Thursday, July 27, 2006

GameFAQs Review - Mortal Kombat (Arcade)

Ah, the original Mortal Kombat arcade game. Released during the height of Street Fighter II's increasing popularity, Mortal Kombat contained a few elements different from all the other fighters of the time, such as digitized actors and backgrounds, blood and gore, and a block button. The result is the start of one of the most popular video game franchises in the 1990s, but beneath all the hooplah concerning the violence and all that stuff, does a good game lie within?

Well... you have to start somewhere, right?

STORY: Molded after the plot of a typical martial arts flick, Mortal Kombat features seven fighters of varying origins and agendas competing in a tournament held by immortal sorcerer Shang Tsung, who had corrupted the long-standing tournament to serve his own needs as well as those of his master. By today's standards (and to a certain extent, the standards of that era), the story is a bit on the flimsy side and sounds like a bad martial arts flick, but as with every great empire, you have to start somewhere. 4/10

GRAPHICS: The last known arcade game to use digitized actors was a poor man's brawler by the name of Pit Fighter, so MK isn't the first game to make extensive use of this gimmick. However, MK's digitized actors are detailed and move rather smoothly if not a tad slow and dated. The backgrounds, intermission sequences, and other quirks really gives the game that martial arts flick feel to it. Of course, the gore is in fine form here. While not as blood-gushing as later incarnations would evolve to be, it is still enough for even the most bloodthirsty enthusiast to enjoy. It has to be; it DID cause an uproar back in the day. 7/10

SOUND: Nothing to complain about here. There are a couple catchy tunes here and there, but it's typical cookie-cutter music. The sound effects and voice-overs are crisp and effective. Good enough for me. 7/10

GAMEPLAY: MK's one weakness is in the gameplay department, although it's not to say it's bad. Unlike other fighters which rely on quarter-circle motions and charge moves to execute special attacks, Mortal Kombat has you tapping joystick directions and buttons to execute your attacks. On the one hand, it sort of simplifies the gameplay for those who can't execute "fireball motions" fairly well, but controls oftentimes don't register the taps and you'll end up performing a simple high kick as opposed to a shadow kick move, which throws you off your gameplan a bit. There is also a block button implemented instead holding back to block, which is an ire to some but a preference to others. Still, it's an adjustment that has to be made in order to survive. The game has seven fighters to choose from; five unique fighters and two ninjas which share the same sprite set, but utilize different attacks. Not much, but back then, it wasn't as big a deal as it is today. 7/10

CHALLENGE: The computer AI will definitely give you a challenge as they tend to play the game better than you. At certain times, the AI likes to play cheap and other times it'll do nothing at all. I never had this much of a problem until reaching the final bosses, who prove to be formidable challenges. In comparison to MK2 and MK3, the game isn't all that hard. Still, don't expect to breeze through the game quickly and easily. 7/10

REPLAY VALUE: Once you've mastered all the fighters, there is very little else you can do with Mortal Kombat. Unless you have a friend to play with, of course. 3/10

OVERALL: The original Mortal Kombat is a fairly average fighting game that would have faded into obscurity if it had not been for the blood and excessive gore included. It's one of those rare occasions where the gameplay mechanics of a video game is irrelevant and it is the flashy gimmicks which contribute to its popularity. It is also an example of a game which is eventually overshadowed tenfold by its sequels whom improve upon the formula. Case in point, the original Street Fighter was a subpar game followed up by an excellent sequel that redefined the formula and the same can be said of Mortal Kombat, which was improved upon by MK2. Still, the original is a good game, but nothing that any of its sequels or any other fighting game of similar stature could have done better. Worth a look for novelty's sake. 7/10

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