Wednesday 1 September 2021

The Mortal Kombat Series - The Spine of Saturn


Mortal Kombat, the game that, along with Doom, introduced video games to extreme blood and gore. It is a game so violent that it seemingly created the ESRB singlehandedly. This is the fighting game that captivated the gaming industry with its interesting characters, gripping lore and stylistic graphics back in 1992 and started a franchise that is still thriving today. Now, we'll be looking at the titles that were released on the Sega Saturn.

Now, let's not kid each other, not every title in a franchise this large is going to live up to the quality we all expect. Despite this, Mortal Kombat did very well as it reached over 20 titles with more still to come. Sega Saturn had some of its best ports. 

Although there's no official port of the original Mortal Kombat, its wondrous sequel was perfectly ported to the system, aside from suffering the Sega Saturn's true flaw. It does have some problems with loading times. It also had some critics saying that it was already outdated before it was even made. Still, there was no denying that this was a perfect rendition of the arcade otherwise. 

Where Mortal Kombat was controversial for its violence, this game ramped it up to 11 and doubled the blood. More human bean juice can be seen when you punch your enemy's face and the fatalities brought about more and more gore as the fans wanted. Now, you didn't need a code to unlock it, nor was the SNES port wasn't censored as the first game's port to the system was highly criticized for. Sega Saturn let you see the gore as it was intended, with full arcade graphics still in tact. 

Strangely enough, though, Sega Saturn Magazine panned the port as it didn't live up to the prerelease copy that they received months earlier. Obviously, they don't need to hold all Saturn games to a higher light, but they were needlessly critical of the load times. Of course, that also means it has the MK2 flaws about it as well. As great as the game's graphics were and as awesome the gore was at the time, there was still the ridiculous difficulty. The AI was programmed to react to your button presses automatically, much faster than they should be able to. Yes, there are ways around this, but it mostly involves spamming attacks in a certain order. A good game, but with some fairly heavy flaws that keep it from being truly great.

So, what do we do now? The last game was so hard, let's take it easy on the players now. Let's add in every single character we possibly can, even the bosses! So, now you can play as both Goro and Kentaro and you win! That's right! A game with such horrific balance issues that now you can play as both characters with monstrous strength and reach that just a few punches and special moves and your opponent is slain in a matter of seconds. 

Balance problems aside, they cheaped out on the fatalities. Some of them were taken out to save on time of its conversion to the Saturn, and yet it came out an entire year after the PSX and N64 versions. There are plenty of reasons why this game is overlooked by the fandom as, aside from the playable bosses, there's really nothing to write home about. The game itself is unremarkable otherwise and you're far better off getting the real Mortal Kombat game the Sega Saturn is known for. 

When you think of Mortal Kombat on the Saturn, most turn to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. This game was created when fans voiced their disdain for the original Mortal Kombat 3. Once again, it is the most faithful port from arcade to console and has the loading problems much like the others. However, it is a fair challenge and all of your favorite characters are there to see. Once you put in the CRAZY CYRAX code, you can unlock all of the characters. There are hours of fun once you beat the tower mode as you can gain access to all of the fatalities, random Mortal Kombat videos and a game of Pong (don't ask). 

The controls are stellar, the game modes are plentiful and the cheat codes are ten times easier to input. With new and old characters and amazing backgrounds, you really couldn't ask for much more. It's just hours of fun with friends or solo play. Better than that, though, it's even got Scorpion this time around! Imagine that! 

Whatever your thoughts on the Mortal Kombat franchise, you can't deny its impact on not only the fighting game genre but also video games in general. There have been so many games that tried to duplicate its success, but very few had any success. Everyone thought that if you just slapped some live action people on a game with some blood and gore that you could make the next fighting game phenomenon. MK, however, boasted superior control and gameplay along with a lore that was both interesting and quite captivating. 

What really sold Mortal Kombat was its characters along with its truckloads of internal organs and severed limbs. They were memorable and diverse while also boasting diverse themes and backgrounds that made them quite unique. It may have had a questionable period after UMK3, as Mortal Kombat 4 brought about a 3D era that made interesting characters and lore take a backseat to bigger and better graphics. It took a while to recover from, but until 2011 finally rolled around, we at least had a nice collection to fall back on. Just remember to drink bloo---water... I meant water.