You know, there used to be a time when video game franchises respected each other's boundaries. Mario and his cronies stuck to the hoods of the Mushroom Kingdom, while Sonic's crew did their gangster thang on the mean streets of Green Hill Zone. Today, things have changed. Plumbers and hedgehogs run side by side at the Olympic Games; Solid Snake and Donkey Kong trade punches like (Smash) brothers... it's enough to make Shigeru Miyamoto spin in his grave. Or it would be, if he were dead.
Anyhow, the match-up that's really got us hot under the collar is the forthcoming Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. It's not hard to see the appeal in watching Sub Zero and friends getting medieval on the asses of Batman and The Joker - but we think the series can go further. We believe that there is no corner of popular culture that Shao Khan couldn't take on; in fact, there's no corner of anything that the MK boys can't handle. Over the following pages, we'll see how the legendary beat-em-up performs against five opponents that we carefully selected (well, randomly thought up) for your pleasure.
On to page two, as Goro heads to Chester.
Mortal Kombat vs Hollyoaks
Hold on tight as the ninjas and demons of the Outworld go toe-to-toe with the slightly more attractive - but equally realistic - denizens of the "popular" tea-time soap opera. It's a pairing that makes perfect sense, when you think about it: Mortal Kombat is a game that features unsavoury characters torturing each other in unusual ways; the cast of Hollyoaks do pretty much the same thing, only their special moves are a bit more banal. Also, consider the fact that the first MK games used palette-swaps as an easy way of generating new characters - a tactic that Hollyoaks has also employed, as shown by the show's endless parade of identikit blonde pin-ups.
In both cases, the heroes and villains are given stupid names. In fact, "Scorpion" and "Shang Tsung" actually sound quite sensible when compared to "Mercedes McQueen" and "Ste Hay" - isn't this the show that was supposed to be set in the real world? Let's not forget another character who left the soap some time ago, that guy named "Bombhead." Bombhead! Give us a break - who, in this troubled post-9/11 world, would happily let people call him Bombhead?! Imagine trying to get through airport security - it would be a nightmare.
Verdict: Mortal Kombat wins
Hollyoaks earns credit for the innovative ways in which it kills off its cast. From randomly-exploding cars (Dan Hunter) to having people run into spikes in the dark (Andy Holt), the show never takes long to reveal its latest surprise demise. However, MK wins by virtue of the fact that it allows you to precisely control who has their face pummelled, and when. If we could do that with Hollyoaks, the entire cast would have been wiped out by now.
Next up: fanboys take cover
Mortal Kombat vs The Console War
All war is bad - this is something on which everyone can agree. But the current console war? Without a doubt one of the most unpleasant, painful and needless conflicts in the history of our species. Every day thousands of fanboys suffer severe bruising to their ego, thanks to the heartless actions of someone who questioned the value of their precious games console. Earlier this year the "Which version of GTA IV is better?" flame war resulted in massive casualties for both the Republic of Xbox and the Empire of the Third PlayStation. And let us not forget those poor Nintendo fans who were caught up in the conflict, having been attracted by all the loud noises and pretty colours.
In comparison, the violence of the Mortal Kombat series seems decidedly tame. And in any case, who cares if Sub Zero rips out Nightwolf's spine? It's a swift, humane death - and in less than a minute, both fighters will be back on their feet and having fun again. By contrast, Console War fights drag on for weeks. Do you remember the trouble that flared up when that guy only gave Metal Gear Solid 4 an 8/10? Some people are still recovering in hospital...
Verdict: Mortal Kombat wins
This is an easy decision. After all, despite all the decapitations and bone-breaking, the Mortal Kombat games allow you to end a bout of combat with a Friendship celebration. Can you imagine a pair of opposing fanboys doing that? No, neither can we.
Next up: rings of death
Mortal Kombat vs The 2008 Beijing Olympics
Like Mortal Kombat, The Beijing Olympic Games are no stranger to controversy. In the run-up to this year's event, the Chinese government has stepped up its efforts to stop its citizens from saying anything that might cause trouble or attract the wrong kind of attention from Western media. Recently the country's internal censorship systems have become so strict that bloggers have started writing their text backwards so that their messages can slip past the authorities' word-filtering software. It is important to salute these valiant efforts to defend free speech.
When early versions of the MK games arrived on home consoles, Nintendo forced the developers to tone down some of the fatalities and to remove the blood; on the SNES this resulted in a strange situation where characters sprayed grey and beige pixels every time they were hit - it looked a bit like the fighters were vomiting sand. More recently, however, Ed Boon and Midway have been striving to make sure that Mortal Kombat vs DC remains as violent as possible. If they get their way, the final game will allow you to MURDER BATMAN. No other game has ever allowed you to do that! In years to come, this will be regarded as a milestone in the evolution of democracy. They'll teach kids about it in schools. Probably.
Verdict: Mortal Kombat wins
Yes, the Olympic Games are an important part of our cultural heritage - but they don't let you cut people in half, melt them with acid or throw them into a pit of spikes. If these features were included in the competition, far more people would watch or attend. Plus the whole event would be a lot cheaper, as you'd only have to give out medals to athletes who actually survived their events.
Next up: what not to wear
Mortal Kombat vs Modern Fashion
Go to your wardrobe and take a look at all those clothes you've bought over the years. Think about how much all that rubbish cost, and how little of it you actually wear any more. Contemporary fashion is a brutal creature, and if you don't follow the rules then nobody will ever look or speak to you ever again. Essentially, you have a choice of two options: either work like a miserable dog, shedding sweat and tears as you struggle to earn the cash that will buy you this year's must-have look; or you give up. If you give up, and stay inside your house forever, your skin will grow pale and you'll learn to hate sunlight - but at least you'll have enough spare time to beat Ninja Gaiden II on hard.
Mortal Kombat offers a different perspective. As we all know, the ever-present single message behind the series is that it's always important to be yourself - especially while pulling off someone's head. The Outworld combatants don't throw a hissy fit when they have a bad hair day; they just get on with the job at hand. It doesn't matter that Scorpion always wears a silly yellow cowl; his real friends will see the person inside. Which in his case is an evil skeleton, burning eternally with the vengeful flames of hell.
Verdict: Mortal Kombat wins
The varied looks and styles of the Mortal Kombat cast mean that everyone is sure to find someone they can relate to - from Raiden's natty hat and robes to Baraka's slap-headed confidence. One word of warning: we don't recommend that you copy Goro's "naked apart from a Zodiac loincloth" look - if it falls off in public, you may go to prison.
Next up: internet sensation
Mortal Kombat vs Dramatic Chipmunk
The Mortal Kombat series has featured well over 50 characters, hundreds of special moves and strange backdrops. It established the art of the finishing move, something which brought a whole new level of humiliation into competitive beat-em-ups. For the last 16 years, the series has served up endless opportunities to indulge in gratuitously violent action, laced with black humour. Battle cries like, "Toasty!" and "Get over here!" have become iconic catchphrases, while the names "Raiden", "Sub Zero" and "Scorpion" have grown to be popular choices with fanboy parents. And yet...
And yet how can these achievements compare to the greatest short film in the history of cinema? It may be only five seconds long, but Dramatic Chipmunk has a higher amusement-per-second rate than any other video, bar none. It may just be a clip of a rodent turning around with a funny expression on its face - but man alive, it works. When you factor into account the legion of adaptations floating around YouTube - Chipmunk as a jedi, Chipmunk as James Bond - you essentially have a limitless supply of hilarity. Go on, go and watch it again now. It's still funny, isn't it? Yes, yes it is.
And the best thing of all is that the rodent in the clip isn't even a chipmunk: It's really a prairie dog! That's post-modern, that is.
Verdict: Dramatic Chipmunk wins
But only just.