sunnuntai 24. kesäkuuta 2012

REVIEW - Mortal Kombat II | SNES | 1994

GENRE(S): Fighting
RELEASED: April 1993 (Arcade)
DEVELOPER(S): Midway Games, Probe Software, Sculptured Software (SNES)
PUBLISHER(S): Acclaim Entertainment
DESIGNER(S): Ed Boon & John Tobias

Released in the arcades in the summer of 1992, Mortal Kombat was the official handbook for video game violence to come. The most internationally known version of the game was released on the SNES in 1993, but being the most known one didn’t change the fact that the version was lacking a great deal of what made the original arcade game so classic, and thus, got the undeserved stamp of “yet another Street Fighter clone”. Back then, Nintendo did the best they could to learn from their past mistakes;  the success of the first Mortal Kombat game across all platforms left them no choice but to make a SNES port of the second game as well, and this time Nintendo didn’t actually throw their guidelines out the window, but acknowledged that if they were going to do a Mortal Kombat game, they had to do it right or they’d been doomed. Mortal Kombat II is a classic which proved that Nintendo have the balls to license a mature game if they wanted to. However, the question no longer is how much more fleshed out and better the game is than the SNES port of the first Mortal Kombat game was, the question is how well the game has stood the test of time.


Shang Tsung is facing execution at the hands of the dark emperor Shao Kahn, for his failure to take over Earthrealm, and the death of Goro. Tsung convinces his liege to give him a second chance; Kahn eventually complies and arranges a new Mortal Kombat tournament, on his very own doorstep in Outworld.

Look familiar already?
Mortal Kombat II – no matter what I think of the game today when I actually play it, this game is a fucking legend. There’s just no way around it. It was one of a whole new breed of Nintendo games when the SNES version came out. There wasn’t just some blood; it seemed like they poured in everything they left completely unused in the first game. On top of being the least censored Nintendo game of its time, all of the legendary easter eggs from the arcade game, as weird as they were (“toasty!”), were left intact. In a nutshell, Mortal Kombat II was one of the first games you could buy and not be disappointed with how they downgraded the arcade experience. It damn near WAS the arcade experience. Thumbs up to Nintendo for all the effort they put into Mortal Kombat II.

To be completely honest, I got into Mortal Kombat 3 first, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying Mortal Kombat II to the fullest when I finally bought it. It’s just that the core elements of gameplay, such as controls, weren’t really worked on before Mortal Kombat 3; controls have remained a debated issue about the whole franchise to this day, but since Mortal Kombat 3, there’s been some effort to make them better and more fluid. Mortal Kombat II still suffers from muddy movement and multiple failures to launch, and these basic problems lead into more advanced problems as you press on. Time, in particular, hasn’t been kind to Mortal Kombat II because of these very problems, but all in all, I’m much, much, much more satisfied with this retrospective experience than I was with the previous one. Actually, more satisfied than I am with Mortal Kombat 3, but that's another story.

Scorpion and Jax duke it out in "The Living
Forest". It's fun to revisit the classic levels after
having seen how they've been rendered in the
The graphics and sound are even better than they were before. The sound doesn’t snap, crackle and pop like it used to, some variations of the musical tracks are still used today, and the digitized characters are polished out of their occasional, annoying grey outlines. There are a few additional levels, and the game is notably darker than the previous one. Oh yes, and there’s blood, too. I think they even went a little overboard with the splattering power of one single punch… what am I saying, there can never be too much blood. Especially not in a Nintendo game. I would demonstrate the gratuitous amounts of ick a little further, but unfortunately this is one of those games that doesn’t have pause – I can’t really get good screenshots. Having no pause results in another bothersome peeve, as well – I’ll get to that soon. You can pause the game in the ladder screen, though – another “good” joke by Boon and Tobias? Beats me.

Unlike the first game which had that dumb-ass Endurance Mode before the bosses at the top of the ladder and a couple of Test Your Might minigames to mildly entertain, but ultimately distract, Mortal Kombat II stops for absolutely no bullshit if you don’t want it to. You choose a character from a cast of 12, kick everyone else’s ass, and then the asses of two bosses, and that’s it. You can always follow up on the trails of some easter eggs to fight a total of three hidden characters. No one said it would be easy, though. None of it is. Mortal Kombat II is an extremely hard game. Even if you’re playing on Very Easy, the two bosses (Goro’s vicious brother Kintaro and Shao Kahn himself) will give you a gruesome amount of hell to deal with. You have a limited amount of continues this time around, you can’t fuck the game up the ass by using just one tactic, one moment of hesitation can cost you a whole round, and, unfortunately, the controls once again play a part that’s a bit too crucial to the game’s level of difficulty. I can tell you right now that I’ve never beaten the ladder – Shao Kahn is one evil motherfucker. His evil is only matched by the Game Over screen that follows the loss of all of your credits.

What? The CPU actually used a Fatality?! I
missed my chance for a good screenshot...
Like I said, and which is extremely important to remember, is that one single tactic does not work. You can’t use flurries all the time, even your own special moves can turn against you if you keep spamming them, constantly dropkicking your opponent can be hazardous, and the most fatal mistake you can do with this game is to use the most popular tactic in the first game, the uppercut. You might beat the first few opponents by just spamming the uppercut, but after that, most opponents will counter the uppercut with an extremely annoying judo throw. About that: the CPU likes to use that throw in general, a LOT. The CPU also likes to rub it all in your face a bit more by giving you an uppercut in the “Finish Him!” screen. This, I do believe, is a big, flashy “fuck you” from Boon and Tobias to the players who proclaimed themselves some sort of wizards of the first game.

The one thing that attracts you about this game, no matter what issues you have with it, is the violence. This game truly popularized Fatalities. Each character only had one Fatality in their arsenal in the first game, and none of them really stood out in the SNES version – the “PG-13 version”, the “Die Hard 4.0 version". I could go on and on with these rants… anyway, each character has two exclusive Fatalities, and there are a few stage-specific Fatalities that can be performed by any character. The game can get pretty ugly. What I’m a little disappointed with is that there are way too many simple decapitations. I’m not saying a decapitation wouldn’t be brutal enough for my tastes, but I would like to see some more of good, old-fashioned SUFFERING before the fatal blow. I know, I’m not quite right in the head. To jab one at the politicians, parents and Washington wives their previous game angered, Boon and Tobias also added in Babalities and Friendships. A victim of a Babality gets turned into an infant version of him- or herself, and Friendship, which differs between characters, is even crazier. Birthday cakes, signed photographs, Sub-Zero dolls, disco balls. Fucking insane, but hilarious.

That's Shao Kahn in the background, there. Kiddies,
he ain't a nice man.
What stinks about any special finishing move is that you’re given less than five seconds to execute it before your opponent falls down on his or her own. Remember, there’s no pause. If you’ve got the move written down on paper, the fight will end before you’ve even had the time to read how it goes. Once again, on the top of it, the controls don’t always respond. At first, it’s fun to keep trying – but just trying gets old really fast, when you know you’ve nailed the move absolutely right for a dozen times, with the perfect timing and distance. It’s just the quality of the controls that keeps you down.

Mortal Kombat II is the standard which each subsequent game has – or at least should’ve been – based on, but despite being a classic and one of the finest fighting games of the 16-bit era, there’s no escaping the rampant truth that time has taken its toll on the controls and simply unforgiving nature of the game. I’m grateful for Nintendo’s decision to smack their seal on a real Mortal Kombat game, complete with blood and gore, but I simply can’t handle the problems with the game’s playability as I used to.

+ Bloody as… it’s better left unsaid
+ No distractions; just good, old, plain arcade-style ass kicking
+ The classic Mortal Kombat line-up’s taking shape
+ The graphics and sound represent some of the finest of the era
+ The easter eggs and cheats are simply toasty
+ It’s very challenging…

- …Should I say, frustratingly hard, and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it wasn’t mostly due to the slow reacting controls
- The Fatalities are a little boring and repetitive
- It’s way too hard to land a complicated finishing move; there’s no pause during which you could check your notepad to make sure you’ve got it right, and the time window is way too small

< 8.2 >

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti