Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection – Xbox Live Arcade Review

Given the recent success of the rebooted Mortal Kombat and the subsequent re-positioning of the brand in the popular consciousness, it is of little surprise to see Warner Bros. striking while the iron is hot by releasing a classic 2D collection based on Mortal Kombat’s famed arcade origins.

With arcade perfect ports of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, you’re getting quite a bit of content for your 800MS Points, but potential buyers should be warned, being that these are the arcade versions of each game, the AI is just about as cheap as you’re likely to find. Mortal Kombat has always played on the cheap side of the fence but you have to take into consideration that the arcade games were made to take your money from you. Before you even get to the hard as nails boss battles (damn you to hell Motaro), you’ll have to get past an array of assailants eager to eat up your continues. I appreciate that you’re no longer paying for each continue with cash but if you’re as easily angered as me, you might well end up paying with your hair….oh, and controllers don’t come for free either.

Rather than refinements to the core gameplay for each subsequent release in the collection (or Kollection if you prefer), Midway took the kitchen sink approach to sequel making back in the 90’s. While there are improvements to the mechanics, each game, largely, plays much the same as its predecessor, with the major differences coming from the ever expanding roster and huge selection of Fatalities added for each subsequent release. In fairness, the combo system introduced for latter releases did make the game a more tactical fighter and balancing tweaks did make a greater proportion of the cast viable for serious competitive play, but make no mistake about it: Mortal Kombat is no Street Fighter.

Of the three, it’s going to be down to personal taste in regards to which game you favour. The original Mortal Kombat is very simplistic by today’s standards, but a lot of people will have fond memories of the first game in the series thanks to the epic impact it had upon release. It might seem decidedly bland by today’s standards, but back when this hit the arcades in 1992, it caused a media storm the like of which the videogame industry had never seen thanks to its as then never seen levels of violence.

Other than providing a pleasant trip down nostalgia avenue though, the fact of the matter is, Mortal Kombat II and its sequel, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 are the clearly superior products. Many will argue the case for Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 thanks to its epic cast and enhanced combo system, but for me, Mortal Kombat II is still the finest of the old school 2D releases. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still cheap and it doesn’t have anywhere near the tactical depth or polish of many other 2D fighters of the time, but get a few friends involved and this is still one of the most entertaining two players games around.

There are basic leaderboards for those eager to take on the infuriating single player challenge that each game poses and there is also the option for online play, but thanks to some major lag issues and a relatively rudimentary set of options, local play is still where Mortal Kombat shines brightest.

It’s cheap, it lacks depth and the visuals have dated quite dramatically, but play this with a few friends and a couple of beers in tow and it’s amazing how competitive and enjoyable the original games in the series can still be. They’re not going to steal you away from the raft of modern fighters currently doing the rounds for too long, but for a quick bit of nostalgic fun, Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection certainly hits the spot.

Score: 7/10 – Good

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