Sunday, February 26, 2012
Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection Difficulty Comparison
The original Mortal Kombat arcade games were well known for a few things: Excessive gore, a crazy amount of secrets, and a ridiculously cheap AI. After the first few opponents at best (depending on the setting of the difficulty dip switch at the back of the arcade cabinet), the AI opponent would instantly counter you pretty much no matter what you did, and after spending several quarters and taking several losses, it'd magically become easy for a match or two and then smack you around again.
Of course many gamers today experienced the Mortal Kombat franchise back in the '90's, and while many played the games in the arcades they played them much more on their home consoles, and the home console ports had a reputation for being easier than their arcade counterparts.
So naturally, when the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection launched at the end of last Summer, gamers everywhere were extremely unhappy that being emulated arcade versions and near arcade perfect, the frustrating difficulty level remains, and posts sprung up everywhere raging that the ports should have been easier like the console classics of old.
But really, how much easier were the console versions? Surprisingly this never occurred to me before, but here in this very house I could put that theory to the test, and this weekend I did.
The Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection contains near arcade perfect versions of Mortal Kombat (1992), Mortal Kombat II, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Back in the early to mid '90's the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis were the major consoles on the market, and they all received ports of these three games, and with the exception of the original Mortal Kombat, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System versions were considered to be the superior ports.
Here at home I just so happen to have my Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and my copies of Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3. Sadly I never purchased Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, so the original game's port would have to do.
For the basis of this test, I decided to use Sub-Zero, as he's my best kombatant in both games, and I decided to use the default settings. First up was Mortal Kombat II on my Super Nintendo Entertainment System and in the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection, and I played on Medium difficulty with no cheats or codes enabled for both versions.
After several attempts on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the best I was able to do was seven consecutive wins, and using all five credits the game provides I was able to advance to my ninth opponent before the "Game Over" screen popped up. In the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection, I was able to gain six consecutive wins as my best streak and ultimately advance much further due to it being Free Play (infinite credits).
In both ports the AI was simple on the first opponent and on the second opponent in the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection it started abusing throws while this didn't occur until the third opponent on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. After that, the AI played so similar as to be almost indistinguishable to me.
For my Mortal Kombat 3 and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 test, obviously this one isn't as accurate seeing as how they're different versions of the game and Sub-Zero was toned down in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (his 6 hit combo deals less damage, he can't use Ice Clone when adjacent to an opponent, etc.), but it's still fun to see what happens and can still provide a general basis.
In Mortal Kombat 3 on my Super Nintendo Entertainment System, again I played on Medium difficulty with no cheats or codes and I chose the Warrior tower. After several attempts, no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn't get past my second opponent. Using the five credits I was able to get to my fourth opponent before being defeated utterly. In Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 in the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection, even with a nerfed Sub-Zero, I was able to achieve two consecutive wins before having to resort to continues, and was ultimately able to make it farther thanks to it being Free Play.
Unlike Mortal Kombat II the AI in Mortal Kombat 3/Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 didn't abuse throws as much (though of course it still did), but it did heavily abuse chain combos, pulling them off faster and far more accurately than I could again and again and again. However I did notice that in the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection I was able to land uppercuts on my AI opponents for a longer period of time before being insta-countered than on my Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
In addition to the difficulty comparison, just for references sake and for both games, the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection also looks far superior to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System ports, sporting larger, crisper kombatants, greater background details, and more varied and crisp sound and music.
Now, the one major difference in terms of difficulty is that setting the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to Very Easy, either game, has a very noticeable affect on the AI, where the changes in the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection are negligible. In contrast the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection does offer Free Play, whereas the original console ports had only five credits each and limiting your play time per session if you were being outmatched.
So there you have it. At least on Medium Difficulty, the classic ports of old play very similar to the arcade ports of today, and while there's no replacing the fond memories of yesteryear, there's nothing wrong with the versions offered now. In fact today's ports look nicer, feature online play, and feature infinite continues and they also cost far less. So before you go and criticize the cheap AI in the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection, just recognize that things really weren't that much better 15 to 20 years ago after all and we're just a tad bit spoiled by the ease of modern games today.