It has got more blood and guts than a butcher’s apron, but can Virgin’s latest gore-fest live up to the hype which surrounds it? Rob Mead girds his loins and finds out.
here is too much sex and violence in the world apparently. Most people spend their lives trying to get as much of the first one as possible, while avoiding the second like the plague, so what is the big obsession with pummelling people to death in Amiga games? Because it is fantastic fun that is why, and Mortal Kombat proves to be no exception.
For the past 500 years, the evil Shang Tsung has organised a contest where the world’s toughest fighters compete against each other for the grand title of Mortal Kombat Warrior. Naturally, there is none of this swords and guns nonsense, just plenty of bare-knuckle fighting and the odd decapitation to prove who is boss. As an added incentive, Shang Tsung promises to steal the soul of anyone who is defeated in combat.
You can choose to play one of seven different characters – Johnny Cage. Kano, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Raiden, Liu Kang and Scorpion – who each have their own range of special fighting skills including widely publicised Death Blows where you literally get to take your opponents to pieces. Reptile, Goro and Shang Tsung are all boss characters rippling with bone-crushing manoeuvres and evil intent. Shang Tsung even has the ability to morph into other characters when he is fighting you.
To make the gameplay more varied you also get three difficulty levels, three endurance rounds – which enable you to pit your fighting prowess against two different opponents in the same bout – and the Mirror Match, where you can take on your own character in the ultimate test of your fighting skills. There are also the usual two-player options and you can choose up to six continues if you are crap. Finally, there is a sub-game after every third and fifth opponent which enables you to do a Daley Thompson-style power joystick jiggle before smacking your hand into various objects made of wood, stone and steel.
What makes Mortal Kombat so different from illustrious predecessors such as Body Blows and Street Fighter is its realism and the controversial amount of gore on offer. While SF2 and Body Blows just let your defeat your opponents, through some well-placed kicks and punches, Mortal implores you to kill then in the most gruesome way imaginable. You can rip your out your victims’ hearts and spines, roast them alive or make their heads explode.
The main problem with Mortal is it looks as though everything has been sacrificed for the digitised sprites. The five (count ‘em) different backgrounds look extremely cheesy, often with blocks of colour where there should be a tasty spot of parallax scrolling or animation… anything to make it more interesting. The overall effect is that the game lacks atmosphere and feels cheap. You could almost be playing a C64 game rather than marvelling at the graphical capabilities of the Amiga.
Unfortunately, this lack of attention to detail also spills over into the gameplay. By faithfully reproducing the coin-op, the programmers have given each character over 24 different moves. This inevitably means that, like Body Blows Galactic, the joystick controls are vague and there is a lot of frantic waggling as you try to find the right move to attack your opponent with. This is OK when you fight your pals, but frustrating when you take on the trickier Amiga-controlled adversaries.
Despite the overwhelming possibility of moves, you soon discover the same couple of punches and sweeping kicks that can be used to sap your opponent’s strength. You also do not get the same variety of moves across different characters. They all seem to do the same kicks and punches and even the special moves are remarkably similar. Mortal’s characters just do not have enough personality to pull you in.
Amiga Format, Issue 55, January 1994, p.98
"What makes Mortal Kombat so different is its realism and the amount of gore."
Während sich U.S. Golds kunstvoll gezeichneten Strassenkampfer längst zum Amiga durchgespielt haben, tauchen ihre digitalisierten Kollegen hier erst jetzt auf - aber sonst schenken sie der Konkurrenz nichts!
bwohl die Packungswerbung das Gegenteil behauptet, steckt in dieser Version nicht die ganze fernöstliche "Brutalität" des Arcade-Automaten kein spritzender Lebenssaft mehr, und auch die sogenannten Fatality Moves wurden leicht entschärft. Ansonsten blieb das Gameplay aber von der Schere des Zensors verschont...
Zuerst steht ein Besuch im Optionsmenu an, wo man sich sämtliche Musikstücke und Soundeffekte anhören kann und den Schwierigkeitsgrad sowie die Anzahl der Continues festlegen darf. Anschließend bestimmt man unter sieben Haudraufs seinen Wunschkämpfer, neben den regulären Fußtritten und Faustschlägen haben alle eine ganze Reihe von speziellen Fähigkeiten im Repertoire: Da wird mit Feuerbällen, Blitzen oder Plasmaringen angegriffen, manche der Recken können sich verdoppeln, durch die Luft fliegen oder ihren eingebauten Teleporter benutzen. Natürlich kann man auch gegen einen menschlichen Freund antreten, der Gewinner wird dann automatisch für das Turnier angemeldet.
Um zu gewinnen, muss man seine Gegner zweimal zu Boden schicken oder wenigstens am Ende des Zeitlimits die meiste Energie auf dem Konto haben. Ist man mit allen Kontrahenten durch, folgt der Kampf gegen das eigene Spiegelbild, dann kommen drei Runden mit zwei wahllos herausgepickten Gegnern und schließlich der Fight gegen den vierarmigen Riesen Goro. Wer seine Knochen jetzt immer noch ohne fremde Hilfe aus der Arena schleppt, wird vom halbgöttlichen Obermotz Shang Tsung in die Mangel genommen. Er nimmt Gestalt und Fähigkeiten jeder beliebigen Figur an und wirft mit Spezialschlägen und Waffen nur so um sich! Außerdem gibt es noch den grünen Ninja, der sporadisch auf dem Screen erscheint, und der Spieler zum Kräftemessen herausfordert; last but not least darf man in kleinen Zwischensequenzen durch heftiges Stick-Rütteln allerlei Holz- und Steinblöcke zertrümmern.
Selbst auf der einfachsten Schwierigkeitsstufe läßt sich die Digi-Konkurrenz nur mit viel Geschick niederringen - sinkt man selbst auf die Matte und muß deshalb ein Continue verbraten, darf man bei der Gelegenheit auch gleich seinen Helden austauschen. An der Steuerung ist jedoch überhaupt nichts auszusetzen, zumal auch Zwei-Button-Sticks unterstützt werden. Die sechs soft scrollenden Hintergründe (Gruft, Hohle, Palast, Garten etc.). sind nicht ganz so bunt, wie man's vom Automaten her kennt, die fließende Animation der digitalisierten Schläger hat man dagegen absolut originalgetreu hingekriegt, und die knackige Soundkulisse geht ebenfalls in Ordnung.
Der Todeskampf steht den Helden der Straße somit in nichts nach - Neuerungen darf man demgegenüber freilich auch keine erwarten. Aber was der Spielbalk und dem Konsolen recht ist, kann der "Freundin" schließlich nur billig sein, oder? (rl)
Amiga Joker, January 1994, p.?
Game: Mortal Kombat
Alright gentlemen, I want a nice clean fight; no kicking, spitting, biting, breaking of spines, knocking off of heads or ripping out of hearts. Oh, okay then.
Release: Out now
Game: Mortal Kombat
h no. Why me? I hate beat-‘em-ups, and I hate Mortal Kombat in particular. I played it on the SNES, and laughed pityingly at the lack of blood and gore, the entire hook that the game hangs itself on. I played it on the Mega Drive, and sneered haughtily at the way I completed the entire thing on my first go on the third difficulty setting by only using one move. And now I have got to play it on the Amiga, with a load of disk accessing on top of everything else. When the rest of the team come back from Holiday (which is the reason I have landed the review in the first place), there is going to be a full and frank exchange of views, I can tell you.
Now, if you are a smart kind of reader, you will have realised that no-one starts off a review of Mortal Kombat (a beat-‘em-up) with something like ‘I hate beat-‘em-ups, and I hate Mortal Kombat in particular’unless they are pretty swiftly going to follow it up with “… but what a surprise – it is really great!” We are not completely stupid, And so it is with Mortal Kombat, more or less. Against all my better judgement and all my previous and entirely valid opinions, I had a really good time playing Amiga Mortal Kombat. Seems to me like some serious investigative journalism is called for here.
Speed, maybe? Well, we are getting closer. Compared to the distinctly sluggish Amiga SF2, Mortal Kombat fairly zips along, but speed alone does not make a great beat-‘em-up, as Body Blows proved. (To me, anyway – the rest of the AP staff at the time Team 17’s light-speed fighting game came out loved it, but it never won my heart or mind. It just felt half-finished, somehow). But a decent speed is certainly a Good Thing, so let us put a small tentative tick in that box on Mortal Kombat’s checklist. Still does not explain why it is fun, though. What else could make it stand out?
Sound? Surely not. What does sound matter? Who ever notices or pays any attention to game sound? Hello again, smart reader. Yep, Mortal Kombat’s sound is one of the most crucial factors in making it so enjoyable. While several beat-’em-ups seem to treat sound as a last-minute afterthought (and I am worried that it might be the thing that cripples Renegade’s forthcoming, fab-looking , Elf Mania, Mortal Kombat comes complete with some incredibly solid and meaty thumps and crunches that really make it feel like you are inflicting some damage on your opponent.
What else is there? How about control? Mortal Kombat comes out on top here too, surprisingly. While Street Fighter 2 was ridiculously complicated and over-context-sensitive (thus reducing the game to a waggle-and-hope contest) and Body Blows went too far the other way with an over-simplified system that took all the fun out of discovering and using the best moves, Mortal Kombat has about as useable a system as you could possibly expect from a one-fire button joystick (although there is an option to use a two-button stick as well, which improves matters even further).
WHAT IS YOUR SPECIALITY?
Amiga Power, Issue 33, January 1994, p.p.28-31
"Is depth of gameplay the secret then? Hardly."
'Get over here', screamed Dan, as Jon Sloan scampered dutifully to review the bloodiest Amiga game ever.
f you read my preview a couple of issues ago or even had only half an eye on the media over the past couple of months you can't have helped but notice that Mortal Kombat means big business. From its humble beginnings as an arcade machine through inadverdent promotion by rapper Ice T to the lofty heights of Mortal Monday, this game's gone from strength to strength. It's even had a whole episode of Gamesmaster devoted to it! Amidst all this hype the Amiga version has been acting like a little lost lamb. Well, it's time that we shouted its praises 'cos let me tell you it's a wolf in sheep's clothing. Mortal Kombat is the slickest, fastest, smoothest beat 'em up ever to poke its bloody nose into the Amiga scene.
Despite being converted from the arcade version via the Mega Drive to the Amiga, Probe Software have stayed faithful to the original and kept all the blocks, kicks, punches and special moves as well as the gore. It's this aspect of the game that has caused a great deal of controversy, so much so that there have been calls to ban it. You see, when you beat an opponent there's none of the namby pamby bowing and shaking of hands you see in real life martial arts. In Mortal Kombat you have the opportunity to tear another combatant's heart out or punch their head clean off. That wouldn't be so bad if the character sprites were cartoony or evidently computer generated, but MK uses massive digitised pics of real actors. To make matters worse, virtually every blow that lands is accompanied by a gout of crimson blood and a nerve shaking squelch. Mary Whitehouse aside, it makes for an incredibly realistic bout of martial mayhem.
Leaving comparisons aside for the moment, the difficulty curve has been pitched almost to perfection. On the Easy setting novices should be able to have one or two bouts before their lungs are turn out. And with a little practice you'll soon make it to the Endurance matches. However, only very good players will have any chance on the Very Hard setting. As Probe have used the arcade code and graphics for this version all the fighters move exactly as they do on the coin-op. This means that an increase in difficulty setting doesn't just make things move faster, the opponents actually seem more intelligent. You'll get nowhere trying to use the same moves over and over again. Also, it's no good just using missile attacks from a distance 'cos, at best, you'll only get two in before the computer reads what you're doing and counteracts. I don't know how Probe managed it but fighting the CPU is like fighting another human player: it thinks and reacts.
BLOODY BUT UNBOWED
CU Amiga, December 1993, "HOT! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" – Amiga games Special, p.p.4-6