What a Shinnok!!
Mortal Kombat. What began as a bloody alternative to Street Fighter II has grown into a merchandiser’s dream come true. With a new movie out, what’s better than introducing a new video game on the same successful franchise. I’ll tell you what’s better: introducing a new video game someone might want to play . . .
The ‘plot’ seems to take place sometime after MK3 and before MK4 (No tricky “alpha” games here). This time, Shao Khan doesn’t return. Maybe him exploding at the end of the game was actually fatal this time. Anyway, it turns out that there is another evil guy who wants to dominate the earth-realm (besides myself, of course). The elder god Shinnok (lord of the salmon) lost power many eons ago and was banished to the Netherealm. The Netherealm soon fell under his power, and he became able to try to conquer earth yet again. In walks Sub-Zero, your regular happy-go-lucky assassin for hire. He unwittingly helps Shinnok and now must be the instrument of his downfall. You’re basic Mortal Kombat plot, nothing new here.
The gameplay, on the other hand, is pretty new. Midway has attempted to combine a fighting game and an action game, reminiscent of Double Dragon. Unfortunately, they did so with very little success. The first problem lies with the control. The digital pad has to be used when you are fighting someone, and the analog is used for overall movement. That wouldn’t be much of a problem if it weren’t for that damn, arthritis at age 20, three-handed controller that Nintendo claims is comfortable. If switching spikes wasn’t annoying enough, the game uses all the buttons, and I do mean all. So, if your hand is on the digital control, you can’t access the item button (Z button), and if your using the analog controller, kiss block goodbye (L button). Without grafting another arm onto my body, I found the control really difficult with the original controller. If you have a Makopad controller, by the people who brought you the Game Shark, you are actually able to play the game without assistance.
On top of bad control, the graphics are pitiful. ATTENTION GAME DESIGNERS: The N64 is a polygonal machine. Use it, dammit! When games like Goldeneye show off the raw power of the N64, there is no excuse for a game to look like Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. With bad, choppy sprites trying to jump from sloppy polygonal platforms, this game plays horribly. You can’t even tell whether or not your jump will make it. Only when your sprite “locks in” on the moving platform do you know that you completed the jump. I would rather re-tar my roof then have to play this game for very long.
As if the in game graphics weren’t bad enough, the plot sequences are even worse. Looking like they’re right out of Revenge of Shinobi, the pixelated pictures are laughable. They just make the game look worse.
Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero is also a very difficult game. While normally I hail this as a good thing, this game is just too hard. Anyone remember Mystic Defender or Last Battle for the Genesis? MK Mythologies would feel right at home next to those on a shelf. Games this difficult are games that you just stop playing out of frustration.
Any good points to MK Mythologies? I suppose I should give Midway credit for trying something new. In a world where all the games released are either first person action or top down strategy, its good to see somebody try something else. While this doesn’t make up for the obvious flaws of the game, it does open up the industry to a new genre. Let’s hope the next people who try it do a little better job.