Review by Mikaa
"Possibly the best Mortal Kombat game for the Game Boy with 2D gameply, but that's not saying much."
I first became a mild Mortal Kombat fan back in the day when the magazines of the day were running any information on the upcoming arcade release of MKII for all it was worth. I first recall playing the game at my neighbor's house, as her son (of about 20 then) had a Genesis with the second game. Playing it, I fell in love with some of the characters, as many were quite unique in their own way.
Years rolled along, and I played Mortal Kombat II and III in various forms, finding that I prefered to play with the special moves more than the fatalities, as well as experament with the fighting engine (the only game I remember comparing this to was arcade Street Fighter II and the Game Boy title Pit Fighter). When Ultimate MK3 hit the arcades, I played it like crazy, estatic with the ability of using another Ninja (namely Ermac). When Mortal Kombat Trilogy was released, I was dissapointed, as I was never able to obtain a cart that held virtually all MK characters up to that point.
Years again rolled on, and I found myself not really caring about MK anymore. I was not a fan of 3D games, and I was slow to accept the CD-ROM format as a viable storage source. When news hit me (via another gaming magazine) of the Game Boy Advance's upcoming Mortal Kombat Advance, I KNEW I had to get it, no matter what.
Ironically, I purchased the game just as I hit 17, and quickly opened the box and, in a rare move, read the game booklet.
It was a fortunate thing that no one else was in the car with me, as obsinities could be heard even outside the car from my rage. I was furious at the various special moves, as dozens of them were changed in their execution (the biggest offender was the six or so buttons required to pull of a simple Bicycle Kick for Lui Kang). This was a great irritation to me, but I swallowed my rage, and tried the game.
To be blunt, it is not what I expected, but nor was it the horror that everyone makes it out to be.
For starters, MK:A is a (lazy) port of the old Super Nintendo game Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. This is not suprising, given how many SNES ports are around on the GBA. However, something was changed somewhere, and whether it was deliberate or not, I do not know.
The difficulty is obscene, and I can't believe how rediculous it is. The easiest mode on Easy setting is quite pathetic, as the Computer will constantly block while you attack, and can be beaten quite easily with a few sweeps and the occasional projectile attack. What is pitiful about this is that the CPU will let you get close enough with Kitana for her to unleash her Fan Wave attack, and not do a THING about it.
Once you beat your foes (and believe me, on Novice on Easy, it's a sinch), you go to the mid-boss, Motaro. Ladies and Gentlemen, should you be a Novice and actually beat this thing, then you have my praises. Motaro fights lke an invincable centaur on a caffeen high, and rarely will leave an opening.
The other difficulty levels vary from this, but I have not gotten very far in them due to irritation and aggrevation at the CPU for blocking everything I throw and not trying to attack more than twice every thirty seconds. And I have not even gotten to Motaro on those, and I have NEVER faced Shao Kahn...
The graphics looked fine to me, as I was able to discern each character easily on my GBA. The backgrounds looked stale, but I did not notice this, as I was accustomed to the GB's limitations. The attacks look very simmilar to their normal state, and I accepted the look. Then again, I usually played MK:A while waiting for parents in lighting conditions that could have been better...
The controls are unusually responsive, provided you can relearn the attacks again. Many are changed, and it is highly suggested that you read the manual before using a new character. That aside, my only gripe on the controls is that the punch/kick buttons are limited to etiher High or Low, switchable only via the Select button. Call me crazy, but would it not make a bit more sense to move that to the shoulder buttons and have block or run used as Select?
The sound is one of the least appealing parts of the game, moreso than the difficulty. Music seems to be the typical MK3 style, though nothing reallly stuck in my mind. Sound effects are nice for each special attack, but the awful grunts and groans and electrical screaches leave much to be desired, as they are practically the same for each character sharing a simmilar design (such as Sub Zero, Scorpion, Ermac, Reptile, Noob Saibot, Rain, you get the idea, yes?).
It should be noted at this point that this release is differient than the usual UMK3 found in the arcades. Like the SNES and Genesis ports, MK:A tosses out Sheeva (one of my faves), allows Classic Sub-Zero, Ermac, and Kitana to be played from the get-go, adds Rain and Noob Saibot to the roster, and allows you to play as Human Smoke, Motaro, and Shao Kahn once you reach the requirements. The latter I have NOT done, as I have yet to beat the game in one sitting.
I have never tried the 2-player feature, and I doubt I ever will; not many people bought this game that I am aware of, and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliances for the GBA (as well as MK:Tournament Edition) are usually praised for their combat engines, causing people to look at them and ignore MK:A.
I do have to say that Electronic Gaming Monthly might have been wrong to lable this game as a zero, as it is far from the worst I have played on the system (Pit Fighter for the Game Boy is one game that I usually use as an example for a horrible game, and with reason), but neither is it the best in the world. I have to say that giving the system a three is appropreate, as it is bad in many cases, but has enough good points to play once every other month.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 08/08/04
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