Parents Can Play Too: A Video Game with a Tradition and Simple Commands

Many parents tell me that while they try hard to monitor their children’s video game play, they regret not being able to play themselves. Most who attempt often get discouraged with the complexity of the control settings. Others may survive for a time, until the overwhelming visual and audio effects exhaust them. The Midway Home Entertainment’s new release Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has remedied these ailments.

The film noir opening consists of exquisite graphics of familiar characters. The DC Comics superheroes (Superman, Batman, Catwoman, etc.) are joined by the traditional Mortal Kombat (MK) cast. They are set with a well- designed, realistic background and rich sound effects. Yet, the game seems neither visually exhausting nor deafening. If needed, one can adjust these settings on a separate menu. The play is simple, allowing most complex situations to be resolved with simple keystrokes. Multiple action maneuvers may occur with simply pressing a button. A combination of no more than 3 buttons is required for more complex moves. The easy learning curve and easy to use controls make it quite manageable for those unfamiliar with video gaming.

A frequent feature of the MK series has been the GORE it depicts. Each punch or kick ends in blood spurts from the victim. The earliest version, Mortal Kombat, among others was referenced widely during the 1994 Senate hearing on video game violence. A major result of those hearings was the ESRB rating system that we use today. Earlier versions of MK received M (Mature) rating. This version is the first in its pedigree to get a T (teen) rating, and includes less GORE than its predecessors. Yet, in this game, blood and sweat do spill with landing attacks. The game offers the parental modification as an option. However, CAUTION: there is no security password option available; therefore ANYONE can unlock the control. So, parents make sure your teenager will not try at home what happens in game. For those children who are younger or too immature to tell fantasy from reality, this game is not suitable.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe keeps the players engaged and entertained through a series of brief one-to-one fights featuring iconic characters. The game offers two main play types. The single player mode offers a story line with an easy to follow plot. While a series of cut scenes tell the story, the player gets to control different superheroes. In time, the single player mode may get repetitive but the plot remains intriguing. The main excitement in this game has traditionally been its multiplayer option. Two players can play against each other sharing the entire screen in person or online. Parents here are advised to share with their children the crucial safety tips, as currently no gaming system would fully assume responsibility for online content.

With its simpler play, familiar graphics, and adjustable gore content, this product will likely facilitate an adult joining a teenager in video game play. A less mature player is not advised to play this game. For those who have been debating for years on the outcome of a Batman vs. Superman match up, well, it seems the wait is over.

T. Atilla Ceranoglu, M.D.
aceranoglu@partners.org