- Mortal Kombat II
Mortal Kombat II
Cover artwork for the console versions
Developer(s) Publisher(s) Designer(s) Ed Boon and John Tobias Composer(s) Dan Forden Platform(s) Arcade game, Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Sega 32X, Amiga, PC, Sega Master System, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, PlayStation 3 Release date(s) Genre(s) Fighting game Mode(s) Up to 2 players Rating(s) Cabinet Upright Arcade system Midway T Unit Display Raster, horizontal orientation, 400×254
Mortal Kombat II is a competitive fighting game originally produced by Midway Games for the arcades in 1993. It is the second game in the Mortal Kombat series. Like its predecessor, various home versions were produced. The game was a great commercial and critical success.
Following his failure to defeat Liu Kang in the first Mortal Kombat game, the evil sorcerer Shang Tsung begs his master, Shao Kahn, to spare his life. He tells Shao Kahn that the invitation for Mortal Kombat cannot be turned down, and if they hold it in Outworld, the Earthrealm warriors must attend. Kahn agrees to this plan, and even restores Tsung's youth. He then extends the invitation to Raiden, who gathers his warriors and takes them into Outworld. The new tournament is much more dangerous, as Shao Kahn has the home field advantage, and an Outworld victory will allow him to subdue Earthrealm.
The gameplay of Mortal Kombat II is an extension of the previous game. Normal moves have been expanded: a crouching punch was added, and low and high kicks became differentiated be it crouching or standing up; the roundhouse kick was made more powerful and knocks opponents across the screen. Additionally returning characters gained new special moves and the game marked introduction of multiple Fatalities (post-match animations of the victorious characters executing their defeated foes), as well as additional, non-lethal finishing moves to the franchise. However, each character still shared generic attributes – speed, power, jump height and airtime – and although having different hitboxes, all normal moves were the same between each character. The game also plays slightly faster and more smoothly.
As with its predecessor, matches are divided into rounds, and the first player to win two rounds by fully depleting their opponent's life bar is the winner; at this point the losing player's character will become dazed and the winner is given the opportunity of using a finishing move. In addition to the Fatalities of its predecessor, MKII offers Babalities (turning the opponent into a crying baby), Friendships (a non-malicious interaction, such as dancing or giving a gift to the defeated opponent) and stage-specific Fatalities (the winner uppercutting his or her opponent into an abyss below, spikes above, or a pool of acid in the background). This game drops the point system from its predecessor, in favor of a consecutive win tally.
Both the theme and art style of Mortal Kombat II are slightly darker, although with a more vibrant color palette employed and a much richer color depth than in the previous game. MKII also strays from the strongly oriental theme of its predecessor, though it does retain the original motif in some aspects, as in some of the music. Finally, the nature of the game became less serious with the addition of trivial and "joke" alternative finishing moves.
- New characters
- Baraka (Richard Divizio) – Tarkatan nomad warlord responsible for the assault on the Shaolin Monastery.
- Jax Briggs (John Parrish) – U.S. Special Forces officer who enters the tournament to rescue his partner Sonya Blade from Outworld. Jax was originally going to be named Stryker, a name that would later be used for another character in the next sequel.
- Kitana (Katalin Zamiar) – Female ninja who is an adopted daughter of Shao Kahn, the Emperor of Outworld. She officially fights for the Outworld but secretly is aiding the warriors of Earthrealm.
- Kung Lao (Anthony Marquez) – Shaolin monk, descendant of the Great Kung Lao and close friend of Liu Kang. He seeks to avenge the destruction of the Shaolin temple.
- Mileena (Katalin Zamiar) – Kahn's personal assassin, and clone of Kitana with Tarkatan traits. Her mission during the tournament is to ensure the loyalty of her "sister", but she also has plans of her own.
- Returning characters
- Sub-Zero (Daniel Pesina) – Male ninja with the power of ice. Later revealed to be the younger brother of the original Sub-Zero, seeking to complete the original Sub-Zero's failed mission.
- Johnny Cage (Daniel Pesina) – Hollywood actor who joins Liu Kang in his journey to Outworld.
- Liu Kang (Ho Sung Pak) – Shaolin monk who is the reigning champion of Mortal Kombat. He travels to Outworld to seek vengeance for the death of his Shaolin monastery brothers.
- Raiden (Carlos Pesina) – Thunder god who returns to Mortal Kombat to stop Kahn's evil plans of taking the Earthrealm for his own.
- Reptile (Daniel Pesina) – Shang Tsung's personal bodyguard. Previously a palette swap of Sub-Zero with Scorpion and Sub-Zero's moves, he has been made into a distinct character and given his own moves.
- Scorpion (Daniel Pesina) – Hellspawned spectre who returns to the tournament to once again assassinate Sub-Zero.
- Shang Tsung (Philip Ahn M.D.) – The evil sorcerer who convinced Kahn to spare his life after losing the last tournament, with a new evil plan to appease his master, who in turn restores Tsung's youth. He also serves as a sub-boss of the game, appearing before Kintaro in the single player mode. As in the first game he is able to morph into any of the playable characters, retaining their moves (in some versions only the character against whom he is currently fighting).
According to GamePro ProStrategy Guide for Mortal Kombat II, while Jax was the best overall fighter in the game, Mileena's "massive advantage" over him made her number one. Reptile was ranked as the worst MKII fighter.
- New boss and sub-boss
- Kintaro (stop-motion) – Kahn's bodyguard, sent by his race to avenge Goro's defeat.
- Shao Kahn (Brian Glynn, voiced by Steve Ritchie) – The evil Emperor of Outworld, who wishes to conquer Earthrealm by any means.
- Hidden opponents
- Jade (Katalin Zamiar) – Green palette swap of Kitana who is invulnerable to projectiles.
- Noob Saibot (Daniel Pesina) – Dark-silhouetted ninja who is a "lost warrior" from the first MK game. His name stems from the names of MK creators Boon and Tobias spelled backwards. He is the original Sub-Zero after being killed by Scorpion.
- Smoke (Daniel Pesina) – Gray palette swap of Sub-Zero (though he uses Reptile's fighting stance) who emits puffs of smoke from his body. He also moves faster than other characters.
Sonya and Kano are the only playable characters from the first Mortal Kombat to not return as regular fighters, though they do appear in the background of the Kahn's Arena stage, chained and on display (according to Acclaim Entertainment, Sonya was "chucked out" from the game in favour of Mileena and Kitana as part of revamping the game, so it would better compete against Street Fighter II). There was also supposed to be another bonus character, played by Kyu Hwang, but his role was cut out of the game. It is impossible to perform a Fatality against the defeated bosses and secret characters.
Development and promotion
According to its lead programmer Ed Boon, MKII was "intended to look different than the original MK" and "had everything we wanted to put into MK but didn't have time for". Acclaim Entertainment stated that it "had started Mortal Kombat II with a $10 million global marketing campaign." A part of this sum was used to make and air the live-action TV commercial, created by Robert Anderson and Bob Keen.
To create the character animations for the game, actors were placed in front of a gray background and performed the motions, which were recorded on a Hi-8 videotape, which had been upgraded since the development of the first title from standard to broadcast-quality. The video capture footage was then processed into a computer, and the background was removed from selected frames to create 64 or 128 color sprites. Towards the end of Mortal Kombat II's development, they opted to instead use a chroma key technique and processed the footage directly into the computer for a similar, simpler process. The actors were sprayed lightly with water to give them a sweaty, glistening appearance, while post-editing was done on the sprites afterward to highlight flesh tones and improve the visibility of muscles, which John Tobias felt set the series apart from similar games using digitized graphics. Animations of Shang Tsung morphing into other characters were created by Midway's John Vogel using a computer, while hand-drawn animations were put into effect for other parts of the game, such as the Fatalities.
Care was taken during the programming process to give the game a "good feel", with Boon simulating elements such as gravity into the game's design. Tobias noted that the previous game's reliance on juggling the opponent in the air with successive hits was an accident, and had been tightened in Mortal Kombat II. Boon noted the reason to not completely remove it in favor of a different system of chaining attacks together was to set the game apart from titles such as Street Fighter, and allow for players to devise their own combinations of attacks. Many attacks were kept uniform between characters to prevent from over-complicating gameplay. Due to memory limitations and the development team's desire to introduce more new characters, two fighters from the original Mortal Kombat, Sonya Blade and Kano, whom Boon cited as the least-picked characters in the game, were excluded.
All of the music was composed, performed, recorded and mixed by Dan Forden, the MK series' sound designer and composer. Mortal Kombat II was the first arcade game to use the Williams DCS sound system. All Mortal Kombat arcade games to follow would use this sound board, dropping the original Mortal Kombat's inferior Yamaha sound board.
Soundtrack and merchandise
Mortal Kombat II: Music from the Arcade Game Soundtrack, an album featuring music from Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat was released in July 1994. It could only be purchased by ordering it through a limited CD offer posted on the arcade version of the game's attract mode.
In conjunction with the release of the arcade game in 1993, an official comic book Mortal Kombat II Collector's Edition, written and illustrated by the game's designer John Tobias, was available through mail order, describing the backstory of the game in a greater detail. Malibu Comics also published a series of Mortal Kombat comic books featuring the characters from both MKII and the original MK. Other merchandise included a series of collectible stickers by Panini Group and two series of action figures, in Argentina (1995) and the USA (1999). The Mortal Kombat Kard Game, released in September 1994, was also marketed as "Mortal Kombat II trading cards".
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
Developed by Probe Entertainment, this port retained all of the blood and Fatalities without a special code having to be entered, unlike the original Mortal Kombat for the system. The game play is faster than the original arcade version. However, the visuals are not as brightly colored due to the system's limited color palette. All of the characters' shadows are rendered as an oval instead of the normal silhouette and, because of memory limitations, some voice recordings were left out. The music is more upbeat and the arrangement is markedly different in this game as opposed to the original arcade version because the music is synthesized by the console's synthesizer, and some of the background music is no longer played with its intended stages.
Goro's Lair, the secret characters' arena, was removed and replaced with a blue palette swap of the portal stage. Additionally, the ending screens with pictures of the characters have all been removed, instead the ending text scrolls over the character doing his/her victory stance. Some of the arenas are also noticeably missing some details (for example, in Kombat Tomb the dragons which can usually be seen flying in the background have been removed, as well as the monk levitating in front of the round window in The Tower stage).
Despite its shortcomings, the Mega Drive/Genesis port contains several exclusive Easter eggs. By activating a cheat menu in the options screen, Dan Forden's "Toasty" image is replaced by a crudely drawn sprite inserted by one of Probe Entertainment's programmers. This image, apparently drawn by the programmer's son, was intended as an alternative graphic to the Dan Forden toasty image and a way to connect the game to Probe, rather than Midway; however, in the final code, the sprite wasn't used. (In all cases, the "Toasty!" sound remains unchanged.) Also, if an option entitled "Oooh Nasty!" is enabled in the cheat screen, the player could perform a "Fergality." The player needed to select Raiden and be fighting on the Armory stage to perform it; when successfully executed, the opponent would then transform into a smoking character with an oversized head of former founder and CEO of Probe Entertainment, Fergus McGovern. This port also includes some character animation differences (for example Baraka's winning stance ends with him bowing forward with his swords pointing down, instead him standing straight with his swords crossed over his chest, and Johnny Cage's victory stance has him raise his hands up). Additionally, this port includes support for the little-known Sega Activator controller device.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
This port was developed by Sculptured Software. This particular port has a secret intro (in which a scene between Shao Khan and Kintaro will take place during the Acclaim logo), and an unlockable special team mode. Also in this port is the use of the Super Nintendo's Mode 7, a graphics mode that allows the scaling and rotation of a single background on a scanline-by-scanline basis, during the overhead fall on the Pit II's Stage Fatality: when the opponent is falling, the background scales forward and rotates slightly counter-clockwise (in the arcade, the background only scaled forward).
However, the sprites throughout the game look like they've been painted rather than photographed due to the image distortion resulted from the down scaling required to match the console's 256x224 display resolution. The Super NES had a larger color palette than most other ports of the game so as to not have the visuals look grainy. Sound and music was mostly considered the best when compared to most other ports of the game, but there were still some compromises made because of memory limitations. The music is more downbeat and faded in contrast to the Mega Drive/Genesis' upbeat version.
Unlike the Super NES port of the original Mortal Kombat, Nintendo didn't censor the blood and Fatalities this time around (the reason for this were poor SNES sales of the censored version of the previous MK game). However, they put a warning label on the game's box in order to inform parents about the game's mature content. The Japanese version, however, is censored to a degree, with green blood for all fighters, as well as the screen colors turning black and white for Fatalities (with the exception of Stage Fatalities).
The U.S. had two different versions released. The second release fixed some major bugs, such as enabling the player to reach Noob Saibot after 50 wins. A new company logo is shown at startup (which makes it easy to identify version 1.1 from 1.0, except for the European versions which always had the logo, the North American V1.0 did not) and gameplay demos will run if the game is left alone long enough. Johnny Cage's "Shadow Kick" will randomly leave a red trail rather than the usual green.
Developed by Probe Entertainment, this port is superior to the Game Boy version of the first game but only contained eight of the twelve playable fighters from the arcade game (lacking Raiden, Baraka, Johnny Cage, and Kung Lao). Shao Kahn was featured as the final boss, but Kintaro was completely removed from the game (he was going to be in, however, and text for him can be found in the ROM). Hidden opponents Jade and Smoke also appear in this port, although Noob Saibot does not. Only three of ten arenas remain from the arcade: the Kombat Tomb, the Pit II and Goro's Lair. The Kombat Tomb contained the port's only Stage Fatality and Goro's Lair, like the arcade version, was used exclusively when fighting hidden opponents; Goro's Lair was much simpler in this version and consisted of a brick wall with no openings or glowing eyes. Blood was completely removed, but each character retained a version of one of their Fatalities and the Babality finishing moves.
Game Gear and Master System
Developed by Probe Entertainment, these two ports are basically colored versions of the Game Boy port. The Game Gear and Master System ports are almost identical, except for the reduced size of the Game Gear screen. They featured the same fighters and arenas as the GB port (see above) and both Kintaro and Shao Kahn as final bosses, as well as Jade and Smoke as secret opponents. The arena where players fight Jade and Smoke is exclusive to each version.
Unlike the Game Boy port, blood was present, but drastically reduced in quantity from the other ports. It's also noticeable that, because of the limited graphical resources the systems could manage, some of the Fatalities in the game were altered to completely destroy the opponent's body (except for the generic gibs such as bones and assorted limbs used for all the characters). For example, Sub-Zero's "Deep Freeze" Fatality would no longer split the victim in half, instead pulverizing them completely. Some of the Fatalities were simplified to use common animations; for example, Liu Kang's Dragon transformation would scorch the opponent with a fireball (similar to the one in Scorpion's "Toasty!" Fatality), instead of eating his/her upper body.
The Amiga port of Mortal Kombat II was released at the end of 1994, developed by Probe Entertainment. The Amiga version had sprite sizes and gameplay nearly identical to the Mega Drive/Genesis version, but lacked multi-layered scrolling backgrounds and used only or two buttons for controls.
Critical reception of this version was mostly favorable, with the scores ranging from CU Amiga Magazine's 95% (Superstar award) to Amiga Computing's 80% (Gold Award), though the review in Amiga Power was unusually negative, rating it only 63%.
Developed by Probe Entertainment, this port contained improved graphics over the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis counterpart, such as added background details and a much bigger color palette to help the visuals come even closer to the arcade version. Although there is a broader variety of sound effects than in the Mega Drive/Genesis version (e.g. Raiden shouts while performing his "Torpedo" attack and his victory stance features realistic lightning sounds, rather than the synthesized buzz heard from the original Genesis version), the background music is nearly identical to that port, with only tertiary detail added from the 32X's sound processor.
The Japanese port received a subtitle and was named Mortal Kombat II: Kyuukyoku Shinken (モータルコンバットII 究極神拳 Mōtaru Konbatto Tsū Kyūkyoku Shinken , "Mortal Kombat II: Ultimate Godly Fist")JP, the subtitle being the specific Japanese terminology for the Fatality moves.
Probe Entertainment was responsible for converting the game to the PC in 1995. Along with the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation versions, this port was among the closest replications of the arcade version. The game came packaged in CD-ROM or floppy disk format, but unlike the Saturn and PlayStation versions, it could be installed onto the user's hard drive to reduce loading times. Because of the PC's less restricted storage capacity, a wider variety of sound effects were available. For example, in the arcade version, the sound used for Jax's "Ground Pound" special attack is reused as the thunder storm sound in the title sequence and in the continue screen sequence, whereas the PC version had a unique sound effect for each event.
This port wasn't without its flaws. Probe Entertainment chose not to use the PC's CD audio capability for the music, converting the music into synthesized form instead, however, music quality varied depending on what type of sound card was installed, ranging from the average quality Sound Blaster's synthesizer to the high quality Roland LAPC-I and Gravis Ultrasound. A later CD-ROM re-release of the game did have CD audio soundtrack fully reproducing the original arcade music tracks.
This port featured faster loading times than the PlayStation version, slightly enhanced graphics that looked even closer to the arcade version, and high quality synthesized music as substitution for the Arcade's original soundtrack. It was also missing some sound effects, such as Shao Kahn's "Round 1" voiceover and Kitana's death scream. The Sega Saturn version also allowed players to preload certain morphs for Shang Tsung, reducing lag time, and causing a glitch allowing the player to morph between ninjas (any male ninja can morph into the other two even when not selected, and the same works for Kitana and Mileena).
The game was only released on the PlayStation in Japan. While the graphics in this port remained close to the quality of those featured in the arcade game, the sound quality did not. Instead of utilizing the CD-ROM format and using CD audio tracks, the game used the PlayStation's own SPU internal sound chip.
The loading times for the Japanese PS port could be excessively long, at times. When performing certain actions (such as Shang Tsung's morph ability), game play would cease and the Mortal Kombat II symbol would be displayed for 1 to 2 seconds, rather than being instant, as in some other versions. Another loading delay during Stage Fatalities on Pit II caused characters to continue screaming even after hitting the ground.
Midway Arcade Treasures
Mortal Kombat II was re-released in 2004 as a part of Midway Arcade Treasures 2. This version was an emulation of the original Mortal Kombat II arcade game, rather than a port. As a result, this version plays closer to the original Mortal Kombat II arcade game than any version released previous to it. Unfortunately, it suffers from a common graphical bug: each characters' shadow sprites flicker. Music and sound effects are also prone to cutting out or playing out of sync. Finally, due to a control mapping issue involving the "Start" button, it is impossible to fight Smoke, though the "random select" can still be activated.
It also saw a release on the Sony PSP in Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play, but contained graphical errors similar to those in Midway Arcade Treasures 2. Additionally, the game suffers from a removal of certain graphics and heavy loading times.
PlayStation 2 and Xbox
MK II is unlockable via a secret code in the game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks in identical quality to the edition released in Midway Arcade Treasures 2. It can also be unlocked by doing Smoke's missions.
This port was featured on Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play. The game's graphics and sound are very close to that of the arcade version, but the animation and sound during Fatalities get choppy, and details have been removed from some stages. For example, the clouds in the background of Kahn's arena don't seem to move, unlike the original arcade version. The game's controls are also very close to the arcade version.
The PlayStation Network version of MK II is an almost arcade-perfect port and also features online play.
Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection
An arcade collection consisting of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was released as a downloadable title for PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and PC on August 31, 2011.
Reception Review scores Publication Score
The game proved to be a huge commercial success and even a cultural phenomenon, with the first-week over $50 million sales for cartridge consoles dwarfing even the initial box office of movie blockbusters such as True Lies, The Mask and The Lion King. Critical reception of MKII at the time of its release was mostly very favorable: the game's average ratings at GameRankings are 85.63% for Genesis version and 85.87% on SNES, yet only 61.75% for the flawed Game Boy port. Sega Visions called the way in which the sequel was directed as "sheer brillance". In 2008, Destructoid called it "the best game to ever grace arcades". As late as 2009, many Mortal Kombat fans still considered MKII to be the best title in entire series. Over the years, many other gaming publications also featured Mortal Kombat II on the various lists of the top video games of all time. (Some examples of this are bolded out in the table to the right.)
As in the case of the first MK game, its absurdly bloody content became the subject of a great deal of controversy regarding violent video games. For the same reason, the game won the title of the bloodiest game of 1994 by Electronic Gaming Monthly and in 2006 IGN named Jax's "Arm Rip" Fatality as the #10 best gore effect in the video game history. In September 1994 Mortal Kombat II was put on the German index of the works allegedly harmful to young people by the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien. In February 1995 all versions of the game except this for Game Boy were confiscated from the German market for violating §131 of Germany's penal code, that is for showing gruesome violence against humans (the ban ended in February 2005, due to the 10-year limitation for confiscations).
While many games have been subject to urban legends about secret features and unlockable content, these kinds of myths were particularly rampant among the dedicated fan community of MK II and the MK series. The game's creators did little to dispel the rumors, some of which were even eventually implemented in subsequent MK games. Among these later-adapted rumors were the Animalities - added in Mortal Kombat 3; the red female ninja character "Scarlet" - introduced as Skarlet in Mortal Kombat (2011); the ability to throw an enemy into a mouth of a living tree - featured in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks; and the incorporation of Blaze, the initially unnamed man-on-fire figure from the background of the Pit II stage, as a secret character in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and the final boss in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Others rumors, such as Kitana's Nudality (or Sexuality) finishing move, which would supposedly have undressed her and Mileena.
The story and characters of Mortal Kombat II served as basis for the 2005 beat'em up game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and (along with these of Mortal Kombat 3) for the 2011 fighting game Mortal Kombat.
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- ^ Mortal Kombat Secrets: Mortal Kombat II - Kodes And Secrets
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- Mortal Kombat II at MobyGames
- Mortal Kombat II (arcade) at GameFAQs
- Mortal Kombat II at the Internet Movie Database
- Mortal Kombat II at the Killer List of Videogames
- Mortal Kombat II at TV Tropes (characters)
- Mortal Kombat II - The Mortal Kombat Wiki
- Mortal Kombat II - Mortal Kombat Online
- HuguesJohnson.com - Mortal Kombat II Behind the Scenes
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