Review by Wonderboy
Not as bad as I thought
Ah, Mortal Kombat, perhaps the most controversial game in the retro world. It was a symbol of coolness if you were a kid back then; thus, gamers of every age sought after the machine in arcades. Maker Midway wasted no time in capitalizing on the craze and soon began talks with console and handheld companies. In order to avoid legal issues, the violence in home ports was toned down. This disappointed lots of fans because the blood and gore were two of the main draws in the first place. However, some cool programmers got clever with the Sega home ports and included the "blood code." Everybody won; those who did want the extreme violence simply entered the code (and visa versa). For allowing such a clever way of presenting the game, Sega solidified its image as sticking it to "the man," and allowing creative expression to thrive. Although it received less attention than its Genesis counterpart, the Master System (SMS) version did contain the legendary code and is a reasonably faithful port of the arcade MK. This is a review of how the SMS version compares to the arcade.
Kano is missing and there are only two areas to fight at: the dungeon and pit. There is no stage fatality. There are no voices, and much of the sound effects come out garbled. The music is unrecognizable. Much of what is missing is what gives the arcade game its charm. So, why is this still a good game? The gameplay is the answer of course. It is quite faithful to the original game. Even though the characters are missing a noticeable amount of frames, the mechanics and processing power come close to matching that of the arcade's. In other words, when I throw an uppercut, my character takes the same form as he would in the arcade game, and not only that, but the response time to perform the move is near that of the arcade game! The effect of a connected uppercut is as expected; the opponent will be lifted in the air, and stay in the air about as long as in the original, and then land about the same distance as in the original. Virtually all the moves elicit the same response time and feeling as the original. The player can expect the physics to be fairly accurate to the original MK version.
The frames seem sporadic half the time, but the action is following closely to the MK version. It's quite a trade off: sub-par visuals for smooth processing. Personally, I would rather have it this way than "the whole package" visual-wise and feature-wise, and inaccurate gameplay. The controls are somewhat accurate. I would say they are responsive and the input timing is similar to the arcade timing. A very frustrating part of the controls, however, is the blocking; it is done by pressing back and punch. I can't recall how many times I accidentally blocked when was really trying to do an uppercut or special move. The ill conceived input to block noticeably affects the gameplay, mostly making the player unintentionally more defensive. Also, a confusing part of the controls is due to the sporadic character frames. Due to the very few frames of each move, it is hard to tell whether my character is close to done performing a move, and how much time the opponent has to react (not to mention when I can perform my next move). Other than the iffy A/V, this would've been a decent quick fix for the MK fans whom owned an SMS back in the day. Due to the versus mode, this port offers a high level of replay value. I recommend this to hardcore MK fans, those who wish to fully understand the history of this series.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Mortal Kombat (EU, 12/31/93)
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