It is pretty much accepted fact that Nintendo’s censorship policy literally gave the Sega Genesis a slight upper hand when the original Mortal Kombat was released on home consoles. Acclaim was between a rock and a hard place as far as the Super Nintendo version of the bloody brawler was concerned. History shows they went with the severely censored version on Super Nintendo while giving an “unlocked by code” version to the Sega Genesis (and later a “no code required” version on Sega CD). With Mortal Kombat II though, Nintendo had seen the error of their ways and changed their censorship policy to be more in line with their competition (read, they took a hard hit in the pocket book once and didn’t want to do it again). While the Genesis was the defacto home console for the original MK, MK II was better on the SNES. Tit for tat.
Mortal Kombat II featured more of everything from additional characters (up to 12 from the original 7), more fatalities (at least two per character) and even variations on fatalities appeared (Friendships, Babalities and one character being able to perform an Animality). One plus that was excrutiatingly missing from the original Mortal Kombat was the ability to perform combos- sure some characters could perform simple ones but it was rare and hard to pull off, even for “pros”. Mortal Kombat II fixed that, to some extent.
Mortal Kombat II also featured level fatalities where characters were impaled on spikes or dropped into ooze. Other games would use these mechanics (Way of the Warrior on 3DO used lava to burn fallen opponents) and in later Mortal Kombat games busting through the levels would be implemented (most notably in Mortal Kombat 3 and derivative titles).
Interestingly, in Germany copies of Mortal Kombat II were confiscated (all but the Game Boy version- yes, Acclaim made a GB version). In Japan, the fatalities were made black and white. Mortal Kombat II was called out by various media whores for eroticized fatalities (when performed by a female character), racism with regards to Asians and even the portrayal of violence against women (Street Fighter II apparently didn’t have this problem).
Mortal Kombat pushed the limits of the home consoles and of the comfort levels of Nintendo. The Mortal Kombat series is responsible for forcing Nintendo out of their archaic days and into modern gaming with the rest of us.
Mortal Kombat has spawned sequels in the action gaming and fighting game categories, there has been a Mortal Kombat movie and it seems that gamers will continue to be able to enjoy a Mortal Kombat game for years to come. Mortal Kombat 4, renamed Mortal Kombat Gold, was a launch title on the Sega Dreamcast on September 9th, 1999.
Personally, my favorite memories of Mortal Kombat II were from the Super Nintendo version. My mom was amazed at the graphics (she was not a gamer but they were still impressive for the time) and the fact that you could dismember your opponent. Her favorite character was Jax and his arm ripping fatality. She would just watch me play and ask me to perform the fatalities so she could see what they were (she was a Dhalsim from Street Fighter II type of player). Great times. I went off to Marine Boot not too long after getting Mortal Kombat II and would receive letters from my mom telling me how she hasn’t been able to perform the moves right and how it made her sad. I would also receive Polaroid pictures of her playing Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat II which was great, especially the one where she finally got Jax to do his fatality, the look on her face was priceless and for a moment it took me from the hell I self inflicted upon myself.
What memories do you have of Mortal Kombat II or one of the other MK games?
Links to Mortal Kombat: