The Evolution of… The Pit II (Mortal Kombat)
Welcome to the premiere edition of “The Evolution of…”. This series will document the evolution of a video game character, franchise, stage, song or anything else that may have evolved over time. We’ll begin with the first appearance of our subject matter and move forward to its most recent incarnation. Today we’ll be examining The Pit II, originally from Mortal Kombat II. Don’t confuse this arena with The Pit or The Pit 3 (from Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat 3, respectively). Let’s see how time has treated this baneful bridge…
In 1993, the world welcomed a sequel to the popular and controversial Mortal Kombat fighting game. This game was Mortal Kombat II (naturally) and along with it came a sequel to the infamous Pit stage, aptly named The Pit II. First time players would immediately notice the ominous clouds, threatening mountains and eerie moon hovering in the background. It was truly a horrifying sight to behold, even moreso than its predecessor. Somewhat fittingly, two mysterious kombatants could also be seen dueling on a second platform in the distance.
As you probably know, the original Pit sat above a bed of deadly spikes, just waiting to impale you or your opponent. The Pit II, however, was a bit more simple. No spikes, saw-blades, acid or lava, just a flat and unforgiving concrete floor. The simplicity of it was genius! And while the original provided you an opportunity to gore your competitor on a mammoth skewer, The Pit II treated you to a more subdued spectacle: your foe’s lifeless carcass cracking the ground beneath them. Quite satisfying.
The final difference between The Pit and The Pit II was the degree of difficulty needed to execute its signature Stage Fatality. On The Pit, you’d simply perform an uppercut on your opponent when instructed to “Finish Him or Her!”. The Pit II didn’t make it so simple. This time around you would be forced to input a specific button combination to pull off the classic finisher. Oh, did I mention that this input was unique for each and every fighter? Or that it wasn’t listed within the game or manual? And there was NO INTERNET* to search for it? Muhahaha!
*Okay, so technically the Internet existed, but it wasn’t being used to find Fatality inputs at that time.
Now that you understand what made The Pit II so special upon its debut, let’s check out what was next…
The Pit II would reappear in 1996 for Mortal Kombat Trilogy. Unfortunately, it would remain mostly unchanged. Visually, it was exactly the same as in Mortal Kombat 2. The only difference being that it was without its notorious Stage Fatality. Such a bummer, right? While this may seem like a huge oversight by the development team, there actually was a reason for it. The falling animation for this Fatality was unique to MK2 and would have required the team to recapture the actors in this new pose. Mortal Kombat Trilogy was essentially just a repurposing of all the old sprites, backgrounds and animations from the original three games into one massive game. Thus, The Pit II would be without a Stage Fatality this time around. Don’t worry, it would be back soon, but not how you’d expect…
Say hello to Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks! Yep, in 2005, Midway’s popular MK themed beat-em-up starring Lui Kang and Kung Lao also saw the reemergence of The Pit II. Just because this wasn’t your traditional Mortal Kombat style fighter doesn’t mean The Pit II would change all that much. In fact, The Pit II maintained its basic form, but was now depicted in stunning and amazing graphics (well… at the time they were, perhaps not so much by today’s standards). Not only could you explore and play on this newly 3D-rendered Pit II, but you could also administer its memorable Stage Fatality! No spikes, just solid ground. Awesome!
Fast forward to 2011. After a few lackluster entries to the series, Mortal Kombat would return to its customary 2D fighting game roots with the release of Mortal Kombat! Yes, that was the official title of this reboot. Mortal Kombat, also known as Mortal Kombat (2011) and Mortal Kombat 9, was now being developed by NetherRealm Studios rather than Midway Games (though still consisting of the original development team). This new chapter in the MK saga brought back nearly every one of the original fighters from the first three games as well as several classic arenas. Making its triumphant return was none other than The Pit II!
Now fully rendered in high definition graphics, The Pit II retained a familiar ambiance. Take a look at the picture above and you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time. Of course, a few things have changed since we last ventured here. One minor, or possibly major, difference can be found below The Pit. Similar to the original Pit, the bottom now contains spikes! Not just any spikes, but cruel and nasty spikes. If you land on one of these, you’re definitely not surviving. Ouch!
Another glaring difference can be noticed on the second Pit located in the background. As you recall, the original Pit II hosted an epic battle between Blaze and Hornbuckle. This time, neither kombatant appears there. So who are the two brawlers seen duking it out? Well… it’s random! Each time you fight here, the two characters appearing will be random Mortal Kombat characters from past games. These characters include Frost, Kenshi, Reiko, Sareena and Daegon.
While this iteration is obviously based on The Pit II, it does pay homage to the original in a couple ways. During matches, you may notice Santa Claus or a witch occasionally flying past the moon. There is also a secret fight with Reptile at the bottom of The Pit if certain criteria is met during your match. These are two very cool Easter Eggs that long-time MK fans will appreciate. And while this may feel more like a mash-up of the two original Pit stages, it definitely draws far more inspiration visually from The Pit II.
So you’re probably curious how The Pit II is faring today? I can assure you it’s doing better than ever!
Upon the release of Mortal Kombat X on April 14, 2015, the game was noticeably lacking any sort of classic Pit style arena. While MKX takes place 25 years after the events of MK9, the roster may look awfully recognizable, but the environments were all new. Fresh battlegrounds are a welcome addition to this iconic series, but fans will undoubtedly miss brawling on a more familiar terrain.
Less than a year after the release of MKX, NetherRealm announced an expansion to Mortal Kombat X appropriately titled, Mortal Kombat XL (or MKXL). This new expansion, consisting of everything from MKX, plus the downloadable content of Kombat Pack 1 and Kombat Pack 2, would be available on March 1, 2016. Furthermore, it would include all other paid DLC released up to that point such as the numerous costume packs and classic Fatalities. Oh, and there was one other thing… The Pit II was returning! And here’s the best part: it was FREE to everyone when downloading the MKXL compatibility pack. You can’t beat that!
As seen in the video above, The Pit X (as its commonly known) draws heavily from The Pit II. Similar to The Pit from MK9, menacing spikes would again protrude from the ground below. It would have been nice to see the classic Stage Fatality once again, but this does make sense considering The Pit‘s evolution. Losing the spikes could be seen as de-evolving, and we can’t have that.
Like in MK2, this version of The Pit also requires a special input to achieve the Stage Fatality. This is interesting because it also marked the return of Stage Fatalities in general to MKX. Prior to this new expansion, Stage Fatalities were not in the game. There was something known as a Stage Brutality, but it just wasn’t the same. No Mortal Kombat game should ever be without a good old Stage Fatality! Mortal Kombat XL now feels just right.
And there you have it, The Pit II‘s hellacious evolution is finally complete… or is it? What do you think the future holds for this sinister structure? Have we seen the last of it or will it surface once again? What are your thoughts on its transformation over the years and which phase of its metamorphosis has been your favorite? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. Also, tell us which specimen you’d like to see analyzed in the next installment of “The Evolution of…”. Who knows, we might just use your suggestion! As always, stay tuned to AZBros.com for more news and unique content!