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Mortal Kombat Gold (Dreamcast)
MSRP: $39.99
Number of Players: 1-2
Developer: Eurocom
Publisher: Midway Games

Rating:
**1/2
out of
*****

Age has not been kind to the Mortal Kombat series. Once a controversial, if somewhat derivative, arcade and console game known for its bloody "finishing moves" more than its ability to satisfy those looking for a decent 2D fighter, Mortal Kombat has now become the videogame equivalent of an aging rock band that doesn't know when to hang up their spandex. Like the feeling you get when you see that old rock band wheezing their way through a set, playing Mortal Kombat Gold gives you a kind of embarrassed feeling that makes you wonder, "Did I really like this all those years ago?"

Mortal Kombat Gold is a sort of bastard Dreamcast version of Mortal Kombat 4, which appeared on the PC, N64 and PlayStation three years ago. The main differences in the Dreamcast version are the inclusion of several characters not included in MK4 and rock solid 60 frames per second graphics.

What began as a series of somewhat shaky 2D fighters was transformed into a psuedo-3D fighter with Mortal Kombat 4. When the series moved away from being a 2D fighter to a 3D polygonal fighter, it did little more than accentuate the game's weaknesses. Mortal Kombat Gold seems awfully stiff and unnatural on the Dreamcast. The ultra-violent fatalities and globs of blood that splatter everywhere now seem cartoonish rather than shocking. The fighters look like marionettes on speed, bouncing up-and-down in an extremely odd fashion when not performing their fighting moves. While this odd movement might have made the fighters look more "life-like" in the 2D days of yore, it now looks out-of-place and rather stupid.

The sound effects are old-school Mortal Kombat all the way, from the yelling of the fighters to the bass-heavy, sinister laugh as your opponent (or you) die in an unpleasant fashion. The music is okay and suits the Mortal Kombat universe quite nicely. There's really not much going on in the sound department -- good or bad -- so there's little to complain or rave about.

The game retains the old Mortal Kombat style of control, which means remembering a long string of button presses and d-pad movements to get those finishing moves to work. Many moves are nearly impossible to pull off with the standard Dreamcast d-pad. If you're in possession of the Agetec arcade stick, this game is screaming for it. Still, even with the Dreamcast controller, it is possible to pull off enough moves to keep the game semi-interesting for awhile. The game's somewhat shallow fighting engine, even with the addition of weapons, doesn't warrant much repeated play unless you lucked into getting this game and absolutely can't afford to buy Dead or Alive 2 or Soul Calibur anytime soon.

I hate to rag on Mortal Kombat Gold too much because, strictly speaking, there's nothing really wrong with it. It simply hasn't aged well. Sure, it's Mortal Kombat on the Dreamcast and, for some people, that might be enough but for most fighting fans, the torch was passed to games like Soul Calibur, Power Stone and Dead or Alive 2 a long time ago. Even newer 2D fighters like Marvel vs. Capcom and Street Fighter Alpha 3 outstrip Mortal Kombat Gold on the basis of the fun factor alone. If you have to have every fighter for the Dreamcast, you'll probably want this game. If you're a Mortal Kombat fanatic, you'll probably want this game. Everyone else can rent it for curiosity's sake and be done with it, if they even bother to do that.

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