Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3) was released on July 11, 1996 and is the third and final installment in the Mortal Kombat series. It was developed by Midway Games and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
The game was initially released for arcades, with ports to the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and the PC. The Sega Saturn port was released first in North America on October 30, 1996. The Sega Saturn version of MK3 is infamous for not including Kenshi’s fighting stance; first-time players may wonder who the first swordsman is. A Mac OS X version of the game was released in the mid-2000s for Mac OS 9, Mac OS X 10.1, and Mac OS X 10.4. A new version of the game, based on the PlayStation port, was also released on September 19, 2004 for Microsoft Windows. Additional versions have been released for the Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo GameCube using emulated versions of the arcade original. There are multiple versions of Mortal Kombat 3 being sold online on various websites that are physically different from each other.
The game was originally developed by Midway and released in arcades during the year 1996. It was one of the first fighting games to use digitized 3D graphics, and was an instant success among players and critics alike. By 1997, it had been ported to all home consoles from the arcade version. In 1997, a port for the Sega Saturn was released in Japan only. The port was developed by DMA Design and published by Sega, with Midway publishing the North American version. A year later, the PlayStation port of the game was released in North America and Europe.
In 2001, Midway released a new version of MK3 for Windows-based PCs which featured several gameplay enhancements such as a redesigned user interface and support for new 3D graphics cards. This version also includes an extra character, thus extending the total number of playable characters to nine (9). In 2002, a port of the MK3 for the Dreamcast was released under the Sega Classics name. In 2004, a version of MK3 was developed by Yuke’s for a then unreleased system that would become the Xbox and PlayStation 2. This version of the game featured several new additions to the gameplay such as a new two player series mode and a new look to many sprites and backgrounds from all three versions of MK3.
The game itself is an update of the first two games in the Mortal Kombat series, Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II . All characters from both games are included. Many characters were also altered. The new gameplay mechanics were designed to make it easier to fight against computer-controlled opponents, thus making MK3 on hard mode easier than it was on the first two games on hard mode, but harder than it was on easy mode. The result of this design decision has been a matter of controversy among the players. The game also includes digitized footage featuring most characters as well as newly filmed live action footage with professional actors. Some of the actors included in the game were: Robin Shou (Liu Kang and Kung Lao), Talisa Soto (Kitana and Mileena), Elizabeth Malecki (Sonya and Sindel), and Christopher Lambert (Raiden and Sub-Zero). Another feature of the game is the inclusion of a two-player Battle Mode, which was absent from “Mortal Kombat II”.
The PlayStation port is largely based on the arcade version of MK3. It lacks the extra characters present in other versions, but includes new ones, such as Noob Saibot, Shinnok and Meat. This version also includes the all new “Kombat Tomb”, which replaces The Pit II from MK2. Some graphical glitches in the arcade version have been removed from this port, such as Tanya having a portion of her hair going through the red bar in her hair. Other graphical glitches have been added, such as Sub-Zero’s gloves disappearing when performing his ice beam and Scorpion’s veiled face when performing his tongue bite.
The Sega Saturn version is not much different from the PlayStation port. The graphics, however, are based on that of the arcade version rather than the PlayStation ports. The game was released only in Japan.
The game for the Gameboy Color features Nintendo-style 2D graphics and no digitized voice. The game was developed by Probe Entertainment, which did not port any other title to the system.
The game was also released for the Sega Dreamcast in 2001 under the name “Mortal Kombat Trilogy” (which is actually a combination of MK3 and MKII). It features enhanced graphics and added special effects like rain and sparks, as well as a brand new soundtrack. It also includes the two-player series and the “Kombat Tomb”. The port was developed by Attention to Detail, which created other ports for Midway games such as “Robotron X” and “San Francisco Rush 2049”. It was published by Crave Entertainment. This port is largely based on the PlayStation version of MK3 and it contains most of the new gameplay elements from that version, including Meat and Noob Saibot. The portal in which you fight Shinnok is apparently a large, red mask. It has been rumored that the Kombat Tomb in this port includes a cheat code to unlock Blaze as a playable character, but it hasn’t been proven.
The Windows version is based on the PlayStation port and it contains many of the gameplay changes from that version as well as a completely new user interface (no longer in Win32 and several other functions that were not ported to the console versions). The cutscenes were altered and the music was remastered to include new tracks. Each character has their own individual intro sequence. This port also includes an extra character, Noob Saibot.
There have been a number of ports of the game from the Dreamcast version to other consoles. In Japan, a Gamecube port was released in 2003. It also featured updated graphics and new mini-games where players can play as various characters from the series such as Kintaro or Kobra. A port for Xbox by Yuke’s Entertainment was released along with “Mortal Kombat Trilogy” in Japan on December 9, 2004 under the Sega Classics name. A PS2 port was also released under the same title on February 4, 2005. The newest port of Mortal Kombat 3 was developed by Other Ocean Interactive for the Wii. This version of the game was released on February 9, 2007. A new mini-game called “Motor Kombat” lets players use vehicles to fight each other. It also supports the Classic Controller.
The game received positive reviews, with critics praising some elements of the gameplay and graphics but were largely critical of some aspects including the difficulty level. A review aggregated from GameRankings gave MK3 an overall rating of 76%. The arcade version has achieved an average score of 91% at GameRankings.com. The most recent version of the game, MK3 on the Dreamcast, has achieved an average of 86% at GameRankings.com.
IGN’s Levi Buchanan commented that “MK3 is all about gameplay”, stating that it is very different form the first two Mortal Kombat titles. He claimed that it is more like a “fighting game”, but still retains the elements of a beat ’em up game like its predecessors. However, he commented on certain gameplay aspects stating that it was “impossible to knock them away, even with your most powerful attacks. This is a risky move when it comes to the more powerful characters, and though the game has some basic level design and controls, it’s hard to see how this will translate to a 3D environment.” GameSpot’s Craig Harris agreed saying that “the basic combat of MK3 is basically unchanged from its predecessors, but still offers plenty of challenge and variety”.
However, several differences were noticed. Directly attacked players could be juggled into the air for an easy victory. The health bar is gone making it easier for players with speed and strength to quickly kill their opponents if they can get in close range. Opponents no longer kick out at you while blocking or performing any type of attack. While this may make it harder to perform combos, it encourages the player to move around rather stay in one spot, making fights more exciting. The Combo system was also changed where each character has combo’s that are completely unique to them. The fighting system is more complex than the previous game, allowing players to execute air combos and juggle enemies.
The game was lauded for its graphics and sound. Other critics noted that the game has an improvement over its predecessors by adding new elements such as combo attacks, no more health bars and multiple fighting styles for each character. The Genesis version was criticized for having inferior sound effects compared to the Sega CD versions of MK1 and MK2.