Special Kombat was a sequel to Midway's Mortal Kombat fighting game, featuring fighters with mental and physical handicaps. It was hastily completed and released to capitalize on Mortal Kombat's 1992 success. However, the gameplay lacked innovative new features; some characters even had the same moves, and many saw the game as nothing more than a Mortal Kombat knockoff with different graphics. In addition, the controversial subject matter -- the first Special Kombat tournament -- outraged advocates for the disabled. Midway pulled the game from arcades after just six days, and the game was never licensed for a home release. Today, Special Kombat machines are all but extinct.
The gameplay was nearly identical to the original Mortal Kombat. Characters were able to jump, kick, punch, and block, using the same joystick/button system. Each character had a series of special moves, just as in the original. In particular, Mortal Kombat character Johnny Cage's sliding-kick move was duplicated almost exactly in the Special Kombat character of Matthew, except that Matthew would power-ram his wheelchair into his opponent's knees (with the exception of Amputar, who had no knees). Even the sound effects were identical.
- Matthew is a wheelchair-bound young man, who uses his chair as a weapon
- Dorothina is a cheerful but dangerous young girl with Down's Syndrome
- Amputar was born without legs and is missing one arm, but is nonetheless remarkably agile
- Codeinus is emotionally unstable and suffers from a lethal form of Tourette's Syndrome
- Estrusa is a woman prone to self-mutilation and inappropriate public behavior
- Analio drools uncontrollably and ingests foreign objects
- Clavicle suffers from cerebral palsy and violent, dangerous shaking fits
over 3000 years ago, the elder gods had decreed the mortal kombat tournaments to be unfair, as the handicapped were barred from participation. The elder gods promised 5000 dollars cash to shao kahn to host a special mortal kombat tournament, now known as the special kombat tournament. He ordered his henchmen, Shang Tsung, Quan chi, goro, motaro, and uhh... i dunno... Ermac? to scour each of the realms for the strongest mentally handicapped kombatants they could muster, and brought them to shao kahns fortress to fight eachother in handicapable mortal kombat. But all did not go as according to plan. Codeinus Jumped from the arena, with his emotionally unstable battle cry of "PISS OUT MY ASS!!!' and struck shao kahn and all of his minions down, claiming th throne to outworld. He was now in control, and used his power to turn his tourretes into god like power, and made his palace wheelchair inaccessible and filled with shiny, sharp and pointy objects. It is now up to Matthew, a Rou'lin monk, to defeat Codenius in special kombat.
Almost immediately upon its release, Special Kombat was reviled as insensitive, crude, vulgar, and shameful -- in addition to being a poor followup to Mortal Kombat. Advocates for the disabled organized protests and boycotts of arcades featuring the game. In one notable incident, a 15-year-old youth in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles was shot to fucking death for playing the game after being warned not to by the brother of a mentally retarded man. Midway initially responded to the criticism by claiming that the game was intended to portray the disabled in a dignified manner, and to show that "the disabled can accomplish incredible things." The critics were unconvinced, however, responding "there is absolutely nothing positive about watching a mentally retarded girl rip the bowels out of a man who has no legs."
Then-senator Joseph Lieberman was a particularly harsh critic of the game. In a Senate hearing, Lieberman commented that "Special Kombat makes Mortal Kombat look like Legend of Zelda... characters drool, stutter, and soil themselves, right before decapitating one another and drinking each others' blood and urine." Lieberman refused to retract his comments even after it was pointed out that the urine was actually sweat.
On August 14, 1993, just six days after the game's release, Midway quietly sent freight trucks across the United States to pick up the machines. It is assumed that all units were returned to Midway's warehouse for destruction. A handful of machines initially escaped the roundup, but their owners have one by one either disappeared or died under suspicious circumstances. Midway has never officially commented on the game or acknowledged its existence since.