DS

North America

Ultimate Mortal Kombat

by Aaron Kaluszka - December 5, 2007, 2:45 pm PST
Total comments: 20

7

Finish him... online!

The Mortal Kombat fighting series has a long history in which it once pushed the limits of violence in video games and helped lead to the ESRB ratings system. Ultimate Mortal Kombat takes us back to the earlier days of the franchise, after much of the violence debate had subsided, but before 3-D became the norm. Fighting games have evolved since the days of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and the gameplay is somewhat dated. Even still, the inclusion of online multiplayer allows fans to relive the arcade experience.

Mortal Kombat 3 was the most complex of the 2-D Kombat games, with a run ability added to the standard punch/kick/block repertoire. One of Mortal Kombat’s weaknesses is that all characters have the same physical abilities and so only their special moves differentiate them. Like any fighter of this style, special moves are performed with a button sequence usually involving pressing several directions and ending with an attack. Similarly-executed Fatalities made Mortal Kombat famous, and each character has multiple finishers at his or her disposal. In its third iteration, the Mortal Kombat franchise took on a less serious flavor, focusing more on having fun rather than a coherent story. This resulted in the addition of sillier finishing moves like the Babality, which transform your opponent into a baby at the end of the match.

The bottom screen shows the gameplay, while the top screen displays a list of moves that your character can do. Alhough this takes away the possibility of experimenting to figure out moves for yourself, it does tend to be useful for pulling off the finishing moves, which often involve a hard-to-remember sequence of button presses.

The main game is somewhat short. Depending on the difficulty level, between six and nine stages must be cleared in succession, each featuring one or more different fighters. Play is extended simply because the AI is made so difficult, which means several retries are necessary to clear a full game. This is actually one of the main shortcomings of the game: 1-player mode isn’t a lot of fun due to the fact that the CPU essentially cheats, which means players must spend time exploiting holes in the enemy A.I. rather than engaging in serious combat.

Online play is included and works well. In most cases, I found the gameplay quick and responsive, which is critical in a fighting game. However, if you haven’t played Mortal Kombat before, or at least in a decade, you’re definitely going to want to work on strategy and timing before attempting to play over Wi-Fi. If you are not prepared, online opponents will quickly hand your ass to you (almost literally, thanks to the gruesome Fatalities).

A second game, Puzzle Kombat, is also included on the game card. Puzzle Kombat was Midway’s answer to the popular Super Puzzle Fighter and was originally included as a bonus in Mortal Kombat: Deception. The game takes place on the bottom screen, while super deformed versions of the Mortal Kombat characters battle each other in rhythm to the pieces, which eventually leads to a Fatality.

In this puzzle game, pieces made up of two colored blocks fall into the field. Whenever a piece featuring the Mortal Kombat dragon logo touches a group of pieces of the same color, all of those pieces disappear. A black Mortal Kombat logo clears all pieces of the same color as the group it touches. Each time pieces are cleared, a power meter gains some charge and junk blocks drop onto the opponents screen based on the number of combos and pieces cleared. Each Kombatant has a special attack, such as scrambling blocks or clearing an opponent's logo pieces, which can be triggered when the meter is filled.

The gameplay is exceedingly boring until the difficulty ramps up in the last couple stages. Opponents in earlier levels are unchallenging enough that simply quickly clearing blocks is enough to ensure victory. This requires no strategy whatsoever. Strategy is finally required in later levels where blocks must be carefully stacked in order to set off chain-reactions. Puzzle Kombat’s gameplay is apparently so uncompelling, I was unable to ever find anybody online to play against.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat keeps a win/loss total as well as maximum win streak count for both Mortal Kombat and Puzzle Kombat in both offline and online modes. Online mode also assigns players a rating, much like other Nintendo Wi-Fi games. Game-affecting Kombat Kodes can be entered before each match, but each player controls half of the code, meaning that some coordination is necessary to input a correct code, yet nearly impossible due to the lack of communication mechanism.

Additions to Mortal Kombat 3 such as uppercutting your opponent through the ceiling and onto another stage were once novel, but have been done so many times since that the shock value is gone. Of course, the little Easter eggs, famous among fans, such as Dan Forden’s Toasty outburst, are still present. The game also includes several unlockable characters in both games as well as some more minor unlockables.

Long-time fans of Mortal Kombat will want to pick up this game for its online multiplayer, but others may be turned off by its dated gameplay and presentation, and poor single-player experience. On the other hand, the DS hasn’t been graced by many fighters, making Ultimate Mortal Kombat potentially the best one available on the platform.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6.5 5 6.5 6.5 7.5 7
Graphics
6.5

Character sprites are based on footage of real people, which was a big deal back when the game originally came out. However, like 3-D pre-rendering, the technique is no longer very impressive, and characters have a small number of animation frames compared to today’s games.

Sound
5

The original soundtrack is here, it’s just not very good. There’s a reason that whenever people play Mortal Kombat music in a video game medley, they use the movie soundtrack rather than music from the games. And much like digitized graphics, the use of digitized voice just doesn’t have the novelty it once did.

Control
6.5

The game’s responsiveness is essentially identical to the original, but the arcade and gamepad inputs were more suited to the game’s reflexive nature. Due to the precision control required to play this game effectively, I have to recommend only playing this game on a DS Lite. The original DS’s flat, clicky buttons will put you at a disadvantage.

Gameplay
6.5

The classic fighter gameplay may be archaic for some, but the fast-paced combos still retain a lot of excitement. The CPU fighters are extremely difficult and often require “tricking" the AI rather than any semblance of a standard fight. This means the true gameplay can only be experienced in multiplayer mode.

Lastability
7.5

Single player mode is pretty barebones – there’s no long story mode found in more recent fighters like Soul Calibur. However, the inclusion of online multiplayer is sure to keep players going for a good while. Puzzle Kombat is boring and isn’t likely to keep you engaged for very long.

Final
7

One of the better fighters from the 16-bit era has been ported well. The game’s achievements and flaws all remain intact. Fighters may have evolved over the past twelve years, but Mortal Kombat’s classic gameplay finally has a place in portable online form.

Summary

Pros
  • Faithful recreation of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
  • Online play for both games
Cons
  • Distinctly unfair AI
  • Puzzle Kombat isn’t very good
  • Somewhat dated gameplay
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

EasyCureDecember 05, 2007

This review fails for not changing every C to a K. I was expecting at the very least to see “Page 2: Konclusion” at the bottom there.

Seriously though, good review as usual. I'm actually surprised it scored what it did, its rather high for a game of its age. Would it of scored a 7 if it lacked the online play? I'm betting yes, but i'd still give it bonus points for it being a fighter on the ds. Correct me if i'm wrong but there aren't many of these on there, right? I think its a good genre to put on the Ds, i know i'd rather buy a wi-fi enabled Street Fighter II: Turbo over a VC release anyday

No, actually it would have scored significantly lower without online play. Really, that's the main thing that made it worthwhile for me.

BrandoggDecember 05, 2007

I would have probably given it an 8 or higher, and upped the graphics to a 9. The animation might not be as fluid as some other games (the MK arcade games run at 53FPS, which is a very odd framerate), but the game looks nearly, if not entirely, identical to the arcade version. The sounds is spot on too, I'd have to up that as well. I think you have to take the source material into account for games like this.

I wasn't scoring completely on arcade accuracy (though it was a consideration), and don't see why I should have.

MorariDecember 05, 2007

CENSORED FOR YOUR PROTECTION

BrandoggDecember 05, 2007

I don't think you should score it completely on arcade accuracy, not in the least. I'm just saying a game like this, is something that can't physically be made any better than the source material, aside from adding online play, or something of that nature.

greenblobDecember 05, 2007

This game gets bonus points for being the only passable fighter with online capabilities on the DS. I just might get this game since Street Fighter isn't coming to the DS and Guilty Gear doesn't have online.
Or maybe I should check out Draglade.

Quote

Originally posted by: Brandogg
I'm just saying a game like this, is something that can't physically be made any better than the source material, aside from adding online play, or something of that nature.

In which case, I'm also judging its worthiness of being ported in the first place.

KDR_11kDecember 06, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: greenblob
This game gets bonus points for being the only passable fighter with online capabilities on the DS


Bull. Get Bleach DS.

planetidiotDecember 06, 2007

I would have been more interested to know what characters were in this and whose moves have been invariably changed to some absurd button combination. The reason I gave up on the Mortal Kombat series is one game I'd have my favorite character, and the next game he'd be dropped. Or they'd change another favorite's moves to something completely different and usually nonsensical. Or they'd add weapons or some nonsense.

The reason the Street Fighter and King of Fighters series have been so successful is that they either refine or don't mess with the core gameplay. When Capcom changes a move it's for the better (ie Sagat's Tiger Knee and Chun-Li's Fireball). Same with SNK (King's double fireball used to be pretty awful to pull off). Also the moves aren't along the lines of FORWARD DOWN BACK DOWN BLOCK UP BLOCK RUN = fireball

So what's the deal? Did they by any chance return to the MK1/MK2 days of semi-intuitive moves and familiar characters? I lost track after 3.

Umm this game IS Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.

vuduDecember 06, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Brandogg
I would have probably given it an 8 or higher, and upped the graphics to a 9.
It's times like these where I absolutely love your title. face-icon-small-happy.gif

NephilimDecember 06, 2007

Quote

Bull. Get Bleach DS.


but thats boring, its like playing capcom vs snk 2 EO for cube with defence mode on... noskill spam fest

KDR_11kDecember 07, 2007

I haven't played CVS2EO but I have a hunch of YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

planetidiotDecember 07, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: MegaByte
Umm this game IS Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.


Ugh.

BlackNMild2k1December 07, 2007

Is it possible for you NWR staff to mention what system the review is for in the subject line?
I didn't know what system this was for and it wasn't metioned or hinted at until the last sentence of the last paragraph before the scoring breakdown.

example:
DS REVIEW: Ultimate Mortal Kombat

Wii REVIEW: Geometry Wars: Galaxies

I think it would make things alot easier on the readers and especially on the future search functions.

HypotheliciouslyDecember 07, 2007

Well to be fair, on the main site it does list whether anything is about the DS or Wii or simply News.

BlackNMild2k1December 07, 2007

The....the main site? :scratches head: .... what?

well either way, that should carry over to the forums too.
Cause like I said, that would help with the search feature.

UltimatePartyBearDecember 07, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: BlackNMild2k1

I didn't know what system this was for and it wasn't metioned or hinted at until the last sentence of the last paragraph before the scoring breakdown.

What about the first sentence of the third paragraph?

BlackNMild2k1December 08, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: PartyBear
Quote

Originally posted by: BlackNMild2k1

I didn't know what system this was for and it wasn't metioned or hinted at until the last sentence of the last paragraph before the scoring breakdown.

What about the first sentence of the third paragraph?

I must have skimmed over that part face-icon-small-blush.gif, but my point still stands.

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Ultimate Mortal Kombat Box Art

Genre Fighting
Developer Midway
Players1 - 2
Online1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Ultimate Mortal Kombat
Release Nov 12, 2007
PublisherMidway
RatingMature
eu: Ultimate Mortal Kombat
Release Dec 07, 2007
PublisherMidway
Rating18+
aus: Ultimate Mortal Kombat
Release Year 2007
PublisherMidway
RatingMature (15+)

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