Giant Bomb Review


Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection Review

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The hallowed original trilogy of Mortal Kombat games deserves better than a bare-bones, barely functional compilation.

Best fatality of the series.

Let's get the self-evident part out of the way: If you're not interested in playing the original three 2D Mortal Kombat games in (more or less) their original forms, you have no business with Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection. You may move along.

Now the part that isn't obvious. Even if you are such a person, you'd better have other like-minded individuals around you who want to play against you, in person, on the same console. That's the one way this compilation delivers. Arcade Kollection could have served as a great museum display for three of the most memorable fighting games of the '90s, but there are too few bonus features and too many things wrong with this package to make it recommendable to anyone but the most diehard MK fan.

Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 are all here in a no-frills format. In terms of the emulation, the graphics look fine, with a few basic visual filters available to soften the jagged, low-res look that comes along with games this old. All three games generally play like they're supposed to as well, though there's an annoying issue where you lose control of your character for a second when you unpause during a match. Also, I can't in any way recommend you play this game with the old Xbox 360 D-pad. On a Dual Shock 3 or the new 360 controller with the twisting D-pad, the gameplay is fine, though a stick is naturally your best option. It's nice that the game's controls map directly to that special-edition joystick that shipped with the new Mortal Kombat earlier this year.

Since the games look just like you remember them, it's a bit odd the audio in this package doesn't sound the same way. There are numerous cases of certain sound effects canceling out other ones, and a few samples here and there sound like they play back at a noticeably higher fidelity than others. A few sounds, like the clapping from the first game, sound completely different than I remember, almost as if new versions have been added in. The music in Goro's Lair consistently cut out for me every time I played that stage. Once, a splattering sound continued to loop after I had finished a match and even followed me all the way back to the main menu, forcing me to quit out. The list goes on.

Wait, no, this one is.

Absolutely the most disappointing thing about Kollection, though, is the online play, which is painfully laggy at best, and unplayable at worst. All three of the games feel like they're playing in slow motion when you're fighting someone online, and across the numerous matches I played on both 360 and PS3, not one came even close to replicating the feel of playing locally. Making online fighting games feel right is clearly a major challenge, since almost nobody pulls it off, but solid online play is practically the only reason you'd come to this package. Without that, and lacking anyone to fighting against locally, you're stuck playing against the games' hilariously awful AI characters. If that's your situation, you might as well not play at all. Adding insult to injury, the most valuable achievements and trophies here require you to finish the arcade modes of all three games, but at least on the Xbox, those achievements are currently glitchy and aren't guaranteed to actually pop up when you beat any of the games. That's just inexcusable.

The first Mortal Kombat--with its relatively limited, clunky fighting mechanics--exists mostly as a historical curiosity, but the two sequels are just as fast-paced and fun now as they were back in the day, so in the barest sense, it's nice that this collection gives you a chance to play them all in one place. But that's barely all it does. I love Mortal Kombat as much as anyone, and Mortal Kombat II in particular inspired a fervor in my adolescent self that few games have matched before or since. But given how loveably other classic arcade fighters have been treated recently, the problems and omissions make Arcade Kollection nothing but depressing. These games deserve better.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
72 CommentsRefresh
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Posted by CynageN

A sad state of affairs indeed.

Posted by bcrt2000

Sad, but I'm glad you gave it this score. Its the only way NRS will get the message.

Posted by Yamoto


Posted by sixpin

The series certainly deserves better. Makes me wonder how TNT is going to go over.

Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff

Aw, that's disappointing to hear!

Edited by LiquidSwords

The QL was sorta a bummer to watch, game seemed so busted!

Posted by phrosnite

I'm still waiting for the PC version...

Posted by SMTDante89

I'm sad to hear this. But at least MK9 is still just as fun as it was when I first picked it up a few months ago.

Posted by rmanthorp

That sucks.

Posted by kerikxi
Posted by Afroman269

Well that's depressing.

Edited by bcrt2000

By the way Brad, I think MK1 is more than a historical curiosity. I think its a good way to get some of your friends into fighting games. MK1 is BY FAR the most accessible fighting game ever made that anyone gave a damn about.

I have a friend who I used to play the hell out MK1 Genesis with all the time. But he stopped playing fighting games pretty much after MK3 because it got too complicated. I brought over MK9 recently to his place, and while we had a little bit of fun with it, he couldn't even pull off the first combo in the tutorial after 5 minutes of trying. And MK9 is a slow game compared to stuff like modern SF games. Its ridiculous how hard fighting games have become for the common man.

That being said, going back to MK1 with this collection reminded me of the pureness of that game and how simple yet fun it was to play. There's something that game does which no other fighting game has really been able to capture. Its why it became such a phenomena.


On another note, I think GGPO on 3rd Strike is amazing. While matchmaking is an issue in 3rd Strike (which has nothing to do with GGPO), when you actually get into a game, its fantastic.

Posted by Legend

NetherRealm.. why u no make good MK kollection??!

Edited by Mystyr_E

since everyone's doing the disappointed youtube clips, I'll add my own: 

Posted by Winsord

Ouch; bit of a bummer.

Posted by ckeats

Aw man I had high hopes after Other Ocean did so good on UMK 3 for DS. :(

Posted by xxNBxx

Jeff would have still given it a 4 out of 5...

Posted by PrioritySeven

Yuck. I want my ten bucks back.

Posted by schmid

Scorpion launches his spear and says "GET O...", sound cuts out. So sad.

Posted by MagikGimp

How the fuck can they mess up a MAME port? Fucking source has been consistently updated for nigh on a decade now.

Edited by KaneRobot

Why can't NS make a game that is decent online?  What's really baffling is that the no-longer-available stanalone UMK3 on XBLA has much better online play than either Netherrealm release so far (MK9 or this arcade collection). I hope this new release doesn't completely kill standalone UMK3's online playerbase, as as recently as a couple of months ago I could still get online matches no problem.
This collection is such a sloppy piece of work. Audio glitches, no extras other than some new music for the main menu, terrible online, the bizarre and inexcusable unpause / can't move problem...just pathetic. 
That said, I still had some fun with it, but that's mainly because I'm about as big an MK fan as you can find. No way I'd recommend this to others. The 10 dollar price makes it a little easier to swallow, but this is still pretty sad. Last line of the review said it perfectly...these games deserve better. 
Side note - I've actually had the most fun with MK1 as far as playing against other people so far. I see others have made similar comments here too, but it's pretty nice to be able to play something that is that simple but still is quite fun.

Posted by bcrt2000

@schmid said:

Scorpion launches his spear and says "GET O...", sound cuts out. So sad.

Its a bug in the original arcade version of UMK3, but its also something they fixed for the 2006 re-release on XBLA.

Posted by 234r2we232
@xxNBxx said:
Jeff would have still given it a 4 out of 5...
Jeff can only give MK games 5/5.
Posted by Yanngc33


Posted by HelicopterSpy

I picked it up yesterday, played a few online matches and have been playing 3rd Strike ever since. MK9's online has gotten to a point where most matches feel just about right, but this is almost unplayable.

Also, as someone that plays Cyrax in MK9, I forgot he was pretty terrible in UMK3.

Posted by Phoenix87

2 stars is generous. After watching that quick look, I am very disappointed.

Posted by craigbo180

MK9 has horrible online as well it is better than the state it launched in but it's still bad compared to other fighting games on the market. The only reason I would want this game truly would be solid online play. If it gets patched to a playable level (didn't even look playable to me in the quick look) then I would certainly pick it up. Especially for 800 points.

Posted by leejunfan83

My God the humanity

Posted by Raakill

This sucks. I got no console and only a laptop. I was hoping to get in some online matches with the pc version. Dammit, come on with a 3SOE pc release FFS.

Posted by HibikiRush

Screw you, Other Ocean. NEVER touch another MK game again.

Posted by patrick

@xxNBxx said:

Jeff would have still given it a 4 out of 5...

You mean 1/5. If he's the bigger fan, why would he give a larger score to something that clearly misrepresents the series?

Posted by Box3ru13

Literally just finished the QL and man, what a sad, sad online.

I haven't even picked up MK9 yet and now have zero reason to pick this up either. I just wish I had my 360 around the time UMK3 was on it. At least there is always MK2 to go back to.


Posted by TheGreatGuero

How disappointing. I'm glad I didn't buy it right away.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog

Glad you wrote this, Brad. Playing the demo I was kind of tempted to grab it, but it sounds like I'm better off sticking to the copy of UMK on the DS I have.

Posted by sirdesmond

Always sad to see these thrown-together, no additional value added arcade re-releases hitting XBLA and PSN. What's the point of making it if you aren't going to make it good?

Posted by bcrt2000

@BlazeHedgehog said:

Glad you wrote this, Brad. Playing the demo I was kind of tempted to grab it, but it sounds like I'm better off sticking to the copy of UMK on the DS I have.

Funny thing. Other Ocean's DS port of UMK3 is actually better audio wise than this release.

I've got to wonder how much the fact that this was originally going to be an HD Kollection screwed up the ports. Its possible they had entirely new audio in there, but then when they switched it back they fucked it up.

Posted by 23

there are some issues with this release, but I experienced pretty good online play, and the emulation, while not perfect, is adequate for the most part. They really, really had the potential to make this package a whole lot better, with some extras, proper HD filters, and better online play, but I stll think it's a decent release, because it contains the three classic games in workable emulation. I just hope they release a patch to fix some of the worst bugs.

Posted by ajamafalous

Without that, and lacking anyone to fighting against locally,

Posted by SecondPersonShooter

You guys remember when Midway Arcade Treasures 2 came out, and had all three of the MK games, plus more? That was a much better deal than this.  Just go get that used.

Posted by MildMolasses

I only played the trial version, but what I learned was that MK is unplayable to me. The inability to do turn around kicks is almost sould crushing. Combined with my dislike of MK3 and the fact that I already have MK II on my ps3, I knew that this was not for me. Also, the d-pad sucks on the xbox

Posted by Napalm

A Mortal Kombat title that hasn't gotten at least four stars! SOMEBODY FRAME AND MEME THIS SHIT.

Posted by Sooty

To be honest these games don't even hold up well today as it is, the issues with this 'kollection' just makes it worse.

Posted by UnsolvedParadox

That's a bummer, I'll still pick it up but it sounds like the new Mortal Kombat is where I should get my fix.

Posted by cowdrunk


Posted by ptys

Love MK, but I'm happy with the current instalment, reckon it's the best in the series and there was no need to go back.

Posted by csl316

ouch. can't say i expected such a score from such a diehard MK site. but at least it's honest!

Posted by Solh0und

Quite sad really. It's a shame that this "port" couldnt be better.

Posted by Godzilla_Sushi

I was very disappointed after seeing the quicklook. Playing on the internet is the only appeal, otherwise I've got access to these games on old consoles. Sound effects are so important in Mortal Kombat! :(

Posted by zero3

Thankfully, the new Mortal Kombat is pretty good 

Posted by Slaker117

That's a shame. At least it's cheap for those who have people to play with locally.

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