Review by dtm666

"Not exactly a flawless victory..."

Mortal Kombat was a popular arcade game that eventually got some home ports. The Super Nintendo version was the best-looking one, but is generally considered to be a subpar port due to some altered gameplay and the lack of the blood and violence that made the original arcade game famous. The Genesis version was the low-resolution, tinny-sounding version that included the gore as a hidden feature and ended up selling more than the SNES version. And then there were the handheld versions for Game Boy and Game Gear... the less said about those two, the better.

And so, some time later, Acclaim released a version of Mortal Kombat for the Sega CD system. Advertised as being Bigger, Better, Louder, and Meaner, the Sega CD version promised to have an arcade-quality soundtrack, solid graphics, and the bloody action you'd expect from a Mortal Kombat game. Did it deliver? Well...

STORY: To quote my review of the arcade version: "Mortal Kombat features seven fighters of varying origins and agendas competing in a tournament held by immortal sorcerer Shang Tsung, who had corrupted the long-standing tournament to serve his own needs as well as those of his master." Compared to later entries in the series, the original Mortal Kombat had a pretty tame story - more like that of a B-movie epic. I often miss that level of simplicity in fighting games. 4/10

GRAPHICS: The Genesis version of Mortal Kombat wasn't a great-looking game. Some colors and set-pieces were missing and whatever was retained didn't necessarily look all that great, either lacking detail or contrast. Unfortunately, the Sega CD version shows very little improvement. While they changed the health meter around, they didn't really do much to clean up or improve upon the visuals of the Genesis game. The only real positive is that the blood and fatalities are available from the very beginning without having to insert a code or something. As a bonus, they tossed in an extremely low-resolution video of the so-called infamous Mortal Kombat commercial featuring a bunch of random kids, some weird techno tune, and clips from the Super Nintendo version of the game... nice. 6/10

SOUND: Well, if there's one thing that this version has definitely improved upon over the Genesis version, it's the sound. With the use of CD audio, Sega CD owners can enjoy a few tracks from the arcade game itself in very crisp quality. In addition to that, most of the announcer dialogue (Scorpion Wins, Flawless Victory, Fatality, etc.) has been retained - something that was missing from the hapless Genesis version. Of course, some of the music tracks are in the wrong place, but otherwise it's still a good effort and an improvement for the most part. 8/10

GAMEPLAY: If you've played the Genesis version, then I'm sure you've played this one because they're almost the exact same game; solid control and good response. While the game functions nicely with the standard controller, you really need a 6-button controller to truly play the game the way it was meant to be. The only major difference between the two versions and quite possibly the most distracting feature is the barrage of load times that you have to deal with over the course of the game. The load times between matches, intermissions, and even Shang Tsung's individual morphs can be long to endure and is quite possibly the crippling blow in an otherwise satisfactory fighting experience. On the plus side, they did bring back the blood and fatalities proper to the main game without having a need for a hidden code. 6/10

CHALLENGE: Unlike the arcade version, the AI in this release isn't too frustrating or too stupid so there's a fairer chance of winning here. But aforementioned slowdown and sluggish controls will negate the fairness somewhat. And the matter of certain gameplay bugs that creep up here and there don't help matters either. 7/10

REPLAY VALUE: "Once you've mastered all the fighters, there is very little else you can do with Mortal Kombat. Unless you have a friend to play with, of course." I've said that for the arcade version and it still rings true for this version. However, the load times and overall underwhelming experience does bring this version down a notch. 1/10

OVERALL: In terms of all the versions of Mortal Kombat released back in the day, some people prefer the Sega CD version and consider it to be the absolute best. To be honest, I prefer the version that appeared on the PC, which plays great and sounds good in spite of the MIDI soundtrack, but I digress. After having played this version recently, I have to say that Mortal Kombat CD isn't impressive at all - they just slapped the Genesis version on it and gave it a CD soundtrack with tracks from the arcade game - along with a really, really crappy version of the commercial that seems to be a big deal for some reason. There isn't really much of a notable improvement over the other game, the loading times are actually distracting for the most part, and the fact that the arcade blood and fatality is the standard as opposed to a hidden feature isn't really much to celebrate about. Still, it's a noteworthy effort and it does a fairly good job of recreating the arcade experience. It'd probably be your best choice back in the day, but these days, if you really need to play Mortal Kombat, there are better solutions on the modern consoles. For fans and collectors only. 5/10


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/20/10

Game Release: Mortal Kombat (US, 05/26/94)


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