When you last left the Baron in "Mortal Kombat reviews": Get over here! Come here! Gotta call the cops! You will die! Is that your best? WWWWAAAAAHHHHH!!!! AAAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!! (various hitting sounds) FATALITY!!!
Right. What a shame most of those sounds were never heard in the Genesis versions of the first two Mortal Kombat games. But fans take heed! The people at Midway finally got fed up with the bumbling of Arena and then Acclaim, so they gave the liscense to Williams! Entrusted with such a huge cash cow liscense, the good people of Williams delivered the first Arcade-perfect port of a Mortal Kombat game seen on the Genesis! It's a shame for Williams so few fans took heed, because Mortal Kombat took a turn for the worse in its third installment, a turn from which it would never recover.
The original story continues in Mortal Kombat 3 with Shao Khan trying to enter the Earthly realm again, and succeeding this time. Although the mighty Khan got whupped in the Outworld Mortal Kombat tournament, he had apparently enacted a plan some 10000 years before. He took a queen way back then named Sindel. One day, Sindel dropped dead, and Khan cried like a baby. Khan was so heartbroken, in fact, that he had his sorcerers concoct a powerful magic spell which would take its effect 10000 years in the future. This spell would allow Sindel's spirit to be reborn in the Earth realm, thus allowing Khan and his henchmen meander through the Outworld gates and begin slaughtering everybody. As the Earth realm slowly turns into a part of the Outworld, Khan finds there are souls which he can't touch. These souls are, of course, the Earth representatives in a new, all-or-nothing Mortal Kombat contest.
The first thing series regulars took notice of was the fact that most of Mortal Kombat 2's cast didn't make the cut this time around. Reptile? Gone. Baraka? Out. Mileena and Kitana? Not here. Johnny Cage? He's a movie star, so he never had a soul in the first place. So it's safe to assume he disappeared in the first wave. Rayden? Seems he can't compete in a world ruled by the Outworld gods. Scorpion? His non-showing may have been what did the series in. Sub-Zero is still here, and he tossed his mask while evading a pair of robots called Cyrax and Sektor. Sonya and Kano both make grand returns, and there's a multitude of characters making first appearences who are NOT palette swapped. At least not in the traditional sense. You can even play as a four-armer named Sheeva. Shao Khan isn't taking any chances on wimpy half-dragon bodyguards this time, so he hired a massive centaur named Motaro to succeed the (probably) often-available position last filled by Kintaro.
The big gameplay change in Mortal Kombat 3 was the addition of a run button. I'll give Midway credit here because, like the Junction system from Final Fantasy 8, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Like the Junction system, its flaws glare brighter than the sun in practice. This button, when pressed, made whatever character who was being played run forward so the player could mash buttons upon reaching the other guy. These buttons unleashed deadly combos if they were pressed in the right order. But herein lies a problem: If any idiot runs up and starts mashing buttons, all he has to do is guess an order to unleash one of these combos. In doing this, he mocks the skills of veteran Mortal Kombatants who spent hours with the last game learning and mastering the talents of their favorite fighters. Naturally, there weren't a whole lot of people lining up to get creamed by a five-year-old with one finger in his nose.
This complaint harkens back to what I said about the Genesis port of the first Mortal Kombat. Combos are too easy to pull off. In the original Mortal Kombat, however, you still had to develop a certain degree of talent to pull off the flashy combos because you had to work every special move by hand. In Mortal Kombat 3, you need NO skill, because almost, if not every, combo in the game consists solely of basic moves: High punch, low kick, low kick, high kick, things along those lines. Flash is all but absent, and even though each character once again has a repotoire of special moves, they're more of a convinience and less of a necessity.
Ironically, the series trademark helped in its downfall: Lets all offer congratulations to Ed Boon and John Tobias for having the guts to add blood to a fighting game. After the whole thing in Congress died down, the whole blood idea was seen as pointless by a lot of people. That didn't stop Eddie and Johnny from loading up part 3 with gallons of the red goup. Of course blood was the reason for the popularity of the series, so you can't blame them if they were oblivious to their clients' satisfaction of bloodlust. The first two games may have been infamously violent, but this addition was just plain grotesque. The red stuff was darker and therefore more real-looking, and the fatalities bloodier than ever, but the audiences just didn't care. So the addition of Animalities - finishing moves in which the winner morphed into an animal and did whatever to the loser - simply made the game's violence even more gratuitous than it already was, and people just didn't want to stomach it anymore.
The selection of characters in Mortal Kombat 3 was varied at last. 14 fighters to choose from, and only robots Cyrax, Sektor and hidden fighter Smoke mimiced each other's outfits. My general complaint about everyone's similar fighting styles still remains, but the special moves go beyond just the more ordinary stuff seen in the last two games. Nightwolf, an Indian fighter, plucks a bow out of the air and fires off an arrow at his opponent. Cyrax traps opponents in energy nets. Kabal, a fighter on a respirator, runs by his opponent fast enough to cocoon them in the passing wind, which gives him time to walk up to the victim and hit it with an uppercut. Sheeva, as already stated, has four arms, and Sindel has a rather useless flying function. The backgrounds fall in between the boredom of the first game and the creativity of the second game. The tournament takes place on the ruins of Earth as it's transforming into part of the Outworld, so half and half would be somewhat natural. One of the more creative backgrounds takes place in a subway tunnel, and if you uppercut your opponent, he flies through the roof and into the city. The more mundane works include a wooden tower and, in what is another Mortal Kombat trademark, a pit.
While Mortal Kombat 3 may be a lousy game, at least Genesis owners can take pride in finally owning a flawless Arcade conversion; or at least as flawless as a game of this calibur can be on the 16-bit Genesis. The designers finally gave the computer the happy medium between easy and cheap the last two Mortal Kombat conversions were sorely lacking. So while the game isn't easy like the first game, it isn't frustratingly cheap like the second game either. The new centaur boss, Motaro, is an opponent of unbelieveable power. Nor can he be knocked down, and this fact add to his overall massiveness. Shao Khan comes into the fray carrying a war hammer this time, and he's not afraid to use it. And to the credit of the designers, the blood can actually be turned off at the options screen.
One of the cooler features in the game is the code dial in the two-player mode. It appears at the bottom of the matchup screen, and if you fiddle with the buttons, you could dial in a combination which alters the game in one way or another. It's a nice feature which will help alleviate boredom for a limited time, but the novelty wears off quickly. And as much as I should mention the Fatalities, I can't because I won't be able to say anything which has not yet been said in my last two Mortal Kombat reviews. What more is there? Everything returns from the last two, and the tame Animalities warrant a mention, but that's it.
Now we get to the differences. The graphics, like the challenge, find a happy medium between the first game's muddiness and the second game's shininess. All of the original background details, colors, and animation frames are there, but it appears Williams had to sacrifice some of the second game's outstanding photographic images to get them all in. Other than that, the character sprites in Mortal Kombat 3 are smaller and less detailed than their Mortal Kombat 2 counterparts. The blood comes in three colors now: Traditional red, green for Sheeva, and black for the robots. Although the blood in the Arcade looked very real, the realism on the Genesis also had to be shed, and so you get stuck with huge animated drops that rarely ever touch the ground. It's an Arcade detail that got sacrificed for other details, and it looks so ridiculous, you'd be better off turning off the blood so it doesn't distract you.
The original Arcade voices and sounds are HERE! The Mortal Kombat-y original score remains fully intact, and the voices are also there. The screams of the fighters come off a little scratchy, but the ominous announcer comes through all the way. Too little too late though, as Rayden's famous superman shout was excluded along with Rayden.
The control requires skill, but not as much as it did in the last game. You can afford to make a few mistakes when performing special moves this time. Trouble is, you won't need to perform them a lot, since the horrible connect-the-dots combo system does most of the work for you. The run button takes a bit of practice to get used to, since the fighters automatically run forward for you once you hold run and tap the directional pad. The morons at Acclaim screwed Genesis loyalists out of the crouching low punch in the last game, but it's here now. Williams even found a system that works for it, somewhat: High moves require you to press the low move buttons and block button at the same time. I guess the best thing to say, as with all fighting games, is to get a six-button pad. Not only does it make everything worlds easier, it allows you to pause the game.
Well, Midway finally gave the series to the right developers. It's a shame the gameplay was shot by the time it got there. The sounds may chrm you, but the dot connecting combos will leave fight veterans feeling unfullfilled and unchallenged. And the ultraviolence is just the icing on a too-stale cake. Mortal Kombat 3 made my second-ever article on Epinions: One of the worst games of all time.