Mortal Kombat, the censored Super NES Port

Mortal Kombat's Marquee, seen on the Arcade cabinet

As one of the ports of the Mortal Monday, Mortal Kombat for the Super NES was anticipated, but was very mixed. The main reason was that the blood was removed and fatality were altered to be less gory. Because of the original game popularity, this gave an edge to Sega with the port it received.

Although censored, it was possible to restore the blood with a cheat code. In Japan, this port is known as Mōtaru Konbatto: Shinken Kōrin Densetsu (Mortal Kombat: Legend of the Advent God Fist). The game is exactly the same between the two regions.

One interesting aspect of this port is that it has been labelled as the “Mortal Kombat : Competition Edition.” Although there is no clue why, this subtitle is not present in any other port or the Japanese equivalent. There is no mention of it in-game either.

Attract mode and game beginning of the Super NES port

It is actually impossible to register a high score in the Super NES port, because even if you beat one of them being featured there, the game never offer you to write your initials. However, it was planned to be there, according to the finds of The Cutting Floor Room (originally discovered by Chris Mader).

For character introduction, there is no FMV video. Instead, you see each character performing their win pose against a blue gradient background. However, the rest stay the same as the original Mortal Kombat.

As for the “Goro Lives!” screen, instead of the special portrait showcasing him, he is seen dropping down from the top and perform his win poses (exactly like when you fight him after the third endurance match). Like the other character, the background is a blue gradient. The same text from the arcade version is shown as well as the corresponding music.

Unfortunately, there is no demonstration in this port, meaning that after seeing these three screens, you return to the title screen.

Title screen
Character selection screen

One interesting feature in the options is the ability to disable the projectile, referred as spell in the game. However, you are still allowed to do non-projectile move.
Just like the arcade original, you choose your character and the battle plan is shown. You can pause the game at this screen, causing it to darken just like a fatality. This is the only form of pause feature in this port.

At the battleplan, another unique feature of this port is the ability to pause it, causing the whole screen to darken. This is the only form of pause feature in this port.

Pausing at the battleplan

Mortal Kombat’s altered game engine

If you are familiar with the original Mortal Kombat, you will notice many differences. The first thing you will see is the graphics. It is expected that the SNES cannot handle the crisp clear graphic of the original arcade, but it manages to be very faithful, even featuring the same animation for each background. The music, which sounds different in many aspects, still capture the spirit of the coin-op. As for the sound effect, most are there, but many voices for the character were lost in the process. This includes almost every voice given to male character on the player 2 sides, some clips for Sonya and the announcer saying “Fatality!”. An interesting note is that Scorpion “get over here!” is said as “come here!”.

Johnny Cage vs Kano
Test your might!

The second thing you will probably notice is the slower pace of your character and slight delay on its action. There is also something different with the projectile behavior. If, for example, your opponent throw a projectile and you throw one a split second after, you will get hit and your projectile will vanish. This make being hit at the same time impossible, and situation where Scorpion spears someone but get hit by the projectile, thus cancelling his move, impossible as well. This engine rule is also applicable when you fight Goro and Shang Tsung: they will lose their projectile if you hit them with yours before they do.

Projectile behavior

You will then try to do some combo you learned at the arcade, such as a well-placed jump kick and immediately a shadow kick with Cage. However, the second move will likely not connect or the opponent will be able to block it if he holds the block button after the jump kick.

Aside for the projectile behaviour mentioned earlier, the character who is hit fall farther than in the original, preventing a vast majority of combo. The only one who is reliable is if you hit your opponent while he is in the air with a standing high punch and then perform any damaging special move. There is no recoil in the game either, which make it possible to juggle your opponent in the corner until you win the round.

However, unlike the arcade version, you can only do an extra hit after the “Finish Him/Her!” sequence, if you do another one, the match will end unless you perform a throw, which can be done until the match ends. You can also throw your opponent even if he lies on the ground, but you have to do it at a good timing.

Infinite combo example

Special moves and CPU behavior

There is quirk with some of the special character move. Rayden’s teleport is much slower, to the point that it is only safe to use to evade special move with delays. su Scorpion’s spear or Sonya’s Ring Toss. Rayden can be throw during the teleport sequence as well. Scorpion’s teleport punch can hit the opponent in front of him if he is very close, which will prevent Scorpion to actually goes to the other side of the screen.

The slow nature of the engine also affects the bosses. Goro projectile is slower and his stomp move is easier to evade. Because of this slow state, it is possible to uppercut him right after getting up before the CPU can do anything. Shang Tsung only shoot a single, slow fireball in this version.

The CPU has different behaviours from the arcade version as well. On the default difficulty, the CPU will always try to throw you if you’re close. It will often to avoid projectiles. In a projectile fight, it seems to know when you are about to do one and will perform one just before. This will cause you to lose your projectile like mentioned earlier. The CPU will also never perform fatality in any circumstance. It will mostly throw you around or perform a random move to end the match.

Reptile

Reptile is present in the game, and this port shows his proper name in the life bar. Since there is no shadow in the Pit stages of this port, you can always fight Reptile as long as you do A Double Flawless and Fatality, provided that you don’t block. Like in the arcade, the message before Reptile fight will be shown, but there is no flashing or music that play during that sequence. Then, you go down the pit and fight him. Reptile doesn’t have his extra speed in this port, but otherwise stay the same.

Reptile found
Fight against Reptile

The endurance match is there, but there is a slight difference. When the first character is defeated, it burst into flames before the second one takes this place. This is different from the arcade original. In the coin-op, the first character stay on the ground until the end of the match.

First fighter catching fire before the second comes out

Bosses

The bosses are altered as well. Goro will always start a match by throwing his projectile. If he misses you, he will attempt at least 2 times. Regardless of you get hit or not, he will never perform the move again during the match. Goro also has a tendency to go right through the projectile as if he was immune to it.

In Kano’s case, his knife can cause his animation to freeze, unable to move. When hit by everything but punches and sweep, he will use his scream sound effect that he does when he gets hit by Scorpion’s spear in the arcade.

Shang Tsung’s CPU is also slower. He shoots a single fireball and waits for the player to move before morphing. Excluding his altered projectiles, he fights mostly the same. However, this alteration causes him to be much easier than in the original Mortal Kombat.

Goro vs Sonya

Ending sequence

One thing unique to this port is the death sequence of Shang Tsung. Like the arcade version, he begins to shake violently as the fighter soul’s go out of himself. In the super NES port, flashing light of different colours accompanies this sequence. This sequence is not safe for people having epilepsy. To be honest, this look more like a rave party than a death sequence.

Liu Kang vs Shang Tsung
Death sequence of Shang Tsung

After this, you will see your character jump in the Warrior’s Shrine stage and his ending will scroll from the bottom to the top. This differ from the arcade original, which show 2 special picture of the character with the text. Then, it jumps to the Pit stage and shows the endgame credit before returning to the title screen. The cast of characters is only shown in text in the Super NES Port.

Ending screen

In conclusion

Mortal Kombat for the Super NES was censored in my aspect, dues to Nintendo Policy at the time. Among the major element, blood was replaced with sweat, no blood dropping is present and all Fatality but Scorpion and Sonya is altered. It’s interesting to note that Sub-Zero’s censored fatality became an official fatality in Mortal Kombat 2, done in a similar fashion with more gore. Aside from that, the bottom of the pit is complete clean, with no body, blood or skeleton.

Any fatality bonus is labelled as “Finishing bonus” and the announcer doesn’t say “Fatality.” Lastly, some wording was changed in character ending, such as “the destruction of Shang Tsung” instead of “the assassination of Shang Tsung.”

Overall, The Super NES port is still a great retro game to play. It is fun, intuitive and it is easy to adapt to the slight delay of the game engine. However, MK purists will be deceived by the complete lack of blood and censored fatality.

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