Mortal Kombat 4
Reviewed by Scott McCall
With a new lease on life because of its move to the third dimension,
the Mortal Kombat series has once again managed to secure a large
following of loyal fans. The last time there was this much interest
in an MK game was back in 1994 when Mortal Kombat II hit the
home systems. Here's the good news: The N64 version of Mortal
Kombat 4, which is based on the arcade's "Revision 3," is nearly
a flawless port. Here's the bad news: It's still the same ol' Mortal
Kombat with a few enhancements. Of course, if you're already
a fan of the series, then the N64 version of Mortal Kombat 4 is
a must-have for you. But if you don't like the series that much,
then this version obviously won't change your mind.
To a non-fan of the MK series (that's me), here's what Mortal
Kombat 4 seems like: the same 2D gameplay of Mortal Kombat 3,
except with 3D graphics, new weapon-based fighting, and side-stepping.
But even I have to admit how exceptionally well Mortal Kombat 4
was ported to the Nintendo 64 -- and that's great news for MK fans.
First of all, Mortal Kombat 4 contains a plethora of options and
gameplay modes. You can thankfully change (and save) the controller
configuration for both players because the default just didn't cut it
for me. Here's how I personally configured my controller: I used
Left C for low punch, Top C for high punch, Bottom C for low lick,
and Right C for high kick. Then I configured the A button to run and
the B button and the Z trigger to block. That left the L and R shoulder
buttons to do the side-stepping. With the choice between the Control
Pad and the Control Stick, I chose to use the Control Pad, like in
most other fighting games.
There are other options to toggle, too. You can change the difficulty
level, you can change the number of rounds it takes to win the
match, and you can change the number of continues you get in the
single-player mode. You can enable or disable the VS screen,
Rumble Pak support, Blood, and Fatalities. Finally, you can
change the volume level for the sound effects and the music.
Probably what makes the N64 version of Mortal Kombat 4 the
best MK game around is the numerous gameplay modes in the
game. There's an Arcade mode with one-on-one or two-on-two
kombat, a Tournament mode in which four or eight players
can participate, several Endurance modes, a Team mode, and
a decent Practice mode. I must mention, however, that the
Tournament mode could have and should have been a lot better.
It isn't very intuitive because of its clumsy interface. Also,
there should have been support to use and configure all four
controllers (just in case people use different button
configurations) and there should have been a way to choose
which controller controls which fighter before each match.
Besides some of the aforementioned modes exclusively added
to the port, there are a few other additions to the home version.
Most notably is the inclusion of a favorite kombatant from an old
game. Yep, Goro is in here, and man is he ticked off. There's
also an exclusive arena, new kombat codes, and at least one
more hidden character besides Goro.
In the graphics department, the N64 version of Mortal Kombat 4
screams along at 60 frames per second. That means this baby
is quick and smooth. And you know what? It shows. The use of 3D
graphics was probably a good addition to the MK series,
especially when it comes to the gruesome yet awesome
fatalities. The polygon-based fighters are nice and don't look
like, well, polygons, but they certainly aren't as impressive
as the cast of Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. One downside to the graphics
is that there are some clipping problems. On some levels you'll
notice that the floor might disappear or a wall might vanish
if you get too close. Aside from the weak animation that
was also found in the arcade version, the N64 version, overall,
looks almost as good as the arcade version and certainly looks
better than the PlayStation version.
The sound in Mortal Kombat 4 is pretty much dead-on, too.
Disappointingly, the sound is completely in mono, but I
guess the MK series was never known for anything other than
mood-setting, eerie music. The sound effects, including
the announcer's voice, are all accurate. The best news about
the sound is that all of the voice made it into the real-time
endings! Hallelujah! Having great endings with different
voice actors only increases the game's replay value.
Mortal Kombat 4 for the N64 is an outstanding port, surpassing
the arcade version with all of its extra features. The game is
also noticeably better on the N64 than the PSX, so be sure to
get the N64 version if you have both systems. If you're not an
MK fan, then Fighters Destiny is still the best fighter on the
system. But for all you MK fanatics out there, Mortal Kombat 4
is the new reigning champion. As a final note, you can basically
add or subtract .5 from the overall score, depending on whether
you like Mortal Kombat or not.
Graphics: 3.9 out of 5
Sound: 3.7 out of 5
Control: 3.8 out of 5
Gameplay: 3.9 out of 5
Lastability: 4.4 out of 5
Overall: 4.0 out of 5