Review by ffmasterjose

Reviewed: 05/19/08

Deus ex Machina

I have never personally come across a game which made me think to myself "Why the hell was this game created?" until I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to play the Game Boy Color version of Mortal Kombat 4. I can not even call this a separate port of the original Mortal Kombat 4, it more closely resembles a failed assortment of generic fighters bunch together in a rather pathetic attempt to milk a popular franchise for every single penny that can be taken from whomever buys this game. After playing this game it is not too terribly difficult to see why the Mortal Kombat franchise was in a major slump in the late 90s.

The gameplay of Mortal Kombat 4 is simply atrocious. You have a very limited roster to choose from, you fight in a very small handful amount of levels, and your fighters move in the most slowest of speeds. Reaction times are completely shot, and you often have to slowly put in a button combination in a ridiculously sluggish manner in order for it to actually register in-game. Pressing down and punch does not make your fighter perform an uppercut move - but pressing down, then punch some two seconds later however, will yield what you want. Having played older portable Mortal Kombat titles it is very disappointing to see just how much those blow this game out of the water.

The difficulty curve is no more broken than anything else. Either the computer will just keep walking toward you without doing anything, or it will pummel you mercilessly. You will often notice that it is VERY easy to just juggle your opponent in a corner without much issue. This really kills any sort of challenge factor that the game might have had.

The story presented in this game is no more different than the one in every other version of Mortal Kombat 4, but it is practically assumed that you are already familiar with the gist of Mortal Kombat 4 - otherwise you will be profoundly confused by all of the new faces in this game and lack of old favorites. And for some reason, Johnny Cage is always cut from the handheld Mortal Kombat titles.

The soundtrack is very uninspiring. The only music you will hear is the forever-looping "beep" and the occasional "thud" after you land a clog hit on your opponent. There are perhaps two unique tunes in this game, and all of them are heavily compressed midis. There is not a recognizable Mortal Kombat track present in the entire game.

The graphics, well, speak for themselves. Given that is a very old Game Boy Color title it would be terribly unfair to compare it to handheld titles of the present time. However, even compared to other games of its time, it still has very unimpressive visuals. The character models are far too generic and look like they were designed by infants - you really cannot distinguish any features from the whole sloppy mess. The backgrounds attempt to recreate their console and arcade counterparts, but as a whole they are just a bland assortment of pixels - some of them are not even supposed to be a specific level from the actual game itself. A key feature of the games, the Fatality moves, are an absolute joke. Each character has one Fatality - which would not be bad if it was not for the fact that each Fatality is actually a prosthetic full-motion video of what the actual Fatality should be. That's right, if you enter the proper button combination you are treated with a pre-rendered clip of your respective Kombatant performing their signature move. This was the first time I ever witnessed such a thing in a Mortal Kombat game, and I sincerely hope it is the last.

You will not really find much reason to play through the game again after you complete the single player mode. And chances are you will finish that lone game mode within fifteen minutes.

Only the die-hard will appreciate this game - and even most of them will shun it. I myself am an avid fan of Mortal Kombat, and I still want the few dollars I spent back. It is good for a collector's item, but other than that, there really is no reason to own this game.


Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Product Release: Mortal Kombat 4 (US, 12/31/98)

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