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Mortal Kombat II

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Released: 1994

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: SNES

Publisher: Acclaim

Developer: Sculptured Software

Submitted by: Michael Levy

Mortal Kombat II had many releases across various systems in the mid-1990s, and the biggest debate was which version was superior. Though the bickering often resulted in a console wars debate, significant differences are worth mentioning between the versions. Though the Super Nintendo version was my personal favorite version, I remember playing the Genesis/Mega Drive version as well. Both versions have their ups and downs, but the Super Nintendo version always came out ahead in my eyes.


Nintendo’s censorship of the first MK game hurt the sales so bad that they decided not to turn the blood to sweat in this version, though a warning was posted on the box about the game’s violence. This was before a ratings system was created, but for the most part, the MK games were a large part as to why it was created. Though the blood and gore stayed on both the Sega and Nintendo 16 bit consoles, the teams were totally different.


The Super NES port of the game was produced by Super Star Wars developer Sculptured Software. The game, despite running in the very peculiar Super NES standard 256×224 resolution, displayed more colors and utilized Mode 7 special effects (unlike blast processing, it wasn’t just a marketing ploy.) The characters look great; however, they also resemble a more comic book type look due to them being more colorful and less rough-textured.


Despite the graphics being better, the music is much weaker, as are the sound effects. While the Super NES had the better of the two sound chips (hardware statistics wise,) the music in the Mega Drive/Genesis version was much more vibrant, unlike the Super NES and its more moody pieces. Sound effects (except for the voices) are the opposite and sound more alive and unique.


Onto the differences in the games and even the versions: The European version received a different logo as opposed to the US version which didn’t get that until the second cart revision. In later versions, Johnny Cage’s shadow kick leaves a red trail, instead of the original green one. Why this change was implemented is unknown. The Japanese version’s blood actually was censored to be green instead of red. In addition to fixing a Noob Saibot glitch, these are most of the differences between the versions.


The characters are nearly double the original game. Johnny Cage, Raiden, Liu Kang, Sub Zero, Scorpion and Shang Tsung all return, in addition to the first black character in the franchise (Jax,) Baraka (his weapons involve blades coming out of each forearm,) Ninja sisters Kitana and Mileena (the latter of which is a cannibal,) and Reptile (who was hinted at in the first game.) Three non-playable ninjas are able to be fought against. Smoke and the infamous Noob Saibot (another Ninja clone using the two creators’ last names,) make their debut, along with Jade, a Kitana clone wearing green.)

Sonya Blade and Kano are left as background prisoners to the main boss in the game, Shao Khan. It is also revealed that the announcer’s voice is Shao Khan.


Fatalities became even more brutal, but along with them, the game’s silliness factor began escalating: Turning characters into babies and befriending them was an all new version of proclaiming yourself the victor in MKII. While it’s refreshing to see a fighting game poke fun at the genre, it also began to turn the MK franchise into a big joke instead of a serious fighting game. The series still to this day has problems shaking that image. However, in my eyes, Mortal Kombat II on Super NES remains the top home play choice of the ports, and the best in the series.