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  Mortal Kombat
 
 
 
  Graphics
         
    SNES Mega Drive Amiga
         
   
   
         
   
   
         
   
         
   
   
         
  Detail
 

Mega Drive - The graphics here are a little disappointing truth be told, whilst they do look quite recognisable to the original arcade game there are some pretty big omissions from many of the arena's which make them look quite bare in some places, and a lot of the floor. On top of that the background textures look quite grainy and rough..

Some of the really noticeable problems here are the missing clouds in the Palace Gates arena (there's just a bare cyan sky for the top half of the screen), the missing mountain in the far background in the Courtyard stage (see screenshot 1), and the missing moon in the Warrior Shrine level, but there are loads of other little omissions all over the place (plinths in Throne Room, the soldiers standing guard in the Courtyard arena, the bones on the floor of Goro's Lair etc). Outside of the missing elements, the floor textures of Goro's lair look noticeably crude (see screenshot 2).

Good Points? well, I guess the characters look decent, if again a little grainy, the Pit stage looks pretty good, and is fairly accurate to the arcade game, with nice details on the plinths and varied clouds, and the shadows under the fighters actually look pretty nice, definitely better than those of the SNES, and Amiga (unlike those versions the shadows are translucent).

Mega CD - This is based wholly on the Mega Drive version, and as such is mostly the same as that version throughout, but there have been some notable improvements.

The developers seem to have cleaned up the sprites for the fighters (most noticeable with Kano, who had a lot of red pixel interference previously, see below right). Goro's Lair has been gone over and improved, with much better texturing added to the floors, and additional bones, and skulls (again, see below), and lastly the Pit fatality has been improved, with the dead bodies, and blood re-instated (see below left).

Outside of that there are a few other minor improvements here and there, for instance flames have been added to the torches in the Courtyard stage, the fighter names have been moved to the health bars, and the "Fight" announcement now scales in like it did in the original arcade game.

SNES - The detail in this version tends to be much closer to that of the original arcade version than the Mega Drive port, for one thing the big omissions of the Mega Drive version are here (mountain in Courtyard, moon in Warrior's Shrine). On top of those elements the texturing is consistently better here, especially in Goro's Lair, in which the flooring, and walls are far more complex, and definitely noticeably superior (see screenshot 2).

These points alone assure a victory for the SNES in this section, but to run through some of the other good and bad points of this version; the soldiers standing guard are in Courtyard (though a little scaled down), the torches in Palace Gates are there, and there's more bones and skulls in Goro's Lair. Bad points include a scaled down palace in Palace Gates, as well as missing banners, simpler cloud formations in the Pit (its the same cloud image repeated), and missing seats in Courtyard, the shadows of all the fighters are also cruder than they were on Mega Drive (they're solid colour).

One of the more notorious of omissions here is the lack of blood. Usually the game throws copious amounts of blood around the screen with every punch and kick that lands, and at the end of the matches you can perform a fatality which kills the opponent in a gruesome manner, here there's no blood, and the fatalities have been made tamer. I'm not sure if this point should affect the winner of the "detail" section, so I'll leave this as a SNES win, and come back to the point in "conclusion".

Amiga - This version looks to be based off of the Mega Drive port, but there are even more cuts on top of what was seen in that game, leaving this as the weakest version in this area.

Some of the inferior sections here include; windows missing from the Throne Room arena (see screenshot 3), missing plinths in the Warrior Shrine level (this makes that stage feel much more out in the open), and no clouds on the Pit stage (oddly enough that stage now has the silhouette of a witch, or Eliot and ET fly past the moon every now and then though).

 
  Winner is: SNES
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  Colour  
 

Mega Drive - The colour use here is not really that impressive (though to be honest the arcade original's colour use could be a bit dodgy at times too), everything looks washed out and contrasty, and some areas can be a little garish at times, all in all though its not really that bad, and I actually quite like the new golden version of Throne Room.

Mega CD - This is identical to the Mega Drive version.

SNES - The colour use in this version looks a bit drab overall, but the colour counts are much higher than in the Sega versions, and it definitely looks a lot closer to the original arcade version.

Amiga - Definitely the weakest of the three. This is similar to the Mega Drive port, but has lower on-screen colour counts. Everything here tends to be a little more grainy, and colour choices don't fit as well as the Mega Drive game (let alone the SNES game), Goro's Lair for example has worse looking colour choices for the ground and skeleton (see screenshot 2).

On top of the main colour use being a little weak, this version also suffers from some glitches, Sub Zero's ice move for instance seems to often change the colours of unrelated objects every time someone is frozen.

 
  Winner is: SNES
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  Animation
 

Mega Drive - I'd say the character animation here is just about decent, its definitely a little bit choppy, but it does the job to the minimum standard required. Other than the fairly low number of frames though there's also another noticeable problem, Sub Zero actually re-uses Scorpion's standing animation (so as to save on memory).

Where the stages themselves are concerned; in the Throne Room stage Shang Tsung (who sits in the background watching in that arena) does not move his head to follow the fighters like he did in the arcade, nor does he clap when the match is over, there are also missing animated torches in Palace Gates, and the audience of Courtyard don't clap either.

Mega CD - Firstly this version has hugely improved player animation over the Mega Drive source material, I'd say there's about 30% extra animation frames for every character (around 2 more frames for every action), and on top of this Sub Zero's standing animation is now back to being unique to that character. The improved animation makes this version look much smoother than the Mega Drive version, and brings it up to the SNES version's standards.

Where the arena's are concerned; Shang Tsung now both moves his head in the Throne Room stage, and claps at the finish of the round, and the animated torches have been added to Palace Gates, the clapping monks however are still absent.

SNES - The animation here is much better than the Mega Drive version, its far smoother, and far more frames have been retained, Sub Zero also has his own standing animation which was absent in the Mega Drive port.

The arena animation is also better, the torches in Palace Gates are animated, Shang Tsung moves his head, and claps in Throne Room, and the Monks in the audience of Courtyard clap at the end of each match.

Where it comes to this version vs the Mega CD version its very difficult to decide on a winner, I'd say the two have very comparable numbers of animation frames (I actually checked every frame for many different actions but neither game had a decisive victory), all in all I'm going to call it a draw.

Amiga - The player animation here is similar in frames to the Mega Drive game (ie its just about acceptable, but a bit choppy), with Sub Zero again sharing Scorpion's animation, but the background animation is even more simplified, with the crowd in Courtyard no longer moving from side to side, and the fighters in the player select screen staying stationary.

 
  Winner Is: Draw between SNES and Mega CD
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  Scrolling
 

Mega Drive - As can be expected this scrolls well, there's good amounts of parallax too.

Mega CD - Identical to the Mega Drive version.

SNES - The main scrolling is perfect, but there's a little less parallax than Mega Drive port in a few stages (this is probably most noticeable in Throne Room, and Courtyard).

Amiga - Main scrolling is alright, but there's no parallax at all, just static backgrounds.

 
  Winner Is: Draw between Mega Drive and Mega CD
 
  Sound
   
  Music
 

Mega Drive - For better or worse this version actually has a soundtrack of unique, completely remixed tunes. The changes here are actually so drastic that most of the songs are essentially unrecognisable, every now and then you recognise a small section of music from the arcade game, but the music and arenas are jumbled up anyway so its difficult to notice.

Luckily the music was handled by acclaimed sound chip musician Matt Furniss using the Krysalis sound engine, so the remixes are actually very good. The quality here is really high (this has to be some of the most impressive Mega Drive music of its time), with excellent percussion and a complex lead, its imaginative, but still somehow manages to fit in very well with the Mortal Kombat atmosphere, with each of the new-sounding songs fitting in well with their respective stages.

Out of the tracks Courtyard, and the intro seem to be the only ones which were converted straight from the arcade original, Goro's Lair's music, oddly enough has been replaced with the game-over music (it fits decently, but isn't really ideal to be honest). Palace Gates, The Pit, Warrior Shrine, and Throne Room, are all remixes. Out of the new compositions I would say The Pit, and Throne Room are the stand-outs, both sound excellent, and are very memorable, Palace Gates is also pretty good, its a little repetitive, but its catchy and gives that stage a great new atmosphere.

Mega CD - Now this is just sloppy, this round should be an easy win for the Mega CD, I mean its CD audio right? just get the original tracks, dump them on the CD and your done, right? wrong.

This version does have the original audio from the arcade game, but the songs play on the wrong stages, and unlike the Mega Drive game these really do sound just plain wrong (at least on the Mega Drive it felt more like it had an original soundtrack), on top of this, even worse this seems to actually be completely missing two tracks, the music for Warrior Shrine, and the music for Palace Gates are completely absent (the Pit music, and Courtyard are used for two arena's each).

I mean, I'd like to give this round the the Mega CD for having the arcade music alone, but the jumbled order means that even this doesn't really sound authentic, and having less tracks and variation than the Mega Drive game just pushes this down to being lower. It feels like they did a bad job with this to me, so I can't bring myself to give this round to Mega CD.

SNES - This is the only version of the four which has authentic music to the arcade, unfortunately though the quality is actually very poor, and overall this version comes across as a bit lifeless, and muffled, the drum sound in the game is also quite noticeably crude in comparison to the Mega Drive port, which has far more dynamic, and crisp percussion.

All in all, authentic or not this has to be rated lower than the Mega Drive version, as its just really mediocre.

Amiga - This version only has the intro, and one piece of music for all the arena's throughout the game (probably to decrease load times). The quality of the music here is pretty respectable all in all, but its only one song!

 
  Winner Is: Mega Drive
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  Sound FX
 

Mega Drive - This has very weak sound effects, they're lacking in impact and sound a bit simplified in comparison to the arcade game, and the other versions (Raiden doesn't spout gibberish anymore when he charges forward for instance, but there are many, many other omissions), this also has the fewest voice samples of every version.

Quickly running through the voice samples, this version seems to have "get over here", "fight", "finish him", and "excellent"

Its missing all the character names (for both the player select screen, and the winner announcement at the end of the match), as well as "fatality", "flawless victory", "test your might", and "come ere"

Mega CD - All of the sound effects here have been hugely improved, and all sound very close to the arcade game in quality, on top of that this version has had the missing voice samples added to it, and has the highest number of the ports.

The only voice clip I noticed which was still missing was Scorpion's second voice clip "come ere"

SNES - The sound effects in this version are actually pretty impressive overall, they're far better than they were in the Mega Drive game, with a much more complete sound to them, and a crunchier impact sound, there's also a lot of the character specific grunts/groans/gibberish, and on top of that this version also does pretty well on voice samples, its only really missing "flawless victory", "get over here" (it uses "come ere" solely for Scorpion's spear attack), and "Fatality".

Amiga - The sound effects here are actually very good, and are definitely a lot better than the Mega Drive version, this also seems to be the only version which has all of the voice samples (though the quality is not as high as the Mega CD game).

 
  Winner Is: Mega CD
   
Gameplay

Mortal Kombat is a fighting game where two opponents face off against each other trying to deplete the opponents health bar. Each player has a selection of different punching, and kicking moves, as well as special moves such as projectiles which are accessed by performing specific button combinations. On top of those elements each character can string together multiple moves in a row creating what is known as a "chain combo", essentially by performing specific moves at certain times you can repeatedly hit the opponent before he lands on the ground, stopping him from counter-attacking for a period, a simple example of this would be Liu Kang's combo jumping kick -> flying kick.

Mega Drive - This actually plays fairly faithfully to the arcade game, it just feels a lot choppier. The control and movement is fast, and fluid, and most of the chain combos work fine (I noticed Scorpion's Spear->Uppercut->Teleport Punch doesn't work though, which is a shame as that was a pretty popular combo).

Mega CD - This is pretty much the same as the Mega Drive version, but with a smoother feel (due to the improvement in animation), this would make this version the obvious winner here, but the new CD media also means load times.

Load times between fights here are fairly unobtrusive, they don't take that long and aren't really much of an issue, unfortunately though there are also some instances of load time during matches. When playing the tag team match on 1-player the game has to load the second opponent in immediately after the first is defeated (not too annoying), even more unfortunate though is the final fight against Shang Tsung on 1-player, here the game stops and starts every single time Shang morphs into a different character, this is very off putting, and is a real annoyance.

SNES - Oh dear, what a complete and utter mess.

Firstly, this version has very noticeable input lag, every time you try to do something it feels like its taking place half a second later. As a result of this doing quarter-turn specials is more difficult than usual (but certainly manageable with practice), but, more importantly stringing even the basic chain combos together is next to impossible.

Secondly there are many very unfortunate oversights. In Mortal Kombat there is a push-back which occurs after you get a certain number of hits in on an opponent at the corner of the screen, the developers of SNES Mortal Kombat forgot to add this in! as a result you can now do an infinite combo on any character standing at the edge of the screen from full health to death simply by tapping the punch button (well, pretty much any button to be honest).

There are numerous other problems, if you start a projectile firefight here (such as both players throwing a fireball), instead of both projectiles hitting the opponent simultaneously (as they're supposed to), one of them will be deleted mid-frame. Other than that Sub Zero's freeze move does damage for some reason, and Goro has an exploit where Sub Zero can freeze him and then repeatedly use sweep without him unfreezing.

All in all this is just dire, all the (marginally) deeper gameplay mechanics are absent due to the lack of combos, and even the core gameplay feels much more sluggish, and unwieldy than the other versions.

Amiga - Again this is based on the Mega Drive version, but here, due to the lack of buttons on standard Amiga controllers all of the actions have been moved onto one button! yep, this has some pretty complicated controls with you having to do lots of diagonals, and timed presses, and most of the input commands for specials have had to be completely changed.

Does it work? well, yeah, I guess to an extent. If you put in a lot of practice time here then after a while you can become adept at using these over-complicated controls, but its never really an ideal way to play the game to be honest.

Aside from the default controls this version also allows you to use a Mega Drive style joypad for a 2-button configuration. Unfortunately though this is still optimised for 1-button, essentially button-1 on the joypad still does exactly the same as it always did (ie everything!), but some of the harder to do moves have been doubled up on button 2. This is a real shame, as the first Mortal Kombat game is actually pretty well suited to 2-button controls (there were an awful lot of doubled up moves in the arcade version anyway), had they made one button do punches, and another do kicks, with both held down serving as block then very few compromises would've needed to have been made, and it would been much more intuitive.

Winner Is: Mega CD
 
Presentation

Mega Drive - This retains the intro (essentially a picture of Goro with text explaining the tournament), and has the character bio's (though the animated pictures for the bio's are now static), and the ending pictures.

Mega CD - This version has a new intro (which is the old TV advert), and retains the original Goro intro, bio, and ending pictures, the bio's have actually been improved, and are now animated like the original arcade game.

SNES - The presentation in this version isn't too great to be honest. The intro has been downgraded (there's no picture of Goro anymore), the bio's are missing even static pictures (the game just re-uses the in-game sprites), and all of the ending pictures are also missing, with the endings simply being the character sprite standing in Warrior Shrine with story text.

Amiga - This version actually retains all of the presentation, the character bio's are even animated here (though not as well as they were on the Mega CD version). The additional intro added to the Mega CD is also not here.

Winner Is: Mega CD

 

 
  Conclusion
 

Well, firstly the SNES game plays very poorly, I mean don't get me wrong the original arcade game didn't exactly have the most memorable gameplay itself, but it was at least responsive and had its combos to add some depth, this has none of that, and worse still its missing the blood and gore, one of the big novelties which made the game popular in the first place!

The Amiga version is at least more responsive, and has the blood, but the 1-button controls really bring it out of the running, its a shame it didn't have properly optimised 2-button controls as that would've made the world of difference here.

So what it comes down to is the Mega Drive vs the Mega CD, which is pretty much a no-brainer to be honest. The Mega CD version is disappointing, but is essentially an improved version of the Mega Drive original, and I would say that in this case the only real drawback of the Mega CD version (the load times), doesn't offset the improved animation, and sound effects. Its just a damn shame they didn't put the music in correctly.

  Overall Winner Is: Mega CD
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