Back in the mid 1990s, Mortal Kombat was all the rage. Its ridiculously violent “Fatalities” made it the subject of controversy, while its stylized combat and esoteric secrets made it the talking point of many gamers. It makes sense then, that during the height of Mortal Kombat mania, the series would see something of a “best of” installment. Released in 1996 on home consoles, Mortal Kombat Trilogy took the foundations of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and added in characters and stages from the previous installments in the series, while also hosting some new characters of its own. But just how well does Mortal Kombat Trilogy hold up?
Well, on the plus side, it’s still very much possible to have some good fun (as well as a bit of frustration) when playing with friends. On the downside, the single player options really don’t feel worth the ridiculous difficulty, and some of the game’s mechanics and characters feel largely unbalanced.
If you want to tackle the game’s single player story mode, be prepared for many controller-throwing moments, as even its “easiest” difficulty is harder than most games’ hard modes. The computer-controlled characters can often counter moves at times that aren’t possible for human players, and each subsequent fight becomes considerably harder than the last. And seeing as all of the secret characters are unlocked via cheat codes, it really makes you wonder why you would even bother going through the story mode other than bragging rights.
Thankfully, the multiplayer options are a bit more fun, with players being able to battle one-on-one, or for two players to have teams of two or three characters battle against each other.
The combat (sorry, Kombat) is still pretty simple. Most characters share the same standard moves, while their special abilities and projectiles are more unique for each character. It’s possible to chain together combos, and it allows for some frantic fighting action.
Unfortunately, some characters seem to have huge advantages over others, with some characters boasting abilities that make repetition and cheesing way too easy. Sindel, for example, can stun opponents while simultaneously bringing them closer with a screaming ability, and then follow it up with a nearly unblockable series of throws where she grabs the opponents with her prehensile hair. Characters such as Jax can do very little about it, unless you can manage to get close enough to repeatedly spam his own grab attack.
That’s the problem with the combat, despite boasting the possibilities for extravagant combos, Mortal Kombat Trilogy heavily favors spamming abilities to the point of almost rewarding them. It can still be a fun game, but it’s one that is all too easily exploited.
Visually speaking, the game still looks decent. Sure, the digitized actors may not be the most aesthetically pleasing method of video game visuals, but they certainly hold up better than the polygonal blobs of Mortal Kombat 4. And some of the character animations look surprisingly fluid, and the Fatality animations are so gratuitously over-the-top that they can be downright hilarious.
As a whole, Mortal Kombat Trilogy is not the game to go to if you want a smart, deep fighter. But it still can provide a good time with some friends, at least for short bursts of time.