With the release of the 2011 reboot, Mortal Kombat strived to go somewhere it had never convincingly gone before: the competitive scene. With its reinvented retro-inspired gameplay a bonafide success, the latest game may now be taking the series further than anyone could've rightly expected -- to Japan!

Mortal Kombat in Japan!

A user on the Shoryuken forums [Hayama Akito] has brought to light the unlikely arrival of Mortal Kombat in the far east, signifying what seems to be a small location test for the US fighter [via ace-net1.com].

For the majority of its history, the Mortal Kombat series has struggled to gain the degree of competitive respect held by its well known Japanese peers. Series like Street Fighter, Tekken and Virtua Fighter have long held broad crossover appeal in US and JP markets, while the dominance of mech fighters like the Gundam series have taken top honors in Japanese arcades.

Naturally occuring cultural biases may have played a part in the dissonance between Japan and Mortal Kombat, but there's no getting away from the issue of the deep competitive mechanics that often take precedent within the Japanese fighting game psyche. Mechanics that Mortal Kombat has lacked in previous iterations, or included with critical flaws, without rejection from domestic retail markets.

The fighting system for Mortal Kombat [(2011)] was said to be constructed from the ground up, clearly taking lessons learned from the return to a more strict 2D plane in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe. With their eyes on the hardcore, and extended patch support, the series was able to confirm its improvements with a return to the Evo Championship Series as a feature title in 2011 and 2012. The competitive success has also spun-out into the eSports Pro-Circuit of Major League Gaming [full story], putting money and resources behind the development of the MK scene, on home soil.

While it's clearly taken an element of reinvention to spur Mortal Kombat into a relatively small blip back in the Japanese arcades, that's not to say the series hasn't had flirtations in the past.

Mortal Kombat in Japan! Mortal Kombat in Japan!

Ports of the original Mortal Kombat titles were once as mysterious and exotic as the Eastern mythology that inspired them.

Games like Mortal Kombat: Shinken Kourin Densetsu and Mortal Kombat II: Kyuukyoku Shinken ("Ultimate Godly Fist") took ports of the franchise to the 32X, Super Nintendo and Sega CD, giving Japanese homes a (sometimes censored) taste of the American fighter, and later trivia buffs something to be smart arses about.

The daring of MK was clearly enough to create a cult following. The lingering presence of the series' earliest instalments persisted as late as 1996, resulting in the curious creation of a Japan-exclusive Mortal Kombat II port for the PlayStation -- three years after the game's original US release!

In May, 2012, Kotaku reported the series' enduring fandom within the Japanese Xbox 360 niche, rating Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe and Mortal Kombat (2011) both within the top 10 import titles (10 & 7, respectively).

The location test -- 150 yen per game, for anyone heading to the third floor arcade -- coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the original Mortal Kombat! We will endeavor to track the success (or failure) of MK in JP as it makes its intriguing trek east.

Mortal Kombat Online is celebrating all things Mortal Kombat for the big 20th anniversary! Be you from Japan, or otherwise, we want to know all about your nostalgiac MK history in the Year of the Dragon forum post! Thanks to Pop Culture Shock Collectibles, we're also giving MKOmmunity users the chance to win a Limited Edition, Life-Size Sub-Zero Bust! Get updates on kontent, kontests and more by following @MK_Online and liking us on Facebook.