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Mortal Kombat II (Sega 32X) artwork

Mortal Kombat II (Sega 32X) review

"Friendship.... FRIENDSHIP!?"

Mortal Kombat II (Sega 32X) image

The move took me several attempts to execute, but it was worth the effort. After cracking Sub-Zero's skull with a fatal uppercut, I removed Kung Lao's bladed hat and slit my opponent from forehead to groin. Crimson fluids spurted from the fissure as he fell to his knees and split vertically in half. That wasn't the conclusion of my onslaught in Mortal Kombat II, either. Occasionally, I devoured men and belched out their bones, or leaped into their GI tracts and caused them to explode. When the mood struck me, I even forced the opposition into a river of green acid and watched in awe as their bleached skeletons floated away.

Nauseatingly sweet content should have no place in the Mortal Kombat series, but developer Probe saw it fit to include a more compassionate way to cap off Mortal Kombat II's bone-crunching violence: new "friendships." Because nothing says "Hey, sorry about the broken jaw, concussion and life-altering trauma and injuries" like creating a magical rainbow with your hands. Friendships are just as vapid as they sound, though thankfully their inclusion doesn't detract from the overall experience. Still, who plays a fighter chock full of grue and gore with the intention of baking a cake or disco dancing for a match's finale? I know, comedic irony and all that, but tearing off a foe's head is somehow more satisfying than handing him a flower.

Let's also not forget "babalities," which transform the defeated into crying infants. Before you dismiss this feature as unnecessary, consider the times you've played fighting games with sore losers. Well, this is your chance to take them down a peg...

Mortal Kombat II (Sega 32X) image

The goodies listed above are mere novelties, despite their status as franchise hallmarks. Don't get me wrong: fatalities are neat, and Mortal Kombat wouldn't be the same without them. But the shock of witnessing startling deaths in video games wore off decades ago, and still Mortal Kombat II is a strong 2D versus-style affair. There's a reason for that: the simple combat...

True to its brand, Mortal Kombat II showcases a basic move set for all characters, handily eliminating any need to try out the entire roster in order to acclimate yourself. What's even more impressive is the way the carbon copied list of maneuvers avoids demeaning each combatant's personality, thanks mostly to their respective special moves. Raiden, for instance, profits from putting distance between himself and his prey, as made evident by his projectile blasts and a torpedo-like slam that pushes his adversaries away from his position. If you're more of an up-close brawler, then Jax might be your bag. This man utilizes a few wrestling throws and a brutal ground pound, and he executes fellow competitors by literally tearing their arms off. Let's also not forget Shang Tsung, whose morphing capabilities constantly keep rivals on their toes. You could be dealing with Tsung and his plain fireballs one second and dodging Baraka's wrist blade following a transfiguration the next.

Mortal Kombat II (Sega 32X) image

The action is fast-paced, intense and oh so tricky to master. Where I was able to finish the previous home version of MK on its hardest difficulty setting (and even score a double flawless on Goro in the process), I struggle even nowadays to beat MKII. The computer's AI doesn't always fall for primitive spamming or cornering, the way it once did. Eventually, the automaton manages to slither past your repetitive offenses and wrecks you with devastating combos. If you're not a fan of blocking, then you won't survive long in this installment because damage mitigation and reflexes are key to success. Thankfully, learning to roll with the punches is a cinch thanks to the game's intuitive control scheme. Mastery, on the other hand, is a separate matter entirely.

With all of this chatter regarding controls, I think it's high time I addressed the elephant in the room. You see, the 32X release of Mortal Kombat II doesn't function properly without the six-button controller. The standard Genesis peripheral works just fine as far as it goes, but you'll find yourself shorted a few moves, including everyone's favorite uppercut. On top of that, the game doesn't automatically recognize a six-button pad even when it's connected. You have to bring attention to its existence from a menu before it will perform as it should. Figuring that out took me a while. I realize this is a relatively small gripe, but it's irksome considering the Genesis version supports the three-button controller. There's no reason the 32X port shouldn't as well.

Mortal Kombat II (Sega 32X) image

The 32X release also promised to sport enhanced visuals. I'm not sure to what extent Midway avowed to upgrade it, but I will say any differences are hardly noticeable. Allegedly, the graphics are cleaner, but I can see little difference between this version and the SNES iteration. There are some improved background animations, however, such as moving clouds in one level that are stationary in the Genesis version. The sound design, disappointingly, is the same stuff you'll hear in Genesis rendition. Honestly, I think some enhancement in that regard ought to have been a higher priority than moving clouds. All the same, I wouldn't exactly call this a major strike against Mortal Kombat II, especially since it plays just as functionally as its cousins.

Has the franchise seen superior entries to Mortal Kombat II? Surely. But although its lineup of warriors may be dinky in comparison to the ones featured in its descendants, MKII remains an exciting versus-style fighter with plenty of bite, smooth mechanics and scores of ways to off your opponents. Regardless of platform, if you're into retro fighters, then seek this puppy out.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (March 05, 2016)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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qxz posted March 05, 2016:

From the review:
Nauseatingly sweet content should have no place in the Mortal Kombat series, but developer Probe saw it fit to include a more compassionate way to cap off Mortal Kombat II's bone-crunching violence: new "friendships." Because nothing says "Hey, sorry about the broken jaw, concussion and life-altering trauma and injuries" like creating a magical rainbow with your hands.

Those ironic finishing moves are present in the actual arcade game. I can understand the presence of the friendship moves, if only for Midway saying something akin to "take that, you stupid moral guardians". But the "babalities"? Those are just idiotic -- and just saying "babality" just sounds putrid.

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