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CONSOLE: Sega Master System DEVELOPER: Midway PUBLISHER: TecToy
RELEASE DATE (BR): 1996 GENRE: Fighter
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

Where there's Smoke, there's a bad game.

A quick history lesson. TecToy is a Brazillian company (like the nuts) who had exclusive rights to release Sega toys, consoles and games in Brazil. At one point, they also specialized in making awful ports of games that were modern at the time to systems that were ancient at the time. The results vary but not a single one goes further than "simply competent". One example of their absolute worst work is Sonic the Hedgehog for stone tablets. Wait, not that ancient. No, they're responsible for porting Duke Nukem 3D to the Mega Drive, or rather, Duke Wolfenstein 3D. Glitched sprites, poor detail, and crawling framerates are the result of the slightly impressive feat of bringing a game as complex as Wolfenstein to the Mega Drive. Another such example is this, Mortal Kombat 3, for the Master System.

I was completely unaware that the first two Mortal Kombat games had received official Master System ports as well. I mean, why the hell would you port a game like Mortal Kombat to a console like the Master System? That's like porting Chrono Trigger to the TI-83 Graphing Calculator. No, even better — that's like porting Final Fantasy VII to a toaster, which would be totally ridiculous... oh great, Square Enix have just announced they're doing it.

Each of these Mortal Kombat ports keep the digitized look, which is impressive when taking into account the limitations of the system. Mortal Kombat 3 is no exception, but this time it was ported by TecToy, so the game only saw a release in Brazil. Nevertheless, it contains full English text rather than Portuguese, which TecToy had translated several games into.

The most important thing to get right is the controls. This port manages it. Somehow. Even taking into account the Master System's limited two buttons. The whole experience is clunky, slow, and cumbersome like a tired doctor who lost one too many patients on the operating table and then slinked back to his burned down dream home and ate mushroom soup out of a tin. What a bleak image that is. And yet, the controls are bafflingly good. I press a button, and although it takes a while, the character onscreen does what I expect them to. I can't say the same about some bootlegged fighting games.

What I can say about a lot of unlicensed fighting games does ring true here, however. The visuals are awful. On the one hand, to have transferred those digitized sprites to the Master System must not have been easy, but it comes at a great cost. The backgrounds are more-or-less pure black, like somebody just used the paint bucket tool to fill the screen, yelled "Done!" and then clocked out early. I feel sorry for the people who only had this version of Mortal Kolostomy 3, and had to make do with flickering sprites and screen garbage.

Chin up, lass. It could be worse... You could be playing Mortal Kombat on Game Boy.

Let's talk music. You either like or dislike the soundtracks in early Mortal Kombat games, or I guess you could be indifferent about them too, which is where I find myself personally. The Master System butchers whatever good there actually was about them and leaves us with something that in an alternate universe could have been the next solo project from Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor but is instead the audio equivalent of that black mold that grows on the bedroom window.

The Master System wasn't really known for its audio capabilities anyway, outside of a few games that had some really good music. Instead, I'd like to point out the absolute lack of sound clips or digitized voice, which is the most jarring thing. If we had the grunts and the slaps and the thuds that we expect from Mortal Kombat, this version of the game would probably be less jarring than it is. The game... works. If by working, you mean you can win in 99% of matches by constantly using the jump kick. Congratulations to TecToy though, because with two buttons they still managed to implement jump kicks, punch volleys and uppercuts, all classic Mortal Kombat moves that would make the game feel empty were they absent — even though you can win every match by spamming certain moves.

Also, I think it's worth noting that Mortal Kombat 3's code system managed to make it into this game, working fully as expected. This feature allows you to unlock Smoke, who I didn't expect to see in this port either. There are a few elements missing, such as the Brutality and Friendship moves, but Fatality moves are still present, even the Babyality moves! This port actually tried. But in the end, it's still not more than "simply competent".

There's no "TOASTY!" either. You know what they say, all toasters toast really uninspired Master System ports of arcade fighting games.

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