So we continue the somewhat neglected Retro Video Game month by taking a look at one of the franchises that was a major part of my childhood. I have talked on several occasions that one of my favorite video games of all time is Mortal Kombat 2. My family had this game as a kid and we would all play it religiously at any family function, adults and children alike. Those were the days. When you could not go onto the internet and look up fatalities or have a tutorial on them. Oh no, you had to find them out on your own by button mashing and hoping that you figured it out and memorized it long enough to write it down on a cocktail napkin. The only one I was ever able to memorize by watching my cousin Brent was Kung Lao’s and once I got lucky and got Reptile’s finisher. Besides that, I was lost and had to settle for the anticlimactic finishes.
The Mortal Kombat franchise has suffered a roller coaster of a ride. With one hell of a downward slope until the recent reboot of the franchise rescued it from the hell of mediocrity. Mortal Kombat was in the shitter for so long and it is Mortal Kombat 4 that we can thank for starting it all. Bringing in an entirely new 3D look, battle arena, and a new cast of character to add upon the already huge 60+ cast, Mortal Kombat 4 was the precursor to disaster for Midway and the franchise.
It had to happen. As video games progressed so did Mortal Kombat, who was one of the last games to truly overhaul its franchise as 3D graphics became the norm. The switch from 2D to 3D was needed for the franchise to remain current and intriguing to future gamers and all things considered, the transition was rather seamless.
The 3D style arena gave the game whole new dimensions to work with as well as level fatalities that were fun and rather gruesome when you watched them, a staple of the franchise. It was also the last real ‘hurrah’ for the arcade video games as it was one of the last cabinets to be made in the franchise.
It Was a Step Forward
Mortal Kombat needed to be revamped coming off the heels of Mortal Kombat Trilogy. It was outdated as the game franchise was changing around them at a rapid pace and if it did not change-up its image to keep itself relevant to the modern gamer then it would go the way of games like Doom and Duke Nukem, fondly remembered by the old but completely insignificant to the modern gamer.
Mortal Kombat 4 gave the hardcore and casual fans what they wanted, a Mortal Kombat game for the modern age. With the same feel, but new look, it was a need addition to the series.
New Doesn’t Mean Better
But on the same note, newer is not always better. This game may have been a step forward, but it also slipped and fell flat on its face as it walked through the door. The 3D arena was cool, but it was also clunky and the characters had an awkward movement to them as they fought. The controls themselves were not that great and you had no idea what you were aiming at when you tried to land a jumping kick or punch. Where games like Tekken had already made a staple in the 3D fighting arena, MK4 just kind of flopped something out there in the hopes that it would work.
The characters themselves had an overhaul but looked somewhat dorky in design and of course the graphics at the time made each of the characters look like blocky puppets than fighters. MK4 may have been needed but it most certainly wasn’t handled properly.
With the start of Mortal Kombat 4 came a slew of terrible games that would almost spell the end of the franchise. Running on the concept of ‘add more characters, remove substance, and add more meaningless fatalities that did not have the weight of the originals MK4 was just the start to what would eventually lead to the train wreck of Armageddon. It may not be the worst of the games between those two points, but it was the launching pad that would lead to the ultimate apathy of the franchise until the reboot of the franchise a few years ago.
Mortal Kombat 4 may not be the worst game in the franchise, but it certainly isn’t great. It did revamp its style and there are points for trying, but as the years have shown, Mortal Kombat 4 was not the proper way to progress forward. It is clunky, uninspired, and brought nothing truly memorable to the franchise as a whole. Overall it was not worth the time.
Final Score 2/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. Look for some new reviews this week as well as a new episode of The Nerdiest Talk Show on Earth.