Mortal Kombat II


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 6

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 4

Overall: 4

The "Mortal Kombat" saga on CD based systems was an odd one for a while. When the initial round of titles came to the SNES and Genesis, there was no Sega CD port. That version would come far too late, nearly a year later, and it wasn't even as good as the console experience. The same exact thing occurred with the sequel, only replace the Sega CD with the Saturn. Sure, it may have bigger sprites, but the gameplay is really off the mark.

Even though four sequels have followed to date, "Mortal Kombat II" is still widely regarded as the best game in the series. It's wildly different from any of its competition, featuring none of the long combo strings or deep strategy. It's very stiff in its movement, but kind of brilliant in a way. You can almost see it as a refreshing change of pace. Surely the insane amount of blood and classic fatalities are the main draw, but there is a certainly enough here to make a case for the gameplay.

The problems come fast and hard for the Sega Saturn port. Obviously the load times are the biggest catalyst, and not just between rounds. For whatever reason, the first time someone uses a special move in a round, the game suddenly jerks briefly to load. Yes, it's very fast and brief, but it completely throws off the timing, something ever so important to a fighter. The Saturn controller is great for the game and a wealth of arcade sticks are available to make it even better, but occasionally the response time seems way off at times.

There's probably little need to mention now that Shang Tsung, the morphing god who took on a new appearance in this sequel, really strains the console. You do have the ability to turn off the morphing ability, but this also affects the gameplay in obvious ways. When you can't use a character like intended, why bother? Fatalities, friendships, and babalities are another stopping point as the system turns it's motor on to load up the required animation.

To make matters worse, animation has been cut, though not severely. You'll see sporadic bits and pieces missing, but this is a system that could handle all of Capcom's beautifully rendered fighters. Why not this one? The backgrounds retain all the detail they had in the arcade, but the colors seem to be more drab and lackluster. Blood certainly flows more freely here than it did on the consoles, but if it's at the expense of the other problems, it's not a good thing. The sprites are much larger, easily as big as they were in the arcade, and it could very well be the reason for all the problems.

Though all the music is here and in perfect form, character voices are not. None of the characters names are announced on the selection screen or after a match and cries of pain are rarely heard when performing a fatality. What's the point of taking someone out if you can't hear him or her scream while doing it? This is the only home console version to feature all of the background sound effects (like the crackling electricity in the portal), but that's hardly enough to make up for the missing voice samples.

This is just a lazy port and one of the most disappointing ones of all time. Just this year (2004), we finally get a solid home translation of the game on "Midway's Arcade Treasures 2." The Saturn port should have been this perfect as well. You may be able to accept the issues here had numerous other 2-D titles stayed away, but they didn't and that proves there is no excuse for this disaster.


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Last updated: Saturday, December 04, 2004 08:59 AM