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It's been more than a year since a game was banned in Australia, but it looks like we have a new fatality... the eagerly-anticipated brawler Mortal Kombat has officially been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, for violence that "exceeds strong in impact" and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.
Who would have guessed?
We have the Decision Report on Mortal Kombat in a handy pdf format if you want all the gory details, but the basics are that the Board took particularly strong objection to the game's many fatalities.
The Board notes that fatalities cannot be performed in Story mode and are unlikely to be performed frequently during gameplay; however, it is also noted that there are more than 60 fatalities available and they are an important component of the game.
It goes on to list several of the fatalities which particularly upset the board - including Kung Lao's "buzz saw" hat manouvre, Jade's fancy fighting stick work, Stryker's point-blank firing range, Quan Chi's leg-ripping, Scorpion's slice and dice, Mileena's twin-blade action, Kabal's long hooks, Shao Kahn's body-tearing skill, Kitana's folding fan, and - of course - Baraka's wrist blades.
The game includes over 60 fatalities (some of which are noted above) which contain explicit depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, disembowelment and other brutal forms of slaughter. Despite the exaggerated conceptual nature of the fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm, impact is heightened by the use of graphics which are realistically rendered and very detailed.
A Warner Bros. spokesperson has also made the following, politically-charged statement:
The highly anticipated video game Mortal Kombat, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) in Australia, has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board and will not release in Australia.
We are extremely disappointed that Mortal Kombat, one of the world's oldest and most successful video games franchises, will not be available to mature Australian gamers. WBIE would not market mature content where it is not appropriate for the audience. We understand that not all content is for every audience, but there is an audience for mature gaming content and it would make more sense to have the R18+ classification in Australia. As a member of the iGEA, WBIE is reviewing all options available at this time.
So - on one hand, the rest of the world, sounds like you're in for a treat. Australians... this is just another reason to keep pushing for an adult R18+ rating, as - clearly - if one was in place, this game would have sailed through for adults-only.
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I like video games, fishing, Depeche Mode, long walks on the beach, writing discussion papers and cups of tea. Not necessarily in that order.
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