Mortal Kombat II on the Sega Genesis was completely overrated. The game was butchered and paled in comparison to its arcade source of origin. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System version is widely considered to be the best consumer version of the arcade phenomenon (which is expected), but it seems that the Sega Genesis 32X version is completely forgotten in this process of nomination. It was released a little later than the other two, and has been vastly underrated. But, as GameFan would say, "you can't rush greatness!" Disappointingly, the vastly inferior Genesis version of Mortal Kombat II is remembered and acknowledged more than the vastly superior Sega Genesis 32X version. This is due in large part to Sega Genesis 32X marketing challenged by bad press. It is believed that marketing for the hardware and a later release for the game contributed to Mortal Kombat II's lack of popularity on the Sega Genesis 32X, bad press really seems to have done the most damage.
Soak Test
Mortal Kombat II
Sega Genesis 32X
BAD

Magazines like GameFan knew what the Genesis 32X version was all about, but GamePro did a great job of persuading the public against that particular version of the game. In an April 1995 issue of GamePro, editor "Bruised Lee" reviewed the Genesis 32X Mortal Kombat II a 3.5 in graphics, a 2.5 in sound, a 3.0 in control, and a 2.5 in fun factor. Now, it doesn't take a whole lot to see that these ratings were obviously meant for the smaller, 16-Bit Genesis version, and not the bigger, 32-Bit Genesis 32X version. However, the editor insists that it is indeed the Genesis 32X version being scored, so let's go down the list and highlight everything he's wrong about. The review begins by saying that the Genesis 32X version "is virtually identical to previous versions of MKII, with a few slight graphical improvements." I will begin by saying that this is completely untrue, and that there is more than enough evidence to debunk it. The review adds insult to injury by saying that "the 32X version of MKII has souped-up colors and more voices," but that "that's about the extent of the improvements." No, actually it's not. At all. Mortal Kombat II on the 32X should be compared to the other 32-Bit versions (PlayStation and Saturn), but if it's the 16-Bit versions they couldn't wait to compare it to, then so be it...

Apparently, "the fighters and backgrounds have more colors, but key details and animations from the coin-op game are still missing," and "one can only think that MKII 32X was a rush job." With such flawed conclusions, on can only think that GamePro's review of MKII on 32X was a rush job. The part about the fighters and backgrounds having more colors is accurate, but the rest is not accurate because a lot of key details and animations previously-missing from the other versions actually did make it into the Genesis 32X version. There are also a ton of unmentioned details, from incredibly "fluid" blood animation to even the faithfulness of the lifebars! One of the main reasons I always wanted a Genesis 32X was for MKII, and the very first thing I always noticed was how great the visuals were. The characters were bigger, the animation was fluid, the backgrounds were complete, and names were even inside the lifebars with the original font! I always thought MKII on the 32X looked good (even in the screenshots for GamePro's bullshit review). GamePro reviewed the Genesis 32X version with screenshots of the huge portraits and story panels that came straight from the arcade version. This unintentional showcasing played right into the strengths of the Genesis 32X version, making it look far better than what they had said about it.

The game really must been seen in motion, though, so that it is completely obvious how fluid the animation is. Anyone who is familiar with the series can really see how much animation was put into the cartridge, and there are dedicated fans who consider the Genesis 32X version to be more fluid in animation than the Super Nintendo version. This is seen easily in the backgrounds, where detail and animation is noticeably better. The clearest examples of this the Kombat Tomb (multiple flying dragons, more frequent occurrence, smoother animation) and Tower (levitated sorcerer not stationary) stages. Another noticeable stage example is The Portal stage, where the support beams are intact and the levitated sorcerers are (again) not stationary. The Pit II stage is also worth noting, where the zoom on the falling victim is more accurate to the original. Some even consider it to be more stable, and though there are also said to be glitches even in the Genesis 32X version, I've personally seen some downright mean glitching in the Super Nintendo one that results in freezing.

The review goes on to say that "there are more sounds and voices in the game than you heard on the Genesis, but many are still missing compared to the original." Interesting they say that, because I recall them being enamored with the Super Nintendo version of MKII, and if I am not mistaken, it got higher scores even though it was also missing audio from the original. How fair is that? There may have been some missing audio in the transition from arcade to home on the Genesis 32X, but it's not really noticeable. One of the worst accusations in the article is when the author charges that "the voices on the 32X are just as muffled and scratchy as they were in the 16-bit version," which is arguably incorrect. What makes this an absolutely ridiculous statement is that the audio in MKII on the Genesis 32X version sounds clearer than even the Super Nintendo version! Shao Kahn's "You will die" quote is a perfect example of this. The author was probably just mad that MKII had a 32-Bit cartridge release before a 32-Bit CD release. Still, GameFAQs contributor Shinnokxz cites the 32X version's announcer, sound effects, and overall sound all as advantages over home versions. Stages like the Pit II and Wasteland are definitely a testament to the growing viewpoint that the 32X version's background music is closer to the arcade version than the others. At first, I wondered, but I can definitely hear the similarities after having played enough. GamePro's scoring disparity for sound between the home versions is absolutely ridiculous; the Genesis 32X version got a 2.5 after the Genesis version had previously gotten a 3.5. Now, given the information provided by other sources that confirm a plethora of additions to the audio as a whole, wouldn't logic dictate an increase in score? Not with GamePro, apparently.

Funny how the control is yet another thing bagged-on, considering the experience I had first-hand was tighter control on the 32X over the SNES. In fact, the bad control claim doesn't make sense at all. What this guy completely fails to mention is how much this game actually feels like the original arcade version. Unlike other versions, the speed in this one feels right on; not too slow, not too fast. Jumps and combos come-off with the same timing. This review for the 32X version rates the control a 3.0 and claims it's "like the control on the Genesis - imperfect," even though the Genesis version was previously given a 5.0 for control in the same magazine. Sure, both reviews may have been written by two different journalists, but where's the consistency for the sake of fairness and reliability? I don't completely agree with Slasher Quan's scoring of the Genesis version, but it really should have been him who reviewed the Genesis 32X version; he probably would have been able to better differentiate the versions.

Comparing the two, "Bruised Lee" reviewed the Genesis 32X Mortal Kombat II a 3.5 in graphics, a 2.5 in sound, a 3.0 in control, and a 2.5 in fun factor, but Slasher Quan (who I respect more) gives the regular Genesis version a 4.5 for graphics, a 3.5 for sound, 5.0 in control, and a 4.5 for fun factor. How is this possible? Even when not compared to the vastly-superior Genesis 32X version, the regular Genesis version just sucks. The game wasn't even worth putting on the Genesis, and it would have been a lot better if they had put out just a Genesis 32X version. Sure, Mortal Kombat II on the Genesis 32X is not perfect. There are things here and there that would have brought it even closer to the arcade original (some absent sound effects come to mind), but the game is still playable to the absolute, most competitive degree. Even if the 32X MKII is seen by some as a "quickport" that doesn't utilize the hardware to its full potential, it still stands as the best version of the game. I've seen guys nearly get shot over this game in the arcades, and all of that which brings out the worse in humanity has been faithfully retained. In fact, I'd say the only thing going against the game (both then and now) is finding someone to battle with. The Genesis 32X version of the game is quite rare compared to other versions; it took years of sifting through countless Genesis and Super Nintendo cartridges until unearthing a Genesis 32X cart.

The music for stages like The Wasteland sound great, but the battle plan music sounds dorky and too upbeat. This is really the only part of the game I would change if given the opportunity to go back in time. Well, that and a complete cancellation of the inferior Genesis version before word of it ever hit the press. However, that is not an option, and this version is nowhere near the trainwreck they made it out to be. On the contrary, it's probably the best (consumer) version of Mortal Kombat II out there! For all intents and purposes, Mortal Kombat II on the Genesis 32X exceeds what the Super Nintendo version accomplished. As a seasoned player with years of experience with Mortal Kombat II, I can say that the Genesis 32X version recreates that arcade feeling moreso than the other versions. It just feels the best in every way. The sounds, the animation, the stages, the feel...it's all there. GamePro's shitty review listed the price as being $69.99 for this 32-Bit cartridge back then, and I think that it would have been well-worth it at the time to have the closest arcade conversion of MKII on the block. I knew the Genesis 32X was capable of more when I played Cosmic Carnage, and this is the perfect example of that. Sega marketed the Genesis 32X as a machine that put arcade games in your home, and they succeeded in doing so. At the time, it was like having a Mortal Kombat II arcade game in your home, and what was better than that?

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