The Australian Classifications Board has deemed Mortal Kombat's content to fall outside the country's highest video game ratings category, effectively banning it from sale within Australia.
Although the classification is yet to go public, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Australia issued a statement to GamePron.
"We are extremely disappointed that Mortal Kombat, one of the world’s oldest and most successful video games franchises, will not be available to mature Australian gamers.
"WBIE would not market mature content where it is not appropriate for the audience. We understand that not all content is for every audience, but there is an audience for mature gaming content and it would make more sense to have the R18+ classification in Australia."
Some publishers have dealt with classifications bans by modifying content for local release, as with Valve's removal of gore from the local version of Left 4 Dead 2, but Warner Bros. hints it may have other plans in mind.
"As a member of the iGEA, WBIE is reviewing all options available at this time," the statement added, referring to Australia and New Zealand's games industry association.
Australia's highest ratings category for games is MA 15+, and those which fall outside the limits of this rating are deemed "refused classification" - and banned from retail or digital sale.
The nation's attorney-general's are currently debating the introduction of an R18+ ratings category, while industry bodies and interest groups call for an overhaul of Australia's venerable ratings standards to bring them in line with international policies.
[Update] The Classification Board's official ruling has been revealed. According to the summary, the Board invoked the controversially vague clause "computer games that are unsuitable for a minor to see and play will be Refused Classification".
"The game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play," the ruling notes.
It's the fatalities that did it, of course.
"The Board notes that fatalities cannot be performed in Story mode and are unlikely to be performed frequently during gameplay; however, it is also noted that there are more than 60 fatalities available and they are an important component of the game.
"... [the fatalities] contain explicit depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, disembowelment and other brutal forms of slaughter. Despite the exaggerated conceptual nature of the fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm, impact is heightened by the use of graphics which are realistically rendered and very detailed."
Warner Bros and NetherRealm have been quite tight about the game's unlockable fatalities, but the Board was prepared to describe some of them. Spoilers ahead.
- Kung Lao throws his metal hat into the ground and it spins like a buzz saw. He grabs his prone opponent by the ankles and drags their body through the saw, explicitly slicing them vertically in half. Copious bloodspray is noted. Kung Lao then holds up both halves of the corpse as blood pours out.
- Quan Chi explicitly rips his opponent's leg off, accompanied by copious bloodspray. As they lie on the groins, he explicitly beats them with the severed leg for a prolonged period of time.
- Baraka explicitly lodges a blade (attached to his wrist) in an opponent's stomach and hoists them above his head. He spins them round and explicitly decapitates and dismembers them, accompanied by copious bloodspray.