This was a doozy and really threw MK fans for a loop but also made them very angry. This was the first Teen rated MK game since DC wouldn’t let the MK team have them tear apart DC comic heroes. The DC heroes performed “Heroic Brutalities” while the DC villains and MK characters performed Fatalities, but they weren’t gory at all. Instead, they were silly Teen friendly ending moves and were really not fun to watch. The fighting system, however, ditched the old one from the 128-bit era in favor of the classic gameplay yet it was still in full 3D. Gone were the other modes, but a new story mode incorporated how the DC and MK universes were merging. The voice acting was greatly improved and the game took on a new graphics engine using the Unreal 3 Engine by Epic Games. The game looked amazing and online play was still intact which made me happy.
The “Breaker” system was still intact, but the older mini-game of Test Your Might was incorporated as Free Fall Kombat and Klose Kombat which wasn’t seen in the new MK game. Free Fall allowed players to knock each other off the arenas and duke it out with timed button presses to fill up a meter. Close Kombat did the same thing but zoomed the camera in. These were nice additions to the series but didn’t really add much to strategy. A new type of mode (similar to MKT‘s Aggressor meter) was Rage mode which allowed you to become invincible and super powerful for a short time. There were also new timed special attacks that were nearly impossible to pull off so these were never really used.
I loved the game for the smooth fighting system, and the DC characters were unique to fight with, but the weird mash-up still didn’t settle right. There were no other modes so it was kind of bare-bones, but DLC characters were promised until Midway tanked in mid-2009. After that, the game was abandoned, but it did release another Kollector’s Edition which had a comic, a special cover, a making-of DVD, and an art book. The MK team regretted making a T-rated game despite the game selling in the millions.
Released: PS3, X360
This is probably the best Mortal Kombat ever made (to me anyway) because of how crunchy, powerful, and amazing the comeback fighting system is. The game has 3D graphics but a 2D fighting plane, and gone are the complicated combos, weapons, and stuff of the 128-bit system. The game has no new characters (thank God!), but returning favorites from all past MK games. I mean not just all past games, but only from the first 4 games. There are no characters that were made in the 128-bit era at all. The only “new” character is Cyber Sub-Zero, but this was welcomed by fans. Returning are mini-games Test your Might, Sight, and the new Test your Luck, and Strike. There is also a new tower mode that has a bunch of mini-games and fighting parameters so it’s a blast.
Konquest mode is finally gone, but the new story mode has amazing voice acting, and the story is really good. It has a cinematic element to it and feels like the most complete MK story due to it actually telling the story of the Mortal Kombat tournament. The game also introduces tag-teaming for the first time as well as the return of Kombat Kodes last seen in UMK3. The graphics are also phenomenal using the Unreal 3 Engine once again with returning arenas from all past MK games. A new X-Ray move is brought to the table which lets you fill up your meter and the camera zooms on the action and you can see bones shattering and organs bursting in X-Ray form. This is very unique, thrilling, and just downright cool.
While the old “-alities” haven’t returned yet Kratos (which is only playable on the PS3) can perform a Babality which hasn’t been seen since UMK3. New DLC characters are also promised, which is relieving. This new entry is also the highest-rated 3D MK game to date which is worth celebrating for MK fans. I just love this new Mortal Kombat and it’s more addictive than the other games, but my favorite part? The return of the Krypt for the fourth and best entry. It’s HUGE this time with four different areas, and tons of new content to unlock. The MK team went all out with two different Kollector’s Editions one featuring bookends sculptures of Scorpion and Sub-Zero as well as Ermac’s classic outfit, and an art book. The Tournament Edition has a beautifully crafted arcade stick.
2012 and Beyond…
What’s next in store for Mortal Kombat? With a strong 256-bit line-up, this era is still in its infancy. There are so many possibilities available, but I doubt we’ll see another game until at least 2013-2014. With two new handhelds out (Sony’s NGP, and Nintendo’s 3DS) there are even more options for the MK game to expand. Another adventure game? I hope so! Another fighter featuring digitized graphics again? Yes, please!
The series needed a quick revival after the rocky 64-bit era failures. With new technology, the series could redeem itself with a new engine, so in 2002 MK: DA was announced at E3 of 2001 and everyone freaked out. It totally rewrote the way we played MK but was received very well. Fighters were going in a new direction and MK was lagging behind. The new game featured a few new game modes, a whole new 3D fighting system, and was more realistic and a bit slower than the past fighting games.
Alliance featured real-life martial arts fighting styles that each character had. You would switch between two different fighting styles (Jeet Kune Do, Maui Thai, etc.) and one weapon fighting style. These were designed to stay true to the character’s background and form and they were done very well. The game also used motion capture technology for the first time to recreate all the animations and martial arts fighting moves. Alliance did feel slower since all the combos had to be memorized, and the game now featured a story Konquest mode that had Raiden walking along a path to teaching you how to use every character. This made playing the game easier, but everyone wanted to control a character in this mode.
The game also featured a Krypt mode that allowed you to use the in-game Kurrency from Konquest and you could unlock alternate costumes (my favorite thing out of the Krypt), concept art, concept videos, and just a bunch of fan service like interviews and things like this. There were hundreds of items and I loved this. It made you feel like your fighting skills were paying off (literally). While Test Your Might was only seen in the first game Test your Sight was a new mini-game that was just the three cups and a nut game. It was good to know Mortal Kombat was going into new play modes and mini-games.
I mainly remember Alliance for the Adema “Immortal” music video, and it helped me fall in love with rock music. I also remember getting it for my birthday along with the T-shirt and I couldn’t be happier. I was also disappointed to not see online play because Sony was just starting to roll out their Network Adapters for online play. Alliance was an amazing fighter, but it also introduced new characters that I actually loved. Unlike MK4 these characters had the MK feeling to them. Kenshi, Nitara, Hsu Hao, Bo’ Rai Cho, Frost, Drahmin, Movado, and Li Mei were new characters, but I only really loved Li Mei, Nitara, Drahmin, Kenshi, and Frost. Two unlockable characters known as Blaze and Mokap were put in. There was no special boss of the game again, and Moloch was once again the mini-boss. The others to me felt like generic characters and never became really popular. A lot of favorites returned, but the roster was about the same size as other games so this was a little bit of a letdown. Each character had two Fatalities, but the other “-alities” were sadly missing once again. At this point, I thought they would never come back. DeadlyAlliance was the foundation for two more great 3D MK games, but it eventually became its own poison.
Tournament Edition was released for GameBoy Advance and became the first “good” handheld Mortal Kombat. I even got a chance to play this and it was amazing and even had a 3D fighting plane. It had one character that never made it into the console games known as Sareena only seen in the live-action cut scenes of Mythologies.
Mortal Kombat: Deception
Released: PS2, Xbox, NGC
After almost three long years Deception was announced in 2003 and it featured a ton of new content. It was also the first-ever online fighting game. The game boasted a bigger roster, a return of more fan favorites, three new game modes, and a new “-ality” known as suicide Hara Kiris. It was also the first MK game to have a collector’s edition with extra add-ins. The PS2 version got a special Sub-Zero character known as the Premium Pack, but the Xbox got four covers with Scorpion, Raiden, Mileena, and Baraka known as the Kollector’s Edition. Each came with a metal serialized trading card for the cover character as well as a making-of DVD, and an Arcade perfect port of MK1. It was a good start for the collector and I got the PS2 version.
New game modes included Puzzle Kombat (Street Fighter Puzzle MK style), Chess Kombat, and a new adventure Konquest. The Konquest wasn’t that good and featured terrible graphics, hideous voice acting, and you had to run around collecting Kurrency and finding chests to unlock some fighters as well as unlocking alternate outfits. The Konquest mode was considered a bad hindrance and felt like filler where a more robust version could have been created, or just kept to the original Konquest mode. Chess and Puzzle combat was well received, and the Krypt stayed but was slightly expanded.
The Hara Kiris were the first suicide Fatality that the losing opponent could do. These were self-mutilation “-alities” that fans really dug and could take away the glory of winning from an opponent. These never saw the light of day after Deception which is really too bad. The other mini-games from Deadly Alliance were missing, but the two new modes were enough. Online play was smooth and really extended the replay value of the game. I remember playing online for hours on end and it really kept me playing for months after release. Deception went down as the best MK game of the 128-bit era adding new combos and some fighting styles to the game. A new feature introduced was multi-tiered arenas that dealt damage if you pushed them over yellow lines, but red ones were new stage Fatalities (but just ended in instant death). This added depth and strategy to the game since getting pushed around made you nervous. MK4‘s stage weapons were added back in and actually felt useful this time around. A new “Breaker” system was introduced which let you have three chances to break an opponent’s combo.
Deception was also the first MK game to not be originally released on a Nintendo console due to Nintendo’s lack of online support. After so many protests and petitions Midway finally released Deception to the GameCube with Shao Kahn and Goro as playable characters to make up for the lack of online play. This, however, didn’t sit well with critics and was quickly forgotten. New characters were introduced into the series once again, but most didn’t feel quite right. A couple stuck but others felt generic such Dairou, Darrius, Ashrah, Shujinko, Kobra, Kira, and Havik. I liked Kira and for some reason played as Darrius quite a bit due to his close-range fast combos. I didn’t like the rest so it felt like at this point the MK team just can’t create good new characters. A new boss was introduced as Onaga the Dragon King and there really wasn’t a mini-boss this time around.
Shaolin Monks was the last attempt at an MK action-adventure, but this time was well received and was actually good. A new development team took the reins on this one and featured a fluid combat system, Fatalities, and hidden secrets. It was a very short game (about 4-5 hours), and featured terrible graphics, voice acting, and the story was complete nonsense. However it was all about the fighting, and the puzzles used the series’ violence to be solved. You chose to play as either Liu-Kang or Kung Lao but Scorpion and Sub-Zero could be unlocked later. It was a pretty fun game, and items were unlocked with hidden red orbs throughout the game and featured 2 player Ko-op.
I loved the game at first, but over the years it felt really dated and the ugly graphics really stuck out over time. It was a successful side story and it proved MK could do it. It also featured an Arcade perfect port of MKII as a hidden unlock but was once again not released on the GameCube due to the system dying early. No one really screamed about this so Midway just continued not to release games on the Nintendo consoles for the time being.
Armageddon was the 128-bit version of Trilogy. It featured all the greatness of this era and the team claimed this would be the last MK game in this series. After Armageddon, there were rumors that MK would completely change will all-new characters and settings, but this never happened. Every single character in the MK universe was playable which made Armageddon the biggest roster in any fighter game up to its release. Over 60 characters were playable, but some things also changed that fans didn’t like. Gone were the unique two-per-fighter Fatalities and instead were “generic Fatalities” which featured a tier system (up to 10) where each button combo would mutilate a certain part of a character ie: Rip off their arm, leg, rip out kidneys, snap their neck, and then you would be rated based on how many you could put in. Each time the meter ran down quicker and quicker, but the system was very complicated and was hated by most fans. The team also dropped one of the fighting styles for each character so it was just one style and a weapon style. This was so the game wasn’t unbalanced and overly complex.
Konquest mode stuck around but instead used a fighting system similar to Shaolin Monks, but Kurrency, hidden items, and a story were still here but it was still unnecessary. The graphics were a little better in Konquest, but the whole fighting engine looked dated since the next generation of consoles was starting to come out. Puzzle and Chess Kombat were sadly missing, but the Krypt was back for the third time and instead was a wall of unlockables, so it didn’t have the charm like last Krypts. It was also smaller this time around which really upset me. Motor Kombat was introduced and was probably the worst mini-game from any other game. It was very short (the tracks) and didn’t feel right at all and felt just tacked on. Thankfully the MK team never brought it up again, but it was fun to check out. Armageddon also had a Kollector’s Edition with a signed animation cell of the logo by Ed Boon, a making-of DVD, an arcade port of UMK3, and had 4 different covers depending on what store you bought it at, but was only available for PS2.
About a year later they answered the new cries from Nintendo fans and released the game on the Wii, but was met the lackluster results. The motion controls didn’t pan out correctly and were hard to pull off so using the Virtual Console gamepad, or GameCube controller was the only real way to play. It also didn’t feature online play (once again) and this really hurt the game sales-wise. It did have a new Endurance mode as well as an exclusive playable character Khameleon from UMK3. Armageddon only featured two new characters which were Chameleon and Sareena who were only playable in Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition for GBA. Armageddon did have a Create-A-Fighter mode which was well-liked by fans, and I particularly loved this mode and wish it would come back to future releases. It allowed you to even type up a bio, choose fighting stances, styles, combos, special moves, so it was very in-depth. Armageddon felt a little bloated and the 128-bit era of MK games was starting to grow tiresome for fans.
Mortal Kombat: Unchained
Unchained was MK fans who owned PSP’s desperate cry for an MK game. While the DS got UMK3 fans of the PSP got a perfect port of Deception since it could display proper 3D graphics. While everything was intact PSP owners got Goro and Shao Kahn from the GameCube version, but Infrastructure online play was never put in. The game was excellent and felt right, and was the best portable MK game ever made. I spent hours and hours on this game, but my biggest complaint was that the announcer’s voice sounded pretty bad due to sample rate scaling to fit on the UMD. Konquest mode’s horrible graphics were even scaled-down more so it was painful to even look at. The graphics weren’t downgraded too much and still looked amazing on the handheld. It was released about a month after Armageddon so I felt it was a bit late to release this.
While there were only two games released in the staple numbered series they were both excellent, and one good adventure game was released as well as a strong portable. The 128-bit era was a great time for MK, but fans started longing for the old gameplay again. The 256-bit era will mark the series as a complete return, but for now, we had some excellent MK games to play until the next generation cycle.
Trilogy may be 16-bit but is released for the 64-bit era. It featured content from all three games including stages, characters, and all the “-alities” from said games. It featured characters from MK II and 3, but a code allowed you to play as Raiden, Kano, and Johnny Cage from MK1 along with their classic Fatalities. For the first time, you could play as all the bosses from past games such as Shao Kahn, Kintaro, Motaro, and Goro. This was an MK fans’ dream, but people would play as the bosses and spam powerful moves so it was unbalanced. Each version (PS1 and N64) had new hidden characters Chameleon and Khameleon (the latter being a female) respectively. These characters morphed into all the appropriate ninjas randomly. Trilogy also added a new meter called the Aggressor Meter which would double your speed and attack for a short period of time. This made the gameplay, even more, adrenaline-pumping which helped make the gameplay deeper.
The gameplay from UMK3 was kept so even if you played characters from older games they were up to speed with the new game. It was awesome to play as MK1 Raiden and do super-fast combos. Trilogy was like everything that was good from all the 16-bit games and put into one. I probably played MKT more than the other games combined because I could get some of all my favorite MKs in one single game. The N64 version was the superior one because of no loading times. However, six characters were removed (all the classic MK1 and 2 characters) as well as Shao Kahn and Goro. The Sega Saturn version was the worst of the four due to coding issues, but the PC version was a perfect copy of the PS1 version.
Overall MKT allowed fans of the 16-bit MK games to get one final dose before the huge release of MK4. It went down in history as an instant classic, and to this day can be enjoyed for hours and hours.
Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
Released: N64, PS1
Mythologies was the first departure of the series standard fighting into 2D platforming. This was released shortly before Mortal Kombat 4 for arcade and was produced by series co-creator John Tobias. The game focused on Sub-Zero and despite highly mixed reception, it sold millions of copies. The game consisted of live-action cut scenes from the series actors who were shot for the digitized animations. The PS1 version was superior to the N64 mainly due to the fact that it came out later. It also didn’t feature live-action cut scenes, but redone sprite stills. It was a rushed port and had downgraded quality, but other than this hardcore fans dug the new spin-off, but it wasn’t amazing.
Mortal Kombat 4
Released: Arcade, PS1, N64, PC, GBC
Mortal Kombat 4 was the first-ever 3D Mortal Kombat game and was done well. It featured the classic fast-action gameplay but in a fully 3D environment. It featured all of MK’s classic gore and unique Fatalities, but a lot of stuff from MK3 was missing such as all the other “-alities”. MK4 also had a better time with ports because consoles were now out phasing arcades, so this was the last ever Mortal Kombat game to be released to the arcade. However, the console versions of the game weren’t released until 8 months later in 1998. This gave the MK team more time and money to concentrate on just a couple of platforms, and this eventually led to a permanent trend for the team. The Fatalities in MK4 were more brutal due to the fact that everything was in 3D and could be presented better. It was also the first MK game to use a save function to store system data, and your progress on unlocked endings, as well as leaderboard stats.
The game kept stage Fatalities such as Goro’s Lair, Wind World, and Ice Pit. MK4 ditched a lot of classics in the form of new characters that didn’t catch on very well. A lot of them didn’t have the charm or appeal as the classic characters. New characters were Fujin, Kai, Tanya, Quan Chi, Reiko, Shinnok, Meat (unlockable), and Jarek. A lot of them felt like rip-offs of the older characters such as Jarek being a rip-off of Kano with laser eye and all. Tanya felt like a tribal Sonya, and Fujin was the God of Wind. All the rest felt generic and didn’t really click with most people (including me) and weren’t added into any of the main installments ever again. However, Quan Chi became a classic favorite and was the only new MK4 character that stuck out for fans. The rest didn’t really have the MK style or feel to them.
While the new roster was a let down the fighting system wasn’t with the ability to move side to side instead of forward and back. The weapon system from UMK3 was implemented as pick-ups in some stages that could be used. Nothing else was really added to MK4 and it just stuck to what it knew best. I loved MK4 and remember my parents buying it at Wal-Mart for me for the full $50 price. The Nintendo 64 version was superior to the PS1 due to no load times, and full FMV sequences at the end while the GBC version suffered like past handheld ports, and MK4 was the last Mortal Kombat to be released on PC. MK4 was also the last 3D game to have the classic fighting style, and it was also the only 64 bit game in the primary numbered series.
Mortal Kombat Gold
Released 2 years after MK4 to help support the Dreamcast launch, but ultimately was one of the worst-rated games on the short-lived system. It was shunned for its old PS1 engine on the new system when the fighter Soul Calibur looked astounding on the system. It was mainly punished for its poor weapon system compared to Soul Calibur which was considered generic, slow, and cumbersome. New characters were introduced into 3D for the first time from older MK games such as Kitana, Mileena, Baraka, Noob Saibot, Sektor, Kung Lao, and Goro. The bigger roster was welcome, but the old gameplay compared to newer 3D fighters was just unacceptable at the time. This game is also one of the hardest to get since the system fizzled out quickly, and after so many bad reviews Midway halted production almost immediately. This was also the last MK game released for the 64-bit era, and a new MK wouldn’t be seen for almost 4 years.
Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
John Tobias tried to create another adventure game from the series, but this time in full 3D. With this being the first 3D MK adventure game there was a lot of skepticism from the last game. This time you played as the not-as-loved Jackson Briggs (Jax), but the game had characters that weren’t in the series, and it was panned as the worst Mortal Kombat game ever made. Due to John Tobias leaving the project early, the game even had financial issues. It was also released at the very end of the 64-bit cycle when the PS1 and N64 were almost dead and the PS2 was just coming along. The game was supposed to see an N64 release but due to the horrible reviews, it was canned.
The 64-bit era was probably Mortal Kombat’s least successful era with only one game in the staple numbered series. With one not-so-good adventure game and one spin-off declared the worst in the series, this era made fans think the series was done, and 3D had doomed the beloved series. Hopefully, the 128-bit era would make for the comeback of Mortal Kombat.
Original Releases: Arcade, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Master System, Game Gear, SNES, GameBoy, PC, Amiga
Later Releases: PS2, Xbox
This is where it all began. This was the first video game I ever played and got me hooked at 2 years old. When I saw my cousin do Scorpion’s Fatality for the first time I sat there awe-stricken wondering how he just did that. He handed me the controller and I took to the game naturally even at such a young age where my motor skills weren’t fully developed yet. Of course, that’s what lead me to where I am now, but this kick-started the violent video game trend. The ESRB exists singlehandedly from Mortal Kombat, and that’s quite an accomplishment. It was also the only fighting game to use digitized graphics which were stop motion animations of real people. It made the game seem “realistic” and this stayed through the first three games.
The Arcade version was released to critical acclaim and made billions before it even hit home consoles. While only four guys and 10 months created one of the best games ever made, it paid off in full. Despite having such a small character roster compared to other fighters they were unique, and each had gruesome special moves (mainly Scorpion’s spear and that “Get over here!”). The Fatalities are what caused such controversy and the main one was Sub-Zero’s with his just popping off someone’s head with their spine hanging out, and holding it up for everyone to see.
Later that year Midway created “Mortal Monday” which was to hype up the console release with ads screaming “MOOORTAAAAL KOOOMMBBAATTT!!!!” It sold millions within its first year and was ported to every console available at the time by the end of 1994. Most people nitpicked at which console had the closest arcade port, and while the Super Nintendo did it lacked the Fatalities, blood, and some combo moves for the arcade so the Sega Genesis version remained the best. Voices were added to the game such as the announcer saying “Fight!”, “Finish Him/Her!” and “Fatality!”, and saying the character’s name during the select screen. The voice was pretty basic and not as sinister as the recent announcers, but it started this all off. While the gore was disabled in the Genesis version a code could be entered to enable it. The SNES version had gray sweat instead of blood and Fatalities were disabled. While you could do The Pit stage Fatality you were awarded no points. This was due to Nintendo’s policy of having no violence on their console. There were plenty of secrets thrown in such as the hidden Reptile fight at the bottom of the pit, and a few glitches.
While the handheld versions were piss poor due to their inferior technology the game never did better until it was released in compilations and other games in the series (Mortal Kombat: Deception had it in the Kollector’s Editions). While this version has held dear to every fan it evolved incredibly and will never be forgotten.
Mortal Kombat II
Original Releases: Arcade, Sega Genesis, SNES, Sega 32x, Amiga, GameBoy, Game Gear, Sega Saturn, PC
Later Releases: PS2, PSP, PS3, Xbox, NGC
This version was considered the best Mortal Kombat ever made. It’s revered by fans and non-fans alike and has never really been recreated. It contained a new art style, more detailed visuals, more characters, and new “-alities”. Surprisingly Kano and Sonya were the only characters missing from the first game, and this really made some fans angry. New characters introduced were Kitana, Mileena, Baraka, Jax, and Kung Lao which later became the series staple “classic” characters. Also, Shang Tsung was playable for the first time, as well as Shao Kahn and Kintaro being new bosses. Reptile was finally a playable character since his hidden version in the last game was so popular. He instantly became a fan favorite.
While the game looked better and had a different art style, the controls were tighter, more combos were added, and it was a lot faster. Each character had TWO fatalities this time and Babalities and Friendships were added to the game. If you entered a code like a Fatality it would turn your opponent into a baby, so this was more of a humiliation thing. Friendships were comic relief and the characters did something goofy. The Fatalities this time were gorier, more gruesome, and brutal. There were new stage Fatalities added such as The Living Forest, Acid Pool, Kombat Tomb, and The Pit II.
Console ports game a lot faster and the SNES became the superior version this time around not only in terms of graphics and sound but Nintendo allowed them to keep the gore in due to low sales of the last game. The most superior version was for the Sega 32x, but due to the low drive of the device, it didn’t sell many copies. Other versions had things missing such as voices, animations, and the Genesis version only had scrolling text for endings. Once again they couldn’t get a quality Arcade port out for this version until it was released for consoles later on (Midway Arcade Treasures, and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks).
My favorite part about the game was the deeper combo system, aerial combat, new “-alities”, and the new character roster. I mostly played Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Baraka, and Liu Kang. I was younger so I mainly used special moves, but Liu Kang was easy to use as just a regular fighter. However, I didn’t really like the outfits for Scorpion and Sub-Zero because they featured a “snow jacket” type pattern and seemed flat. I also felt the proportions of the females were off a little. Despite all this, it was an amazing game, but I just wanted the art style to go in a different direction.
Mortal Kombat 3
Original Releases: Arcade, Sega Genesis, SNES, Sega Saturn, GameBoy, Game Gear, PlayStation, PC
Later Releases: PS2, PSP, PS2, NGC, Xbox, PC
This was the turning point for the series for the 16-bit era and was the last 16-bit game released in the numbered series. It was also considered the worst out of the 3 mainly because of the hard-to-pull off, and new, “chain combos”. While the graphics were even sharper and more realistic looking than ever. Newer consoles and more memory allowed more details, more animations, and more characters. This was probably the darkest of the three games and took a very serious turn, and even the new voice announcer sounded serious. I liked this version a lot due to the chain combos and even faster gameplay, plus it featured some of the best characters to date. All the “-alities” are intact here but a new Animality was added, but also never seen again in future releases. This had fighters turn into animals and devour or tear apart their opponents and got mixed reactions. At this point, everyone thought the “-alities” were getting ridiculous and wondered if they would be overkill in later releases. The Fatalities were even more gruesome than before and took a more raw approach due to the more realistic look and theme.
The game also featured 3D rendered backgrounds for the first time, and music took a more techno-modern theme instead of the heavy Asian themes of the past. Multi-tiered stages were introduced where you could uppercut an enemy into the ceiling and they would go up into a new stage. Two new stage Fatalities were introduced as the Bell Tower, The Pit III, and The Subway. New characters included were Cyrax, Sektor, Sheeva, Nightworlf, Stryker, Sindel, Smoke, and Kabal. These two were considered classic characters, but Stryker took the most criticism for his ridiculous “cop” style of fighting. Smoke was a hidden character behind the dragon symbol in the middle of the select screen and was unlocked via a cheat code. Each new character was wonderfully created with each having distinct special moves that still hold grounds today. MK3 was also the hardest game with Shao Kahn being extremely difficult and the new mini-boss Motaro being relentless and also being the biggest character created so far. Kombat Kodes was introduced which had three numbers for each player during loading screens, and these codes modified the game such as no blocking, no blood, fatalities disabled, special moves disabled, etc. These never saw the light of day until the recent Mortal Kombat (2011).
I loved the game a lot because I mainly didn’t know any better, and I loved Cyrax more than anyone. Sure the other guys returned (Kano and Sonya came back due to the criticism from the past game). Johnny Cage and Raiden took a hit this time and weren’t seen until years later, by this point everyone thought he’d show up again in Mortal Kombat 4. Noob Saibot was a playable character through the Kombat Kodes and was liked by many. The game was ported to every console again, but due to the aging 16-bit hardware, the superior version was for those lucky enough to win a Sony PlayStation. The SNES was good enough for people who couldn’t afford one, but the handhelds were horrible (once again), and the Sega Saturn version was also a good port.
Mortal Kombat 3 stands as the official turning point for the series, hated by many, loved by some, but there’s no doubt Mortal Kombat would stop here. While this marked the end of the 16-bit era for the series forever, MK3 was fantastic.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Original Releases: Arcade, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, SNES
Later Releases: iPhone, DS, PS2, X360, GBA
While this was loved as a cult classic by fans it wasn’t very successful sales-wise. This was considered the “real MK3” with bug fixes, chain combo fixes, a few new characters, stages, and weapons were introduced. These weapons came out during long combos, and another “-ality” was introduced as Brutality. These were extremely hard to pull off since the button combos were sometimes 20+ and you needed to be super fast. The characters would beat the opponent up faster and faster until they exploded into a bony and bloody mess. A new stage Fatality was added as Scorpion’s Lair. UMK3 also had the hardest time with porting since this was the transition from 2D to 3D. Surprisingly, UMK3 was never released on the PlayStation so it suffered from terrible ports on 16-bit consoles. If you had to get one the SNES version was the best while the Genesis version had problems such as Animalities removed, and the announcer no longer said the character’s names. Mercies were introduced which let you put a code in at the end of the match during “Finish Him/Her!” which gave back a bit of health for your opponent. This was never seen again, but also most people didn’t know about it. The Sega Saturn was the worst port with just UMK3 code dumped into MK3 so it was unbalanced and buggy as ever.
The Arcade version only featured three new playable characters and these were Ermac, Human Smoke (palette swap of Scorpion), and Classic Sub-Zero via a code. Both versions saw a return of Mileena and Kitana as palette swaps of Jade, and the console versions got the sweeter deal with more characters. Noob Saibot was a fully playable character, and not just an unlockable while Rain was brand new for console owners. UMK3 was a great addition to MK3 and is widely loved by fans and preferred over MK3. UMK3 never saw handheld releases until over a decade later, but the troubled porting and sales sparked some debate as to if the series was over.
Overall the 16-bit era of Mortal Kombat games was the best, and will always be remembered as some of the best games ever made. While the series took a bit of a dive towards the end Mortal Kombat II was the best of that period but by now people were wondering what they had in mind for 3D. The PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were already hot and Midway had to figure out how they were going to implement the classic 2D fighting style into a fully 3D environment! It was only three short years that the 16-bit era lasted for the series, but it seemed like a lift time for me.