Mortal Kombat is back… and online!
There haven’t been many games for the DS that have been exclusively focused on muliplayer. The fact that it’s a handheld platform was really the deterrent here, but with more and more wi-fi hotspots appearing on a daily basis it’s becoming easier and easier to access the internet from wherever you are. Ultimate Mortal Kombat for the Nintendo DS takes advantage of this fact and creates a solid multiplayer arcade experience for those who love the Kombat.
At its heart, Ultimate Mortal Kombat is a port of both Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Puzzle Kombat. The game does not try to hide the fact that it is a recycling of these games, and as soon as you start it up you’ll have to choose between either ports. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is one of the quintessential games in the Mortal Kombat catalog and features all of the standard characters and enough fatalities, animalities, and babalities than you can shake a stick at.
The single player mode here, however, is extremely thin. Essentially there are four levels of play and each one features the trademark cinder block hierarchy that you must work through to get on top. The single player mode is honestly a practice mode for the mulitplayer more than anything. You can play through it for a little while, but it gets very monotonous after too long. You’ll fight the CPU, which has either really great or really lousy A.I., and then you’ll beat it. There’s virtually no story to go with it; this mode is really just a basic set-up of random matches.
Once you decide to take your Kombat online, however, you will probably be in a world of happiness. There are two basic modes to play in when creating an online match: ranked and worldwide. Ranked matches (as you may have guessed) keep track of your overall score, win record, and streak. Worldwide matches are unranked, but you can still display your overall score. Online battles work fairly well, although the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection does tend to lag a little. Most of the time there’s no problem, but every once and a while there will be a sudden drop in the animation and your character will start jumping around, resulting in a total breakdown in control of the game. However, these issues are few and far between when you’re playing an extended number of Kombat battles online. The online mode really sells this game because now you can take your favorite arcade experience anywhere and play online multiplayer.
Puzzle Kombat is a puzzle type game, and although it is definitely a different style of game than the beat-em-up style that has been the hallmark of the Mortal Kombat franchise, it is nonetheless a pretty viable portion of the game. Puzzle Kombat is very much like other puzzle games, and has you controlling descending colored squares. It’s not like other puzzle games where you get a certain number of colored blocks, fit them together, and then they disappear; this one involves the random occurrence of Kombat tokens which activate the colored blocks and make them disappear. You can play as several different characters, including Sub-zero and Baraka. The single-player mode also features some unlockable characters.
Much like the Mortal Kombat 3 part of the game, the Puzzle Kombat game does not have a strong single player mode, and it’s strength lies in it’s online multiplayer modes. The set up for the online modes is exactly the same as it is in Mortal Kombat 3. There are worldwide and ranked matches and the whole thing is a whole bunch of fun. However, Puzzle Kombat also suffers from the same occasional lags which plagued the other mode. And of course, when you’re playing a puzzle game that involves falling blocks, these few lags can become a real problem.
One thing that Mortal Kombat fans will really appreciate about this title is its look and feel. The game’s control mimics the four-button arcade feel almost exactly, and anyone who played Mortal Kombat 3 in an arcade setting will find that all the old fatalities and special moves that they knew on the arcade version are completely intact. Although, for those of us who are a little rusty on all the fancy button mashing, the DS’ upper screen provides a “cheat sheet” of sorts with some of the more complex moves and fatalities.
Another facet that was left completely intact was the visuals. While some would have argued for an upgraded visual scheme, I think the entire point of Ultimate Mortal Kombat was to give fans an arcade experience that they could play online. And this vintage experience would have been severely hampered by a graphical upgrade. The old-school graphics really help give the game its classic feel, and it’s a really great experience for fans of the series.
In addition to the old-school graphics and controls, the original score is also in tact. Even when playing in the new online modes, you will still get that old school theme music, and it really just adds to the entire experience. All the old voice acting snippets are in the game as well, so you’ll feel like you’re back in the nineties reliving Mortal Kombat arcade glory.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat is essentially an online-only title. It doesn’t have much in the way of single player modes, or in the way of new content. But for fans of Mortal Kombat, and fans of arcade-style fighters, this one is a sure-win. It has all of the ingredients that made the original games such a success, and has the ability to extend these elements so you can take your game further, without losing all your quarters! Ultimate Mortal Kombat is really a fan’s delight, and is sure to appeal to those who feel the need for Kombat everywhere!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.1 Graphics
There will be no eye candy here, but the arcade version from the 90’s is recreated here perfectly. 4.1 Control
Mimics the arcade experience almost exactly, except without a joystick. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sounds the same as it always did, which is a good thing. There’s a reason why the Mortal Kombat theme is so popular. 2.5
Single player mode is largely forgettable and barely even there. But the online modes make this game worth picking up for Kombat fans.
3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.