The newly released Retrocade is one of the most unique arenas in Mortal Kombat 11, adding multiple meta-textual twists to the already impressive Tournament stage. Beyond its MK franchise deepcuts lies a background filled with Midway Arcade Treasures. These are the games remembered:
Released August 1994; Primal Rage launched a fighting game franchise developed by Atari Games. It featured a post-apocalyptic future overrun by seven playable prehistoric creatures of peace and chaos. Each is worshipped by primative human clans who survived the cataclysmic meteor strike that plunged "Urth" into a new Stone Age.
Essentially Mortal Kombat with dinosaurs; Primal Rage put a unique twist on standard fighting games of the time, introducing inverted button & directional inputs for special moves, and a mechanic for devouring worshippers to gain mid-match bonuses. Like MK, it became a target for parties concerned with the depiction of violence in video games. Home console ports were handled by Probe and Bitmasters. The arcade cabinet is prominently displayed on the far left of the Retrocade.
In Defender the objective was to rescue humans in an early multi-buttoned arcade space adventure. Released in 1981, it revolutionized the arcade shooting of Space Invaders by turning it on its side, and adding horizontal scrolling in both directions. A mini-map at the top of the screen helped players navigate the simple landscape as they hunted down alien invaders. Fail to save captured astronauts and they return as hostile mutants out for revenge!
Eugene Jarvis led development on the landmark laser-firing arcade klassic, which was released by Williams. You can see the arcade machine tucked away in the background of the left side of the Retrocade, next to a poster for Hydro Thunder and behind the Ermac cutout.
Rampage World Tour
Fans of giant-monster movies got their first taste of kaiju carnage in 1986 with the initial arcade release of Rampage. Players took control of George the giant gorilla, Lizzie the giant lizard, or Ralph the giant werewolf, razing metropolitan battlefields while fending off the attacks of the military, and other passing vehicles.
Midway's Rampage was everything the title suggested, spawning an unstoppable franchise of sequels and home ports, as well as the 2018 live-action adaptation starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson! Humans were definitely back on the menu in the 1997 World Tour sequel, as were other power-ups that could be discovered while climbing and smashing through buildings across the entire globe! The arcade cabinet is nestled beside Defender, partially obscured by the Retrocade projection screen.
A game that needs no introduction to old school MK fans! Developed by the MK team for arcade release in 2001: The Grid was a third-person arena shooter that could support up to six players with linked arcade machines. Similar in tone to Smash TV, it presented the deadly run & gun action as a major league bloodsport of the future with an over-the-top host, and tongue-in-cheek violence.
The Grid is not only fondly remembered for its early take on multiplayer battle arena style gameplay, but also its incorporation of MK4 inspired guest characters: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Noob Saibot. The neon green Grid logo can be seen on two arcade machines pressed up against the back of the Retrocade's right side.
Another deeply nostalgic retro cut; Joust was a Williams Electronics cabinet released in 1982. The platforming arcade klassic gave players control of a knight riding a flying ostrich who must defeat rival enemies on buzzards across a rock and lava laden 2D arena. The game included two-player co-op mode and can be seen influencing various memorable titles, including Nintendon's Mario Bros. It was part of the original Midway Arcade Treasures collection, and can be seen on the far right of the Retrocade, behind the speaker and change machine.
Courts approved the sale of Midway Games and its library of video games and intellectual property to Warner Brothers in July, 2009 [full story]. The acqusition most visibly led to a relaunch of Mortal Kombat in 2011, but these MK11 references highlight the broader possibilities of the Midway catalogue.
Retrocade, Dead Pool, Soul Chamber, and Kronika's Keep arenas are all part of a free update released to Mortal Kombat 11 last week! Take a closer look at the meta-stage and tell us what you think of the arcade easter eggs in the comments below. Find and discuss more from Aftermath on the Mortal Kombat 11 forum!