Before the PS3 release, the PS1 release was the best version.
Mortal Kombat II is considered by most Mortal Kombat fans to be the best game in the series, it took everything that was great about the first game and just added onto it. But after its arcade release it was ported over to 13 consoles (that's including the PC) and even after being ported to all of those consoles we wouldn't see an arcade perfect port of Mortal Kombat II until 2007 when it was ported to the Playstation 3 which was ported as an above arcade perfect port. So before 2007 what did we play? Well those of us who had access to imports played either the original Playstation version that was only released in Japan or the Sega Saturn version which was released everywhere you'll see mention the Sega Saturn version in this review due to the fact that the Playstation version is actually just a port of the Sega Saturn release but I'll explain why the Playstation release remained the best port up until 2007.
Yes you see right I gave Mortal Kombat II a 5 for graphics but not because the arcade version was some impressive looking graphics powerhouse (even though it did look very impressive for the time) but because it took so long for console owners to get a port of Mortal Kombat II that looked just as good as the arcade. When the game was originally released on the Sega Saturn that was the only way to get a copy of Mortal Kombat II that looked just as good as the arcade. Since the Playstation release is pretty much a direct port of the Saturn release it looks just as good as the Saturn version which itself looks just as good as the original arcade release. Hardcore Mortal Kombat II gamers who've played the arcade version to death might complain and nit pick to attempt to try to find things that are lower resolution on the Playstation version or just not up to par well they'd be right and wrong. After putting well over 10 hours of game time into this version the only thing that Ive seen, graphically that's not the same as the arcade would have to be the text in the game. Everything in the game is visually up to par with the arcade version, some people might fight that it looks blurrier but that's only because the arcade version is on a smaller monitor while your playing the Playstation version on a T.V. that could be over 30 inches. But I have played the Playstation release on a T.V. that's as small as one of the arcade monitors and I can say for sure that does look as good or is on par with the arcade versions graphics. There was one thing that I said that graphically wasn't on par or the exact same as the arcade and that as the text. The Playstation version uses a lot of baby blue text where in the arcade it would be yellow or some other color. For example when you die you have the option to continue where the text is yellow with some white, but in the Playstation version its just baby blue. There are other areas where the text has been changed other then the continue screen but I'm just giving you an example of areas where the text would changed colors. One more thing that I want to bring up about the Playstation version that graphically about arcade perfect is Shang Tsungs victory stance. As most of you Mortal Kombat II gamers know when Shang Tsung wins a match or when you choose him he simply puts his hands on his waist and that's it. In the Playstation release instead of Shang Tsung simply putting his hands on his waist and you seeing a still image of him like all other versions, now he puts his hands on his waist and starts laughing and moving the upper part of his body back and forth and continues to do this until the new round starts or when you move from the character selection screen to the fight ladder. Finally I'll talk about the main menu since its graphically the first interactive thing you'll encounter in the game. To be honest there's not much to say when the game loads up and brought to the main menu where you see a large picture of the Mortal Kombat dragon and some different sub menus that are just yellow text. Overall the graphics get a 5, everything in the game involving graphics is either arcade perfect or is a bit better and gives the game some more originality that separates it from other versions.
Game play: 3.5
Game play wise the Playstation version is quite true to the arcade, almost everything that was in the arcade version is in here. So you can fight Noob Saibot, Smoke, Jade but they did take out the ability to play Pong after playing 250 rounds, honestly I think that taking it out is for the better because I don't know anyone who's ever even played that many matches in one setting and also just having the ability to play Pong takes away from the mood of the game, so taking it out is for the better. Sure hardcore fans of the original arcade release might be mad at this but I can safely say that most people who play Mortal Kombat II play it for the fighting and the violence not for the ability to play Pong. So everything that was in the arcade release besides Pong is in here but there is one thing that is missing and its not some sort of hidden goody, Its the difficulty level. This is where I think the hardcore Mortal Kombat II fans will be displeased but the casual gamers will rejoice. When comparing Mortal Kombat II for the arcade and Playstation everything is pretty similar but when your talking about difficulty it turns into night and day. On one hand you have the arcade version which is pretty darn difficult on the normal mode (this is expected because its an arcade game) when playing the on the default difficulty you'll find yourself popping in quarters left and right even on the first few opponents, because its just that hard. But when I was playing the Playstation version I decided for the first play through I would just leave the difficulty settings on default. But I didn't realize how easy the default settings were. I say this because I beat the entire game with out dying once. So on one hand we have the arcade version which is so hard that you'll probably end up having to pay for more credits, while on the other hand you have the Playstation version which is so easy you can beat the game with only one credit. Now just out of curiosity I did up changing the settings in the Playstation version to its hard mode and sure enough it did make it hard, but it only made it as hard as the arcades normal mode. Meaning in the end that the Playstation release is easier then the arcade original no matter how much you change the difficulty. But it doesn't end there because there are a few more differences in the game play. One thing that's changed is that by default the announcer will not say the characters names unless you turn on the feature in the options. So its not really changed as much as they just gave you the option to have more freedom in the games options. But other then that everything is the exact same in both releases, there are some cool little features in the Playstation release giving you the ability to go through all of the sound effects in the game, which is nothing huge but its nice that its there. So there you have it for game play its pretty much identical, there are some things missing but the Playstation version comes back with some cool little options that make up for the few things missing. Over all the game play gets an 8 its not identical to its arcade counter part but its very close.
This is where things might get a little messy, after reading quite a few reviews of the Sega Saturn version, watching video reviews and comparisons it seems that most people don't like the audio in the Playstation or Sega Saturn version but I'll explain why there are so many mixed feelings with the audio in this version. The first thing that you'll notice about the audio is the music. When you first boot up this game in your Playstation and the introduction/back story of the last Mortal Kombat starts to play you'll notice that the music has been changed, quite a bit too. The developers kept all of the same tracks from the original but mixed them up and gave them this techno style sound. When I first heard the music I thought that the game was using CD audio or CD music but after doing a little research it turns that this release of Mortal Kombat II is not using CD audio even though the game is clearly on a CD. The developers compressed the music to give it that remixed sound, but they didn't compress the music like they did in the 16-bit ports making it obviously sound compressed. It seems what they did in this game is they compressed the music without shrinking it down in size or quality, but instead they compressed it to give it this fresh feeling. I personally like the new music in this Playstation release but some people might not like it but I personally like because I feel that it gives the Playstation release more originality, the hardcore Mortal Kombat II fans might not like it but the casual Mortal Kombat II gamers will enjoy the music. There is one more audio related subject that I need to talk about and that is the sound effects. The sound effects in the game sound exactly like they do in the arcade but sadly not all of the the effects made it over to the Playstation port. For some reason the developers decided to take out some moans and groans for the characters and just recycle other sound effects from other characters. Recycling the sound effects work but when you playing the game and you, lets say uppercut someone and one of the recycled sound effects play it sound obvious that there was supposed to be another sound effect playing and it kind of makes the game seem a little rushed. So overall the sound/audio gets an 3.5 they did kind of a slack job with the actual sound effects but the music is great and very original and makes up for the handful of missing sound effects.
I'm going to keep this section short because there's not much that I can say. The Playstation controller works very well for all fighting games but it seems that the controls in Mortal Kombat II seem a little sloppy. Its not that the control scheme is bad it just that the controls feel a little sluggish. For those of you who have played the Super Nintendo version of Mortal Kombat know that the game was very sluggish when compared to the Genesis or arcade versions. Now granted that the Playstation version is not nearly as sluggish as the Super Nintendo port of Mortal Kombat but it is definitely a little slow. But I found that after playing the game for a little over a half an hour I got used to the sluggishness of the game. You do have the option to change around the control scheme but the default settings are great and you won't need to change them. And that's it for the controls really because controls for all fighting games are pretty basic. So overall the controls get a 3 the control scheme is great by default but they still give you the option to change them around if yo want. Although the sluggishness of the controls might fend off hardcore gamers of Mortal Kombat II I found that playing it for a little bit was enough for me to get used to the controls, so the casual gamers might be more accepting of the sluggishness.
Well that's it really so the final question is should you buy this version of the game? Well if your a hardcore fan of the series I would say go ahead an buy one, occasionally you'll see one on eBay for about $30. But if your a hardcore fan of game then I would still buy it only because of its rarity and your still bound to get some fun out of this copy even though you can get this game for just about every system out right now. But if your a casual gamer then you probably don't have access to imports and stuff like that so it might be too much of a hassle to play a game that you can get for just about any modern day system.