Title  : Mortal Kombat Mythologies
Platforms  : Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64
Publisher  : Midway
Game Rating  : 4.8
Review by  : Ken Gagne

A pitiful attempt by Midway to expand their fighting series franchise has resulted in Mortal Kombat Mythologies, for Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Starring Sub-Zero, the assassin with the elemental power of ice, this game precedes the first Mortal Kombat and explains some of the background, while introducing new characters from Mortal Kombat 4. [PSX version reviewed here] 

Gameplay is similar to extremely old games such as Karateka or Kung-Fu. Sub-Zero scrolls side-wise, fighting off monks, ninja, and various demi-gods in a quest to find an ancient magical amulet. Sub-Zero performs much like he does in his fighting origin, with similar moves and control. Why this old genre has been revived is a mystery, as it is basically the original Mortal Kombat with fewer, easier foes, and more jumping. 

The graphics are best described as dark. Much of the game occurs at night or in buildings, with only the occasional flash of lightening. It can be arduous to spot moving sprites or hidden items. This shadowy nature also works well to conceal traps, which are not revealed until their work has been done. Sub-Zero lacks sufficient animation frames to appear a realistic character. The full-motion video which explains plot components looks good, but hokey acting lowers it to barely tolerable. 

The music is negligible. Some meager drums and flutes fit the Japanese setting, but are rarely audible and certainly don't comprise any songs. A few opponents attempt to taunt the player with muffled threats or unintelligible screams. 

Sub-Zero moves like molasses. Unlike Mortal Kombat, it cannot always be assumed he'll be facing the opponent, so backstabbing will occur often as players try to turn around to meet the foe. His jumps are difficult to place and time, often causing fatal errors. 

Sub-Zero earns experience from fighting the various opponents, which translates into newer and better moves to add to his repertoire. The commands for these moves are often left unexplained, though. Since experience is cumulative, players that die often and fight the same enemies repeatedly will earn much experience, but not enough lives to use it well; those gamer who know what they're doing will get far but with little firepower with which to continue. 

It'll take awhile to overcome the vast number of obstacles in this game, and it's not just because they present a fair challenge. Poor control leaves gamers falling off cliffs often, especially since much of the game takes place on precarious perches. Timing must be practiced and perfected to be able to jump from pendulum to pendulum. Obscure graphics hide lethal surprises, while boss enemies use cheap last-stand techniques to win even after they've been defeated. Fortunately, the difficulty setting is adjustable, as is the number of lives and continue credits. Game progress can be saved to memory card, but there is no apparent method for changing the button configuration on saved games. 

One of the few good things about Mortal Kombat Mythologies is the brief commercial-type demo of the Mortal Kombat 4 arcade game. The rest is a laborious experiment in fitting one genre into another; the product is a failure. Although some faithful fans may enjoy this unique continuation of a popular, but dying, series, most players will find this mythology best left forgotten.


This article is copyright (c) 1997, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 27-Oct-97