In Search of T Rating, Midway Softens MK vs. DC Universe

Kotaku reports that the violence level in Midway’s upcoming Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has been toned down in order to earn a T (13 and older) rating from the ESRB.

If so, the move is clearly intended to boost sales, since an M rating would make some parents think twice about buying the game.

With Midway in dire financial straits, it’s hard to argue with the decision.

Some gamers, however, are lamenting the fact that a very stylistic fatal move involving the Joker has been edited. You can check out the Joker fatality in the video at left from this year’s Leipzig game conference.

From Kotaku’s Michael McWhertor:

[MK vs DC has] been changed up a bit, toned down to just slightly less than awesome to secure that highly coveted T-rating that Midway and Warner Bros. are so adamant about. In the latest build, Joker still whips out his prank gun, a "BANG!" flag unfurling. Unfortunately, you won’t see the follow up of Joker shooting someone in the face; that actually happens off screen now, the headshot safely out of sight…

Sure, it’s disappointing — Joker’s original finishing move was one of the best we’ve ever seen — but the game would simply not exist with an M-rating.

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  1. NotSoHardcoreGamer says:

    Sorry for dragging Jack Thompson’s dismembered corpse here…

    But this shows that the ex-attorney wasn’t even needed anyway for these things.  Censorship and control- responsibility- are well within the power of the game makers and consumers, and they don’t need an arrogant, pompous, intolerant bully like Jack to force it down their throats.

    More directly on the matter: this is strange because most of the villains in comics nowadays, even by big, main comics companies like DC and Marvel have shown far, far worse than someone getting a bullet in the temple.  Look at the recent Infinite Crisis with Superboy Prime decimating the Teen Titans.

    Joker has done worse than just shooting someone maniacally.  What he did in this fatality was pretty tame and even charming in a psychotic supervillain way (I love the moves and attacks they gave him).  Editing this was unnecessary IMHO.

    What else was edited?

    Lastly, I really hope Midway releases an "uncut" or "mature" version of the game with the violence still complete.  Give that the M Rating.  And I’m pretty sure it would sell well.

  2. Zerodash says:

    Well, Ed Boon has said that the next MK game will be "Mortal Kombat 8" and a return to full M-Rated content.

    However, ever since the shock of the first game, the violence in the series became more and more funny or satirical.  Game violence in the early 90’s was great…if only due to the overblown novelty factor.

  3. GrimCW says:

    well the deal breaker has been sealed for me. this game was already on thin ice when i read it was gonna be toned down, but to cut out something that little…

    i mean for crying out loud an FPS with no blood can be "T" but a fighting game can’t?

  4. Zero Beat says:

    Would’ve been better if instead of pulling out a second gun, he squeezed the trigger again to shoot the flag and it stuck through the opponent’s skull with a bit of blood dripping down.

    Kind of like what happened to Bonk in the uncut version of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, except a bit more hardcore… Excuse me, hardkore.

  5. ezbiker555 says:

    That just ruined the game for me. If its not going to keep the awsome M rated Fatatlites, especially when this could have been a really good crossover, whats the point? Simply put: toning it down means taking away from the game. I was so looking forward to this game and now there’s no point in getting it. Dam this sucks.

  6. Flamespeak says:

    You know if Midway would release some games that have lasting appeal and were really fun to play instead of focusing on gimmicks with their titles, then they might not be in trouble in the first place.  Just putting that out there.

    (Of course, it didn’t help Clover Studios that much….)

  7. HilaryDuffGta says: (and boom goes the dynamite)



    what the hell..they had to cut that out its not even that bad..god i’m so sick of this "lets tone down a game thats meant for adults anyways" i hope they at least relase a collecters edition with a m rating and all the stuff back in it

  8. Monte says:

    I don’t know about that… i would not jump to the conclusion that taking out a fatality would be as hard as taking out hot coffee… my own experinece in game making is severly limited especially since i’m only on the art side, but i know it some cases the only thing that needs to be changed is the animation file… switch the old animation file with a new one of the same name and throw the old one into the trash… now when the code tells the joker to play his fatality animation it just pick’s up the new file… again, my experoience is severely limited, but i would not jump to the conclusion that it the same case as it was with Hot coffee and that it is very hard to remove.

    Furtharmore, Just because we are hearing the news NOW, does not mean that the decision to take out the content was made just the other day; the decision could have been made a couple of months ago and they have been working on it ever since… they are only telling us NOW because NOW all the changes that needed to be done are just about finished.

  9. black manta says:

    Since I never played Manhunt 2 because I had no interest in it, I don’t really care that much about it.  Granted it was a bit of a wussing-out, but from what I understand the game was not that great to begin with.  So no big loss.

    As far as cutting something like a Fatality, the coding is pretty much already there and it’s very difficult to get rid of unless you can somehow disable it (e.g. "Hot Coffee").  That would take too long tho and this game is only a couple weeks from release.  And disabling something like a Fatality is a lot more involved that pulling music tracks as in Little Big Planet.

    And I wouldn’t worry too much about the Fatalities.  I’m sure they won’t be any more gruesome than we’ve seen before.  In fact, a lot of the older ones from the first two games in hindsight seem downright quaint!  Besides, I’m not buying this just for the Fatalities; I’m buying it because there’s finally an honest-to-goodness DC-based fighting game that just happens to have some MK characters in it (albeit the ones that matter anyway).

  10. black manta says:

    When I meant "next logical step," I didn’t mean it for the MK series, I meant as far as mash-ups for comic properties and fighting games.  In the 1990’s, Capcom and Marvel had at least two fighting games out – Marvel Superheroes and X-Men: Children of the Atom.  You would have thought DC would have taken the hint and done something similar with another big fighting game franchise.  The closest they ever came back then was a game called Justice League Task Force for the SNES, which was co-developed with a little company called Blizzard.  However, the game, while decent, didn’t win many high marks and faded into obscurity.  Incidentally, it seems that Blizzard was so embarrassed by it that it seems to be one of the few games they refuse to acknowledge having worked on when it comes to discussing their history.

    Anyway, you would have thought DC would have realized the potential for such a game and taken advantage of it that much sooner.  So like I was saying, I’m surprised it took this long.

    As far as MK being more realistic and taking itself seriously, it doesn’t take itself that seriously.  Almost the entire premise of the game was inspired by Big Trouble in Little China which, while a good movie, had a pretty high camp factor.  Not to mention quite a few Bruce Lee movies as well; namely Enter the Dragon.

    And besides, any pretense of realism goes right out the window once those Fatalaties happen.  To me they’re about as over-the-top and outrageous as anything from a Tom and Jerry, Road Runner or Tex Avery cartoon or a Three Stooges Short (albeit with lots more blood!)  So I don’t look me in the eye and tell me the MK series is more any more realistic than SF.  It isn’t.  They’re pretty much equal in terms of preposterous and paper-thin plots.

    As far as a story, there is one, written by Jimmy Palmiotti no less.  And from what I understand it does a pretty good job of explaining why Superman finds himself somewhat depowered for the purposes of this game.  For that matter, the first Marvel-based fighting game by Capcom- Marvel Superheroes – had a story as well; one that was loosely based on the Infinity Gauntlet arc that was going on at the time.  So yes, Capcom’s Marvel games did have a storyline or premise to them, if only initially.

    But still, like you said, this is supposed to be fun.  Sometimes it’s best not to overthink these things.  Like one of my favorite shows used to say in its theme song, "Just repeat to yourself ‘It’s just a show.  I should really just relax."

  11. Monte says:

     Frankly, i’ve never seen MK vs DC as "the next logical step", and i still don’t like the idea. The issue i have all has to do with the tone an attitude of the games. Marvel vs Capcom is done in a nice bright cartoony like fashion; as such it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. The game just screams "All these guys are in the same game, just have fun with it". The attitude of the game is that its just there to have fun with. 

    Mortal Kombat in contrast has always been done in a realistic style, has been very violent and as such comes of as taking itself seriously. Unlike Capcom vs Marvels "just have fun with it" tone, MK vs DC gives us a "two worlds collide and its gonna be seriously epic" kind of vibe. And because it takes itself seriously, i can’t help but point out errors in continuity. For instance they find the need to explain how people can beat superman; ok so Superman isn’t immune to magic, but how does that explain why a normal punch from like the joker effect him when it should be like punching a steel wall? Why doesn’t subzero’s head get horribly crushed when he is plowed into the ground by superman’s fatality? The joker’s taught looks stupid, i know he’s supposed to be an insane clown but it looks like he’s really over acting. When things get serious it sparks up the critical eye to it’s flaws

    If this was DC vs Capcom and done in the same bright style as Marvel vs Capcom, i would likely not voice a single complaint just as i have never said anything about Marvel vs Capcom. 

    its all about suspension of disbelief… when things are serious, we see things a bit more critically. However when things are bright and light hearted, we take it with a grain of salt, we recognize that it’s just supposed to be fun, feel as though it doesn’t NEED an explaination, and just except it for what it is. 

  12. Doomsong says:

    Yeah, and to be honest I’d have rather seen Black Adam than Captain Marvel. Of course if fans were to choose the characters the game would be to huge to fit on a disk.

  13. Monte says:

    Don’t mistake "T rated" as something childish, Teen rated can also be violent but less violent than M rated. I don’t see warner bros making R-rated batman films; they stick to PG-13. They wouldn’t want the batman movies to be pegged with anything higher.

    As for comics, i’d call them an exception to this… i doubt Warner Bros actually pays much attention to what the comics do and are only in the DC business for the sake of milking out films and TV adaptions (hell, they never have been all that faithful in their adaptions). DC can pretty much go as violent as it likes with the comics. It’s like WB only pays DC so they can use the characters and just tell DC to keep doing what their doing, not giving a damn about whether or not it fits their own standards.

    The only question is how DC appears in it’s film adaptions because that’s what we know for sure is Warner bros standards; any DC video game that comes out will likely be no more violent if not LESS than the film adaptions. And it’s likely to be less violent since violence and such is more closely scrutinized in video games; its easier to get an M-rating in video games than it is to get an R-rating in films.

  14. jmcc says:

    "Warner Bros views the DC characters as T rated characters"

    Not Joker. Joker’s a killer in pretty much every medium he shows up in.

  15. MaskedPixelante says:

    I’m sure this is something that can be added in with a patch later. Oh no wait, selling a Teen game, then adding in Mature content via DLC seems more like a Rockstar move.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  16. Mr. Stodern says:

    Video games won’t be getting the same treatment as movies for some time, especially for as long as developers keep bending over from pressure.

  17. Monte says:

     Well it seems it not just an issue of money, Warner Bros views the DC characters as T rated characters… as such they would want the game to have teens as the targeted audience… so unless the european raters are willing to let all that violence slide by with nothing higher than a 13+ rating, you get bet that ALL versions will be edited to please Warner Bros

  18. Cheater87 says:

    Is this game only censored for America or is everyone getting the censored version??? If Europe will get the original fatality I will import my copy from Europe.

  19. Monte says:

     Material getting cut out of a game halfway through production is a common practice; its just that the stuff that gets taken out usually isn’t the first stuff to pop up in teasers. Think about how manhunt 2 was orginally supposed to look like until they cut out material and edited scenes so that they could get an M rating. And a head shot is likely a very big no-no… i think i have heard on a number of accounts where gun to the head was seen as much more seriously than a gunshot anywhere else

    No surprise that it would get cut for the sake of the T rating… and i can only guess at how many other classic MK fatalities got cut out and edited… afterall, those fatalities were what got MK an M rating all these years 


  20. black manta says:

    The Joker’s fatality as seen in that clip is exactly what was described in Gamespot’s podcast from a couple of months ago.  So chances are it’s still in there.  There was another Fatality I saw where he throws a bunch of playing cards like shurikens, so it’s possbile that some characters may have more than one Fatality or Brutality, which wouldn’t be unprecedented in MK.  I’d take this bit of news with a grain of salt personally.

  21. black manta says:

    Same here.  In fact, I took a preorder for it a few weeks ago as I happened to be a fan of both franchises.  Considering that Capcom has made sveral fighting games featuring the Marvel characters including Marvel Vs. Capcom, I always thought MK Vs. DCU would have been the next logical choice for a mash-up and always wondered why it hadn’t been done sooner.  (BTW, what would be next?  SNK Vs. Image, I guess?)

    And even though I’m a fan of MK, I couldn’t care less if the game was rated T as I’ve known for a long time that’s what Midway was shooting for with this game.  When you’ve got well-established and heroic characters whom a lot of people know like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, I don’t see how it could be rated anything but.  It would be really uncharacteristic to see Superman rip someone’s arms off or melt their head with is heat vision (though maybe with Wonder Woman, they could get away with having her break someone’s neck since she did the same thing to Maxwell Lord in the comics a while back.)  I’ve seen Superman’s brutality, and given its execution, it worked just fine for me.  It still had that same over-the-top attitude MK is known for.

    I’m more disappointed actually at who’s not in the game.  The heroes are all good choices – except for maybe Captain Marvel.  Does anyone really care about him anymore?  Personally I would have liked to have seen Aquaman.  There could have been all sorts of cool water-based attacks with him.  Tho I don’t know what his brutality would be.  Telepathically summoning a blue whale that would fall out of the clear blue sky on someone, maybe?

    There could have been more villains.  Joker and Lex Luthor in power armor (yes!) are both cool.  But there are plenty of other DC villains that would have been perfect for this game.  Solomon Grundy in particular should have been a no-brainer and I’m surprised he’s not in there.  And since you’ve got GL in there, why not Sinestro?  Also I would have loved to have seen my personal favorite, Black Manta (where I get my screen name from, durr).  I could have imagined Midway arming him with a wicked trident and messing people up with it.  His fatality could be bringing out his opponent’s offspring and murdering it in front of them (a true Babality!)

    Either way, I’m still getting this game.  Along with WoW: Wrath of the Lich King (which I’m contractually bound to getting anyway) and the PC version of GTA IV, it’s at the top of my list.

  22. Papa Midnight says:

    They’re robbing us of the Joker’s Fatality? That was just pure comedy. I swear I laughed heartily after seeing that. This is such a shame. It also strives away from the true Mortal Kombat stance. What’s next, They’ll take away Sub Zero’s Skeletal Rip that he’s had since Day One? Perhaps the body crush will go. I demand at minimal, a collector’s edition or Director’s Cut or something like that which retains the M rating.

    Papa Midnight

  23. CyberSkull says:

    Since the game is rated T Midway is contractually prohibited by the ESRB to publish DLC above the T rating. So there will be no Joker fatality DLC/patch, which is the only cool thing I have seen in the game.

    I’m not planning on getting it anyways, I’ve never cared for MK.

  24. NovaBlack says:

    wow.. way to take out the best thing in the game..


    its just pointless. MK is pretty average, its the fatalities and gore that provide the unique selling point..

    by taking out fatalitites, MK just becomes an average average fighter.

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