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Mortal Kombat on Genesis: What Did the Critics Say in 1993?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 07, 2014   |   Episode 39 (Show Archive)  

Mortal Kombat (Sega Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

When it came to Mortal Kombat, the critics were split on the Super NES port. They loved the graphics and gameplay, but hated the edited blood and gore. Then there's the Genesis version, which has the blood and gore, but isn't as good looking. Will the critics embrace the one on Sega's 16-bitter? We turn to GamePro, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Sega Force Mega, Die Hard Game Fan and other classic magazines for the answer.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Mortal Kombat (Acclaim)

GAMEPRO (September 1993)
5 out of 5

"Genesis owners will be taunting SNES owners with their cry of "No guts, no gory" when they get their hands on this brutal beat-em-up. Although the graphics don't quite live up to those on the SNES, the great game play and better control combined with the special Mode A [enabling blood] option make the Genesis cart a winner." -The Tummynator

SEGA FORCE MEGA #7
94% out of 100%

"I can't find fault with MK. The graphics are superb throughout. The fighters' animation is the best you'll see on Mega Drive and the moves each character executes are absolutely astounding. You'll never tire of Mortal Kombat. If you know the DNA out of the computer-controlled opponents, pit your wits against a mate; you'll play till the cows come home. Mortal Kombat lives up to its hype. You just have to get this game." -Ade

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #50
9 out of 10

"Mortal Kombat for the Genesis naturally shows the one thing the Nintendo version doesn't - blood. The blood does make a difference for some people but it doesn't make the game. The control is pretty good but the lack of sound effects really hurts it. The 6-button controller will definitely make your life easier." -Ed Semrad

SEGA FORCE MEGA #7
93% out of 100%

"If you're one of the thousands of Mega Drive owners who are waiting with bated breath for Street Fighter II, don't waste your time. Mortal Kombat's a great beat-'em-up which dumps on Street Fighter II. One-player games are good and two-player matches are an absolute scream (check out your mate's face when you rip his head off and survey his spinal cord!). What more can I say except make sure you've a few spare quid in September." -Paul

DIE HARD GAME FAN (September 1993)
90% out of 100%

"This is, for a 16 meg cartridge, a great arcade translation, the Sega version delivers as promised with a nifty code for all the blood. The graphics, music and control (with the six button) are perfect. As an MK fan I couldn't have asked for more." -Skid

MEAN MACHINES (The Essential Sega Guide)
90% out of 100%

"Coming in the wake of Streetfighter II [sic], Mortal Kombat was a major arcade hit. It's a combination of gory fighting and realistic looking fighters attracted punters by the million, and this is a straight conversion of the game, with all the features of the original transferred intact. If you like the arcade game you won't be disappointed with this, but some players may prefer to wait for Streetfighter II which promises to be even better!" -Rich

COMPUTER + VIDEO GAMES #142
90% out of 100%

"Mortal Kombat is a classic! It's fast, playable and utterly brilliant! And even if you like your fighting akin to a bloodfest, the killer moves are almost too ugly to watch! And unlike some of the SF2 moves, the control is certainly easier. It's a pity that to get the best out of Mortal Kombat you've got to fork out for a Sega six-button joypad, but you really need one to get the best out of your fighter when you're in Kombat! This is undoubtedly the only alternative to SF2. It's blood-tastic." -Garth Sumpter

DIE HARD GAME FAN (September 1993)
76% out of 100%

"Excellent! Acclaim has a winner on their hands with Mortal Kombat. Fans of the arcade should be happy with the Genesis version; all of the fatalities are here and there is some blood. This is one of the better arcade to home translations so far and the special moves are very easy to pull off, perhaps easier than the arcade ... buy it." -K. Lee

MEGA #16
3.8 out of 5

"All in all, it's a reasonably playable game of its type, with the gloss and attraction of the enhanced violence, but we feel that it has been upstaged somewhat by the almost faultless Street Fighter 2. If you want to tear your opponent's heart out of their living body, though, or remove their spine with a single tug, you won't find a more ethically-challenged game than Mortal Kombat."

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #50
8 out of 10

"While the graphics and sound aren't quite up to par with the Super NES version, this cart manages to shine in the game play. This one has better feel and seems closer to the arcade's timing and style. Also, the blood is back with an option to turn off the gore. Better get the new controller, or you won't go very far." -Sushi X

MEAN MACHINES SEGA #11
79% out of 100%

"Mortal Kombat is a technically stunning conversion. The graphics are excellent; the sprites are amazingly similar to their arcade counterparts and the animation is very good indeed. So what more could you ask for? Well, let me tell you. The game falls sort on playability. When you punch someone it simply doesn't feel like you're making contact. The controls are slow and unaccurate and consequently you can't do quick fire combo moves. Mortal Kombat isn't bad, but it could have been a lot better." -Jaz
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 87% - After being disappointed by the watered down Super NES port, the critics were much more willing to embrace Mortal Kombat on the Genesis. Was it because the game looked better on Sega's 16-bitter? No, that's not it. Perhaps the sound quality was better on the Genesis? Wrong again; most critics agreed that Mortal Kombat's presentation was much better on the Super NES. So if this version has inferior graphics and sound, how do you explain the discrepancy in scores? The answer is simple, this Genesis version had blood.

As shallow as it sounds, blood mattered in 1991. Even with the performance limitations, it's clear that people wanted 100% of the blood and gore. By simply adding a blood code, this Genesis cart managed to outscore the Super NES version in nearly every magazine. As Ed Semrad noted, "The blood does make a difference." In this case, the Genesis version averaged an impressive 87%, while the bloodless SNES cart only managed 80%.

MORTAL KOMBAT VS. STREET FIGHTER II: Now here's the match-up we've all been waiting for -- Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter II. Unfortunately, those looking for a close fight will likely be disappointed. When it comes to Capcom's influential fighting game, the critics were in love. They gave Street Fighter II on the Super NES a 93%, one of the highest scores we've seen in Review Crew. In contrast, Mortal Kombat's average was 87%.

You may be surprised to learn that even Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition averaged a higher score than Mortal Kombat. This Genesis-exclusive scored an impressive 89%, narrowly beating Sub Zero, Scorpion and the rest of the Mortal Kombat gang. And even as World Warrior fatigue started to seep in, critics still liked Super Street Fighter II (81%) more than Mortal Kombat on Super NES (80%). That bloodless SNES game just can't catch a break.

ON FRIDAY'S EPISODE: We're going to finish off Mortal Kombat Week with a look at one of the best sequels of all time -- Mortal Kombat II. After taking a beating over the bloodless original, Nintendo decided to allow the gore into this sequel. Did critics like Mortal Kombat II as much as the first game? Will there be a big difference between the Genesis and Super NES versions? All these questions and more will be answered this Friday. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!

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