Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection
The first time I saw the original Mortal Kombat was as a child watching a 20/20 special on violent games. In-game footage was shown of Raiden taking an uppercut and falling to a grisly death in The Pit. It was gross at the time, yet fascinating. Growing up, it seemed everyone agreed that Mortal Kombat was better than Street Fighter: every department store in the malls, Wal-Mart, and even K-Mart had the latest MK console releases set up for play. Kids who either couldn’t afford them, or their parents didn’t allow their purchasing, would find sanctuary and amusement in stores that are now hubs of boredom and discontent. I also remember how after school, the arcades would swell in the number of gamers huddled around MK cabinets for days and nights. Mortal Kombat was quite the fever.
Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection certainly does well enough when it comes to musing the fondness of yesterday’s gaming. Included are the original Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat III (the best version of MK3). Having played much of the recent Mortal Kombat, tackling MK1 was a hands-on reminder of how much the series has evolved – it’s slow, bareboned, and the outdated FMV animation and SFX was worth a couple of laughs. It’s exactly how I remembered, which is why I still enjoy it. MK2 and UMK3, more or less, also had me reminiscing, however, these re-releases seem a tad faster than I recall.
As usual, with any HD remix, the games will always have you playing on a bordered display, and unfortunately they can’t be turned off. But after experiencing Third Strike Online’s non-border display options, I believe it’s probably for the best. Amusing enough, out of all the HD remixes, these classics look the best when you apply the arcade scanlines, which gives as much of a nice throwback as it is seeing Cage’s decapitation glitches making their return.
In facilitating its retro tone, the compilation is designed to emulate the pure arcade experience for all three titles, which unfortunately does more harm than good. Despite being able to pause and look up movelists, there is no challenge mode (not even a Test Your Might Mode) or the accruing of points for unlocking secret content. This lack thereof unfortunately makes the trip down memory lane incomplete – exhibits of old skool artwork, commercials, and documentaries are completely absent. Worst off, neither one of the games have Training Modes, which is a huge blow to up and coming UMK3 enthusiasts. Given the strict arcade approach, home console secret characters are also unavailable. Plus, just like its original arcade release, UMK3’s Ermac, Mileena, and Classic Sub-Zero have to be unlocked by entering their respective Kombat Kodes on the Game Over screen. Good luck doing that on your own.
More disconcerting is the online play. MK1 relatively runs fine as it’s a slow game to begin with. Unfortunately, the other two run like molasses; just as dreadful as the new MK. The unholy delegation of online fanatics has taught me that, with slowdown in MK2, there are more chances to entrap your opponents with Sub-Zero’s ice puddles. After having done the same myself, I had brought the mood killing full circle. With MK2 and UMK3 still being the most memorable of the classics, the muddy online play does nothing short of crushing their respective followers in weights of disappointment. Not to mention, there were a number of times when my system actually froze when attempting to connect with matches.
With its inadequate online play, starved features, and questionable arcade perfection, Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection is, at best, a nostalgic purchase. While it may do little to educate today’s gamers on the franchise’s glorified history, this is an anthology mostly meant for former ’90s teens. Until the compilation is further patched, with noticeable improvement, the Kollection is recommended for those in need of a good nostalgia fix, one that can be shared among the family and friends of said age group.
This review is based on version 1.01.