Midway Manufacturing Company
Mortal Kombat review
Mortal Kombat for SEGA Master System was released in 1993 when both the game and the console were already popular. Who might know back then that Sega MS would be such a long time runner, still fabricated thirty years later! So, while already old and obsolete, this MK version is both authentic 1990s and available in 2010s.
This version only features six characters to choose from: Scorpion, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Rayden, Sub Zero, Liu Kang. If you’ve expected Kano to appear too, you’d be disappointed. In solo mode, the combat part includes fighting all the other characters, including Goro and Shang Tsung (but not Reptile), and then a mirror fight. The level is adjustable, with Easy, Medium, and Hard.
There is also a two-player mode that has no significant differences from that on other consoles of the same generation. The rules are the same as they used to be in the original versions. You need to win in two rounds out of three (or better out of two) and then hit the enemy finally, proving them mortal.
Combos are the key to success, and despite the gamepad looks extremely primitive for today, it just takes a little imagination and some trials to learn them. So, the game is a living relic too precious to exchange for later PC or console versions.
Sega MS is probably the console that remains in the market for longest; say, in Brazil, it’s still popular due to local production and small price. But for all these 33 years its talents remain 8-bit defined. That shows both in visuals and in music. It demonstrates the way the game looked back then when graphical limitation stimulated inventiveness. The developers certainly squeezed the best out of that limited performance, making the animation expressive at best of its era. They only had to sacrifice two characters (a playable and a boss) and two locations, leaving only the Pit and Goro’s Lair.
The MS version looks much better than it sounds, with music just typical for those games, and even the famous MK theme absent. It’s a serious loss, but you can play it separately. By the way, blood isn’t spilled in the default version, but there are codes activating it, making the picture much more brutal.
The original Master System gamepad only features a joystick and two buttons; so its version of Mortal Kombat is a bit simplified, compared to others, but combining these elements allows for lots of tricks. Maybe it’s better for inexperienced players, but those spoiled by later consoles will find it too primitive. That puts some limitations over the diversity of tricks. Still going through them all takes mastery.