Review by Mister Sinister

"Good home port of a great arcade classic, but compromises had to be made ..."

FOREWORD

Even now, many years later, I can look back and remember with crystal clarity the first time I played Mortal Kombat. I remember it at the arcade (and having my jaw in my LAP at how blown away I was), and I remember all the home ports too. What did I make of the Super Nintendo version ?? Read on ...

OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME

Mortal Kombat was one of a number of 1-on-1 fighting games released during the 90's, at a time when the two-dimensional world of video games combat was peaking. Whilst it was invariably compared with its greatest peer and rival of the times, the Street Fighter series, Mortal Kombat is distinguishable by being the first massively successful game to include fully digitized characters.

Yep - that's right - real-life martial artists were video'd, and transformed into characters in the game.

What took Mortal Kombat to the next level was the introduction of what are called (in the game) "Fatalities". Do enough damage to your opponent to finish them off, and the game bellows at you to "FINISH HIM !" (or her), which is your cue to literally execute your enemy in some hideously graphic manner, from ripping their heart out to decapitating them, within a small window of time during which they wobble about punch-drunk, waiting for the inevitable.

The objective of the game is to pit your fighting skills against a number of opponents at a tournament being held on an island far far away. Basically it's a winner-takes-all scenario.

GRAPHICS - 8/10

For a home console release, the graphics in this title are very good reflections of their arcade counterparts. Owing to censorship issues when the titles were being ported, however, the blood that flowed so freely in the arcade version has been replaced with pallet-swapped with what effectively looks like spit or vom, so the same thrills and spills are there - they're just puce instead of red (although it does bring the game's horror-factor down a tad).

All the backgrounds are there, and there are some nice touches that will still send a chill up the spine of more impressionable players (such as the bottom of the pit stage). All in all, a very respectable home port of a great set of arcade graphics.

SOUND - 7/10

There are always compromises to be made when you are converting an arcade title to a home release - however the Mortal Kombat Super NES release has done its very best to suffer the most modest of these cutbacks, and winds up with a very healthy set of sounds to back up the graphic violence taking place on-screen. All the screams and squeals of the arcade original are in there, from Scorpion's trademark "Get Over Here !!" cry, to Sonia's scream of death as her head is lamped off her body - it's all good baby yeah.

The music is fine - nothing earth-shattering, but faithful ports of the arcade tunes.

All in all, a decent effort on the sounds :)

CONTROLS - 8/10

Whilst there are times when you will feel as though you are pushing a brick around the screen such is the weight the characters seem to carry with them, generally-speaking, the controls are fair reflections of those at the arcade. The balance on the roundhouse and leg-sweeps is pretty much perfect, and there is a HUGE amount of satisfaction from jumping in and kicking your opponent in the head from on high ...

The fatalities are not overly complicated to execute (although a couple of them do require you to be a set-distance from your enemy when you do them which leads to frustration if you fluff it up - you ARE on a timer to kill them after all), but aside from that the controls are fine, and make the game very playable.

PLOT - 7/10

It's a novel twist on a very, very old original concept - the ultimate fighting competition model. In this, you are not just doing battle for your own life, but for the fate of your entire realm as well.

The plot benefits from having some strong characters to back it up (such as Goro, the half-human dragon, and Shang-Tsung, the extremely old and decrepit soul-stealing sorceror), and as the first title in the series, it sets itself up neatly for follow-up titles.

GAMEPLAY - 8/10

Mortal Kombat for the Super NES is a very enjoyable title to play. Some of the fatalities have been re-done to get around censorship issues (it's hard to have somebody's head explode into a big ball of spit after all), which is actually a really GOOD thing because it means certain characters (including Raiden, Johnny Cage and Sub-Zero) have got fatalities that you just won't see in other versions of the same title, thus prolonging the longevity of this version.

Whilst the compromises of losing all the blood from the arcade original have taken their toll (insofar as this does, at times, feel a bit less manly than playing the arcade or Megadrive or even Master System versions of the game), it still holds its own insofar as its play mechanics are concerned to make it a very serious contender as one of the best 1-on-1 fighting games on the Super NES.

REPLAY VALUE - 7/10

This score will diminish over time, but at first glance, Mortal Kombat for the Super NES is, in my personal opinion, the best home port of the arcade original. It has a better frame-rate than the Megadrive version, better sound than both Megadrive and Master System versions, and some variations on the tried-and-tested arcade fatalities to boot.

Once you've found all the secrets, however, as I say, the replay value WILL naturally diminish.

VALUE FOR MONEY - 7/10

It's good, no doubt about that, but if you're looking for as true a copy of the arcade original as you can get for a home console release, then you might want to consider the Megadrive version (which has poorer graphics and a lower frame-rate, but blood and all the original fatalities), or even look to picking up the PC version, which is virtually spot-on) - just depends on what console/s and system/s you have access to really !!

OVERALL - 7/10 (This is NOT an average)

Whilst it is, in my opinion, the best home port of the arcade original, it has been forced into compromise on the blood and fatalities issues by censorship. In the case of the fatalities this actually works to its advantage, as it means greater variety - however the blood should have been there really ... it just isn't feasible to produce THAT much spit !!!!!

MAIN GOOD POINTS

* Very good attempt at converting the graphics from the arcade version
* Likewise with the sound - it's a good, healthy conversion
* Variations on some of the fatalities make for interesting play - you won't see these fatalities in other versions, that's for sure !!
* Decent plot that sets the title up for further spin-offs.

MAIN BAD POINTS

* No blood. Just spit.
* Variations on some of the fatalities, so if you wanted a carbon copy of the arcade for the Super NES ? You're TOTALLY not going to like this.

SO SHOULD YOU GET IT ?

I would, yes. If you have a Super Nintendo and want to see what the best of the home ports of MK was like ? Then yep - I'd get it no questions asked. Unless you have access to a decent PC of course, in which case I'd suggest that over this ;)


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/07/07


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