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Shack's Arcade Corner: Mortal Kombat 3

Round 3... FIGHT! Mortal Kombat 3, commonly abbreviated MK3, uppercutted fans in 1995. Unlike Capcom's Street Fighter 2, which was still spinning its wheels with updates instead of numbered sequels, MK3 augmented fundamentals such as fatalities and roundhouse kicks with several new systems. The Run button and meter turned up the pace by favoring aggressive players. Besides special attacks, each "kharacter" has an array of "dial-a-combos"--chain attacks performed by pressing buttons in prescribed sequences. Combined with juggles, basic attacks such as uppercuts, and special moves, dial-a-combos added a layer of skill (albeit one anchored to rote memorization) to the series.

MK3 rounds out its grisly finishing moves by adding Animalities, which see characters transform into glowing animals to devour or maim defeated foes. Fatalities are gorier than ever, but are more of a mixed bag. Midway seemed to embrace the franchise's over-the-top violence by creating fatalities that cause characters to explode in a shower of skulls, ribcages, and limbs. Most, such as Smoke setting off a chain reaction of explosions that destroys earth and Jax growing into a giant and stomping enemies flat, are more ridiculous than entertaining, but the game's fast-paced and competitive gameplay offset them.

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