This was the last game of the MK series to use two dimensional digitized characters. All of the characters from the first three games are included and playable, including the bosses. What ends up is a massive free-for all that had Mortal Kombat fans rolling on the floor in orgasmic extacy. Plus you could be Kintaro, which rules.
There doesn't seem to be much of a story going on with this one. The game is kind of like a "greatest hits" of Mortal Kombat, with every single characters up until that point represented, 33 in all. In addition to the regular characters and bosses, all of the hidden characters from the previous games are playable (Ermac, Noob Saibot, Smoke) and a few of the characters have their alternate costumes from MKI and MK II as playable (Raiden, Kano.) Also some of the characters have new additional moves that look to have been cut out of the original arcade games (Kano's spinning blade attack, Baraka's twirling Top-like attack, etc.) Now there is an "Aggressor" meater which when filled allows you to do "aggressor" auto combos. Each character has at least five finishing moves (two fatalities, babalitiy, friendship, and anaimality.) Also there are new "Brutality" finishers where the character auto combos the loser until he's reduced to bloody chunks. There are also all 27 backgrounds from the first three games included, along with the various "pit" fatalities they contain.
Now, a few problems. It is awesome to play as the bosses Goro, Kintaro, Motaro, and Shao Khan. However only one player can be a "boss" at a time, so there are no Goro vs. Kintaro fantasy match ups, which is lame. The bosses don't have endings or any of the finishing moves (more on that later.) While it is cool to play as them it seems like they were thrown in at the last second. They also thankfully kept the attacks for all the bosses at thier original damage levels and did not try to give them auto combos or anything rediculous like that.
The Radien and Kano Characters from MKI and II have the addition of run and auto combo moves, however these are made up of the same frames of animation as other moves and look a little disjointed. I realize they had to do this to make the game "fair," but there would have been nothing wrong with playing these characters as they orignially appeared. Johnny Cage is also back, refilmed with a completely new actor, and as a result they were able to film new animation for him so his character doesn't look weird doing an auto combo.
Differences between the two versions:
- The N64 version allows Shang Tsung to morph into all characters at any time, while on the Playstation you have to choose which two you want else suffer horrible load times.
- Goro and Kintaro are not available on the N64 version. However the trade off is Motaro and Shao khan have fatalities.
- The alternate costumes for Raiden and Kano are only on the Playstation version.
- There is also a new hidden character called "Kamelon." On the Playstation it's a shifting anagram of all the male ninja characters (Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Smoke, Rain, Ermac, Reptile, Noob Saibot, and any other I may have forgotten.) On the N64 it's the same but with the female ninjas (Meleena, Kitana, Jade.) Thing is Kameleon constantly changes from one character to another, and the player cannot control which set of moves that can be done at any given time. While it's always cool to have a new character it is somewhat lame to get just another tired ninja.
- The Playstation version of this game is one of the few that is not compatible with a PS2 (although it should work on the slim model.)
Overall it's probably the greatest gift a fan of these games could ask for. The old 2D games had an intensity and charm that the newer 3D installments just do not capture. Even though they started getting silly with all the goofy fatalities and babalities and whatnot, it still felt more "real" nailing some fool with an uppercut in 2D than it does now.
Graphics: As good as any of the three games. It is kind of strange to see MK I low-resolution raiden fighting Motaro, he looks like a cardboard cut-out. The run and auto combos for the old character versions use existing animations and look a bit strange. Overall graphics between the two versions are pretty exact.
Sound: Playstation has superior sound samples than the N64 version, however you'd only notice it if you put them right next to each other.
Gameplay: Bone crunching pull-your-head-off goodness that all MK fans with barf with joy over. It is awesome to play as the bosses but it would have been nice to give them endings and finishing moves. Plus the fact that one boss cannot fight another is pretty lame.