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== Review: Mortal Kombat II By: Sean Caszatt ==
Hello again, Amiga gamers!
I hope all of you had a very prosperous holiday season. We didn't get the
present that I am sure most of us wished for, an end to the Commodore
buyout situation, but I guess we'll just have to make that a wish for
an future holiday. (I hope it's not NEXT Christmas though!)
This time out I managed to get my hands on one of the this Christmas'
hottest selling games, the Amiga version of MORTAL KOMBAT II.
MORTAL KOMBAT II REVIEW
Unless you've been living in a cave (or some similarly cliched remote
place), you know what the whole story behind MORTAL KOMBAT...right? OK,
I'll explain a little bit about the whole plot. The first game revolved
around a tournament arranged by a bad guy named Shang Tsung that basically
forced the best fighters in the world to fight each other. It was all
quite similar to an old Bruce Lee movie.
MORTAL KOMBAT gained some notoriety because of its unusually violent
"fatalities" or "finishing moves." These are performed when an opponent
is defeated by the use of normal fighting moves such as standard kicks and
punches . A fatality is something a bit more pronounced like ripping your
opponent's spine out or tearing their still-beating heart from their
chest. This was frowned upon by those groups that know better than you do
what's good for you. The violence in MORTAL KOMBAT is also pretty much
responsible for the "ratings" now found on most videogames today. It also
sparked numerous clones and, of course, a sequel.
The original Amiga MORTAL KOMBAT was a solid translation of the original
game. It may not have looked much like the arcade version, but it
retained much of the spirit and fun of the quarter-eating game. When
MORTAL KOMBAT II came out for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, many
Amiga gamers wondered if an Amiga version was planned.
Originally, Acclaim maintained no version was forthcoming. However,
shortly after Thanksgiving, the Amiga version materialized out of nowhere.
The European Amiga magazines simultaneously heralded it's arrival on their
covers and one even included a demo of it on a coverdisk. To paraphrase
the advertising for the game, "Nothing can prepare you...for such
Is it really that bad? Well, yes and no. The programmers admitted that
the game's animated backgrounds would have to be sacrificed in the name of
playability on the Amiga. The gameplay would be compromised if objects in
the background moved, I guess. As improbable as that sounds, I can accept
that. What I can't accept is pretty much everything else.
The game comes on three disks and it's not hard drive installable. Strike
one! I can't give a game an entirely positive review if it's not
hard drive installable. In this day and age, I don't want to dig out the
disks and play...I want it on CD-ROM or on my hard drive. Disk based
games should have died with the Commodore 64. (Yes, I am aware that there
is a hard drive installer hack circulating out there, but it wasn't
included in the box.)
If they can't make a game hard drive installable, then they should at
least make an effort to keep the disk swapping to a minimum. Strike two!
You'll swap the disks at least four times before you even get to the first
round of action on a system with only one disk drive. Systems with two
disk drives will swap disks a bit less, but it is still very annoying.
Once you finally get to the game, you'll notice that the graphics are
heavily dithered and appear to be the same as those found in the Sega
Genesis version of the game. That's to be expected, though...the Genesis
and the Amiga have a lot of technical similarities. "Not a big deal if
the gameplay is there," I tell myself.
It's not there. MORTAL KOMBAT II suffers from hideous control problems.
The arcade version is controlled by a joystick and six buttons. The
console versions can duplicate this (or come close to it) because of the
nature of their control pads. The Amiga is saddled with the one
button joystick control factor and in this type of game, it hurts. You'll
find yourself struggling to perform moves that are easy to do on the
arcade or console versions. The game does provide an option for
two-button control, but the majority of gamers out there don't have two
button sticks or gamepads. Using the two-button option does improve the
control somewhat, but not enough to warrant the purchase of a two-button
controller strictly for this game.
It's really a shame, because the game is fast and looks like it'd be great
fun if you could control it. Even on the easiest difficulty setting, the
computer will pummel you as you vainly attempt to defend yourself. It's
not pretty to watch. It's even less fun to play. You'll find yourself
doing the same moves over and over again because that's all you can seem
to do. If you encounter a character that can defend against these
repetitive moves, you're toast.
The control was less of a problem on the original MORTAL KOMBAT because
the characters all had fewer possible moves and combinations of moves.
MORTAL KOMBAT II simply pushes a the limits of a joystick too far.
If the game had excellent graphics and was hard drive installable
but had the control problems, I still wouldn't recommend it. The
gameplay is missing (and with it, the heart of the game). In its place is
a pale imitation of the arcade game on three non-installable disks.
A special note to those planning to purchase the game: The game looks
like an NTSC game, but running the game in NTSC unveils a number of
problems including sound and graphics glitches and, in some cases, the
game not working at all. The game does need to be run in PAL to avoid
these problems. I've managed to get the game to work on every Amiga I've
tried it on using Chris Hames' Degrader. Also, if you've got 2 megabytes
of CHIP RAM, you'll hear all the sound effects in the game and the game
seems to access the disk drives a lot less. On systems with less than 2
megabytes of CHIP RAM, you'll be missing a few sounds and the game will
load animations from the disk drives a lot more often.
I really wanted to like this game. I loved the Amiga version of the original
and I like the arcade version and console versions of MK II.
Some players who are more dexterous with a joystick may dispute my
problems with the control of the game, but I tried four different
sticks hoping to cure the problem. None of them made the game any easier
to play. Maybe, if a CD32 version is ever released, it will take
advantage of that machine's extra buttons. One can only hope.
RATINGS: WORST <------> BEST
Playability: * * * * - - - - - - 4 out of 10
Graphics: * * * * * - - - - - 5 out of 10
Sound: * * * * * - - - - - 5 out of 10
Overall: * * * * * - - - - - 5 out of 10
Video Mode: PAL