Let's face it, lovely though the Amiga may be, it's the consoles that steal all the limelight when it comes to games. When was the last time the tabloids printed a picture of a trusty A1200 with the caption "Ban this instrument of Satan now"? Well now all the joys of media persecution are set to hit the Commodore market thanks to the arrival of Acclaim's latest headline-grabbing gorefest Mortal Kombat 2. Sure, this isn't the first conversion of the title, but it's definitely the closest to the plasma-drenched coin-op so far. But before everyone starts getting all excited, true believers, let's take a little time out to explore the fascinating history of this moral majority-infuriating social phenomenon ...
It all began a couple of years ago when Ed Boon, that rarest of beasts (an American with a sense of irony) surveyed the coin-op market in which he was (and still is) firmly entrenched. Streetfighter 2 had seemingly revolutionised arcades by introducing hordes of cheaply produced and mostly unplayable clones. Ed - we'll be familiar here, he's probably a nice guy - saw a gap in the market for a game with a sense of humour. But not your average Les Dennis comfy slippers type, more the warped pop-culture Bruce Lee-fan humour prevalent in today's youth (that one's for sociology fans).
From this tiny acorn the Mortal Kombat oak was grown, and within a few months, after an abortive attempt at signing Jean-Claude Van Damme in the lead 'role', the first Mortal Kombat game was ready for shipping. It was a bit crap, to be honest, but lots and lots of people liked its subtle blend of murder and mutilation, and pretty soon Ed and his pal John Tobias were back in the labs working on a sequel. This time, with the help of feedback from hardened MK vets, the gameplay balance was perfectly adjusted and MK2 went on to justifiably smash the profits set by the original, and ensure itself a revered place in not just the kooky world of games but also in the still kookier outside world, winding up all non-participants.
Probe's conversions of both games to all platforms, coupled with Acclaim's praiseworthy ad campaign(s) ensured a permanent place in the pixel lexicon right up to this latest stage in interactive evolution, the much anticipated Amiga version.
End of lecture
Right that's the lecture out of the way, now for the game. First off, if you haven't got a second floppy drive for your Amiga be prepared to get one, or else you're in for a fair amount of disk swopping. Second off, if you've got a weak heart Mortal Kombat 2 could very possibly be the death of you. The graphics are stunning, better than those on the Super Nintendo version any day (and this is coming from a predominantly console journo) The sprites are the right size (very large) and the animation is as fluid as you could possibly hope for.
All the characters have made it into the final cut too, so there's no worries about selecting your favourite. Nor, indeed, are there any worries about fighting your favourite opponents; all three secret hidden scrap merchants are present and correct and waiting to be found. Before you ask, no you can't control them and no, Goro isn't one of them (although he's in the Mortal Kombat 3 coin-op out next year, along with Kano and Sonya who also aren't in Mortal 2).
Now you can say all you like about the importance of playability, but if Probe had dropped half the player characters, people's negative reaction would be nowhere near as enraged as if the gore level were dimmed. Luckily for everyone concerned Mortal Kombat 2 is still the most claret-thirsty videogame ever to have graced the industry. Every last drop of rhesus negative has been lovingly reproduced, along with the famously gut-wrenching Fatalites, the only conceivable motivation for memorising long strings of joystick commands.
If you're not psychotically inclined, the appearance of Friendships and Babalities may be more up your street. Babalities allow you to transform your opponent into a helpless babe-in-arms, with Baraka looking especially cute (if you're into fangs). Friendships, though, are the real stars of Mortal 2. Invented as another ironic device to thumb the mighty Mortal nose at technophobic agitators and scape-goaters, Friendships see the two foes settle their differences amicably with the presentation of a cake, a little disco dance, an autographed portrait or even a swift introduction to the family, depending on which character you're playing.
If you yourself are a bit of a conscientious objector, right now you're probably thinking "Is this all there is to it? Just senseless violence, gore and mickey-taking? What about art?". Well hold that sentiment right there hep cats, for Mortal Kombat 2 isn't just the most notorious game in the world, it's also one of the most diligently crafted. There's no way you can win a single round with the old repeated-flying-kick tactic, it takes skill and at least a working knowledge of your character's capabilities Amiga Mortal Kombat 2 is the hardest version yet, harder than the original in fact, and this may be off-putting to less experienced players (younger ones shouldn't be playing it anyway - it's 15 rated). But stick with it, or practice against a dummy opponent in two-player mode, and you'll soon reap results. The satisfaction gained from whupping your third or fourth opponent and knowing exactly how you did it is surprisingly great.
Mild mannered janitor
It might sound a bit sad but this game really does inspire a minor level of fanaticism in even the most mild-mannered of players. Soon your friends will be asking you to explain your strange new vocabulary of phrases like "four-hit dizzy reversal combo" and suchlike, and you won't even care. In fact, you'll probably just demonstrate the (supposedly unblockable) string of attacks in question and then sit back with a smug grin on your face as your pals wrestle each other for the joystick.
This version is bound to let loose the green-eyed monster upon the console community and keep Amiga-owners happy forever (nearly). It doesn't matter what sort of thing you're normally into, it doesn't matter if you've never played an arcade game in your life, it doesn't matter if your collection consists solely of text-only RPGs, every person who owns an Amiga has to own Mortal Kombat 2. In terms of revitalising the Amiga market this is far more important than any Commodore buy-out could ever be.
If this all sounds a bit feverish and raving it's because, to put it bluntly, it is. Mortal Kombat 2 really is that good.
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