Mortal Kombat Gold for the Sega Dreamcast released as a launch title with the system on September 9th, 1999. It released two years after it’s sister title Mortal Kombat 4 which released in arcades and on the n64, pc, ps1, and game boy color on October 15th, 1997. Mortal Kombat Gold features more playable characters and arguably better graphics.
This is the first title in the franchise that doesn’t use sprite-based characters the same way as the previous Mortal Kombat titles did, using an actual humans likeness to animate fighting. In fact, this is the first 3D title in the series after MK4 which is essentially the same game. Even so, the historical feel of gore and secrets is still very prevalent in this title. This is something more modern iterations of the game have shied away from. For instance, if you are on the character selection screen, hold start and press any button over scorpion twice, then select scorpion he will have a different costume.
The combat system is pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to be. It’s impressively fluid and the main gameplay has aged incredibly well.
One interesting way the developers kept the franchise fresh was by adding the ability to draw unique weapons for every character during battle. This is a pretty helpful feat if you can pull it off but it takes so long to do by the time you get your weapon out the enemy is already attacking you forcing you to drop it immediately. The game also offers a new game mode for players called team fight. The game mode is available for up to two players who can make a team of up to five fighters. Whichever team gets depleted by the other first loses. Then, of course, you have your traditional tournament and arcade game modes to go by if you’re like me and don’t have any friends.
This is also the first title where the developers started to get really experimental with the outfits for the fighters. In this iteration, I actually ended up liking most of the fighters new outfits, but I am still a sucker for nostalgia and typically enjoy using classic costumes whenever I can.
The story is relatively simple as usual. The corrupted elder god Shinnok who first appears in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero (which is a video for another day) decides to attack his former teammates for trapping him in the netherealm many many years before the first game takes place. As revenge, he plans to conquer all of the realms and become the supreme leader of the universe. As one could imagine it doesn’t go too well for him.
Once the player defeats Shinnok they are shown unique endings to the particular character they beat the game with as in most titles. Surprisingly, these endings offer acceptable voice acting and some pretty interesting plot points. Still, a game wouldn’t be a game without flaws, and there are certainly some here.
While the collision detection is actually done quite well, it’s almost done too well. Nearly every character besides Goro can be defeated by simply running and spamming high punch over and over. Of course, after you discover this most people like myself will still try to play the game naturally and by performing sick combos and special moves, but once you get into a tight situation you’ll instinctively find yourself spamming high punch again. Also, performing fatalities in this game is nearly impossible. Now I’m sure there are those of you out there who have gotten really good at it, but I just could not for the life of me land any. Some of the button combos that need to be done are insane. Another issue I have with this game is that the CPU learns your tactics way too fast. What I mean by that is in most Mortal Kombat titles, especially old ones, your enemies will “learn” your tendencies when you repeat them and use them against you. In this case, I’ve found sometimes I’ll perform a special move one time and then the next time I’m going to do it the enemy is backing out of the way the second I begin the combo. This, of course, is met with me frustratingly spamming high punch again until I get to the next fight. Another problem I have with Mortal Kombat Gold for the Dreamcast is that it offers the ability to uses a 3D workspace. For instance, when a fighter is throwing a ranged special at you can step out of the way. While an interesting and seldom useful feat, the mechanic is barely usable and is more of an annoyance when it happens than a relief. This is most likely why they continued the series in traditional 2D fighting.All in all the game is incredibly worth it and an amazing example of what a launch title should be. While not the most graphically impressive title on the system it still boasts fantastic controls and enthralling gameplay yet again proving why the Dreamcast is often overlooked as one of the best systems in existence even to this day.