Not every game made the jump to 3D elegantly. Not every game made the jump to 3D at all. And then there are some games that kiiiiiinda made the jump work. Maybe? Mortal Kombat 4 is an example of the latter.
Personally a much more fun game than Ultimate MK3, Mortal Kombat 4 was the series first venture into 3D Kombat, and also the series’ last official arcade release. While many elements are new here, a lot of what made a Mortal Kombat game a Mortal Kombat game is still present.
Right off the bat the first thing you’ll notice are the visuals. Gone are the digitized actors that made the series standout in the early 90s. In their place are decently rendered 3D models of the kombatants. Speaking of kombatants, there are 15 fighters available, including fan favorites Scorption and Sub-Zero, as well as newcomers Kai, Shinnok, and Jarek. Some of the new fighters were pretty great, like Quan Chi, and some were pretty lame, like Reiko. Still, the selection of fighters was overall pretty solid, and even more were made available on the Dreamcast home console release.
MK4 is largely played on a 2D plane like its predecessors, but with an additional dimension to move when wanted. You can sidestep and move along the Z-axis to avoid attacks and set-up combos. Also new to the series are weapons. Each character can input a command to draw their signature weapon to use in Kombat. Weapons can be dropped and picked up by other fighters too, adding to the chaos (Khaos?).
Fatalities make their return in MK4, with many of them being brand new and taking advantage of the new plane of play. Liu Kang’s Dragon fatality, for example, gets a revamp here, devouring his foe and flailing them around before slamming them to the floor. Most fatalities are on the ridiculous side (Quan Chi ripping off his opponent’s leg and beating them with it), but by this point the series has become known for these over the top moments.
MK4 is definitely a divisive game. If you’ve been a fan of the 2D kombat from past entries, there’s a lot to re-learn here. While my personal preference is MKII, I still call MK4 a good, fun game. Definitely worth a couple quarters in any arcade.
*Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfiled, IL, 2019