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.
Liu Kang and Earth's fighters survived the second Mortal Kombat tournament which took place in the realm of Outworld hosted by their emperor Shao Khan. Liu Kang emerged the victor once again, and it appeared that the Earthrealm would be safe. Shao Khan makes another attempt to conquer the Earthrealm, by resurrecting his dead queen Sindel, and through this he's able to use her to merge the two realms. Khan invades the Earth with his forces, and Earth's warriors gather for a final showdown. -summary
Of all the arcade fighters to hit the market at the time, only Mortal Kombat actually seemed to put any real effort into its story. Other fighters attempted to take their stories serious, after developers began to realize Mortal Kombat II also had an interesting narrative to go along with the wire-tight game play and outstanding production values. And even though Street Fighter Alpha (especially) as well as King of Fighters would step up their storytelling to give their characters genuine purposes for fighting. It was Mortal Kombat that clearly came out the winner with this third sequel expanding on the story further. Unfortunately, the story is the strongest area in this third sequel. It's a shame too, because MK3 possessed a majority of the necessary makings to surpass its sequel. For the double whammy, the home console version for the SNES would prove to be a little more problematic.
Mortal Kombat 3 is still a one on one two out of three rounds fighter, where the victor can perform a finishing move called the Fatality to kill their opponent on the spot in very gruesome detail; such as head rips with hanging spinal cords," The Kiss of Death" that actually explodes opponents into pieces leaving behind piles of guts and limbs, and other psychotic ways to dismiss their hated enemies. This third game keeps all of this intact, as well as the Friendships and Babality techniques, where the former sees the victor making friends with his opponent, or the latter where the victor transforms their victim into a baby. Mortal Kombat 3 builds upon this system, and although the end result is rather shaky, it was still a step towards some type of progress.
Character Roster: Returning - Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Jax, Sonya, Shang Tsung, Kung Lao, Kano New Characters: - Nightwolf, Sindel, Sheeva, Stryker, Kabal, Sektor, Cyrax, Smoke
This was a line-up that met quite a bit of heat, as fan favorites Scorpion, Reptile, and even Kitana were omitted without any explanation. Johnny Cage was seemingly killed during the invasion so this explains his departure. Although many of the newer characters were fun to play with, such as Nightwolf being able to repel projectiles, and Sheeva stomping the living hell out of her opponents by leaping into the air and coming down on them. Fans of the previous game just weren't happy about this. I remember getting use to them because of their playing styles adding variety. I also enjoyed the sub-plots going on among popular characters; Sub-Zero's clan is out to kill him for betrayal, and Sektor and Cyrax are sent after him. Sonya and Jax continue their pursuit of Kano, and he chose to take sides against Earth, and help train Kahn's forces into using Earth's weapons. Plus Raiden can no longer intervene due to the Elder Gods ruling. The story was indeed interesting, and many fans of the franchise were into it.
The game play was indeed upgraded, as this time around the characters can now perform rushing combo strings, that can link anywhere from 3 to 7 hits in succession, or perform air juggles to rack up damage for variety in combos. The system even up to this day receives mixed reactions, and the criticism to me can be understood at times, and others just have to be taken with a grain of salt I guess. The button functions High Punch, Low Punch, Low Kick, High Kick, and Block, are used to link together combos, with the addition of a sixth button being Run. The Run uses up a small gauge when pressed, and when released it quickly refills. This helps the character gain ground quickly to use these combos or even evade forward jumping attacks. I have to admit this change in the fighting system came out of nowhere, but I remember getting used to it quickly.
One of the main problems for this combo system was veterans claiming it was too newbie friendly, because newbies were able to button mash their way to victory. Honestly, for both the SNES and Arcade, I have yet to see newbies take out skillfull veterans. Personally, I have never lost to a button masher in this game, and if I was to apply myself to it again with a few hours of practice, no one completely lacking skill is going to so much as pull a round off me. Admittedly, some of the combos that can be pulled off with only one button plus holding the pad back will give mashers some offense, but when looking at the damage they cause it's nothing to even consider a threat. If you're good, you should still kill'em.
The combo system manages to handle juggles well, which adds another dynamic to the combo system. Characters like Kabal and Smoke for example, can deal out some nasty damage when they get those pop ups. This is an area that updated versions of MK3 will go on to improve. The characters moves-list has seen some improvement as well, such as Sub-Zero's Ice Clone move making its debut. This move sees him leaving behind an ice double of himself, which freezes enemies who step into it setting up combo opportunities. Plus Sonya makes her return and she uses an upward bicycle kick that acts as an anti-air move. Midway did a good enough job making the characters abilities interesting.
The game also features dual stages in some environments, that can be accessed when an opponent takes an uppercut, and is sent crashing through the ceiling to another battlefield. This was always cool to see, and it provides a good laugh for the puncher. The Pit stages also return and I found them to be hit and miss. The Pit 3 is by far the biggest disappointment, which sees the victim fall on top of rotating blades that slices them into oblivion. It's way too corny when compared to the first two, while another one sees the victim punched in front of a run away train which can be pretty funny. Still, this is one area that just really isn't as cool as previous installments.
Midway did drop the ball in areas of the game play. One that stands out to me is the addition of the Mercy and Animality finisher. Mercy is when it's time to finish your enemy, and instead of doing so, you input the button command to show them Mercy; a small amount of their health returns, and you defeat them again which allows you to use your Animality. This sees the character turning into some type of animal and viciously killing them. This is awesome on paper, but the pay off simply wasn't worth it, since some of the death sequences were re-hashed from each other; Sub-Zero, Kung Lao, and Nightwolf as a matter of fact, while the rest just plain sucked. I actually forgot how to pull them off when this game was deep into its run, because it just wasn't worth the memory juice and the multiple button presses.
The worst offender would no doubt be the AI. Usually games in the arcade would be harder than the home consoles, because the object is to get one to continuously spend quarters, this is just not the case here. The AI is the ultimate cheese-lord, as it will counter everything you do, and beat you to the grabs every time making throwing completely obsolete. The situation doesn't get any better even on the Very Easy setting. I was able to beat the game several times by spamming moves and strategies heavily, but this just isn't much fun. The only way to find some type of balance was to input the code disabling throws. For some reason, the AI was more balanced here and the game wasn't as cheap.
For all the good to be found here, the games pitfalls seem to be in the most damaging of places. Therefore, I do in some ways agree with MK3's more harsher critics regarding the game play. But I do feel there's some exaggeration.
The SNES controller utilizes all of the main buttons, and I never really had a problem pulling off the combo strings. Performing juggles and the more complex corner combos just required practice. To a certain extent though, button mashing is possible for the weaker combos. But is that a bad thing or a good thing? You decide that part.
Visually this game took a step back when compared to the second game. The digitized characters are a little smaller and are clearly lacking some detail. Seeing Sub-Zero without his mask always rubbed me the wrong way. The robots have a decent design, but they're nothing but color swaps for the most part. Sheeva, a female version of Goro and Kintaro looks really cool. The model for Sonya, Kerri Hoskins maintains her hotness. The fights take place in many Earth locations; a church in front of an altar, on the street, and even in a tower with a night-time background; however, only one background always stood out to me and it was the Soul Chamber, which had a soul pillar made up of green light inside the mouth of a fiery red demon statue. It really does look awesome and gives off this feel of armageddon. The music has moments where it really works, and captures that life or death feel which brings out the tension in the fights. While at the same time being atmospheric enough letting you know this is the end of the world. The music is passable, yet I never found it as memorable as the previous games.
The only problem I have with the visuals would be the lack of detail and poor character designs for the Animalities. The animals appear to be lazily handled, made up of some glowing light and they just appear so bland. The carnage after performing Fatalities can be even worse. For example, if a character is blown to pieces, you will see up to fours arms, six legs, and even two skulls for a human being. As well as if a character is diced to pieces by let's say Kung Lao's finisher, then the characters arms will be in suspended animation next to the torso, instead of flopping to the ground. There's just no excuse for such careless detail. I want my carnage and destruction to be properly animated. The sound effects have moments where they stand out; Liu Kang and Sektor's finisher's have a cool sound of charred and crumbling bones when they burn people to a crisp. Other than this nothing caught my notice.
Mortal Kombat 3 and its updates really didn't leave the best of legacies. It's recognized as the beginning of the end, in which it would take the franchise nearly twenty years to recover from.
As a recommendation to a new MK fan who may have missed this and is curious on downloading MK3 specifically. I advise to get the PSone version, since it's completely arcade perfect, features the Graveyard stage which is missing in this game. Plus the AI isn't as much a cheese-monster as the SNES version. For some people, the AI could render this game unplayable and the only fun will be in the two player co-op. But going with Mortal Kombat Trilogy for PSone will be the better pick, because it features every character and stage in the franchise by this point. The AI is still a pain though, so don't think you're going to just run through that one.
Pros: -A couple of good things here and there
Cons: -The bad overshadows the good
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