Last Updated on January 30, 2024
The Mortal Kombat games are legendary in the fighting game genre and are still going strong even after 30+ years. The series is famous for many reasons, not least for ushering in the creation of the ESRB. Does the original live up to its legacy, or is it tired and dated? Let’s find out.
- Platform: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
- Developer: Midway
Bringing the arcade experience home
Mortal Kombat is arguably one of the best 2D fighting games, and one of the few games on the Mega Drive where a six-button controller feels mandatory. The controls feel responsive, and I can effortlessly keep up with my opponents. Even without a command list, I could figure out special moves and replicate them without too much trouble. I can’t say the same about Fatalities, as I imagine those inputs reside in the manual. Even though I found the commands online, Fatalities seem very inconsistent, but it feels great when they work.
I love the music in Mortal Kombat. The electric crunchy tones of the Mega Drive are an acquired taste, but many of the tunes are catchy. I’ll get to the difficulty later on, but getting beaten to a pulp isn’t so bad when you’re tapping your feet to the soundtrack.
The sound effects are also decent. The muffled screams and yells are appropriate, and the attacks sound hard-hitting and visceral.
Mortal Kombat’s graphics and gore
MK has striking visuals with its uniquely rendered fighters. It’s an art style that’s survived the test of time and still holds up. With only seven fighters, the roster is a little lean, but every slot is used well. I’d have more to say if the selection was bland, but with iconic fighters like Liu Kang, Sonya, and Sub Zero, I don’t mind a compact lineup.
Oddly enough, blood is locked with a code which seems so strange for a series famous for its brutality. Fortunately, it’s easy to turn on with the famous ABACABB password, so it’s a nonissue.
Consider my ‘might’ tested
The single-player mode is fun, although it is frustrating. There’s a list of fighters to beat that gets harder the further you progress, and you only have a limited amount of tries.
The computer opponents are relentless and, I daresay, cheap at times. Some moves feel wildly overpowered, and I often resorted to the cheesiest tactics to stay ahead. I managed to beat most opponents on my first try, but my progress abruptly stopped when I reached Endurance Fights. These battles are the same as usual but against two opponents back to back.
I could eke out a victory against a single opponent, but I really struggled with 2. Even on the easiest difficulty, every match took several attempts. Sadly, the credit limit meant I never saw the final boss, even after several hours of attempts.
My gripes with the difficulty aside, Mortal Kombat looks the part and plays remarkably well. Midway succeeded in bringing an arcade-like experience to the home, and it’s easy to see why so many look back fondly at this classic fighting game.
The PC port of Mortal Kombat 1+2+3 is available on GOG.com.
Mortal Kombat: Mortal Kombat is obnoxiously difficult but has everything you could want in a stellar fighter. From solid controls to a top-notch roster, this title has it all and is worth playing, even three decades later. – yatesa
Anthony is a freelance writer and has worked in the industry for three years. He’s furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony is a passionate PS1 collector and firmly believes in playing games in his collection rather than letting them collect dust on a shelf. He is also passionate about speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events.