Review – Mortal Kombat: Arcade Kollection
It’s perhaps appropriate, and somewhat ironic, that Mortal Kombat: Arcade Kollection has released at this time. In an age where film directors continue to re-release and reboot existing franchises, video games have also followed suit. Still arcade-to-home ports aren’t something new, but the quality of these ports has improved significantly over the last 20 years. However, you wouldn’t know this by playing MK:AK as the game is a pretty terrible port of what many would consider to be three ‘klassic’ games.
The release of MK9 in the early part of the summer heralded both a general resurgence in the fighting game genre as well as a return to simpler times with 2D (or in MK9‘s case 2.5D) Mortal Kombat games. Naturally this got everyone talking about the good old days of the original console MK games and the video game industry being…well….an industry, decided that it would be a great idea to capitalize on the success of MK9. So Warner Bros. and NetherRealms authorized this port of the original arcade versions of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, the three games that defined Earthrealm’s struggle to remain free from occupation by Shao Khan’s forces from Outworld.
Unfortunately for these games though, MK:AK is not a package befitting of this franchise. Indeed the ROMs presented have all of the same controls, secrets, and glitches that made the arcade cabinets so popular. The interface to get to each game is pretty nice and easily accessible via the title menu. Each game has its own control scheme (as the controls for MK have evolved as much as the games themselves did). The in-fight pause menu also has a move list complete for each character that is specific to the MK game being played. However, this is where Other Ocean’s port job introduces its own set of woes and the first of the major glitches shows up. During a Fatality it stands to reason that you will probably want to check the move list in order to figure out what a Fatality is for a given character. So you pause when the game says “Finish Him/Her” and you look thinking that you’ll have enough time to enter the button combo. Instead what happens upon unpausing the game is that the game temporarily freezes or in some cases just advances to the end of the Fatality timer. This ends the match and gives you no time at all to enter in the button combo. Its a truly ridiculous glitch that presents some trouble for would be trophy hounds or for people just wanting to see all the old Fatalities they love. The single player experience, despite this glitch, is still pretty much how you remembered it. Different ladders correspond to different difficulties, but you can also tune the difficulty for the CPU outside of the games themselves. All the usual stuff you remember such as Mirror Matches, Endurance Trials, and Boss Battles are all as you remembered them from the previous versions of these games.
Of course the biggest selling point for MK:AK was the prospect of online play. It’s a fighting game, right? So what good is it without any kind of multiplayer. While the local multiplayer works fine (aside from the pause glitch previously mentioned) the online aspect has a whole slew of issues related to it. Across every game, no matter what kind of connection the two parties have, there is a tremendous amount of lag. So much so that the game visibly slows down. The matches Chris and I played so that I could write this review were playable, but slower than expected which threw off our move timing considerably. However, I have seen various reports and videos depicting the online as being unplayable. While I can only say that it was remarkably slow while playing Chris, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the experience had just lagged us both out. To quote something Isaac Torres (aka Delriach) said to me regarding the multiplayer in MK:AK “All the info you need to know: It fucking sucks.”
In addition, to the lag and pause/unpause problems there’s also a significant amount of audio glitching in the game. Certain sounds will inexplicably loop even after a fight ends. Forcing you to either bare with it or quit entirely to get rid of it. Some of the sound samples also sound like they have been re-recorded to a higher sound quality. This stands out against the backdrop of sound effects and music that have not been treated to the same resampling. As a result, much of the game’s audio is spotty at best.
All told, MK:AK is going to be most appealing to the hardcore MK fans out there that want access to the classic games of yore. I will even concede that this package will allow you to play some ‘klassic’ MK, but the presentation of the games within this package is very basic and feels rushed. However, if you didn’t pick up MK2 while it was on PSN or want access to MK or UMK3 this is now your only option. Still considering even a hardcore fan’s love for MK as a franchise, it’s difficult to justify buying this package for $9.99. At least until a patch for it is released to address the online issues and the audio glitching problems.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- The single player or local multiplayer emulates the feel of the old arcade.
- Secrets and glitches from the old cabinets are reproduced.
- The music on the title screen changes depending on the game you have selected.
- Options menu seems pretty unified.
What I Dislike:
- Sound glitching is particularly rampant both online and off.
- The game freezes when the game is paused during a Fatality to look up moves.
- The game unfreezes, but you lose frames and are unable to do finishers.
- The online is very laggy ranging between very slow and unplayable.
- Some joysticks may encounter some awkward interface issues. Such as the Hit Box.