A sorcerer by the name of Shang Tsung , along with a four-armed half-man, half-dragon beast named Goro, seized and conquered a tournament called Mortal Kombat, by defeating the champion Kung Lao. Tsung hosts another tournament, and 7 fighters with their own goals enter the tournament.
In the final match of the tournament, Liu Kang faced off against Shang Tsung and defeated him in Mortal Kombat. By accomplishing this feet, Liu Kang saved the world from being over-ran by another dimension called Outworld. Tsung's soul journey's back to Outworld were he faces final execution by the Emperor Shao Khan. Tsung convinces Khan to spare him, and they bait Liu Kang as well as the surviving competitors into participating in a second tournament hosted by Khan himself in Outworld. -summary
Back in 1992, Mortal Kombat raised a bloody uproar from overly touchy parents and politician types, who scoffed at the brutal, bloody violence of the game. As a result, the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating was born. This was meant to assign ages and content ratings to games. Thankfully, this was the only measure taken, since things could have really gotten out of hand, and Midway could have been forced to either scrap their sequel Mortal Kombat II, or create a kinder and gentler version of it. When looking at the fact the first Mortal Kombat was ported over to the SNES with altered fatalities, plus replacing the blood with sweat; a softer version of the game could have very easily been a reality.
Fortunately, Midway was able to keep the identity of the game intact, and Mortal Kombat II made it to the arcades in 1993. The sequel proved to be bigger and badder than its predecessor, and such a smash hit it was ported over to the SNES and Sega Genesis in full bloody glory. The developers enhanced the game play a great deal, thus making this sequel completely better all around. Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat II was such a vast step forward, it would also be the measuring stick for future games in the series, in which some fans felt the later games would never reach the same level of greatness. Personally, I think it took nearly 20 years to pull it off, so I'm sure that says a lot about this game.
One of my biggest pet peeves ever for home consoles were video games being translated over to them vastly different from their arcade counter-parts. Mortal Kombat II was and still is one of the better translations to the SNES. It really did feel like I was playing it in the arcade, since to the best of my memory everything was left well intact.
The game is still a two player fighter, and the first thing one would notice is the extended character roster. Returning to the fight are Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and Raiden. Reptile who was a secret character in the original is now playable with his own moves list, and is no longer using the combined special offense of Sub-Zero and Scorpion. New to the fight are Kitana, Milenna, Jax, Baraka, Kung Lao, and now Shang Tsung as a playable fighter with his youth restored.
For those who may not know, Mortal Kombat II is a game where you can kill your opponent in the most grisly of ways. The previous game featured some vicious finishers, and this game carries on the tradition with several moments of pure barbarism. Take the character of Baraka, who wields two blades in his forearms that can be extended at will like Wolverine from the X-Men. He kills his opponents by impaling, and hanging them high in the air until they completely bleed out and slide down his blades. Jax is a muscle-bound black man who rips the arms off his enemies leaving them to bleed to death, and their are several others out there sicker than this.
Midway upped the ante by giving the characters two Fatality moves each, with Shang Tsung being the only character with a third one. They also possess a stage Fatality, where the characters can kill each other using the environment. For example, during a stage called The Dead Pool, a character can be knocked into the acid, and their skeleton will be seen floating at the top. The Pit also returns and is now referred to as The Pit II. Here, an opponent is knocked off the bridge, and the camera changes perspective providing a view where the victim lands back first on concrete from hundreds of feet and dying instantly. This is actually the best of the stage deaths, as it feels a lot more on the realistic side. Later on in the series you will see how ridiculous these stage deaths can be. And speaking of ridiculous, the developers decided to add in two techniques for comedic effect, and they are Friendships and Babalities. These moves are friendlier alternatives to killing the opponents. For example, instead of Baraka hacking someone's head off, he will present them a gift-wrapped box as his Friendship. Each of the characters would do something crazy like this, and with the second move they can turn their opponent into a baby. I'm not exactly sure anymore, but this may have been a middle finger to the parents and christian groups, whom were still doing a lot of complaining despite the ESRB taking place. I see where the developers were coming from, still, the tonal shift for such a dark game always bothered me.
The game play is tighter this time with some very interesting special moves for the characters; such as Shang Tsung being able to morph into any of the main characters and using their arsenal against them, one of the females Kitana being able to use sound waves from her bladed fans, to lift enemies into the air and damage them. Along with Sub-Zero being able to freeze a section of the ground under his enemies causing them to slip into his vicious punishment. Each of the characters have something very unique to them, and I remember spending so many hours learning how to play them all. Blocking constantly still comes with a penalty, since regular attacks chip away at health. The juggle system is a little better here, allowing players to pull off some interesting, hard hitting, air combos.
Once again, the game boasts two highly unbalanced bosses in the forms of another four-armed beast named Kintaro, whose uppercuts with both fist will send the player flying off the screen. And Shao Kahn himself, who can easily dominate an entire match with his rush attack. Even up to this day, I still sometimes lose to him depending who I have against him.
The AI is my only gripe with the game play, and this is something that will be a problem in the next MK game. The AI plays too defensively and it will counter most of your attacks. You will also never win a grab situation, since it will always throw you first. Your only option is to bait it into offense mode, so you can play defensively and as a result the game will become much easier. This is also a problem, because then the game will become a little boring. Around this time, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition would be the only fighting game with the perfect balance in its AI. The AI in that game was challenging, far from cheap, and you had to possess a certain amount of skill. MK II relied more on a pattern, and this was something that always bothered me. However, outside of this gripe I can't really say anything else negative about it.
I always enjoyed that even as a fighting game, Mortal Kombat II was very story driven. The characters have some very nice back-stories as well as endings. I always found this game to be far more interesting than all of the fighting games out there. This was the only fighting game I remember having to unlock the endings right away. Plus the depth in the characters made the two player mode even more enjoyable. The main game can be ran through in about 15 minutes or less if you're good. If not, then it can take a lot longer.
The control scheme from the original returned, with High Punch, Hick Kick, Low Punch, Low Kick, and Block buttons. For the most part these controls are just as responsive, and they once again rely on directional pad movements and button presses to pull out different sets of moves. The cool thing here is, certain characters like Baraka and Kitana, will slice an enemy with their weapon, when holding back on the pad while pressing high punch. While a character like Jax will hammer on an opponent's head with his fist for an instant dizzy. The controls are just too good here, and pulling off specials and finishers performed just as easy as the arcade.
The game uses a mystical-fantasy setting, and the stages really look that way, as they feature floating monks, and one battle takes place next to a dark portal separating the two dimensions. The Living Forest is one of the cooler stages, with huge trees having very large mouths. The gore is really sick, as you can see the insides of Kung Lao' victims as he slices them into two pieces. The developers let their imagination fly by injecting one of the Outworld natives into the fight, with one being Baraka, and he indeed looks like something from another world, with those big ugly teeth and demonic looking face. The character designs are really good, with Kintaro looking the best with his overly large arms. The digitized rendering on the characters is an obvious improvement as everyone looks sharper and smoother.
I mentioned in my previous review that the original utilized the music a little better when enhancing the atmosphere. I kind of take that back after the recent replay. The setting in this game dictated another approach, and the sound track fits perfectly for what the game was aiming for, at the same time, still maintaining a dark and gritty feel to it. The sound effects are still very good, with the crowd roaring in Kahn's stage, when Kintaro lands a big blow. The sound effect of the characters hitting the concrete in the Pit II indeed sounds bonebreaking. The production values were well used.
Mortal Kombat II only suffers from a shaky AI. If only the AI played more like SF II: Championship Edition, then I believe it would have been the perfect fighter. Still, with its solid two player mode, all around depth, and successful translation from Arcade to SNES, it's definitely among if not the best fighter for the SNES.
After the massive, shocking bloodletting seen in the original Mortal Kombat, programmers Ed Boon and John Tobias probably wondered how they would ever top themselves. Eventually they figured out a way, but it was essentially the same way everyone else does sequels: Add more characters, moves, backgrounds, blood and make the graphics even prettier. All the jazz that doesn't matter. Mortal Kombat 2 was successful because it had something the first game didn't: A requirement of skill. Now everyone … more