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%% Usenet Review:  Mortal Kombat                        By Steve Dempsey %%
%%                                            (s.dempsey@genie.geis.com) %%
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PRODUCT NAME

        Mortal Kombat


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        A popular martial arts "beat-em-up" arcade game ported to the Amiga.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Name:           Program Copyright by Acclaim Ent. Inc.
                        Published by Virgin Interactive Ent. (Europe) Ltd.
        Address:        Virgin Interactive Ent. (Europe) Ltd.
                        338A Ladbroke Grove
                        London, W10 5AH
                        UK
        Telephone:      (081) 964-8242
        FAX:            (081) 960-9900


LIST PRICE

        Purchased at local Amiga dealer for $36.00 (US).


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

                Compatible with Amiga 500, 500+, 600, 1200, 1500.
                See INSTALLATION, below, for tips on getting the program
                to run on an A4000.

                Requires 1 or 2 button joystick and 1MB RAM.

        SOFTWARE

                None mentioned.


COPY PROTECTION

        Disk-based.  Not hard-drive installable.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

        Amiga 4000/030
        2MB Chip RAM, 4MB Fast RAM
        450 MB hard drive
        AmigaDOS 3.0


BACKGROUND

        If you occasionally go to the arcade, you probably have already
noticed the game Mortal Kombat.  Many months ago, Mortal Kombat was ported
over to the SNES and Sega Genesis machines.  Today, Mortal Kombat is one of
the hottest games selling on those two platforms.  Fortunately, there was an
announcement that Mortal Kombat would be released for the IBM and Amiga
computers.  (Yes, Amiga!)  The greatest fear of arcade ports, however, is
that they will not hold true to their original design, often metamorphosing
into poor, unplayable pieces of junk.  This is NOT true with Mortal Kombat!
Much of the game play is preserved making it a very enjoyable piece of
software.


INSTALLATION AND GETTING STARTED

        When I first opened the package, I immediately threw the boot disk
into DF0: on my 4000/030.  Unfortunately, the program did not boot up!  The
box specifically states that Mortal Kombat is indeed compatible with the
A1200 but makes no mention of the A4000.  Thus, I first immediately tried
all boot-up options (holding the two mouse buttons down at boot time and
selecting), but still nothing.  Next, I tried various options with the
program Degrader, which "degrades" the system to allow older software to
work.  But I still got nowhere.  Now, you can imagine the frustration on my
face after feverishly trying to get Mortal Kombat to work but getting
nowhere at all.

        After pitying myself for hours, I logged into one of the BBS's that
I call and found this program called the "1.3 Bootup disk".  The 1.3 Bootup
disk allows Kickstart 1.3 to be allocated into RAM, surviving resets, thus
allows non-standard DOS disks to boot up.  Nevertheless, I stuck in the 1.3
Bootup disk and let it go.  When I was faced with the old familiar "Insert
Workbench" display, I threw in the Mortal Kombat bootup disk, and IT
WORKED!  I have heard that other 4000 users have figured out ways to boot
Mortal Kombat using Degrader and the boot menu, but I encourage them to get
ahold of the 1.3 Bootup disk, since it is much easier to use.

        Mortal Kombat comes on just two disks and does in fact support two
floppy drives.  If you only have one disk drive, however, Mortal Kombat
seems to take advantage of any extra RAM above 1MB to minimize disk
swapping.  Most importantly, there was NO disk swapping at all during the
actual game play.  This allowed myself actually to "kick-back" while playing
the game.  Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat is NOT hard drive installable and
that's a real bummer.


QUALITY

        I pretty much assume that Mortal Kombat is programmed using 32
colors.  Now, if you never saw Mortal Kombat before, Mortal Kombat uses
digitized images for its characters, making it a very "realistic" type of
game in its class.  What you see on the screen is a very good representation
of Mortal Kombat's digitized characters for 32 colors.  There is a multitude
of background screens in which to Kombat.  (Which the computer chooses for
you.)  Unfortunately, most of the screens are static, making it very plain
except in one background shot where I saw a witch moving across the screen.

        Game speed is critical to this type of game, and Mortal Kombat
doesn't let you down.  The characters' speed and fluidness of movement are
essentially preserved in all aspects.  For example, doing a roundhouse kick
actually looks and "feels" real.  In fact, nearly all the martial arts moves
take on a realistic approach both visually and acutely.

        For those who have a two button joystick, you are allowed to use the
second button as a "kick" inducer.  Unfortunately, I do not have a two
button joystick, and thus was unable to test that function.  Even with just
a one button stick, however, the controls are fairly easy to remember and
initiate.  Even so, I would definitely recommend a two button stick for
overall simplicity.


THE GAME

        Mortal Kombat uses digitized images to represent various characters.
These characters are:  Johnny Cage, Kano, Raiden, Liu Kang, Scorpion,
Sub-Zero, and Sonya Blade.  Each character has his/her own strengths and
weaknesses.  In addition, each character has his/her own "death blow" move.
A death blow move will instantly kill the opponent.  Note that the
documentation does not reveal the death blow moves, so you must figure them
out yourself.

        The object of the game is to win all matches against each opponent
and eventually fight the legendary "Goro".  Note that there is also a two
player mode if you have another joystick.  In this case, the two players
fight till the end.

        The option menu will allow yourself to choose various game
difficulty levels.  I would strongly suggest picking "Easy" in the beginning
as it is very tough to win even at the easy level at first.

        Fighting the other computer opponents is really fun.  You apply
various offensive martial arts moves to the opponent while at the same time
defending from his/her move.  After you play a while, you will notice that
certain characters can beat other characters without too much damage, and it
works the other way around too, so it's a learning experience to play around
with various characters.  Towards the end of a fight in which one of the
character gets "beaten up", you can (if you won) apply the death move.  The
death move is actually pretty visually gory.  In fact, the box of Mortal
Kombat states that the game is "not suitable for person under 15 years of
age."  It can be quite thrilling though, for the older crowd.


DOCUMENTATION

        Mortal Kombat comes with a high quality, glossy, manual dedicated to
the Amiga.  It is an excellently written manual with nearly all moves (except
death blow) illustrated, and information about the "kombatants".

        I also received three cut-out stencils with various Mortal Kombat
logos and such.  A very nice addition, if you ask me.


LIKES AND DISLIKES

        I liked the game play and conversion quality of Mortal Kombat.  It
is a very fast and fun game to play.  Support of the two button joystick is
also greatly welcomed.  Disk swapping on a one drive system with lots of RAM
was minimalized, and even non-existent during actual game play making it very
stressless.

        A great problem in Mortal Kombat was getting it to work on my A4000.
I am completely disgusted with the programmers who obviously didn't even
bother to test the game on an A4000.  Come on folks, a LOT of us game users
out there have A4000's!

        Speaking of which, why is it that the game is not hard drive
installable?  Let us remember that a LOT of game users also have hard drives
that we would love to have filled with a good game like Mortal Kombat!

        I pray that an AGA version of Mortal Kombat will come out soon.  I
have heard that a CD-32 version is planned.  Mortal Kombat could really use
256 colors and take more advantage of faster processors to make the game
even better -- especially with the background screens.


COMPARISON TO OTHER PLATFORMS

        I have an SNES at home with Mortal Kombat.  How good is the SNES
version compared to the Amiga version, you ask?  I would have to give the
SNES the edge since it has more colors on screen (let's get that AGA version
out!), much better joypad support (well, I won't nail it too hard on this
one since Mortal Kombat actually went through the effort of getting two
button joystick support!), and finally, the SNES has animated background
screens which make the game a bit more pleasing.  I am happy to say,
however, that character movement speed and agility are very much the same.

        I have not seen the IBM version of Mortal Kombat, but I have heard
that it will support 256 colors and be hard drive installable.  I can safely
assume that it will require more than 1MB of RAM, however.  Since the IBM
version can be hard drive installable, it gives absolutely no excuse that
the Amiga should not also have it.


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR GAMES ON THE AMIGA

        The only other top-notch "beat-em-up" for the Amiga I can think of
(and own) is Body Blows by Team 17.  Body Blows requires significantly more
disk swaps, even in the middle of actually playing the game, which is very
irritating.  Mortal Kombat is definitely more fluid and fast than Body
Blows.  Mortal Kombat is also better in actual game play, making it much
more challenging and rewarding.


BUGS

        The only bug I found was that mysteriously the audio would sometimes
get a bit distorted but game play would be unaffected.  It got to the point,
however, that I would be forced to reboot the game since the audio
distortion would get very irritating.  I do not know why this happens and
can estimate it only happens about 1 in 15 times I play the game.


CONCLUSIONS

        Mortal Kombat is an excellent game and definitely the best
beat-em-up on the Amiga by far.  The conversion quality is top-notch and
makes good use of the old graphic chipset.  If you are looking for a good
arcade game, go out and buy this one.  I guarantee you that you will not be
disappointed.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

        Copyright 1993 Steve Dempsey.  All rights reserved.

        This article may be reprinted in any non-commercial publication
and/or online magazine.