Review by dtm666

"They tried... but just couldn't cut it."

Hey, remember the good ol' days of Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo? Or even further back, the days of Atari, Intellivision, Collecovision, and a whole bunch of other video game consoles with the word "vision" in them? Oh yeah, those were the days. Like today, it wasn't uncommon to see a popular arcade title or anticipated video game get converted to every single console in the entire universe. Unlike today, where games released on multiple platform virtually look and play the same outside of some extremely minor details that nobody ought to care about, the major consoles of the early days had different capabilities and as a result, multiple versions of a single title each provided a legitimately unique experience from each other as opposed to a brand name and disc format. More often than not, it was actually possible to say that one version was infinitely better than the others due to various factors that actually make it a better version and not due to pure fanboy pride over a console version.

Back during its initial release, Mortal Kombat was lauded for its realistic graphics and its overwhelming violence that had caused some controversy back in the day. No matter what you initially thought of the game during that period, there was no doubt that the game was massively popular and it didn't take long for conversions to the popular video game consoles to follow. The first wave of Mortal Kombat conversions came to the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, and Game Gear systems, with ports to Sega CD and various computer systems to follow soon afterwards.

Now the Super NES version was a nice-looking game, but played terribly and lacked the blood & gore that made the arcade original a classic. As a result of these factors, many people bought the Genesis version due to containing the much-lauded violent content. Take that away, however, and you're left with a game that tries its best to bring you the purest form of Kombat available at the time, but misses the mark somewhat.

STORY: I'm going to recycle the text here from the arcade review, because no matter how many versions of the same game I review, it's never going to change and neither is the score for that matter, so...: "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." 4/10

GRAPHICS: Mortal Kombat (the arcade game) was a wonderful game to look at with fluid animation, vivid color, and an overall visual presentation that really enhances the look and feel of the overall game. Unfortunately, the Sega Genesis lacks the processing power to properly replicate the experience. And so we're left with very drab stage settings, poorly-defined character sprites, ugly projectile attacks and effects, really ugly typeface, and grainy visuals. Give the guys responsible for the port some credit; they really tried to bring every little detail to the Genesis, but the hardware simply couldn't cut it. The end result is a game that really is a pale comparison in the visual department. But if there's any consolation, the blood effects and fatalities (that you have to unlock via a code) look pretty good here and are fairly animate. And there are some other minor elements from the arcade game that have been retained here, but missing from the SNES version. Take that for what it's worth. 6/10

SOUND: Here's the deal: those awesome tunes you've heard in the arcade game and nearly faithfully recreated on the SNES don't sound too good on the Genesis. It's not terrible, but compared to what was done before, it's pretty obvious that such an amazing soundtrack would be difficult for the old Genny to pull off. Also, half the voices are missing; no announcer calls, no signature Liu Kang cries, and only a couple grunts at most. Whatever voices are left in sound really bad... but at least Scorpion tells you to get over here when he catches you with his spear; he just does so with a sore throat, almost as if he's ready to blow his voicebox. As for the sound effects... meh. They tried. 4/10

GAMEPLAY: Regardless of how bad it looks or sound, the important thing is that the game plays like the arcade does... as long as you have a six-button controller. The standard 3-buttoner will work fine, but this is one of those games which really benefit from an extra row of buttons. With that little detail out of the way, you'll be happy to learn that the game play remains true to the original arcade game. Control with any of the control options is responsive and it's relatively easy to pull off the various special moves and fatalities that your chosen fighter possesses. So in this regard, the game does replicate what little gameplay Mortal Kombat had rather well and for what it's worth, there's very little adjustment to be made when jumping from the arcade game to this Genesis conversion. 7/10

CHALLENGE: Adjustable difficulty settings makes the game as easy or as hard as you'd want it to be. At best, you can bring it up to arcade levels of frustration and at worst, you can bring down to a level where you can (almost) beat the whole thing blindfolded... okay, maybe not. 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. 4/10

OVERALL: Mortal Kombat on the Genesis is a fair attempt to get a then-high calibur game onto a system that lacks the tools to produce a faithful port and ultimately results in an understandably-below average version of a popular video game that only sold well because it contained a code that unlocked all the blood and fatalities that made MK notable to begin with - something that the slick SNES version lacked. Even in that regard, the Genesis version of MK is still a decent effort given the limitations and offers more fun and joy than the SNES version will ever provide. In some weird way, it feels more like a Mortal Kombat title than the SNES version does and for that, it gets a slightly higher score. 5/10

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 02/02/10

Game Release: Mortal Kombat (US, 09/13/93)

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