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January 30, 2002
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 Overall Score: *78*ESRB Rating: Mature (M)

Mortal Kombat Advance [Nintendo Game Boy Advance] 

by Midway  Reviewed by: Charlie Cummins  


ScreenshotOverview

FIGHT! FINISH HIM! FATALITY! These are just a few of the trademark phrases of a long franchise that influenced more than just the gaming world. Due to the violent and graphic nature of this game, warnings and game ratings became heavily enforced. The appearance of blood and body parts in a video game stirred families and lawmakers to issue stricter warnings and restrictions on the play and later purchase of this and other violent games that followed in its wake. Blood fountains from defeated opponents, dismembered body parts flying across the screen and at the player and sprays of blood from connected hits made this game an addiction for kids and a nightmare for parents. Welcome to Mortal Kombat!

Midway Games continues its bloody 2D fighting game saga with Mortal Kombat Advance for the Game Boy Advance. In a surprisingly successful port of the Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 game that originally came out in 1995 for the arcade, Super Nintendo, and Sega consoles, Mortal Kombat Advance (MKA) is for those Mortal Kombat fans that miss the series and are waiting for its possible return. But don’t hold your breathe because you may explode into a bloody mess. MKA will satisfy the bloodlust for the diehard Kombatants but in the end, is a short trip down memory lane for everyone else. If you are not a fan of the games or movies, pass this one by. Please be aware that this title is rated for Mature Audiences due to blood and graphic violence. All parents should keep this in mind when purchasing such games that have these ratings.

Game Play and Control

Mortal Kombat Advance is a very good port from the Arcade and Super Nintendo original seven years past. For those new to Mortal Kombat and as a refresher for loyal Kombatants, the controls are as follows: Punch, Kick, Block and Run. The simple arcade configuration easily moves into the positions on the Game Boy Advance. The "b" and "a" buttons take on the Punch and Kick moves respectively. The Left and Right shoulder buttons are the Run and Block, both of which need to be held for longer durations to execute. The directional pad moves your fighter in eight available directions. Tapping certain directions and buttons will activate special moves depending on the fighter you chose. The controls are very responsive and moves are easy to execute. MKA takes advantage of the beefed up console of the GBA. There are 23 fighters available from the start with three hidden fighters available once you defeat certain levels of the game. Each of these fighters has at least four special moves that they can perform. Some moves such as Cyrax’s "Net Capture" or Scorpion’s "Spear" (including his trademark phrase "Come Over Here!") are not meant to hurt but to drag your opponent closer for hits that deplete his life. Better than a single hit are the Kombos that each character can perform. Successful Kombos knock greater amounts of life and rack up larger scores. One character, Shao Kahn, has the ability to transform into any other character in the game and will have all the moves of that character. Amazingly well done, this transformation occurs smoothly and easily. But the trademark of the Mortal Kombat series is the extra-special end moves you can perform as your opponent swoons back and forth. What began as the infamous Fatalities has extended into the Friendship. Confused? ScreenshotLet me explain. A fatality move, executed properly, will cause your opponent to die a bloody and often disgusting death. Exploding into a messy pulp, cut in half, impaled on a staff, burned to a crisp or chopped into small pieces, Fatalities were and still are the rewards for beating your opponent. Friendships are the antithesis of Fatalities — giving your opponent a bunch of flowers, dancing a cute dance, giving gifts or making snowmen. This may have been a weak attempt at comforting the censors and parents at the time of the original release but, seriously, it is just another move to perform.

The game’s intelligence is also moved over faithfully to the GBA version, annoyingly so for those who are not skilled at the Mortal Kombat series such as yours truly. You can easily be caught in the corner of the screen being pummeled by Sub Zero’s slides, punches, kicks and freezes. All you can do is block and try, try, try to escape with that perfectly timed jump. On the flip side, you can do the same thing against your opponent. Learn the moves and the sneaky tricks and you too can screw with the AI.

Graphics

The original versions were not graphic works of art. Each character was a live actor moved into a video game. The graphics for the original were pixilated and not very distinct. The backgrounds were fuzzy but somewhat colorful. Certain moves would send fighters flying to a level above were the action would continue. Once again, the GBA version ports this over and you get a fuzzy and at times unclear graphics rendition. It is often difficult to see when your fighter is really connecting hits or what is happening when fighters are next to each other. At times, it even seemed that fighters were layered due to the poor graphics. The backgrounds are indistinct and fuzzy in part from the original game as well as the small size of the GBA. This game was made for larger screens, not the GBA wide screen. One plus to this game is the available Contrast Option. All GBA games should have this feature. It helped very slightly with the graphics on MKA. Of course, blood is always an issue with any Mortal Kombat game and players are given the option to turn the blood on or off. This will probably be a rarely used option. Parents, once again, this is a Mature Audience game due to blood and graphic violence.

Audio

It is not easy to produce good sound from a Game Boy Advance, which is understandable due to its size and cartridge capacity. What a surprise to hear trademark sounds such as the gravely "FIGHT!", "FINISH HIM!" and "FATALITY!" Punches, kicks, groans, screams and Scorpion’s "GET OVER HERE" are all dutifully brought over with clarity and impact. Kudos to the developers for an excellent of conversion of the sound effects! As for the music, well, you can’t have it all. Annoyingly whiny and scratchy, even with headphones, the music can quickly be drowned out by your teeth grating due to the annoying music.

Multiplayer

Beat up a friend with your Game Boy Advance. No, don’t hit him with it! Play Mortal Kombat Advance with him. Hook up your GBA with the link cable and, of course, the needed second cartridge and go head to head. Or team up and beat the AI at its own game. Nothing spectacular but, what the heck, it is a fighting game.

ScreenshotBottom Line

Ten years have past and the controversial series has made its way to the Game Boy Advance. Tagged with the Mature moniker, Midway’s Mortal Kombat Advance for the GBA is a faithful port of the Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 version. But is it for everyone? If you loved the Mortal Kombat movies, then you will cherish this game. If you loved the Mortal Kombat games and need that Fatality fix, you will enjoy the GBA version. If you cannot place yourself in either category, please move along. Overall, the controls are great, the graphics are poor and the sound effects are excellent. For the diehards, habits die hard. For the non-Kombatants, thank you for reading and please move along.

Review Posted On January 14, 2002.

 
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