This is a bad port of a great arcade game. One of the most significant issues is the lack of buttons. Instead of the five-button layout of the arcade game, you only have two buttons.
When the characters weren’t moving, the graphics were okay. However, when you try to play the game, there is a lot of stuttering and slow down. The game feels rushed from a gameplay standpoint.
It is impressive to see Mortal Kombat being ported to the Game Boy. It is a bad port, but seeing this working on the aging Game Boy hardware is still impressive.
TLDR: This is the Worst Version of Mortal Kombat.
Mortal Kombat is one of the few fighting games with a great story and gameplay. The gore was the cherry on top of all of that. While Mortal Kombat’s story would get crazy as the years passed, the first one was relatively straightforward.
We follow a group of characters who are fighting in a martial arts tournament. Each of them has their own motivations for entering, and it turns out that this is part of a larger story.
The elder gods created several different realms. The realms can invade each other, but they have to win ten consecutive martial arts tournaments before they can do so. The tournament in the game is the tenth tournament, and Earth has to win to stay safe.
I just wanted to give you a brief overview. There is more to the story. Once the sequels started coming out, the story would get more complicated and arguably better.
It plays like your characters are fighting in a pool of molasses. I wasn’t expecting the arcade game, but I didn’t remember it being this bad. This is a case where my memory of the game doesn’t match up with how it plays today.
Pulling off one of the special moves is nearly impossible for me. I couldn’t figure out the right combination of button presses when I first played it, and after looking up how to do them on a Game Boy, I still couldn’t do them.
What I could do in the game was the basics. I found jump punches and kicks the most effective, but they were still hit-and-miss. It was a guessing game on if I was going to hit my opponent or not.
Blocking is still a mystery in this version of the game. The arcade has a dedicated button for blocking, and other fighting games have you holding back to block at the right time. Neither of those options is in the Game Boy version of Mortal Kombat. There are limited buttons, and the back button doesn’t seem to work.
Hit detection was baffling to me. This goes along with the lack of a block button but also ties into the poor graphics. It felt like you would only hit your opponent by mistake or when the game felt bad for you. I often found myself punching past my opponent when I would have expected to hit them.
Many of the concessions that were made on this port make sense. The game is also missing a character. This probably had to do with completely understandable memory constraints.
At the time, this would have been a fun game. Especially if you didn’t have an arcade near you or if you didn’t have one of the console ports. However, it is the worst way to play the first Mortal Kombat.
The graphics aren’t very good when you analyze them. The character select screen is a total mess. Unless you know who these characters are, then you won’t be able to tell from the pictures. I first thought Lu Kang was Johnny Cage until I faced him in the game.
This could have been fixed if there were names on the select screen. This would have helped me as I tried to pick Scorpion and ended up with Sub-Zero. It would have also helped if I had the manual, but I’m playing this as I would have back in the late 90s. Collecting the loose cartridges was how I played many retro games.
Once you make it passed the select screen and hopefully pick the right character, things don’t look too bad. Then you start moving, and everything falls apart.
There is a lot of stuttering and slowdown in this game. It makes hitting your opponent harder than it needs to be. That said, it looks like a pixelated version of Mortal Kombat. I’m not sure if having a color version of this would have helped.
5.5/10. This was a nice option to play Mortal Kombat in the early 90s. Unfortunately, it isn’t 1994 anymore, and there are better ways to play this game.
- It is playable
- The graphics are okay at times
- It is a portable version of Mortal Kombat
- Missing characters
- Bad hit detection
- Limited moves
- Confusing character select screen
This is one of the many games I fondly remember, but it doesn’t hold up that well today. I remember playing this or trying to play it back in the 90s. It was the only way I could play it, as I didn’t own one of the console ports or have an arcade near me.
Looking at this game today, I think it was the worst way to play Mortal Kombat. I’ve never played the Game Gear version, but a part of me wants to now to see if it is better than the Game Boy port.
It is impressive to see this game on the Game Boy, but it isn’t good once you get past it. This feels like the game that the developers forgot about or spent the least amount of time on so they could get the Genesis port done.