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Review by: Jordan Thomas
Published: November 28, 1997
If you took all the grainy, sped-up martial arts movies and mated them with a large quantity of cheese, and then spilled the product into a scintillating ninja suit, you’d have Mortal Kombat Trilogy.
Let’s be clear about something here: this is a console game. It is an overly simplistic fighter with poorly digitized actors and highly amusing sound effects. The buckets of blood only add to the general humor. Before this title hit consoles, it was in the arcades, where it wowed the coin-op crowds. The Trilogy is simply a refurbished compilation of the three preceding titles, and hence, it is difficult to compare it to much in the PC gaming universe.
With all that granted, I installed the game with a clear mind and an open attitude. Immediately, nostalgia set in. I can clearly recall jamming buttons on this sucker at a pizza parlor, years ago. Root beer, and garlic. Mmmm…oh. Sorry about that, I got distracted again. Anyway, the sound wouldn’t even function on one system, so I installed it on a second machine. MKT is set up in terms of difficulty-based challenges. Depending on which level of play you prefer, the tournament becomes longer and involves harder bouts. There are also a few multiplayer modes, such as one-on-one and team vs. team. I proceeded to select the warrior who would represent me in the Kombat to come. As I did these many eons ago, I chose Rayden, god of thunder. Okay, so I have a lightning fetish. Leave me alone.
My first battle was against Scorpion, a vengeful revenant bent on adding an element of chaos to the mix. Of
course, the only way to control a console game is with a gamepad, so I took up this weapon with relish. The interface was simple, as with most video games. I proceeded to electrocute the heck out of my demonic assailant, through a variety of moves I learned during those same pizza runs in the old days. General gore was tossed about by painful-sounding uppercuts and hilariously silly kicks. As Scorpion teetered precariously, barely alive, the game’s sadistic narrator rumbled, “Finish him!” Because I could not remember the old head-popping fatality, I just shocked the poor guy to death. This really isn’t as fun as it sounds. Really.
The controls are handled through punches and kicks, combined with the motion of the character. Increasingly complex combinations of moves allow you to pull off the more sophisticated and damaging attacks, including those that will take the life of your opponent once he is beaten. The “aggressor meter” measures how many hits you have landed, and how much damage you do. The game progresses by pitting you against each new challenger, one by one, until you reach the boss of each tournament.
The subsequent duels were equally dull, with one allowance for the fact that MKT is just extremely funny. I don’t think it was intended as a comedy title, but the graphics are so very hokey, and the sound effects so incredibly obnoxious that you cannot help but giggle when you knock some freak into acid. MKT allows you to choose from any of the characters in the previous three games, including the bosses and some of the secret warriors. Similarly, all the combat terrains are those from the first three games. Caustic pools, pits of spikes. Standard MK stuff. It all starts to blur after a while.
Even within the genus of console fighting games, MK is far past its prime. With cutting-edge (literally) 3D battlers like Bushido Blade on the market, a silly, badly-bitmapped smash fest cannot begin to compete. On the PC, this kind of simplicity is even less interesting. The game can provide a few cheap thrills to fans of gratuitous blood, or to those who love memorizing move combinations for use in their duels. The tongue-in-cheek finishing moves include “animalities,” and “babalities,” as well as the standard brutal heart-ripping and head-crunching. It just doesn’t hold a lot of wonder for me. A veritable army of fighters is made available for the player’s selection, but why? The bottom line here is, if I want this sort of gameplay, I’ll fish a quarter out of my pocket.
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