It’s hard to put into words what kind of an impact seeing the original Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet had on an 8-year old back in the day, with its film-like graphics and extreme violence.
Of course, the game looks a little tame to what 8-year-olds are doing nowadays on their fancy HD videogame players, but as this conversion of the third-and-a-bit title in the series goes to prove, it still has the visual quality and gameplay to make an impact in the world of mobile fighters.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (UMK3) follows the plot that runs through the Mortal Kombat games.
This plot is a big pile of nonsense, of course, but fans who are into the lore and timeline of the series can be assured that EA Mobile has left in the story sections for each of the seven characters in the game.
These characters appear to be picked so as to be as diverse a bunch to play as possible, ranging from kick-friendly Sonya to teleporting muppet Cyrax, although the inclusion of both Sub-Zero and Scorpion feels like it’s more driven by nostalgia than anything else (and who doesn’t love Scorpion, anyway?)
Nevertheless, the voices, look, and animation are recreated almost pixel-perfectly from the original game. Where UMK3 does veer off from its forebear is in its controls.
Controlling beat-'em-ups in the past on mobile has either been too close to the original, or so simplified as to miss the point entirely. UMK3 attempts to get around these pitfalls by offering up two different control methods – Standard and Advanced.
Standard mode is basic, but fun, auto-selecting punch or kick when you press ‘5’ and allowing for specials and fatalities to be pulled off by merely pressing a Special Move key (‘7’) and occasionally one or two directions (for Babalities, mainly).
Advanced, on the other hand, tries to recreate the arcade controls, with specials requiring some flexible thumb-work, and individual 'kick' and 'punch' buttons (‘7’ and ‘9’).
Brilliantly, though, a character-specific move-list is available at all times for both controls during a fight via the left soft-key, so it’s easy to learn all the moves without faffing around with menus or early-'90s games magazines.
Learning these moves is important as the AI on the Medium and Hard difficulty levels puts up a strong fight, especially on the extended ‘Warrior’ and ‘Master’ campaign tracks (consisting of seven and nine fights respectively).
In fact, the boss – Shao Kahn – is maybe a little too hard. His unfair attacks, like the shoulder barge, can leave you unable to even throw a single punch during a round before dying brutally, and fights with him end up more frustrating than fun.
Despite this difficulty spike, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is one of the best fighters available on the mobile.
The choice of controls – both of which are well-suited to the platform – is a great feature for newcomers and veterans alike, and while the selection of fighters may be reduced from the original version the graphics, animations, and gameplay remain intact.