Gaming

Revisiting: ‘Mortal Kombat: Mythologies Sub-Zero’ (1997)

Find out in the latest ‘Revisiting’ article if the largely forgotten ‘Mortal Kombat: Mythologies Sub-Zero’ is worth your attention.

My time here at ScreenCritics, has been an interesting one, I got to work on retro games and wrote retrospectives about one of my favorite titles. I mostly did these retrospectives about well-received and positive video games, so I thought why not take a look at some of the more bad titles, little did i know that i would suddenly stumble upon my most frustrating games. I’ll be honest right away, I have no idea why I picked this game up, why I took one of my favorite franchises and replayed the second worst game in the series. Maybe the reason was because it’s not that awful, since there are worse games in the world, or it was maybe because I thought it would be a good time to put this game to rest, once and for all. Today we will look back at a spin-off game from the famous fighting series, titled Mortal Kombat: Mythologies Sub-Zero.

Before we go into the game, I would like to look back and ask myself what the heck was Midway thinking. Back in 1996, Ed Boon and Jon Tobias, developers at Midway, decided to work on separate project and split the company in two. Boon would go to work on Mortal Kombat 4, after the huge success of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, while Tobias was still thinking of a spin-off adventure game. The idea was to take one of the more iconic characters from the fighting series and retell his or her origin story. Sub-Zero was picked as the main protagonist and story was in the making. So much was promised with this title, and fans of the beloved franchise were dying to find out more about their favorite blue ninja. Finally the game was released on October 1, 1997 on the Playstation 1 and on December 8, 1997 on the Nintendo 64. I picked up the Playstation version, and I’ll say right from the start I wish I didn’t.

The story takes place before the first tournament, and from the beginning we are introduced to our main character and favorite assassin, Sub-Zero, on a mission to steal an ancient scroll from a temple. There he encounters the temples monks and at the end of the level his mortal enemy, Scorpion. The two face of in a rather short battle and our protagonist takes off with the scroll, going back to his lair. Back in the Lin Kuei temple, his home, Sub-Zero is greeted by his overseer, the Grandmaster, and by a sorcerer, Quan Chi, who hired him. Quan Chi then sends the blue ninja to a nearby mountain with the scroll in order to get a powerful trinket known as the amulet of Shinnok. Sub-Zero succeeds and sorcerer takes the amulet and disappears, but all of a sudden Raiden, the god of thunder, appears. He warns the protagonist that the sorcerer works for an evil god Shinnok and that if he returns the amulet to him all will be destroyed. Sub-Zero then traverses to the gods realm and chases the sorcerer in order to stop him before it’s too late.

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Well now that the story is out-of-the-way, lets delve deeper in to the more abysmal and horrible aspects of the game, starting with the game play. I won’t hesitate one bit, I will say it here and now, the control’s suck so bad that it has no redeeming quality. The game is supposed to be a side scroll-platformer, with fighting in between, however the controls are stiff and it’s hard to adjust to them. The jumping mechanics are by far the worst and makes the platforming segments harder than it should be. Throughout the game, players level up and unlock Sub-Zero’s powers, which aren’t even that impressive, and I often found myself using the same power over and over again. This beats the purpose of a leveling feature in the game, if the player is going to use only a portion of the characters abilities instead all of them. You ask yourself an important question, why put a bunch of stuff, if you aren’t gonna use it? The fighting tries to stick to the series roots; you have your standard low and high kicks and punches, but all of that is pointless if the movement is bad.

The AI isn’t anything to brag about ether, since sometimes the enemies just stand still in front of the player and sometimes kick your ass before you can even blink. The bosses of the game are a separate story for them selves, and can be beaten as long as you stick to the same routine. That’s right every boss, can be beaten by using the same tactics and this is the only way to win, because if you use a different approach it is just impossible. Oh and don’t even get me started on the final boss; what should have been a climax to an adventure game turned out into a run-away that takes about 2 seconds. Shinnok, the final boss, is beaten by stealing his amulet and running back to a portal and that’s it, nothing more. This is disappointing to see, for a series known for epic fights and blood and gore.

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Finally, it comes to that point where I talk about the worst aspect of this title, the visuals. The level design is done so poorly, blending both 2D and 3D graphics, that looked like somebody was melting plastic. The must frustrating thing however are the traps in this game, which are on every level and I guarantee you will die a dozen of times thanks to them. There are just so many and there is no way to avoid these things, not to mention that the already terrible control’s don’t help and the slightest mistake will get you impaled, crushed or beheaded faster than you can say “Mortal Kombat“. The addition of limited lives and continues doesn’t help and I found myself wanting to cheat multiple times, in order to beat this literal crap. There is one comedic part of the game, the cut-scenes. Those who had the PS1 were treated to one of the stupidest and yet funniest cut-scenes in video game history. All were created with live actors, with some amazingly stupid dialog and with such dull acting, that is both tragic and comedic. When the main character looks like somebody shoved and umbrella up its but , and yet is the best part of the game because of its humor, you know that the game sucks a lot.

There is no way to express how awful this game is, and I remember being really mad when they ruined one of my favorite series. I was asking myself what was Midway thinking releasing this thing. I’m giving it a lot of hate for some reason, but I shouldn’t cause there are much worse game than this and there is even a worse title in this series. One day I will have to go back and revisit that monstrosity, but until that I will just say that Mythologies Sub-Zero is a bad game, but it’s not that bad. I was still able to beat the game in the end, which I can’t say about the other awful games I played. I thought that this outing had a lot of potential and the story could have been done better. In truth the developers has no excuses since they worked 14 months on this title. The idea is good, but it should have been adapted with more care and not just rushed.

 

Overview: Mortal Kombat: Mythologies Sub-Zero is a bad game, but as I said it isn’t the worst. The game play is stiff, the layout is poor and the AI is just annoying, no wonder the game garnered negative reviews. The only interesting thing is the bad acting, which isn’t enough to sell a game as week as this. What should have been an amazing tale of blood, gore, fatalities, instead turned into a cash grab that only got released because of the franchises popularity. If you really like to punish yourself than this game is for you, but if you aren’t then it defiantly isn’t your time, and I’m glad that I will never have to revisit it again.

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