There are so many things I love about Mortal Kombat. I'm so damn excited for this year's series reboot that I'm typing this whilst bouncing off of the walls in a state of supreme hyperactivity. This is the third laptop I've gotten through in the last half hour. And, with all of the evidence pointing towards a return to the series' 18-rated roots (none of this family friendly guff thankyouverymuch), I thought it'd be worth flagging up one of the series' funniest implementations: Friendships.
Their inclusion in MKII required you to win through two rounds whilst only using high and low kicks, before punching in the ridiculous button combination. The third instalments made you fight without blocking if you wanted to spread some MK mercy at the end.
I remember the first time I witnessed a Friendship. I was playing as Kung Lao, my friend Alex was controlling Stryker. I'd been kicking huge amounts of bottom , but then he lobbed several grenades at me, shot me a few times in the chest and uppercutted me through a ceiling.
'Finish Him!' growled Shao Kahn. Only he didn't.
Instead he had Stryker pull out the weapon of the saviour of schoolchildren everywhere - the lollipop lady's STOP sign - and fire off his guns like a starter's pistol. You'd expect a swarm of bees to come and eviscerate Kung Lao's swaying form, or maybe a herd of marathon runners or wildebeest to trample him to death in a stampede? No. Instead the entire cast of MK3 came jogging onto the screen and some colourful balloon letters spelled out the word 'Friendship'.
'Friendship!' stated Shao Kahn emphatically, before realising what he'd just said. 'Friendship?'
I laughed so hard a nearly wet myself.
Partly a reaction to the 'ban this sick filth' attacks which greeted Mortal Kombat's first blood-soaked appearance, the Friendships were often just as creative and rib-tickling chuckle-worthy as their gory counterparts, appearing in MKII, MK3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy. Mortal Kombat was never really about incredibly deep fighting, but more about making you laugh.
Raiden conjures up a little kid version of himself called Kidd Thunder, Kano blows a gum bubble and it explodes all over his face, in MKII Scorpion pulls out little mini doll of himself and encourages you to buy one. Johnny Cage chucks a signed photo at you, a Friendship that proved so popular it made it into the original MK film.
My personal favourite, though, sees Kung Lao chuck his hat offscreen. A little dog runs after it excitedlybut then we see Kung Lao wince and shake his head as a small canine yelp drifts out from offscreen.
Random? Yes. Offbeat? Almost definitely. But that was the point. That in amongst all of this cartoonish violence, there was still for Noob Saibot to utterly fail at bowling.