My second interview in this series is from another person I had the pleasure of meeting at last year's RetroWorld Expo. Izret101 is well known around here for his Mortal Kombat collection as well as for being fairly short...
Continue reading People of RF Generation: Izret101
There's a lot of talk right now about the new PS3 release of Mortal Kombat. And though I hate it when a game re-uses a title, rather than just being a proper sequel or spin-off, I have to say that everything I've heard about this new reboot of the series is rather exciting. I was a big fan of the original Mortal Kombat on the Genesis. Of course I was also fourteen years old at the time, so any game that came with a warning to parents and a "blood code" was going to be great in my book. Hindsight actually tells me that Mortal Kombat was a pretty lousy game. But hey, I'm not going to ask for the hours spent enjoying it back. In fact the second and third entries in the series actually turned out rather good. Enough so that I can still revisit those with no reservations. But sometime around the fourth, I just stopped caring. Or more precisely -- when the fourth game came out, I just stopped caring. I'm just not a big fan of 3D fighters, so any transition that a classic 2D game makes to 3D is going to feel suspect to me. It's funny, but true. I'm more prone to enjoy a 3D fighting game if it never originated in the 2D realm. Call me silly. I am what I am.
And that brings me to another point. I am what I am. And what I am is a total sucker for bonus discs. Now I don't mean like a demo disc tacked on and call it a day. I mean serious extra material. Stuff that makes your collection glow a little brighter. And although I'm not all that into Mortal Kombat: Deception or Mortal Kombat: Armageddon on the PS2, I am a bit of a fan of the premium editions released for each. You see strangely, the bonus discs and extra content actually seems to be a much bigger gift to fans of the series than either game can rightly claim to be.
Mortal Kombat: Deception's Premium Pack is actually a pretty cool package. Its outer cardboard box opens like a book and houses two DVD cases. The first disc houses the standard version of Deception, the better of the two Mortal Kombat titles we'll be discussing today. In fact, rumor has it that it's possibly the best 3D Mortal Kombat title to date. Of course, I don't know about all that. I just know that it has a similar feel to me as DOA: Hardcore, which is something I can deal with. Though I did find the addition of weapons a bit odd, and maybe reactionary to the success of the Soul Calibur series, I really can't say that I had any issues with Deception in the grand scheme of things. Sure it's missing that classic 2D feel that I grew up with, but as far as 3D sequels go, I could point to far worse examples.
Besides classic Arcade Mode, there's also a Konquest Mode which is a surprisingly good tutorial that's set up like an adventure. You must train and win fights based on certain goals -- all of which are there to help you learn the game. Really kind of a nice addition.
There are also several bonus games included with Deception. The first of which is a game entitled Chess Kombat, which is (in case you're really thick) a cross between Mortal Kombat and chess. To a certain degree, this could have been brilliant. It could have just been a game of chess using MK-style visuals -- a middle-finger to those who say that there is nothing cerebral about the series. But sadly, Midway dropped the ball on that idea. Instead they offer chess which requires you to then play actual MK battles in order to see which piece takes each square when colliding. Perhaps the strangest thing about this is that the battling is what ends up feeling tedious, as it breaks up the concentration of playing an actual game of chess. So although it's high-action, it tends to disrupt the strategic flow of what could have been a very cool looking chess game.
The next additional game is Puzzle Kombat, an unabashedly obvious rip-off of Capcom's Super Puzzle Fighter II which uses the same format of super-deformed characters duking it out via dropping gems. Sadly, Puzzle Kombat just does not have the same level of perfection. Instead, it comes off as a pretty sub-par puzzler, made only slightly fun by the fatalities at the end of each match. It's sluggish and stiff and really not a fun puzzle game, instead feeling like a bit of a chore to get through.
The bonus disc is really where Deception's Premium Pack shines, though. Even though I pointed out that the original Mortal Kombat is really not a great game (it's certainly the worst of the original trilogy), there's no denying its importance to 1990's arcade history. Unfortunately back when Midway released their Arcade Treasures collections on the PS2, the emulation for Mortal Kombat was a bit buggy. Though both the second and third games were included in Volume Two, the original MK was left off. As such, this Deception bonus disc is the only way to obtain the original Mortal Kombat on the PS2. And really, it's a rather good emulation. I have no idea what it was specifically that held back its release on Midway Arcade Treasures, but it is nice that Midway cared enough to get it right.
The disc also contains some nice video footage. Not only is there twenty-five video character bios, but there's also an interesting documentary on the entire Mortal Kombat series leading up to Deception. If you're a fan of the franchise, or just a video game history buff, then in many ways this documentary will mean more to you than the entirety of the first disc altogether.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon followed close on the heels of Deception. However it was widely panned as a major low-point for the series. This is major considering the existence of Sub-Zero Mythologies. As far as the fighting goes, it's somewhat similar to Deception, but just not quite right. It's hard to put a finger on, but it's just not as comfortable to play. And then there's the odd omission of Fatalities. Seriously.
Luckily the focus of this blog post is actually more about the extras in these editions. Much like the Premium Pack for Deception, the Premium Edition of Armageddon has a lot to offer. The limited edition packaging this time is a thin, metal casing similar to that of the Premium Edition of Final Fantasy XII. Konquest Mode makes its return from Deception, as does online play and even an addition of a Kreate-A-Fighter feature. Of course the value of all of this will rely heavily on how much you enjoy the game proper.
The first bonus game on the first disc is Motor Kombat, a ridiculous Mario Kart clone. The game actually doesn't play too bad. And it offers up some nice graphics to be fair. But strangely, like Chess Kombat and Puzzle Kombat before it, Motor Kombat just feels slightly off and boring. The intentions are obviously good, and the effort is evident. But something is just not right, and instead of getting into each race you tend to loop around each track wondering when the game will finally give the sweet relief of ending.
Though the extras on Armageddon are far less in number than on Deception, the remaining ones on this set actually far outweigh the main game. Perhaps the biggest draw being the other bonus game on disc one: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. In truth, this game will probably give you far more enjoyment than Armaggedon. The roster is huge. The sprite work is great. It plays excellently -- oh, and this is the only way to obtain it on the PS2.
The bonus disc is somewhat anemic, however. It's actually a DVD rather than a PS2 DVD-ROM. And though it offers three bonus features, two of them are in regards to character "trading kards." The far more interesting inclusion is that of a documentary on the history of fatalities in the series. Here you get to hear many of the games' creators discuss the origins and making-of many of the franchise's favorite finishing movies. Babalities, Animalities, and so on -- they're all addressed. To a certain degree, this is my favorite part of this entire set.
Well, that was slightly exhaustive and yet I'm sure I've only scratched the surface. So what do you all think about these games, these editions, the series as a whole or the value of bonus discs? Remember: discussion is like exercise for our brains!