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  • Game-Breaker: If an expert Sonya player manages to land a single Leg Grab, consider yourself already dead.
  • Genre Turning Point:
    • The game introduced juggling to fighting games, a game mechanic later improved by other franchises such as Tekken. Basically, if a player knocks their opponent into the air, they can keep attacking them. It had Game-Breaker potential, so combo breaking measures were put in place in later games not only of the series, but also of other franchises.
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    • The game also popularized simplified move commands, more exactly buttonless motions (such as ← ← →) and simplified motion+buttons (← → 👊 ). These commands would later become standard for specialized command moves.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • In the Genesis port, if you achieved the conditions to fight Reptile during an endurance match, you will fight two Reptiles, and the second one will look like a buggy version of another, non-ninja fighter, most often Sonya.
    • Sub-Zero has an infinite against Goro (and only Goro), making the latter easy if you can get the timing down.
    • When Reptile was first introduced, characters such as Scorpion and Liu Kang were unable to challenge him thanks to a design oversight: the player couldn't block during the previous match and had to finish it with a Fatality but some Fatality inputs required the block button. In the Genesis and Sega CD ports, however, the inputs for Scorpion and Kang do work and properly summon Reptile if set right before the character lands from a jump. Since the characters can't block in the air, the game lets it slide. Unfortunately, this does not work for Sonya because she has block as the last input for her Fatality and it ends up registered by the game as such when she lands.
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  • Memetic Mutation: In High Score Girl, Hidaka assumes one of Raiden's Mondegreen lines is "RAIDEN GANBARE" ("Go Raiden!"). The fans immediately loved the line.
  • Narm: Johnny Cage's laid back sprite just makes it look like he got shoved over, especially with how his head is held up off the ground. Especially funny if you've just uppercutted him into the Pit.
  • One-Scene Wonder: This game makes an actual anime appearance in High Score Girl where the series' protagonists are talking about this game.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • A subversion; under most circumstances the Genesis version would have been considered the bad port due to its looser control and noticeably inferior graphics and sound, while the SNES port was very close to the arcade version. However, players were all too happy to overlook the problems of the Genesis version for one very simple reason: it had the blood and gore intact, while the SNES version replaced it with sweat, and much duller Fatalities, not to mention that the SNES version was virtually unplayable due to heavier controls.
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    • The Game Boy version is a straight example, featuring horrendous slowdown and poor black and white renderings of the original sprites. The sequel, thankfully, is much better.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • This game hasn't aged well, and when played today, few players find it very fun; the controls are clunky and cumbersome, and the actual fights are kind of boring in comparison to the newer entries in the franchise (each Kombatant had only two or three special moves, with no combos). And the digitized sprites weren't very appealing even back then, so HD play isn't much improvement.
    • The game's biggest draw, its Fatalities. The seven playable characters have only one Finishing Move, plus one Stage Fatality that anyone can perform. The only ones that are remotely shocking by today's standards are Sub-Zero's decapitation with dangling spine, Kano's heart rip, and the aforementioned State Fatality, where you fall down onto a bed of spikes. The others are either a bog-standard decapitation (now considered the most mundane way to kill someone in a video game), immolation (which the T-rated Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe got away with reusing), and Liu Kang's cartwheel kick, which is also bloodless and may not even truly kill the victim. With later games, as well as competitors, increasing both the variety and brutality of the finishers, it can be hard to get excited for MK1's Fatalities, but back in the day, they were truly shocking, to the point where they're part of the reason why the Entertainment Software Ratings Board was created.
    • A character example with Goro. At the time, Goro was so well known because he was so different from the playable fighters, and his design and difficulty made him truly unique among video game bosses. Now, a fighting game having a larger than life boss/sub-boss is the standard. As for his difficulty, there's a reason why SNK Boss is a trope.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Allegedly, it was originally going to be a game based off Bloodsport, but, like with Doom and Alien, Donkey Kong and Popeye, and so on, it became it's own thing, and spawned an award winning franchise.
  • That One Boss: Goro, who is often regarded as being harder than Shang Tsung since all his moves do so much more damage than anyone else's (apart from Shang Tsung's flaming skull, which are easy to see coming because of the screaming sound).
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: During an interview with Ed Boon, a reporter comments on the amount of violence and blood, and how a game like that could never be possibly meant for kids, to which Ed Boon responds "Actually, it is."

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