but if you can figure it out, the character will never die, regardless of how overmatched or how unskilled the person controlling him may be.
Now I know there are many more players and members of the organization left, but I thought it’d be fun to leave a little meat on the bone for my handful of readers. What about Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, or Jorge Soler? Anthony Rizzo? Don’t let that comment section sit idle, folks.