Mortal Kombat 3 (known in some promotional material simply as MK3) is a 2D fighting game developed and released by Midway on April 1995 for arcades. Although not as popular as the previous Mortal Kombat games (and was criticized by fans due to the change of scenery and bland character roster), the game was a commercial success, adding new gameplay innovations to the franchise such as the Run button, different difficulty ladders, pre-programmed combos, Animalities, mid-fight stage transitions, and special pre-match (or Game Over) codes known as "Kombat Kodes". The game was later overshadowed by the upgraded versions Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy.
Taking place sometime after Mortal Kombat II, the plot of Mortal Kombat 3 revolves around the Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm through the resurrection of his wife, Sindel. Other sub-plots include the creation of the ninja clan Lin Kuei's "cyber-assassin" program, in which Sub-Zero refuses to join and becomes marked for death, and Jax and Sonya's hunt for the elusive Kano.
The gameplay in Mortal Kombat 3 builds upon the gameplay from the first two Mortal Kombat games. Along with four attack buttons (High Punch, High Kick, Low Punch, Low Kick) and a Block button, Mortal Kombat 3 adds a Run button, which builds upon the offensive game by allowing the player to quickly dash forward. Along with this new button comes a "Run Meter", which limited the use of running.
Mortal Kombat 3 introduces a " chain combo" system in which players can perform pre-programmed combos by linking normal attacks together. These combs cannot be escaped and usually end with either an attack that sends the opponent flying forward, or a launcher that allows the player to further juggle the opponent.
The game also introduces the concept of "Choose Your Destiny", a difficulty selection screen shown before the single player campaign where players can choose between different "towers", each increasing in difficulty. The difficulties included in Mortal Kombat 3 are Novice (in which the player fights six opponents), Warrior (in which the player fights eight opponents), and Master (in which the player fights ten opponents).
In the versus screen before two-player matches, players can cooperatively enter a six-digit code (known as a "Kombat Kode") to modify key gameplay mechanics, fight hidden characters, and read hidden text messages. Gameplay mechanics that could be changed include disabling blocking, disabling throwing, disabling the Run Meter, changing the vitality of a player's life bar, making the screen pitch black, and forcing both players' characters to randomly change every few seconds.
When the Game Over screen appears after the sole player chooses not to continue, the player the option to enter a ten-digit secret code (known as an "Ultimate Kombat Kode"). Players have little time to input the code (either randomly or figured out through alternate sources). Only one working "Ultimate Kombat Kode" exists in Mortal Kombat 3: the ability to permanently unlock (for that arcade machine) Smoke as a playable character.
Fatalities, Friendships, and Babalities return from Mortal Kombat II, although the requirements for performing Friendships and Babalities are less restrictive. (Now they can only be performed when the player does not press Block during that player's winning round) Introduced in Mortal Kombat 3 are Mercy and Animalities. When a player has won a match that went to three rounds, the player has the option to prolong the fight with a special Mercy button combination. (Holding the Run button and pressing Down on the joystick four times when the character is at least a half a screen away) If the player defeats the opponent after showing Mercy, that player has the option to perform an Animality, in which the player transforms into a different animal and kills the opponent. (In a similar fashion to Liu Kang's Dragon Fatality from Mortal Kombat II).
Characters and Actors
The game includes fourteen playable starter characters, two unplayable bosses, one playable secret character, and one unplayable secret opponent. Jax, Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, and Shang Tsung return from Mortal Kombat II alongside Kano and Sonya from the original Mortal Kombat as starting playable characters. Each character from the previous games have a different appearance, such as Jax's metal arms and an un-masked Sub-Zero. Shao Kahn returns from Mortal Kombat II as the game's final boss.
The other playable starter characters include the palette swaps Cyrax and Sektor (Lin Kuei cyber-assassins sent to kill Sub-Zero), Kabal (a former warrior of Kano's clan), Nightwolf (a North American shaman), Stryker (a riot control officer), Sheeva (a female Shokan warrior), and the resurrected Sindel. Motaro replaces Kintaro as Shao Kahn's bodyguard and penultimate boss.
The game includes two secret characters, one of which (Smoke from Mortal Kombat II as an indoctrinated cyber-assassin palette swap) is unlocked as a playable character via an "Ultimate Kombat Kode". The other, Noob Saibot (also from Mortal Kombat II), can only be fought through a special "Kombat Kode". Although we're given the impression that Noob Saibot is a ninja (similar to Mortal Kombat II), he is simply a palette swap of Kano in this game.
There are eleven playable stages (thirteen if you count Noob Saibot's Dorfen, where you fight Noob Saibot, and Hidden Portal, where you fight Smoke), which is built into a simple, looping rotation. However, The Balcony is always the stage in Motaro matches and The Pit 3 is always the stage in Shao Kahn matches. The stages that include Stage Fatalities are The Subway (in which the player uppercuts the opponent into the adjacent tracks, who gets run over by a subway car), The Bell Tower (in which the player uppercuts the opponent down the Bell Tower through many floors, who then gets impaled by spikes), and The Pit 3 (in which the player uppercuts the opponent over the side of the bridge and into rotating blades below).
A new addition to Mortal Kombat stages is mid-match stage transitions, where a simple uppercut can knock the opponent up into another stage. The Subway transitions to The Street, The Bank transitions to The Rooftop, and The Soul Chamber transitions to The Balcony.
Versions and Ports
16-bit conversions for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo were released on September 8, 1995, along with a Game Boy version as well. A rare Game Gear version of MK3 was made but only saw a release in Japan and Europe. MK3 was an early member of the Sony PlayStation library, as a 32-bit conversion was released on October 7, 1995, less than a month after the PlayStation launched in North America. As part of its battle with Sega Saturn over the 32-bit market, Sony bought exclusive rights from Midway to release the game on 32-bit consoles. As a response, Sega purchased exclusive 32-bit rights to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Two versions of MK3 were released for PC. One version was strictly made for DOS. The other version was the PlayStation version ported over for Windows. An emulated version of the game was included on Midway Arcade Teasures 2 for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube in 2004. It also was featured on Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play for the PSP in 2005 and Midway Arcade Teasures Deluxe Edition for the PC in 2006. Deluxe featured a 1995 10-minute documentary about the making of the game.