Written: 9.9.14 Acquired: 1.26.06 Status: Cart only Price: $4.99
Dev: Sculptured Software
20 years ago today it was Mortal Friday. September 9, 1994, Mortal Kombat II was unleashed and came roaring home to no less than four systems. It was one of the most eagerly anticipated game releases of the 16-bit era. With much hype backing it, and an uncensored version for the Super Nintendo, it was a charging freight train that could not be stopped. The original was censored on the SNES, so it was a nice bout of redemption for the sequel. This time,they got it right One of my utmost favorites during my formative gaming years
When Mortal Kombat first exploded onto the arcade scene in 1992, it made an IMMEDIATE IMPACT and MK became the talk of the town. Its unique digitized graphics, extreme violence and infamous FATALITIES left a lasting imprint. But there were many who felt the gameplay wasn't real special. And furthermore, there were quite a few who felt it was an empty shell of a fighting game. Then, the following year, Mortal Kombat II was unleashed, and it changed everything. More fighters, much more combos, more Fatalities and more secrets made it a game that even the anti-MK haters had to raise an eyebrow at. Now, not only did Mortal KombatII have the novelty factor going for it, but the gameplay, too. In December of 1993, my older brother Kevin began his subscription to EGM. Our first issue was # 54, January 1994. I will never forget coming home from school that one day, with dark clouds lingering overhead, opening my mailbox and seeing this striking cover staring right back at me. The game logo jumped off the cover, as though it were 3D. I couldn't take my eyes off of the menacing monster, Baraka. He was an odd combination of looking cool, yet also very cheesy. My mind couldn't process which one won out, but I knew it struck an emotional chord. As much as I loved Street Fighter II at the time, Mortal Kombat was the more violent and gritty alternative. It was like how ECW was to WWF in the mid 1990s. To this day I vividly remember standing there at my mailbox holding this issue in my hand and admiring the cover for what felt like 10 minutes. Finally, I decided I had better head in before the rain could come pouring down. Kev would have killed me. 20-plus years later, it remains a fond gaming memory from my youth
Just 6 months later, EGM put out their 60th issue in June of 1994. Once again featuring Mortal Kombat II on the cover, # 60 was an absolute jaw dropper. This time it was all about MKII the home ports, and what a cool time it was to be a 10 year old boy growing up in suburban America. I was SMACK dab in the middle of the golden age of fighting games as well as the SNES. And with summer not far behind, it was a special period of my life that a small part of me today every now and then still yearns for. The art of those MK characters were amazing. Once you flipped inside, there was a blow-out preview on all 4 home ports. They used a color barrier around each pic to indicate which home port you were looking at. I still recall it was ORANGE for SNES, which just seemed like a right fit. My brother and I read that blow-out article 100 times over
A sign of the times, Mortal Kombat II dominated the gaming world
EGM whet our appetites with this tantalizing EXCLUSIVE preview
Mortal Kombat II SNES port was a bloody game changer, literally
THE STORY GOES...
PLAY IT LOUD (AND PROUD)
SNES owners breathe a sigh of relief when it was confirmed that the home port of Mortal Kombat II would be uncensored. Now not only were the Fatalities left intact, but each character had two to choose from. It only made sense to make everything about MKII superior to the first. And Mortal Kombat II delivered just that; gamers marvelled to the sadistic joy of severing limbs and employed heinous acts of decapitation. It was quite the 180 for Nintendo and looking back, part of me still can't believe that this turned out as faithful to the arcade as it did. SUPERB! Redemption NEVER tasted as damn sweet as it did here
EXTRA FINISHING TOUCHES
The Pit Fatality now encompasses three different stages. The Dead Pool is my favorite one. Few things are as sweet as uppercutting a bastard into the green acidic ooze. EXCELLENT!
And for those who prefer the classic long free fall of the original Pit stage...
I do miss the traditional spikes though. Still, what a way to go out
Did someone say SPIKES? Fear not -- it wouldn't be Mortal Kombat without spikes
What goes up must come down... or not
Turn your opponent into... a baby?! Strange, but true
Don't behead 'em... BEFRIEND 'EM!
It is completely whacko but it does add some humor to the game
Life couldn't get much better. It was a great time to be a kid ^_^
5 old faces return. 5 new ones join Shang Tsung and Reptile, too
The aptly named Dead Pool is a really cool stage with which to settle the score. As a kid I thought the acidic pool looked so realistic. Even today it still looks real. It never got old sending 'em into the ooze
One of the all time greats as far as fighting game stages are concerned, the Living Forest gives Mortal Kombat II a ghoulish and creepy vibe. The growling of the trees is a sound effect embedded in my mind more than 20 years later. Love how menacing and unsettling they are...
Speaking of creepy, the Shadow Priests which pervade the Portal is exactly that. I've always hated cloaked figures growing up, and these bastards did nothing to help that childhood fear
The Wastelands of the Outworld is a barren and desolated decaying mess. Cloaked in darkness and shadows, this bleak backdrop is about as hopeless as it can get
Truth be told, I do kind of miss the nice simplicity of the first pit stage from the first game. But it is pretty cool to see a guy burning on fire in the background. As usual... you can send your opponent spiraling to a "pitiful" demise [... -Ed.]
The Armory is home to many sharp and pointy weapons that will maim, disfigure and rip you to shreds. But for these wild crazed kombatants, they need only their bare hands
Even in the Tower, Big Brother is watching you. Scale the wicked temple-esque Tower to continue your quest to come face to face with Mr. Big Evil himself, Shao Kahn
The Kombat Tomb is a sick variation of the pit style stage. You can impale your foe on the spikes above. OUCH!
Kahn's Arena is a brutal war zone. The emperor of the Outworld sits high on his throne, watching with great amusement as two kombatants rip each other apart. On each side, Kano and Sonya are tied up
Return to Goro's decrepit lair of despair. The big guy is long gone... but in his place is the extra deadly hidden character, Jade
Cage received a brand new curving projectile. One curves low, and the other curves high. I love how it's got that sweet tail action on it. He's also got a sick Shadow Kick / Uppercut
And all this time you thought searching for your better half was troublesome...
Like Sagat, Liu Kang's fireballs hit either high or low. His Bicycle Kick will smash your face in, and his lightning-quick Flying Kick can catch the opposition entirely off guard
Hands down one of the most memorable and coolest Fatalities in Mortal Kombat lore
Rayden really knows how to put a "charge" into his competition [I am not "shocked" that you went there -Ed.]. He can teleport and like M. Bison, he launches himself torpedo style
The God of Thunder's wrath is unleashed in a mega uppercut that sends foes to purgatory
Scorpion's Harpoon Spear is one of the MOST infamous moves in fighting game history. "GET OVER HERE!" Part man and part ghost, he can teleport from one side to the other
Who could ever forget the first time they saw this Fatality? Ripping his mask off to reveal a grotesque skeletal face, he roasts his victim. They spaz out before exploding into pieces
His Iceball puts a chill on the competition. The Slide is good for a sneak attack and his new Ground Freeze makes fighting Sub-Zero a slippery slope [Oh no you dih-ent -Ed.]
Even far away, Sub-Zero does the old saying "reach out and touch someone" proud
Scraping his blades together, Baraka's Blade Spark gives him a long distance advantage. When up close, he can damn near take the head of his rival off, as well as catch them in a bloody game of slice and dice. Baraka is easily one of my favorite characters in this game
One of the most grisly and graphic finishing maneuvers, Baraka impales his victim with his razor sharp blades, lifts them high and sneers as he watches them slide down, down. As a kid I could not believe this made it onto my SNES. It brings a sick smile to my face
Using his powerful fist, Jax's Ground Pound sends forth a devastating blast. His Sonic Wave makes the coolest sound effect, and up close he can grab and beat ya senseless
Horror film aficionados can't help but love this one. Talk about a serious headache...
Kitana's oriental fans contain hidden razor blades. Whether you use it to slice or lift them up for a combo attack, Kitanahas developed quite a FANboy following [FANtastic... -Ed.]
Eons ago, someone once asked Kitana for some "head." She was happy to comply
Kung Lao's Hat Throw is one of the coolest projectile attacks around. You can change its course by pressing up or down. He's also got a quick striking kick, the ability to teleport and he can even channel MechaGodzilla with his Whirlwind Spin. I tip my hat to you, sir
Speaking of a tipping of the cap, this most satisfying Fatality sees Kung Lao taking his hat off in order to slice his victim in half. They'll stand there for a bit, buckets of blood squirting out, before collapsing in two even halves. It doesn't get any better than this...
Shades of Kung Lao from the film Tai Chi Hero! Or, was it Zero?
You can throw her Sai either on the ground or in the air. Mileena can also tuck and roll with the best of 'em. Her Teleport Kick can really surprise an overly aggressive opponent
Man, this reminds me of a Dateline special I once saw on young anorexic girls who binge eat and then force themselves to vomit. This repulsive move reveals Mileena's ugly kisser
There's also SMOKE and NOOB SAIBOT hidden away somewhere
As kids we always thought he was saying "WHOOPSIE!" Right?!
One of my best memories involving Mortal Kombat II happened back in the fall of 1994 when it first came out for the SNES. My best friend, Nelson, and I were obsessed with it so much so that out on the school playground before class would begin, we took turns pretending that we were Shang Tsung. One of us would stick our hands out to emulate Shang Tsung's fireballs, and the other one would lean back, breathing out. Due to the fact those mornings were frosty and colder than Sub-Zero's ice freeze, breathing made it seem like you had "smoke" coming out of your mouth. Which meant it captured nicely the effect that Shang Tsung's fireballs create upon impact. Gosh, we were such dorks. But, Nelly and I sure knew how to have a good time. To be frank, Mortal Kombat II at the time was such a big deal that no one laughed at us. It only helped to fuel the playground chatter of Mortal Mania. It was an event that captivated the imagination of every single last 6th grade boy
SPIN THE FATALITY WHEEL
In the early 1990's, I became rather infatuated with the Incredible Crash Dummies. Its toy line stood out to me. With the press of a button, your Crash Dummy action figure would explode, its limbs flying every which way. It was a blast making them explode and then assembling them back together. It wasn't long before Tyco put out a giant plush figure whose head and limbs were attached to Velcro. This led to new "creative" ways of torturing your Crash Dummy. On December 23, 1993, I finally got one from KB Toys. They were marked from $19.99 down to $9.99. My mom, due to a combination of Christmas and a clearance sale, caved in. But rather than destroying my plush Crash Dummy buddy, I felt a bond with Spin and started to treat him as though he were my pet. Just... don't ask. At the same time, Mortal Kombat II was pretty fresh in the arcades and reigning atop the gaming world. One weekend my out-of-town Gaming Crew came down for yet another legendary sleepover. I sadly made the fatal mistake of leaving Spin in plain sight. The guy we affectionately referred to as Sushi-X, upon seeing Spin, grabbed him and declared to the rest of us, "WATCH THIS." I gasped in abject horror as Sushi-X proceeded to replicate Jax's ARM RIP FATALITY. My brother (of course) and everyone else cheered. I stared on helplessly as my Gaming Crew began taking turns emulating the various Fatalities of Mortal Kombat II. I wanted to tell them to stop their senseless brutality, but I also didn't want to come off as the weird guy who had bonded with his plush Crash Dummy buddy. It was quite the quandary. Acceptance of your esteemed peers, or becoming the laughingstock of the group? Naturally, I stood by silently and chose the former option. Meanwhile, I winced as poor Spin was decapitated by every member of my Gaming Crew, all 10 guys. Sushi-X capped off the Fatality show by tossing Spin high in the air, and then timing it perfectly, he slammed both hands around the head of Spin as he came sailing down from the ceiling. The head flew clean off his shoulders and rolled a good 10 feet. This received a roaring ovation from the guys. I remember staring at Spin's head lying on the floor. I was mortified, and felt guilty that I just stood by to watch this 10-minute massacre...
Poor Spin. They eviscerated him that Saturday afternoon. The one that sticks out most in mind is Sushi-X yanking both of Spin's short arms clean off his Velcro shoulders. OUCH!
MORTAL FRIDAY... IMMORTAL MONDAY
One of my favorite gaming memories revolves around the release date of Mortal Kombat II. It came out on MORTAL FRIDAY, September 9, 1994. As soon as school got out, I sprinted home to make the trek to Target with my mom and brother. Mom had agreed to buy the game for us. It was rare in those days for her to buy us a game without it being our birthday or Christmas. Somehow, even she knew the magnitude of Mortal Friday. It was a freight train that couldn't be stopped. The old local Target in my childhood home town harbors plenty of memories for me. In fact, it's one of the few entities from the '80s that still stands today in the same spot. Oh sure it's been renovated over the years, but even to this day whenever I pass by 4-5 times a year, I can't help but stare and smile. A wave of memories always come roaring back ^_^ It never gets old seeing this Target again
My mom and I used to go to Target every Friday it seemed back in the '90s. After school let out, we'd head down to Target for our weekly shopping. I have fond memories of entering through the back via the classic Garden Center. I rarely came through the front entrance. My mom always went here first too since she loved gardening. I loved it because the entrance into the store inside the Garden Center always led you directly to the toy section! It was a win-win for all. As corny as this may sound, I can still smell the distinct and rich smell of fertilizer whenever I close my eyes and think about Target's Garden Center. Some childhood smells just stay with ya!
Inside the Garden Center was the back entrance to the actual Target store, where you were led to the toy section at the back end of the store. It was a tradition of mine to hit the toy section first, followed by the magazine section and then the electronics department that housed the latest 16-bit titles. I always went through the Garden Center. My mom did her shopping while I ran around the store by myself. Looking back, it was such a simple joy and innocent, pure time in my life. I remembering gawking at the various giant LEGO sets. Elaborate castle playsets and sleek spaceships. I drooled at the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lineup and bounced those silly looking bright bouncy balls they kept in a black rack. I would then go to the magazine aisle where I could thumb through the latest EGM or GameFan magazine. Finally, I'd hit the game section where I admired the front art work and studied the small pictures on the back of the box, letting my imagination fill in the gaps for how that game might play. Good times
After buying Mortal Kombat II, my brother and I spent that weekend playing it to death. We used all 12 fighters, did all their special moves and tried to figure out their various Fatalities, Babalities, Friendships and Pit finishing maneuvers. Remember, this was back in 1994 when you didn't have a GameFAQs, but only EGM or GameFan to give you the lowdown. We were blown away by the game's pinpoint accuracy of the arcade, except for one moderate gripe. For whatever reason, our copy was defected. Rayden's electrocution special move didn't work. Sure, it was kind of a shitty move anyway that left you wide open for attack if you missed, but details! We didn't like the idea of owning a game where even one special move didn't work properly. But it was late Sunday night and so we had to wait until Monday after school. Somehow, my mom couldn't take me right after school. I had to wait for my dad to come home later that night, setting the stage for a krazy night
Of course, my dad had to work overtime that fateful Monday night, so when he finally arrived home and finished his late dinner, it was already 9:45 PM. We rushed to Target hoping to get in before closing time. The Garden Center was already closed so this was one of those rare times I headed in through the front entrance. I still remember the image vividly of power walking down that long well-lit aisle all the way down to the electronics department. Clutching my defective copy of Mortal Kombat II in my hands, I was a man on a mission. The lights reflecting off the floor passed under my feet as I power walked to the game section before they would close at 10. Once I got there I explained to them about the game's defect. As I finished explaining, a voice blared over the PA system: "Attention Target customers, we will be closing in 5 minutes." The worker I spoke to was a young buck. Early 20s. He gave me a funny look and then said, "Hey, I guess we can always check it." I stood there waiting for him to take my game off the counter and to the back. Then he dropped a bombshell on me when he followed up with, "Wanna come back there, kid?"
The next thing I knew, the young college kid guided me and my dad through the backstage area of the store. Walking through the backstage tunnel felt quite surreal. Suddenly we were getting a huge sneak peek behind the scenes. As he led me and pops through that long hallway, I could only think to myself how awesome the whole thing felt. Finally, we came to a cozy staff room with some couches and a TV with a Super Nintendo plugged in. He threw my copy into the machine and away we went! It was absolutely surreal being backstage at one of my favorite childhood stores. After he confirmed that Rayden's electrocution move didn't work (he tried holding down HP for 2 seconds, then 4, then 6, then 20... none of them worked), he conceded and allowed me to exchange it for a working copy. He then broke a law I'm quite sure, as he told me and my dad to hang tight. He was going to run to snag a new copy off the shelf so we can make sure the same defect doesn't exist. Then he ran off. My dad and I sat there in Target's staff room... as non employees... all by ourselves. I remember just thinking to myself, HOLY SHIT... is this a cool experience or what!
When he came back, he wasn't alone. Not only did he have a nice new, shiny, sealed copy of Mortal Kombat II, but yet another Target employee had joined in. He was also a young college kid. I looked up at the clock and realized it was now past 10, and the store had closed! They tore open the new copy and fired it up. The two of them played and sure enough... Rayden's electrocution move did work on this copy. At this point, more Target employees started pouring in and the staff room was suddenly swarming and buzzing with about 10 workers. But the coolest thing was yet to come... they asked me if I was interested in playing a few rounds. My eyes popped. Playing Mortal Kombat II with some cool random college guys past closing hours on a school night? SIGN ME UP! I looked at my dad, who was now standing in the corner looking on, and he nodded with a smile. I then ended up playing about a good 10 matches with various Target employees! They let me play on even if I lost. I remember on my first win, the room erupted as they gave me hi-fives and unmercifully teased the guy who I'd beat. It was clear we were all MKII fans. Finally, we turned the game off and they gave us the exchange. On our way out, and I'm not sure why but I remember this SO vividly, a lovely female employee asked me if I wanted something from the vending machine that hugged the wall at the end of the staff room. She said everything here is free for us and that it would be free for me, too. My dad got a Pepsi and I got a Sprite. We walked out of Target at around 10:30 that night, a half hour after they had officially closed, with two ice cold beverages in our hands, and a new defect-free copy of SNES Mortal Kombat II. All in all, yeah, I'd say it was one of those nights you never forget. How many kids can say they played Mortal Kombat II backstage at their local Target with some cool college cats? It's a memory that has stuck with me all these years, even 20 years on
All made possible because this move didn't work in the first copy
Looks like I wasn't the only one who had trouble getting it to work
We were only about, oh... 240 matches shy of unlocking PONG...
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Mortal Kombat II fared extremely well with the gaming publications of its time. EGM rated it 9, 8, 8 and 8. GameFan awarded it ratings of 94, 90 and 85. Super Play rated it 90%. It was well received by all who played it. Tony Mott of Super Play fame said, "There's a vast amount of playability lurking beneath its deceptive surface and in quality of conversion terms there's little around to touch it." K. Lee from GameFan declared "MKII is a 95% arcade to home translation. This is truly an MK fan's dream come true." Al Manuel of EGM called it "as close to the arcade as it's gonna get" and Danyon Carpenter said simply, "MKII fans can finally shut up. Their game is here and what an excellent translation it is." Pretty much sums it up. 20 years ago, my friends and I were blown away by it. It was one of the best ever. Even still to this day, it holds up remarkably well I have never seen anyone bad-mouth this game, ever. #RESPECT
Nintendo Power ranked MKII as the 53rd best game of all time
All signs pointed to it delivering the bloody goods
About the only thing I missed -- the names inside the energy bars
It's crazy to believe it has been 20 years now since Mortal Friday. I look back at that time of my life and can't help but grin. I'd just finished an epic summer of gaming with my best friend, Nelson, the SNES was at its peak and Mortal Kombat II was the perfect game to usher in the fall of '94. It turned out to be one of the best ports the Super Nintendo ever saw. My bro bought it on Mortal Friday, the only time I can recall us ever buying a game on its date of release. Mortal Kombat II then became a permanent mainstay in our SNES for the better part of half a year. I think back to those times where my bro, our crew and I would play this late into the night. We mastered all the Fatalities, we knew the easter eggs and many evenings were spent glued to the glow of the TV set. Looking back on it, those were some of the best days of my youth Mortal Kombat II left an indelible mark on fighting game fans ^_^
In some cases, nostalgia does blind us. But in this case, Mortal Kombat II on the Super Nintendo holds up well, even 20 years on. The large and crisp visuals were amazing for its time. Hell, they still look pretty damn good. Great sound too, from "FINISH HIM!!" to the eerie sinister trees growling and groaning in the living forest. But most importantly, the gameplay is about as spot on as you can hope a tap-tap Mortal Kombat affair to be. Unlike the first game, there is no funky split second delay in the control. It doesn't (and never did) play as smoothly as the Street Fighter games, but it's like comparing apples and oranges. Same genre, completely different animal. Every once in a while, that Mortal Kombat itch strikes, and while there are other sequels with much bigger rosters and even more moves, MKII remains the one I reach for. It expanded on the first game enough, yet it maintained a certain level of simplicity and purity later sequels lacked. Those sequels became a bit oversaturated and unnecessarily convoluted (i.e. Animality/Brutality). Mortal Kombat II on the other hand hit the sweet spot. 20 years later I find myself still coming back to it again and again. That's the mark of a game that has not only stood the test of time... it has achieved immortality
Graphics: 9 Sound: 9 Gameplay: 9 Longevity: 9
Check out the YouTube video I shot of my MKII Target memory :)
See how MORTAL FRIDAY morphed into IMMORTAL MONDAY...