Cute meets cruel in retro gaming

By Josh Alfrey

October is a standout month in gaming history. This throwback is dedicated to two greats released in October.

“Mortal Kombat” and “Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island” normally aren’t synonymous. One pushed the boundaries of gore and violence, the other of cute and cuddliness. Despite the huge gap, they both brought something new to a young gaming market in the ’90s.

The arcades and consoles at the time benefited from these releases. “Mortal Kombat” showed games’ marketability to an adult audience and “Yoshi’s Island” did the same for children.

“Mortal Kombat”

This side-scrolling fighting throwback first hit arcades Oct. 8, 1992. “Mortal Kombat” quickly became an arcade favorite and was extremely controversial because of its depiction of violence.

The controversy made it all the to the congressioanal floor and led to a decision on how games should be censored and rated.

Without “Mortal Kombat’s” exceptional use of blood and gore, the Entertainment Software Rating Board would never haved existed. The board determines the standards for rating all games, including M for mature and E for everyone.

Early controversy only helped make this game more popular, and the game became a must-play because of how taboo it was. Picking it back up this month felt like an exciting trip through gaming history. It was amazing to see how far the boundaries have been pushed compared to past gaming.

“Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island”

“Yoshi’s Island” was brave, turning a gaming icon into a useless baby and making gamers play as a dinosaur. People loved it.

On Oct. 4, 1995, the side-scrolling platformer entered the market for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. “Yoshi’s Island” was set as a prequel to all events in the Super Mario Bros. timeline.

Allowing gamers to play as Yoshi brought life to a franchise that Nintendo didn’t want to tire out too quickly. Yoshi’s game mechanics kept the platformer world fresh and interesting even when gamers thought they have done it all.

I fell in love with “Yoshi’s Island’s” artistic style and graphics. The creative art was something uncommon for SNES games of the day. The visual experience alone was stunning enough to land it on my list of favorite SNES games, and the gameplay only complemented it.