Even Kollections Get Rushed Out...
The Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection needs no introduction. It contains the first three games of the franchise with Ultimate Mortal Kombat III filling in the third spot for ten dollars or 800 Microsoft Points. The first game was never released as a download on the current generation of consoles as the other two have been out before, but disappeared from the services because of Midway going under. Original plans for this "kollection" were full fledged HD remakes of these games with new graphics and art for the characters with the same classic gameplay you're used to since the 90s. That idea was unfortunately scrapped as WB Games and Netherrealm Studios made the call just to bundle the three together in their arcade versions for a good price, which is indeed the case. It is nice to have these games in one package, but the developers disappointingly dropped the ball on handling these ports.
When playing alone against the computer and locally against friends, the three games feel fine as the arcade versions run smoothly for the most part. It is interesting to go through the beginnings with the first Mortal Kombat with minimal moves and then play Ultimate MK3 with the running and combo systems. Especially compared to the two sequels, the first MK has not aged that well. You can still play that one for nostalgic purposes, but MK2 and UMK3 are clearly the better games improving on the first's limitations. The arcade mode is still as cheap as it has been for nearly two decades on all games where the computer AI becomes frustrating difficult as they counter nearly every move you throw at. This is the case even if you change to easier difficulties on the options menu. Of course, there are the boss characters to defeat too with their own cheapness taking some luck and pattern recognition. At least a move list is nice to have if you want to look up specials, the finishing moves and UMK3 combos on the fly, which is similar to the recent Mortal Kombat reboot. While all three games play fine offline, the same cannot be said when playing online.
The online options in this collection are pretty bare bones with friendly and ranked matches to choose from. There is also no custom match option with ranked, which seems to be a recurring trend as of late as if the days are searching through a list of opponents to play are eventually ending. While matchmaking seems fine, Other Ocean failed on the thing that matters when it comes to online, which is the netcode. This is arguably the worst netcode for a fighting game I played ever and even worse than the SNK games that have been released on the 360. Specifically with Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate MK3, all the matches I played have been filled with lag as if the game is running at half its normal speed. In other words, those games are borderline unplayable online, which is really disappointing since the XBLA version of UMK3 and PSN version of MK2 seem fine to me compared to this junk. At least the bug about playing in the hell stage in the XBLA version of UMK3 was fixed in this version. The only game that is tolerable to play online is surprisingly the first MK. It is not still running at its full speed during matches, but at least they don't feel like you're playing underwater compared to the other two. Add along a lack of penalty when it comes to ragequitting and you're pretty much got a rush job with this collection when going online.
The graphics in these arcade ports are okay despite some weird bugs that are probably have been in the games before and certain sounds cutting off. For example, there was a situation where Shang Tsung was doing Kitana's flying punch move in MK2 as if the model crashed for a bit. Goro's Lair music in the first game and Scropion's "get over here" voice in UMK3 are examples of the sounds being cut off. I have a laundry list of other weird instances that happened when playing the collection like various crashes as it goes to some how mishandled they are. As expected with re-releases like this, there are filters to choose from such as the arcade cabinet look, but the default display seems fine even though you can't stretch the game's screen beyond 4:3. Menu music consists of remixes of classic MK character select screen songs as if they sound they were modernized.
While it can be still worth the ten dollars just to have the games around to play locally, the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection is an absolute disappointment. This is a lazy, rushed job at its finest dropping the ball on the feature that matters on most people's minds, which is the online play. I never played a game with a netcode as worst as this as if it wasn't even tested before it was cleared for release. Of course, the easy solution is a patch that would fix it, but who knows how long it will take to come out or even if it is being considered. Other bugs and issues will annoy hardcore fans expecting these ports to be arcade perfect. It is still crazy to me games get released in this state as this collection could of been the definitive way to play these classics today, which is why you should take a pass on this "kollection."
- Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Ultimate MK3 in one package
- The three games play fine locally
- Netcode is simply an abomination (MK2 and UMK3 borderline unplayable, but MK1 is tolerable to play though)
- Little bugs and sound issues will annoy hardcore fans
- When playing alone, the games are still hard as they have even since they came out (opposing AI gets really cheap)
- Even for three arcade ports, this collection feels like a lazy, rushed job.