Review by: Scott Steinberg
Published: October 23, 1999
When it first hit arcades, Mortal Kombat raised quite a stir in the gaming community, as it brought the issue of video game violence to the forefront of public consciousness due to its brutal depiction of one-on-one combat. An original take on the fighting game that for the first time ever boasted gruesome fatality moves which quite literally allowed players to tear their opponents to bits, Mortal Kombat gained immense popularity and went on to spawn a host of sequels and enhanced versions for both arcade and console platforms, just as its greatest competitor, the Street Fighter series has done. After plunking more than our fair share of quarters into MK1, MK2, MK3, and an endless stream of “Ultimate” and “v1.5″ editions, it was only natural that Midway introduced Mortal Kombat 4 to eager fans. Although this title was released for PSX and N64 platforms last year, it’s no surprise that Midway couldn’t resist the opportunity to cash in by porting it to the Dreamcast, and thus the idea behind Mortal Kombat Gold (essentially an enhanced/special edition of MK4) was born.
At its core, Mortal Kombat Gold is an arcade perfect conversion of Mortal Kombat 4 complete with spectacular 2D/3D effects, stereo quality sound, and all the gore we’ve come to expect from what is perhaps the number one brand name in fighting games. That’s not all you’ll get for your money this time around, however, as Midway has decided to add a bit of value to the package in the form of five new (or perhaps not so new, depending on how fans of the series look at it) playable characters including Kitana, Mileena, Cyrax, Kung Lao, and Baraka. There are other touches as well, including fully rendered endgame cutscenes, as opposed to the still shots and text we’ve become accustomed to, as well as additional stage fatalities to be performed. Although some other extras like the addition of the classic boss character Goro and generally unnoticeable load times grace the title, by far and away the things we’ve seen here before far outweigh those we haven’t.
For those of you who missed having a look at Mortal Kombat 4 when it premiered, I’ll attempt to rehash the features that set it apart from previous versions. As far as the graphics are concerned, the title now plays as a 2D/3D hybrid, featuring 2D action with 3D-rendered characters and special effects. Several characters that are new to the series make an appearance, ranging from Fujin, the God of Wind, to Jarek, the man rumored to be the last surviving member of Kano’s Black Dragon crime family. New kombat kodes are included, as is the ability to pick up and throw the occasional object found lying around the new stages, such as a boulder or gigantic, mummified head. Not only do many characters have new special moves and fatalities, they’ve all gained access to weaponry which can be employed to carve, bash, or crush their opponents to a bloody pulp.
Several different play mode options are available from the start, the most basic of which is of course 1-on-1 kombat, although you’ll also be able to choose 2-on-2 combat (when one character collapses the next appears to continue the fight in mid-action) if you so desire. Team play is selectable as well, allowing you to choose a team of fighters and duke it out with the CPU or one of your chums, and this usually proves to be the best option for two players of similar skill levels. You’ll find options for endurance matches too, in which you choose one character and take on a selection of characters until your strength gives out, and you’re even able to enjoy tournament gaming for up to eight players based upon a simple configuration you’ll set up prior to play.