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Mortal Kombat (SNES) artwork

Mortal Kombat (SNES) review


"Legend has it Super Nintendo and Genesis owners fought over which Mortal Kombat port was superior, but arguments with my Genesis owning friend involved us claiming our respective port was the worst. The truth is, of course, that neither version does the arcade game justice and Acclaim obviously relied on brand recognition alone to sell sloppy products. Unfortunately, they succeeded. "



Legend has it Super Nintendo and Genesis owners fought over which Mortal Kombat port was superior, but arguments with my Genesis owning friend involved us claiming our respective port was the worst. The truth is, of course, that neither version does the arcade game justice and Acclaim obviously relied on brand recognition alone to sell sloppy products. Unfortunately, they succeeded.

Mortal Kombat is a one-on-one tournament-style fighting game which revels in its brutality. Single players choose among seven combatants and battle through the rounds against the computer-controlled opponents and kill Shang Tsung, who, much like M. Bison of Street Fighter II fame, is apparently capable of personally ruining the lives of everybody on the planet. Two players simply battle each other until they get bored.

Afraid of public backlash, Nintendo forced Acclaim to tone down the violence. Blood was changed to unconvincing sweat and Fatalities (killing moves) were watered down to rehashed animations of common moves. Although fans were most outraged at those changes, I found the swap of the ''Fatality'' score with ''Finishing Bonus'' much more objectionable. Acclaim might as well called the game ''Sparring Kombat'' or ''Nobody Really Gets Hurt Kids Everybody is a Winner Kombat.''

But were it just about the removed blood and gore, Mortal Kombat would have remained a decent, though censored, port. However, neither the Super Nintendo nor Genesis port behave like the arcade game, and, even worse in my eyes, the two ports don't even behave like each other. The Super Nintendo port is agonizingly clunky even compared to the original source material. Fans and detractors of the arcade version alike should realize the power of this statement; Mortal Kombat is so slow that I had to actually slow down controller motions to execute moves. Inexcusable.

Acclaim's failure is a bit baffling considering they successfully captured the look and sound of Mortal Kombat, which should be the most difficult part. As much as can be realistically expected, the combatants animate and grunt just like their arcade counterparts. The game's real problem lies within the fact that Acclaim completely changed Mortal Kombat's dynamics. Setups and combinations which worked in the arcade may function on the Super Nintendo but most likely won't. Fighting is jerky and weird, which, again, should raise concerns with those familiar with the arcade version.

I can't understand why they did this. Can the Super Nintendo not handle the animations and the more complex game model of the arcade game? Is Acclaim just lazy and content with their marketing machine? Did the programmers face a deadline crunch? And whatever happened to those extras? Acclaim was supposed to make Goro, a many-armed mutant on steroids, and Shang Tsung, the evil shape-shifting wizard, playable characters. Not like it matters anyway; no amount of extras could save this mess.

The final irony is that even with Nintendo's wimpy rules, people still complained about Mortal Kombat's violence. People are still hitting each other in the face, after all, which upset soccer moms who thought something called Mortal Kombat could be wholesome. Soccer dads wanted the blood and gore and gameplay all so sorely missing. On the other hand, possessing Mortal Kombat for the Super Nintendo isn't the worst torture one can endure. Mortal Kombat is still good for a few hours of dull entertainment, but it certainly won't have the staying power of a well crafted title such as Street Fighter II.

Rating: 4/10

whelkman's avatar
Community review by whelkman (July 31, 2003)

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