In Depth Review: Mortal Kombat (SNES) [SNES]
Done? Good. Now on with the show. See, when MK was released, I was still in my growing stages: late grade school, no real money of my own to buy $60 games or $150 consoles, for that matter. I was stuck with a Super Nintendo, and with the SNES version of Mortal Kombat no less. I was in denial for the first good year I spent with that game, making excuses as to why it was a really good game. I finally came to my senses when MK II came out on SNES, WITH the blood, WITH the combos, that I knew that SNES MK was hogwash much of the time. Here's why.
The most important downfall of SNES MK was its gameplay. Honestly, Mortal Kombat never was a really deep game in the first place, but at least it had a semblance of a combo system and strategy with its juggles and corner juggles. The problem with SNES MK was that everything felt so... ... "chunky." Yeah. Basically it felt like that really huge guy sitting on the bus that takes 2 seats and you wonder if the back tire's going to pop or something. It was slow... sllluuuggggiiiissshhh... timing and mind-reading your opponent's next move was ever so more important in this version of the game than in any other respectable fighting game, why? Because your character took more than an acceptable time frame to react to your commands. Take a simple Jump Kick into Flying Kick combo from Liu Kang, for instance. That Flying Kick is perhaps the fastest move in the game, and that makes the combo one of the EASIEST to connect with in the arcade version (unless you're way to close, in which case you'll fly over the guy).
In all my attempts, I could NEVER get that combo to work. And no, it doesn't say anything about my skill level -- even a bad player could get it done in the arcade, if s/he had an ounce of timing and were shown properly how to do it. There was a combo that worked, actually, and that was Kano's jump kick into cannonball move. How I got it to work is beyond me, but that's the only one. Of course, corner juggles with the High Punch work, but they're hardly sufficient in a game whose superior version had much more to offer in the combo department.
UPDATE: I managed to FINALLY get Liu Kang's and Johnny Cage's combos to work. But they require positioning that is severely unreasonable (i.e. you have to be a full screen away before you jump kick and it won't work unless you hit them with the tippity-tip of your toe) and they work far, far worse than the original arcade's engine meant for them to.
To be fair, a lot of Mortal Kombat was played for the big hits: the uppercuts, the roundhouses, the sweeps, and the jump kicks. I would see people just throw out one-hitters and still have a blast. So fortunately, the SNES version at least got this down right. Uppercuts were still lethal and just as satisfying to execute. But even then, the sweeps seemed mighty sluggish to me...
Of course, the hugest omission was the blood and gore, simply because that's what was the most noticeable about the game. I think the gameplay flaws were more important though -- I still would have enjoyed playing the game if it played well. Nevertheless, substituting the blood for gray "sweat" was insufficient and unacceptable in terms of entertainment value. If they had to leave out the really morbid stuff, they could have at least left in the red -- Street Fighter had bits of blood here and there, so why couldn't MK?
Taking away the original Fatalities did leave Sculptured Software to find different, innovative finishers. (Oh yeah, and they changed the word "Fatality" to "Finishing Move" -- lame.) However, a few of them ended up being lame. Johnny Cage kicks you... and his foot goes in your chest (no blood)... and... that's it. Kano sticks his hand in your chest and... that's it. Scorpion and Sonya have their skeleton fatalities intact, which was a good move. Liu Kang's cartwheel always sucked so there's no argument there. Rayden's (copyright issues, they got it back to "Raiden" in the home versions eventually) was pretty decent -- instead of electrocuting your head off, he disintigrated you, and Sub Zero froze you before shattering you to pieces. I actually liked that one -- apparently Ed Boon did too, because a different version of it was put into Mortal Kombat II (albeit with more blood).
It was a sad time to be a Mortal Kombat fan *and* a SNES-only owner, but I suppose the game wasn't bad enough to not own. If you were a fan of the game and really really wanted some semblance of it, you got the bare minimum. Along with the big beefy hits, as mentioned before, you got -- and I swear -- an almost *perfect* graphical reproduction of the characters and backgrounds. As the one highlight to the SNES version, the graphics were marvelous, really. They went leaps and bounds over the pallid, washed out Genesis version.
An oddity with the other home versions of MK, even the PC version (which was hands down THE best home version), was that the music was drastically altered on some stages. Yet, the SNES team reproduced all the tunes perfectly, of course having to sacrifice some of the instruments that were used. But still, it had the best sound to go along with the graphics.
In the end, I ended up buying the PC version. I just wasn't satisfied enough with the disappointing SNES version, and that's not even taking into account the gore factor. If you were a SNES-only owner, it was a good game to keep around... but once you had access to the other home versions, you'd probably never touch it again.