ULTIMATE MORTAL KOMBAT 3| Players: 1-2 | Release: 1996 | Developer: Avalanche Software


The UMK3 player select. Note the absence of Sheeva.

Like I might have said sometime before, I've always been somewhat of a Mortal Kombat freak. It started with the sluggish port of the arcade original on the Megadrive. 7(!) characters (of which most were crap) a couple of backgrounds and one 'Death move' pro character. Toss in a lot blood and gore and you have a major seller..well.. back in '93 anyway. About a year (and loads of positive and negative feedback) later, came the second outing; more characters, more moves, new 'alities. It became the game to own. It was ported to all major formats and sold by the truckload. And rightly so, because it was a good game. (most people still rate MK2 as the best in the series).

The hype for the third game started to build up; 'Animalities', the playable 'Smoke' character, power draining 'combos', 'Mercy moves' and various other secrets. When the game arrived, the fan base's their opinion was split; a lot of people loved it, but as many weren't that enthousiastic and moaned about the 'boring combo system', the 'rubbish new kombatants' and  that the game 'wasn't as dark and gothic as the previous edition' because it played on earth.

I was one of the people that thought MK3 was 'the shit' and rushed out to buy a copy. Countless two player matches followed, magazines with move lists at hand.This scenario was repeated when the Saturn version of the new 'Ultimate' arcade expansion was released. In 1997 it all became a bit boring and because Mortal Kombat trilogy still wasn't out, the 'Mortal Kombat gaming sessions 'till dinnertime' slowly started to disappear..

Well, that's my personal Mortal Kombat history and I daresay a lot of people had about the same experiences. Despite being a Mortal Kombat die-hard back in the day, I missed this version, because I switched to the Saturn before it came out. Just recently I came across this title, while playing some emulated Megadrive games and was eager to find out what I could have missed. (The Saturn version was pretty cool but the long loading times ruined it).

Cyrax's Worldwide Web™ (Hahaha hehehe hoho etc).
'Riiiiiise from your grave'

The first surprise came when I looked at the character select screen; the selection of fighters was completely different from the normal Arcade/Saturn versions! Added were Mortal Kombat Trilogy characters 'Rain' and 'Noob Saibot' (both kinda rubbish imo) and gone was..Sheeva!? That's right, instead of giving you all the characters in UMK3, Avalanche Software (who did this port) decided to add both Rain and Noob (God knows why, probably because all of the character code already was on the MK3 cart and only another infamous 'palette swap' was needed) and cut out one of the more original fighters; Sheeva! While I never was a fan of the four-armed female freak, this seemed like a totally stupid thing to do.

Right, onto the main game then. All the new UMK3 backgrounds? Check. Fighters? Check. Endurance rounds? Check. So far so good, but it was only after playing this game for a good amount of time the game's faults became apparent.
First of all; the lacking SFX and BGM. All the samples of the characters' names were removed. (I.e. no more 'Nightwolf', 'Stryker', 'Lui Kang' when you select a fighter) Because a simple 'wins' at the end of the round would sound really stupid, that part has been cut as well. Sadly, the UMK3 stage music wasn't left in-tact either and was replaced by the old MK3 tracks. Hmm. With all this cutting and swapping, you're bound to make some mistakes and that's exactly what happened. Various SFX are completely messed up or swapped with others. Double 'hmm'.

Next, the backgrounds; The newly added backgrounds look low-res and unoptimised for the Megadrive palette. (Look at the pixelated sand of Cyrax's desert and you know what I mean). If that wasn't bad enough, a large amount of stages were scrapped altogether!

Third: the palette system. I don't know what the hell happened but it certainly is messy. During endurance rounds some of the characters turn entirely into their counterpart' palette color. For instance Kitana turned into 'Ermac' red! Tsch.

Enemy A.I. : More problems? 'Fraid so. While the enemies in Mortal Kombat always had a very cheap fighting style, the way they act in this game is just waaay too cheesy. When I was fighting Sub Zero, he constantly used his slide kick, and only stopped to do so when I backed away to the other side of the screen. Lame. Mid-way combo break-ups and 'very dubious indeed' collisions.

And there's even more missing stuff! As if missing SFX, backgrounds and fighters wasn't enough, a lot of special moves and 'alities were removed, the animalities are gone altogether (they were crap anyway, but still), the player select is now horribly plain and poorly laid out, gone is the stage switching (no more uppercuts through the roof) and the fatalities for both Noob and Rain? Nowhere to be found. *sigh*.

It became a little too obvious to me, that this port was what we would call a 'rush job'. Bugs aplenty, cutting out loads of stuff to stay within the current ROM limitations (cheapskates!), no optimisation.. but still asking full price because it will sell anyway. UMK3 really is a game that could be described as 'the definition of a mixed bag'. No loading (although they did a pretty good job of messing up the pace with an unskippable battle plan between rounds, aargh!), plenty of moves and fighters, some new modes..but does it really matter when so much of the 'good stuff' was cut out? It's fine to see two new fighters, but give them their complete set of moves and finishers. If you cut out a character (Sheeva), then remove her SFX from the sound menu as well!

This indeed could have been the Ultimate Mortal Kombat game on cartridge, but it suffers from far too many flaws to gain that honour. A real letdown.

I wonder if Ed boon knew what would be become of the word 'noob'.
Now that was just BRUTAL! Sorry, wrong game.
Bleed for me!


Not too bad. The washed-out colours are a pain these days but the animation
is reasonable. The new backgrounds don't look very good, though.

Most of the classic themes, screams and effects in-tact. Occasionaly messes up.

Not all the death moves, very dubious A.I.

Loads of fighters, moves and finishers on offer. With a second player there's

an almost unlimited amount of fun to be had.

Graphics 7.5
Sound 7
Gameplay 7.5
Value 8
Overall 72



All content ©1999-2007 Segacollection.com, for more information contact the webmaster