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Mortal Kombat 3D trilogy arguably saved fighting games during the PS2/Xbox/GC era (along with a struggling Tekken)

Jul 24, 2016
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During the Xbox/PS2/GC/End of DC time frame, fighting games were in a rut. Even though most fighting games before were sort of niche in comparison to other genres outside the big boys (MK, SF, TK) other games used to sell modestly and score decent, but during this time sales were low, interest was low, and a lack of content and lower scores than usual for franchises were abundant.

But then Mortal Kombat comes in, after a mixed reception but still well selling MK4, Mortal Kombat had a refresh with Deadly Alliance, a game that shook up the gaming kommunity and one of the first major game franchises to to kill off it's long running protagonist, at the start of the game. Everything was new from the mechanics, the design goals, the content, the technology, it wowed everyone.

While not perfect, Deadly Alliance was a smash hit selling 3.5 million copies, followed by MK Deception, which was then the fastest selling MK game of all time reaching klose to 3 million, with a 1-2 million selling MK Armageddon in 2006.

Meanwhile, recent big new 3D franchise Tekken from the gen before had a bit of a negative reaction to the first Tekken Tag Tournament that released in the PS2's launch window, but was swept under the rug since Tekken 4 was expected to be the "real" Tekken release, and that didn't end up panning out as not only as the creators said, Tekken 4 failed to attract an audience but it had issues that annoyed core players. Also at this time, Street Fighter, which had been struggling to stay Relevant since the late 90's with SFEX and SFIII and friends, was even more irrelevant during this time frame. Niche franchises that weren't big but could sell modestly were all selling worse across the board.

Even in Japan a major decline was present, big series that would sell over 1 million like Tekken or VF sold half of that or less, niche fighters were also in decline just like everywhere else. Fighters were in turmoil in japan during these years, but that's another issue.

There were only three major exceptions to this downturn (outside Japan):

1. The turnaround for Tekken with Tekken 5, which in 2005 as the new generation was approaching, managed to bring Tekken back from decline with high sales on console. One could argue the rising interest in fighters due to the reach of the MK series with DA and Deception helped give Tekken that revival boost.

2. Soul Calibur II, which was a major graphical showcase release. it also attracted consumers with its guest characters, like Link from the Legend of Zelda for the GameCube version.

3. The first Dragon Ball Z Budakai which did great, and then had an immediately drop in sales that would continue across the DBZ fighting games during this era.

Also I guess despite the frontloaded launch novelty, Dead or Alive 3 could technically also count for a very short time frame.

But as the years went on Mortal Kombat was the franchise that kept everything a float, keeping fighting games viable and helping Tekken revive so it too could eventually also help in keeping fighting games a float. It's also had one of the earliest fighting games to go online during this era of consoles which likely helped in Mk's appeal.

Ending with Armageddon, the momentum would go into the close to 3 million selling MK vs. DC universe, mixed reception aside, which would help set the playing field for Street Fighter IV to finally bring back SF after 12 years of irrelevance, and while Tekken 6 took a significant sales dive over 5, it still sold over 3 million copies and helped also to set the stage for SFIV. But most importantly was MK vs. DC setting the stage for MK9 which would lead into a massive sales juggernaut for the series with a new 3 game HD trilogy.

People, mostly weeaboo's that never played the games or barely played them, but with some reasonable exceptions, like to bash on the Mortal Kombat games of this time, but without them the fighting game scene may have taken even longer to recover, or not have. Especially for those who like kontent in their games as well as decent SP content, which for some reason Japanese developers decided to drop or tack on as an after thought despite the improvements that were being seen during this time, once things started to turn around they basically just dropped these features for some reason. Maybe it's the FGC fault.

Mortal Kombat Deception is the most popular of the 3 major MK fighting games during this time, with it having the best balance and mechanical gameplay of the 3, online play, and a massive SP adventure/fighting hybrid campaign that may still have the most kontent of any fighting game in existence with all the bonuses and goodies you can find in the crypt and the overworld during the SP adventure.

Thank you Mortal Kombat for saving fighting games with your more than competent 3D fighting games that outside maybe Armageddon, are solid to play and are mechanically sound. Also fun, that's important, fun. Along with having hours and hours of kontent.
 

Nickolaidas

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Cravis

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I will give credit to MK Deception, that open world adventure mode was amazing at the time. Too bad the character you played was terrible 😆
 
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Carna

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the newer mortal kombat games are by-the-numbers fighters that appeal to try-hards
 

Spukc

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Im not saying you are wrong but I didnt know anyone that played MK during this time.

For us it was all about Soul Calibur 1 and SC2, Tekken Tag, Street Fighter III, and SF Collection.
Op is wrong. I will say it instead.

SC1 SC2 SF3 wtf is a MK?

dreamcast had a fightick with a rumble function. ffs
 
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SSfox

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PS2 era was TTT1, Tekken 4, Tekken 5 , Soul Calibur 2, VF4 Evo. There were also some good 2D fighters at the time. MK 3D games were the dogturd fighting games at that time, until it got saved by MK9.
 
Jul 24, 2016
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Huh? Tekken only had one blunder. TTT and T5 were popular. So were the Soul Calibur games. Heck even Virtua Fighter was doing well that gen.
SC2 is the only major release in the series. Tekken Tag didn't sell that well and was negatively received although it wasn't "terrible" and did get some aid being a PS2 launch title, Tekken 4 flopped by the creators own words and by what NPD I can find, VF4 did poorly unless you cobined all 3 versions together than it sells over 1 million.

I mentioned Tekken 5's success later on in the OP.

Im not saying you are wrong but I didnt know anyone that played MK during this time.
The sales disagree with you I am not involved at all. So do the Youtube views.

I personally liked some of the games you listed though, like SFIII and SC2.

What kind of bizarro world is this? Have you seen the PS2 fighting games library?

Yeah, and this is a appeal to consumers and sales based thread, so the library was mostly filled with bad selling games that didn't appeal to consumers. But hardware fighting fans had a treat. But the issue is us gamer forum guys are not in the world of the general populace.

mortal kombat was on life support during this time, are you high?
It was on life support so much it was selling well more than ever since MK2?

But Tekken sold amazingly well that gen and even Virtua Fighter 4/Evo did well?

Tekken 5 sold amazingly well, as mentioned in the OP

I will give credit to MK Deception, that open world adventure mode was amazing at the time. Too bad the character you played was terrible 😆
Considering the plot I can't really blame them for throwing together a new blank character since you couldn't really use any regular character for the plot. But yeah he's uh, not really relevant outside the story mode and not the best written. A remaster could do wonders for that game, I'm surprised they never touched the adventure konquest mode in all 3 of the new games.
 

01011001

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yewh sadly one of the worst, if not the worst fighting game trilogy ever, sold pretty well still... sad state of affairs

like, especially Deadly Alliance was just the fucking worst fighting at the time... it was so atrocious holy crap.
 
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Jul 24, 2016
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Well, MK4 almost helped tank them and their own franchise. So nice rebound.
Big thing about that one is the "improved" version on the Dreamcast was worse and more unplayable than the compromised console versions from the gen before.That hurt the reputation near permanently, outside of the funny cutscenes.

He is either trolling or living in a bubble.
Or I am talking about sales and consumer reach and not about your opinion on quality?

Whole point of the thread is about reach and sales.
 
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Alexios

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Is this Afro Republican's replacement? Doing a great job so far :messenger_ok:

Just because you write something true (x thing sold more) doesn't mean your own conclusions and opinions regarding it are also true (y thing not only sold less, but it wasn't a success, needed saving, the reason it sold less is what you say, etc.) or as objective as the original plain fact 🤦‍♂️

What if, MK simply succeeded for itself with no implications whatsoever for a genre that already had plenty great games to choose from with sales divided across all even if you personally don't find their sales adequate enough for your standards which now are, MK level or bust?

Or did all the other games sell more by virtue of MK existing and how did you quantify that effect on them? Or did devs obviously change all their sequels to follow MK direction in hopes of achieving the same sales and did during that same generation?

Cos on one hand you claim none of the others sold adequately, on the other, you say MK saved the genre which would imply it allowed others more than just itself to succeed as well. So, did others succeed, and MK is the cause, or not?

This is like saying, in a hypothetical scenario, some crappy michael bay blockbuster saved cinema, as if people who went to watch that became cinephiles that now watch everything else too and not just michael bay's shit.

Shit, what if that actually killed cinema because now everyone's after michael bay shit and nothing that has lesser pure box office potential is approved or considered worthy of even trying any more :eek:

Kinda how shitty EA Sports games killed competition that had better gameplay by having the exclusive and now expensive license and marketing prowess to sell over anything. With your own "logic" EA Sports saved sports games as everything else didn't sell so great and yet theirs do 🤦‍♂️
 
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Fahdis

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Are you seriously going to compare the GOATS like TTT1 and Tekken 5 to be saved by some of the worst MK games in history? Tekken 5 even till this day looks gorgeous. Whats wrong with you? Tekken literally carried half the generation on PS2 with other Capcom fighters and SC until SF4 came out on PS3 where things were really dead.
 

Shakka43

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I loved Deception because of the Konquest mode, I spent ages on that mode. Then Armageddon came and it was a huge disappointment, I haven't been too much into MK games ever since.
 

lame gag1990

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Playstation's Platinum range means a game sold relatively well right? If so, looks like Dead or Alive 2, Tekken Tag, 4, and 5, Soul Calibur 2 and 3 at least sold well. And not to forget solid fighting games like Capcom vs SNK 2, Def Jam Vendetta, Fire Pro Returns, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Street Fighter 3, Virtua Fighter 4 Evo and a whole bunch I'm probably forgetting. The genre looked pretty good to me. To claim Mortal Kombat was the savior of the genre is a ridiculous claim I think.

Edit: Tekken 5 was PS2 exclusive and sold 6 million copies. Tekken Tag sold 2.3 million copies. Tekken 4 sold 2 million copies. MK was multiplatform and judging by your figures, none of them outsold Tekken 5 on their own. Tekken was in no way struggling. Virtua Fighter 4 was PS2 exclusive and sold 1.5 million copies. I'm not knocking MK.
 
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DForce

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You don't realize how Capcom's fighting game helped rejuvenated the fighting game scene in the early 2000s.

But if we want to talk about fighting games in general, the PS2/DC/XBOX/GC era of fighting games was arguable the best.

I remember going to the arcades in the late 90s the arcade scene was almost dead. While Street Fighter 3 considered one of the best fighting games ever created (Third Strike in particular), it wasn't well received when it first released in the arcades. It slowly became more popular as the months passed on, and it blew up in the arcades when EVO became more popular, and this was also the time when Marvel vs Capcom 2 was released in the arcades, too.

In the early 2000s, I remember seeing arcades packed with Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Street Fighter 3 Third Strike players. Forums were active, sharing\downloading videos from tournaments (back then we couldn't just watch it on YouTube). It was an amazing time. Lets not forget about games like Soul Calibur 1 and 2, Capcom vs SNK 2, Tekken Tag Tournament, Guilty Gear, King of Fighters etc.


We were also seeing the end of the crappy console ports. Yes, Dark Stalkers and Street Fighter Alpha was playable on the PSX, but we had to settle for X-Men vs Street Fighter, Marvel vs Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom where we were forced to play cross-over mode if we wanted to change characters (Saturn was different but all versions weren't released on the console).

Isn't it funny that the best fighting games in the franchise are from this era (according to the fans)?

Smash Brother's Melee
Street Fighter 3: Third Strike
Capcom vs Snk 2
Soul Calibur 2
Marvel vs Capcom 2
 

ManaByte

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Im not saying you are wrong but I didnt know anyone that played MK during this time.

For us it was all about Soul Calibur 1 and SC2, Tekken Tag, Street Fighter III, and SF Collection.

This. The biggest 3D fighters in that era were Soul Calibur, Tekken Tag, and Dead or Alive. Mortal Kombat was a joke until MK9 rebooted everything in the 360/PS3 era.
 
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BigBooper

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If everyone's legs get cut off, who will be the better dancer? Riddle me that one.
 

Inspector Q

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While third strike is arguably my favorite fighting game I also had a shit ton of fun playing DA and Deception. DA in particular, I loved unlocking all the shit in the Krypt. So I guess you can say I enjoyed MK for the single player content and games like Tekken and SF were more for MP sessions with friends.

Was not a fan of what they did with Armageddon. Shit felt cheap.
 

K1Expwy

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Almost every Soul/Tekken title has strong SP content, granted some entries are a lot better/worse than others. VF4 had the best SP training modes of the whole 6th gen
You don't realize how Capcom's fighting game helped rejuvenated the fighting game scene in the early 2000s.

But if we want to talk about fighting games in general, the PS2/DC/XBOX/GC era of fighting games was arguable the best.

I remember going to the arcades in the late 90s the arcade scene was almost dead. While Street Fighter 3 considered one of the best fighting games ever created (Third Strike in particular), it wasn't well received when it first released in the arcades. It slowly became more popular as the months passed on, and it blew up in the arcades when EVO became more popular, and this was also the time when Marvel vs Capcom 2 was released in the arcades, too.

In the early 2000s, I remember seeing arcades packed with Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Street Fighter 3 Third Strike players. Forums were active, sharing\downloading videos from tournaments (back then we couldn't just watch it on YouTube). It was an amazing time. Lets not forget about games like Soul Calibur 1 and 2, Capcom vs SNK 2, Tekken Tag Tournament, Guilty Gear, King of Fighters etc.


We were also seeing the end of the crappy console ports. Yes, Dark Stalkers and Street Fighter Alpha was playable on the PSX, but we had to settle for X-Men vs Street Fighter, Marvel vs Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom where we were forced to play cross-over mode if we wanted to change characters (Saturn was different but all versions weren't released on the console).

Isn't it funny that the best fighting games in the franchise are from this era (according to the fans)?

Smash Brother's Melee
Street Fighter 3: Third Strike
Capcom vs Snk 2
Soul Calibur 2
Marvel vs Capcom 2
The 2000s pre-7th gen and particularly SF4 were a pretty frustrating time. FG fans did as much as they could to use the Internet for social activity, before social media simplified things (for better or worse). Back then, you had to settle for written anecdotes or notation on forums (using imagination because no pics) or awful video quality (poor quality cameras, muddy compression, etc). You were extremely lucky to find more than one person in your neighborhood that played Guilty Gear or Virtua Fighter. If your feet weren't on the ground where the scene was active, you missed out on a lot. There's tournament/exhibition videos of top US professional players, showing they were several years behind Japan at 3rd Strike. A lot of Street Fighter and FGC retrospectives on Youtube and elsewhere share the same sentiment

I spent the 2000s visiting different arcade "hot spots," so I'm referring to the average FG player, and especially the casual gamer who may have liked FGs in the past, but wouldn't travel all over the country or world just to see skilled matches. It's not hard to understand why a netplay release of retro SF2 Turbo was a major success, followed by SF4 and the 2010s FG revival
 

Kokoloko85

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I those games almost killed Mortal Kombat and maybe fighting games let alone saved them lol
 

Rhazer Fusion

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Honestly, fighting games imo are more in a rut now than back in the PS2, Xbox and GC era. If it wasn’t for MK11, Smash and maybe SF5, I feel the genre would be even more niche. 3D fighters are dead and it seems like we only get very low budget 2D fighters occasionally now.

I don’t know about the 3D Mortal Kombat games saving the fighting genre because it seems like many consider the 3D versions the worst Mortal Kombat games in the franchise especially MK4.
 
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Tekken 5 was better then most ps2 era mk games
These mk games were terrible
And I hated how they disrespected lu Kang by killing him like a jobber and then he turned into that stupid zombie lu Kang

I'm glad they redeemed lu Kang glory in mk 11
 
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MasterDerico

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Not personal, but you have missed a lot of ps2 fighting games man...You have zero knowledge about this.
 
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