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My mom could beat up your mom. Well, maybe in Mortal Kombat X, anyway.

You see, although my mom usually never plays videos games (she’s much more interested in her “stories” and seasonal decorating), I sometimes have her review them. And, of course, I don’t just have her review casual stuff. I throw her right into the deep end of hardcore gaming.

And what better game to have my sweetheart of a mother review than Mortal Kombat X, the violent new fighter in the long-lived series for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC? Below is the transcript of our session, with my mom’s words in red. You know, like the color of blood, which Mortal Kombat X has in ample supply.

Alright, mom, you’re up. We’re going to play Mortal Kombat.


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Right. Mortal Kombat X, not Ten. What do you know about Mortal Kombat?

I guess they fight?

We used to play Mortal Kombat when we were little, right?


You bought it for us when we were little.

I didn’t buy it. Your father did.

You bought it. I remember. You bought Mortal Kombat 3, and the lady asked us who this was for, and you said it was for your son in college. Which you did not have.

I don’t remember that.

I remember it.

[Notices MLB 15 The Show in my library] Can you play the baseball game instead?

No, you can’t play the baseball game. No one will think it’s funny if you play the baseball game. Do you know any of the characters in Mortal Kombat? What about Sub Zero? No?

That’s a freezer.

Wrong Sub Zero, mom.

Above: Wrong Sub Zero, mom.

Image Credit:

You never heard of Scorpion?


Or Sonya Blade?


Ever played a fighting game before.


Like what?

I don’t know. There’s other ones I’ve done, I guess. Don’t you fight in all of these games?

Dark Souls II isn’t a fighting game. A fighting game is 1-on-1, like Mortal Kombat is.

Probably some karate game or something.

Like Street Fighter?


OK. We’re going to play the two-player mode. You and I are going to play against each other this time. OK, push the X button. There’s a lot of buttons on your controller, aren’t there? Did you push it?


One second. Push X now. Now push X. Push Circle. You pushed it too many times. All right. You can look around at all the characters to see who you want to be.

[As she looks over the character select screen.] Oh, my Lord.

You can look at them with your stick.

I can’t see her face.

That’s Mileena. That’s Cassie Cage. You’ll be Cassie Cage?

My mom picked her.

Above: My mom picked her.

Image Credit: NetherRealm Studios



Press X?

Yeah, press X a few times. I’ll be Scorpion.


Push X one more time.

I thought she was going to spit at him.

No, she just blew a bubble. You want the Jinsei Chamber, the Crossroads, the Emperor’s Courtyard, the Cove, the Refugee Camp, the Quan-Chi Fortress — we’ll go to the Lin Kuei Temple. How about that?

That’s fine. Whatever. You have to tell me what all these buttons do.

OK. These two are punches. These two are kicks. You want these four mostly.

Wait, wait. These two are punches?

No, this is a punch, and this is a punch. This is a kick–

Wait, wait. Put your finger on it. Punch, punch?


Kick, kick?

No, no, OK. Punch, punch.

Kick, kick. What are these two?

This is block. This is to use things in the level. Don’t worry about that one too much. This is to grab people, throw people. L2, don’t worry about it. Mostly focus on these four.

Alrighty. This moves? Ooh!

That moves you, see? Left, right, jump around. There you go. You already hit me. There’s a method that new people like called button-mashing, where they just push the buttons and hope for the best. I think that would be your best strategy here.

Warning: not an in-game screenshot.

Above: Warning: not an in-game screenshot.

Image Credit: Mortal Kombat movie.

How’d I get the sword?

I don’t know.

Wow. I’m pretty good at this.

All right. Now I’m going to fight back.

Oh, you’re not fighting back?

Well, I’ve been letting you get the hang of it.

Oh. I’m not doing good now. Aww!

I did the get-over-here. Do you see all the blood?


Oh, there you go.

Whew, I did a backflip. Not doing too good now. Uh, oh. [I use an X-ray move on her.] I’m dead. Am I dead?

Well, how dead do you look? Your spine just crashed. You want to do a move like that? Here, I’ll show you how to do a move like that. Push these two buttons at the same time, on the bottom right. The bottom right two. Oh, shoot. I had to be closer to you. You used it up. I have to hit you. You can’t use that one now. Mom, you’re just hitting the block button over and over. Go back to your punches and kicks.

How do I duck?

Down. Just hold down. There you go.

Oh, that was a good move.

You just jumped.

How’d you come from behind?

That’s my special move. You have to do a sequence of moves to do a special move. They’re harder.

Why do you have a chain? What’s my special thing?

All right, all right. We’ll look at your special moves and see if you can learn how to do them. Push the white button. Well, push it once. Stop, stop. You’re button-mashing the Start button. That’s how you do all your moves, on the right there.

[My mom sees the complicated inputs for the Fatalities.] Oh, what the heck?

Those are Fatalities. Don’t worry about that. “Single shot.” That’s easy. You want to do the “Nutcracker”? All right. We’ll teach you. Here’s how you do the “Nutcracker.”

I go to the right, down, and then X?

I didn't have to go to quite these lengths to get my mom to agree to play Mortal Kombat.

Above: I didn’t have to go to quite these lengths to get my mom to agree to play Mortal Kombat.

Image Credit: NetherRealm Studios

Yeah. OK. Push start. Just try it.

Right, down, X.

You have to do it kind of fast. Do it like a rolling motion.

Right, down, X. Right, down, X. Right, down, X. Right, down, X.

Do it over there where you can’t hurt me. You have to do it really fast.

Right, down, X.

There it is! Now do it to me. You just kicked me in the nuts.

You needed an attitude adjustment. Right, down, X.

There it is.

Ooh, right in the balls. Right, down, X.

All right, all right. You’ve learned your move. Oh, there’s a good combo. You got me. Oh, you skipped your victory taunt. You’re hitting too many buttons. You got a trophy called “Jumping Bean.” Probably for jumping a lot in your match.

Want a new fighter, or do you want to be her again?

I’ll be something new.

Do you think my character’s scary? I’m Reptile.

Hmmm. Yeah, he’s not amused. Uugh. He’s going to get me with those —

That tongue.

Aaaagh! Now, what’s that he’s doing?

That’s my special move.

What’s my special move?

You saw it. The “Nutcracker.”

That’s the only thing I have?

No, you have a bunch. Here, push the start button. We can teach you another one. We’ll do “Single shot.” Just go back, forward, Square. You’ll shoot your gun at me.

Where’s Square?

Top left. That’s right. Back, forward, Square. There you go. Remember before, when we tried to do the X-ray move? Push these bottom two buttons right at the same time when I’m next to you.


The bottom two ones. Push them right now. There you go.

[My mom’s character punches Reptile in the nuts so hard that they explode.] Oooh!

What just happened, mom?

I got him where it hurts. He wasn’t too happy.

"That's gotta hurt."

Above: “That’s gotta hurt.”

Image Credit: NetherRealm Studios

Reptile wins?! Why?

Because I beat you!

What’s this guy coming out of the water?

Just a corpse? I don’t know.

He doesn’t look too good.

You’re pushing the wrong button now. You have your fingers on the wrong buttons. You keep punching me in the face over and over!

Well, it’s working!

I’m going to do a Fatality. Let’s see. Down, right, down, right, Circle. Watch this. Oh, I missed it. How’d I miss it?

You really blew it. You’ll never get a date. We’re going to fight again?

Yeah, real quick.

I need to learn how to jump.

You know how to jump. You push up.

ESL will organize a $50,000 global Mortal Kombat X tournament.

Above: -time in Mortal Kombat X.

Image Credit: NetherRealm Studios

Oh, you broke my jaw. I can’t see a thing. Now, how could I still be alive after I did that?

I don’t know. You’re fighting. Oh, you did your nut shot.

Ah, jump, jump, jump! Jump! Jump!

Oooh, fancy! Whoa!

How come you’re invisible?

It’s just my taunt between the rounds. With your X-ray move you can push those two buttons to hit me. Your X-ray move, remember? It’s the one where you hit my balls off. Push the two bottom right ones again. Stop jumping! Push the two bottom right ones.

I am!

That’s the bottom left!

Oh, I jumped! Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump! I’m saying jump and she’s not jumping!

You have to push the button!

I wish it was voice-activated.

You just want to scream at the TV? “Punch, punch!”

Yeah. Punch or shoot ’em.

All right, mom, we’re going to get you to do a Fatality. You know what Fatalities are?

I do ’em in.

You do ’em in, yeah. All right. Here, push X. You have to navigate the menu. Go down to training. Go to “Fatality Practice.” And then pick whose fatality you want to learn.

Let’s do this one here.

Kitana. OK. Push X one more time. Who do you want to do your Fatality to?

I don’t know.

Who do you want to kill the most out of all these people?

This guy.

Goro? He’s scary, yeah? I was only able to play as him because I pre-ordered the game. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get him.

Mortal Kombat X Goro Hero

Above: Better have pre-ordered.

Image Credit: NetherRealm Studios


Yeah. It’s weird. Here, push X one more time. All right. These are the moves you can do only after you beat the person. This is where you can practice them. All right, push X. You just have to stand in that green space and do the moves up there. So down, right, left, right, Triangle. It’s on the screen!

[My mom literally laughs harder than I’ve ever heard her laugh in life at the prospect of pushing that many buttons in a row.]

What? Just do it! I’ve never heard you laugh this hard.

Down, right —

Left, right, Triangle. OK, just — just look. Just put your one hand on the triangle — that one.

Down, right, left, right, Triangle.

You just have to do it faster than that. Not too fast, though. There, you jumped. Don’t jump. Push X. Now you have to retry. You can’t accidentally hit him. OK, push X again. Down, right, left, right, Triangle.

Wait. Down, right, left, right,Ttriangle?

Yeah, you did it!

Oh, my lord. Oooogh!

What happened to Goro, mom?

I cut his hands off!

What’s that in the middle?

I have no idea.

That’s the top of his head. Select a new fighter. Let’s do another one. Let’s do Scorpion. He’s probably got a good one. Right there.


Right there, with the fire eyes. Push X. All right. Pick someone else to kill.

[She picks Erron Black.] He looks like John Wayne.

That’s good. I think that’s what they were going for. Push X one more time. Push X. Push X. All right, this is even easier than the last one. Just down, left, right, Triangle. You don’t have to go back left again this time. Down, left, right, Triangle. Nope, missed it.

Wait, wrong one.

Above: Wait, wrong one.

Image Credit: Midway

Why did I miss it?

I don’t know. Sometimes you just have to try a few times. Just retry. You’re pushing Circle. You’re pushing Triangle?


All right. Push X, and then do your thing. Down, left, right, Triangle. There you go. You got it in your second try. You blew a hole through his chest.

Ew. There’s his heart. Oh! I cut his face off.

Oh, you see his brain?


All right, mom, why don’t you fight a computer player and see if you can beat them? Now you’re ready. Go to the main menu. Not retry. You could do it again if you want.

No, that’s all right.

Just push the white button. All right. Pick who you want to be.

Wasn’t he like the good guy?

Who, Liu Kang? How do you know that?

Because I just remember it. The guy with the headband.

Did you see the Mortal Kombat movie?

No, I remember on the —

On the arcade cabinet.

Yeah, on the game.


Above: Classic.

Image Credit: Mortal Kombat Wiki

Yeah, I’m impressed. Who do you want to fight against?

This guy’s alright.

Sub Zero, the first one? Right. Push X. Push X again. Go left. You can pick an easier difficulty. There you go. Pick easy. Now you just pick a level. There you go. You’re winning. There you go. Punch him. There you go. Uh, oh, he threw you. Ooh, whoa! You got a four-hit combo somehow!

I don’t know how I did it.

It’s OK. You’re winning. There you go. Yeah! You got the first round. Here you go. Just gotta get him this time and you win. Do your X-ray. Push those bottom right buttons again. Bottom right, bottom right! You got him! You can stop pushing buttons while this happens. Ooohhh, right in the neck. And there goes the chest.

I thought I was done.

No, you still have to beat him up. You see the health up there on the top.

I can’t watch both things.

Oh, nice. You’re pushing the wrong buttons. Don’t push those two anymore.

I can’t push those two anymore?

No, those don’t do anything anymore. You haven’t hit him in a while. Oh, you almost got him. He broke the throw.


Nice. Stop, stop, stop. Oh, never mind. I was going to try to do the Fatality.

Ooooh, a dragon.

Nice. All right mom. You done with Mortal Kombat? What did you think of Mortal Kombat X?

It’s good, but it’s still gory. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger kids.

How old do you think kids should be before they play Mortal Kombat X?

Uh, 13?

OK. You’re probably a little lower than the official ESRB rating.

What is that, 18?

It has an M for Mature rating. What was your favorite part about Mortal Kombat X?

The finishes.

Raiden Electric Blast Snow Forest Mortal Kombat X

Above: Mortal Kombat X is flashy. Get it? Get it?!

Image Credit: NetherRealm Studios

You liked the Fatalities?! I’m surprised, mom.

It’s always fun when you kill the bad guys.

Well, OK. What if they’re not bad guys? I guess you picked bad guys to kill.


What was your least favorite thing about it?

Too many buttons.

OK, too many — that’s more of a criticism of the controller, the arcade stick I had you use. Did you like playing on your giant controller?

Yeah, I liked it better than the little one.

What score would you give it out of 100?

Hmmm. 78?

78. You’re always in the 70s.

The 70s were a good decade.

All right. Thank you, mom.

You’re welcome.

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