Review by Retro
"Good title to take on a camping/road trip"
My how times change. When I was around 12 and 13, all I ever heard from my friends was how awesome Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat 2 were. It seemed like I was the only boy in the world that didn't live in the arcades during the day learning all of Mortal Kombat's moves and then stay up all night playing it at home. To me, it was just OK. Fast forward 10 years and now it seems like i'm an outcast yet again! Ask nearly any other reviewer and they'll be like, ''OMG! MORTAL KOMBAT SUCKS MAN!!! You don't like it do you?'' But I still enjoy playing them. I went from being one of the few that didn't call Mortal Kombat my absolute favorite to one of the few that still likes the series. Gamers......
In the early 90s, when a game took the world by storm in the arcades, you could bet your life that it was going to be made for all of the popular consoles, and Mortal Kombat is no exception to the rule. In this, the first game of the wildly popular series, there were only seven fighters, but for some reason this, the Game Gear version, only has six of those seven. Sonya, Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Scorpion, Rayden, and Sub-Zero are all here ready to bust knuckles and tear out spines from living flesh, but Kano is nowhere to be seen.
Oh well, no biggie, at least not for me. These six relentless fighters are here to fight to their deaths in order to be called champion of the world. Upon choosing your difficulty and starting a game, you'll go up against each of the other fighters, including yourself, en route to the main boss, Shang Tsung, who has never looked older and uglier. Most of the bouts are one-on-one, but there are a couple of memorable twists. One, you'll have to endure the hardship of fighting an endurance match in which you'll go up against two fighters who have teamed up to defeat you. It's literally two against one! You only have one life and you must defeat two different people, one after the other. Two, there isn't just one boss! These days you're used to seeing an ugly ass horned centaur named Motaro in recent installments of the Mortal Kombat series, but this first time around you'll have to settle for a brawl with a four-armed beast that calls himself Goro. And let me tell you, he's not easy.
Of course you have your basic kicks and punches, roundhouses, sweeps, uppercuts, and jump kicks, but that's not all. One of the two things that gamers love about Mortal Kombat are the cool special moves that each fighter has.
Liu Kang is in the best shape of all the fighters; use his fireball and flying kick to do even more damage. Sonya is sexy, but you don't want to play catch with her. Think you're bad? Dare to stand in the way of her projecting ring toss or let her do a handstand and grab you with her legs and slam your ass to the ground! Scorpion is deadlier than any other scorpion on earth. He's a crafty ninja that can teleport from one side of the screen to the other, punching you while you're not looking, but he's even better known for his spear that grabs you, stuns you, and brings you to him, leaving you beyond vulnerable. Rayden is a god that can simply raise his arms and literally bring a lightning storm down on your head. He can also do a killer Superman impression by flying into you and knocking you into a wall. But unlike a true god, he's mortal. Sub-Zero (my favorite!) looks much like Scorpion and even walks like him, but he couldn't be more different. There's no water or ice around, but he knows how to combine the two and throw an icy projectile your way. Let it hit you and you'll become an ice statue, unable to move and merciful to what Sub-Zero can now do to you. Will he uppercut you? Sweep you off your feet? Nobody knows but him. Finally, Johnny Cage has never been one of my personal favorites, but he has something worth mentioning. He can perform a move in which he does the splits and strikes his opponent in the nuts. Ouch, that's gotta hurt! But when he tries that move on Sonya, the only female in the game, it doesn't do anything to her, because she has none. HAHA! That's classic.
The other (and main) reason that Mortal Kombat was great in many people's hearts was because of the fatalities. In every other fighter up to that point, when your opponent ran out of energy, he/she would just fall to the ground in death. But not in Mortal Kombat! It has something the world has come to know as fatalities. When the words ''FINISH HIM'' appear onto the screen, you've won the fight; your opponent is doomed. But if you know the right button combination, you can send them to their grave in a more stylish fashion. I'll spoil two of the best for your reading pleasure. Sonya has a secret she calls the 'kiss of death'. Let the woman beat you and she'll blow you a kiss; this kiss will circle through the air and then hit you, encapturing you in a ball of flame and burning you to a crisp. Scorpion enjoys playing with the art of fire as well. Be a victim to his mighty skill and watch him take off his mask, revealing his skeletal form, and blow fire on you like a dragon. Then your skeleton, void of its soul, falls to its knees.
If you enjoy fighting games, it's likely you'll have a lot of fun with Mortal Kombat, but not all is good. Mortal Kombat for the Game Gear is clearly not as polished as it is on other systems. Simply standing up and kicking your opponent in the head or hitting them in the face takes away as much energy as a flying jump kick or uppercut does, and the gameplay seems a bit slower than on other platforms.
Graphically, it's not too pretty. The characters are animated and detailed nicely enough, but the backgrounds are super dark. Not the cool kind of dark stuff, as in ghosts and skeletons, but dark as in you can barely see them. And they're not memorable either. The only background I can recall right off is a sort of dungeon that looks to have been deserted and left to rot for ages. Mortal Kombat sounds about the same as it looks. None of the tunes will leave a lasting impression on you and the simple 'thump' sound of kicking, hitting, or sweeping your opponents doesn't do much justice. I'll admit to liking most of the other sounds, though. The WHACK of fly kicking a nemesis, the sound of shooting Sub-Zero's below zero projectile, Rayden's flying move and lightning rain, etc. are very nice.
On the plus side, Mortal Kombat's moves are all easy to pull off with the simplistic control scheme of only using a directional pad and three buttons (including Start), and the challenge is just perfect. You won't see a bunch of different modes of play and boat loads of usable fighters like you see in the later versions of this classic series, but Mortal Kombat still proves to be a very playable game. For me, it's not one I go back to extremely often, except under certain circumstances. It's one of those titles that I take camping with me and that I like to play in the dead of night after I've finished swimming and fishing. It's nice for road trips too. If your Game Gear is still alive and kicking and you need a decent game for certain moments in your life, go ahead and get this one.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/06/04, Updated 07/31/04
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