You don't play Mortal Kombat, it plays you.
Aside from that though, a fighting game which proved to be extremely difficult, due to its use of artificial intelligence; No more learning the computers patterns, it learns yours. It is said Shang Tsung owns the souls of the 7 combatants. You see him occasionally lurking, watching you and learning your every move; Finally the big day comes to face him down and due to his extensive knowledge of your fighting style and technique you generally end up getting juggled to death. This is because he knows you better than you do, and already owns part of your soul as well.
Shang Tsung wrote the book of "owning you up." The two stages where he sits and watches are very symbolic, not to mention haunting. The game itself, merely standing there, had a bit of an eerie presence about it. Hearing Scorpion yell "Get over here" from across the arcade whilst playing Street Fighter II seemed to call out to me. It always did have a hold on me, even before I started playing.
You don't play Mortal Kombat, it plays you. Or, since the AI is adjusting it's assault in accordance to your attack pattern, you might say the main villain of the game is yourself. Don't think too far into that one, or you may get the desire to tear someone's head off - probably that one kid that was always standing there next to the machine saying "whoa is that his spine?!?"
There's only one major downfall to this game - unless you're in the arcade, don't bother. Each home version sucked horribly in their own way. Seeing as how the home releases of MKII seemed decent, I would guess this was partially a marketing ploy to get people back in the arcades to pump more money into the machines until MKII emerged...
If so, it worked, afterall they did utilize a lot of strategic marketing; it surely was amazing to see a game rack in a fortune off of rumors, let alone with the blood and decapitations.
There will always be space in my heart and on my shelf for this game.