Sunday, March 2, 2008

Moral Kombat

No, that's not a typo. Besides, I'd never review Mortal Kombat. For one thing, it's not an online game. Secondly, it doesn't suck. Moral Kombat, on the other hand, checks all the boxes.

As you may or may not know, Moral Kombat is a faithful homage to a Japanese game called Rose & Cammelia, in which you play a young widow who assumes control of her departed husband's house by slapping her mean sisters- and mother-in-law.

Yes, I'm aware that makes little sense, but I did mention that it was Japanese, right? Anyway, in Moral kombat you play another young woman, this time disgusted by the horrible state of the world we live in. She takes it upon herself to show people the error of their ways by... um... smacking them upside the head.

Your first port of call is the local bully, who one can assume, from the manner of her dress, doubles as the local floozey. The game uses a mouse based controls system, where the player is required to hold down the left mouse button and swing the cursor along a predefined path, so that our heroine's palm can securely meet badguy cheek. This is interesting in theory but infuriating in practice. It's no good just aiming for your opponent's face; you have to get as close to the curve of the path as possible or else you'll miss. And if you miss, they'll get to slap back.

This happened to me a lot. Another thing I found annoying was that sometimes the swing wouldn't even register. Whether I had swung too early or too late, I have no idea, but regardless my character (who we'll just call Shirley Mc Frownsalot) would oftentimes just stand there and end up eating a palm sandwich. At least the original allowed you to track the movement of your pointer with a line that followed you across the screen. Moral Kombat offers you no help whatsoever.

Through luck and experience, I was able to at least avoid some of her shots while landing a few of my own. And look at that bully - she is fucked up! Shirley's got smacking power that goes through the roof! If this was real life, she'd be making big money in underground pit fighting contests.

BOOM! And Mrs Kimbo Slice takes down the bully. Surprisingly, this does not end the immoral behaviour of the planet's inhabitants, so she finds someone else to lay the smackdown upon.

OK, working towards a more moral society is a noble quest, but I question our heroine's methods. Surely by bitchslapping everyone she meets, she is making the world even more immoral, not less? But hey, I'm not going to argue with her. That right hand is dynamite.

Opponent number 2 is a purse thief. We know this because she just tried to steal Shirley's purse. Let's show this bitch who's boss!

Ah. Never mind. Again, the same problems plague this fight, and every fight in the game. I appreciate innovation (even if it was someone else's to begin with) but the control system is flawed. This game would work better on something like the Wii or Nintendo DS. But since Nintendo don't have the balls/aren't stupid enough (delete as appropriate) to sell a game based around female street fights, I guess we'll never know how it could have worked out.

With a little more luck, I managed to take the thief down to Chinatown. So who will our heroine's moral compass point her to next?

OK, this is where it starts getting weird(er). I hate to promote racial stereotypes, but who in their right mind would take on a rapper in a bitchslapping contest? But then, this chick is running around hitting people - she's hardly the sharpest knife in the drawer.

She's also pretty boring. I mean, read that text in the last screenshot. Shirley is the sort of fun-hating prude that most of us wouldn't want to spend time with in real life. Way to create a sympathetic character, Orb.

Unsurprisingly, things don't go well. But then a strange thing happened. I started to get good. I dodged more slaps and hit more of my own. Things were going remarkably well, all of a sudden. And my pimp hand was mighty!

Don't ask me where all the diamonds keep coming from. It should also be noted that if something like a hat or sunglasses flies off the opponent as you lay down the law, it magically reappears after every slap.

Yes, I'm aware that's only a minor niggle and really of no importance to the overall game. I acknowledge that I'm being anal, but this is my blog so... whatever.

With his last breath (Jesus, you killed him with a slap!) the gangsta gives Shirley the name of the Don. So she goes and smacks the Don.

How did we get from a schoolyard bully to a Mafioso in four levels? And how did Shirley get past the Don's bodyguards and smack him without them gunning her down in cold blood?

I guess we know the answer to that. You don't become the head of a Mafia clan without smacking a few faces here and there. But the Don has never met a girl like Shirley McFrownsalot!

You've got to love how money just flies out of all the Don's pockets, such is the power of Shirley's right hand. Thankfully, we've just got one more level to go. And by this point I was so good at the game I no longer found it ridiculously challenging. Now it was having the opposite effect, and just starting to bore me.

But hey, who can be bored when you've got a web spammer dressed up like Satan? I'll give the guys at Orb credit - I've never faced an end of game boss like this.

But like I've already mentioned, I was getting pretty good at making sure Shirley hit her target. So, while the Spam King may be fearsome on the Internets, the guy is a fucking sissy when it comes to physical confrontations.

Well, what do you know? All that tough love finally had a positive effect on someone. Sure, you maimed and killed plenty of people in the process, but at least the Spam King has mended his evil ways.

How ironic that a game called Moral Kombat should be based on the rather immoral exercise of beating people unconscious. Still, it does provide food for thought. Maybe what the "War on Terror" needs is a few less invasions of sovereign countries and a few more prissy teenage girls with an overhand right that would make Chuck Liddell proud.

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