Day #259: Mortal Kombat II (Game Gear)

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I believe this is the part where I come up with some excuse for why I’m writing about a Game Gear game and you pretend to act surprised. In fairness, my excuse is pretty good – I was cleaning today and found it stashed under a pile of cords. I then immediately found myself torn between whether or not I should revisit NBA Jam or Mortal Kombat II. You’ve already read the title and can see a screenshot, so you know how that particular battle panned out.

While it may seem that I’m on some sort of mission to simply check off every game console in existence before year’s end, the truth is that I have a lot of history with the Game Gear. For a good six months, it was the one game system I owned, only leaving my side when the battery pack needed a charge… which was pretty often now that I think about it. Still, I had a reverence for it that lives on in some capacity even now, remembering those times when I’d be stuck playing downgraded ports of all of the popular games of the day.

Now, being older and wiser, I realize that the Game Gear is kind of a piece of junk; really nothing more than a Master System crammed into an awkward shell. In a way, that makes me appreciate it more. I tend to avoid letting nostalgia distort my perspective too much these days, but I do have a bit of a fascination with that time period; when technical specifications weren’t so standardized, when the idea of a “port” meant more than just a framerate variation. The library of the Game Gear in particular consists of pretty much nothing but compromised versions of console games – always much uglier and with features removed. In some cases, like with the aforementioned NBA Jam, it actually wasn’t so bad, still able to control well enough across three buttons, even if you did need to squint occasionally to see what was happening.

MK II is quite the opposite, though no less fascinating to me. I mean, it looks terrible and controls even worse, but they managed to fit an arcade game known for its “realistic” digitized characters into a 1MB cartridge, which is pretty impressive. Impressive doesn’t exactly equal fun, but at the time, I didn’t really know any better, still years away from the point in my life when I’d even be able to recognize what a good fighting game was. I was more than content to simply win all of my fights via sweep kicks and hope that a few of the Fatalites listed in my issue of EGM worked on the Game Gear version.

Considering I don’t have a terribly strong desire to revisit MKII very often, it’s, at least, a different experience. That feeling of playing a familiar game on an inferior piece of hardware is pretty much lost nowadays – demakes only existing now as an artistic curiosity. I kinda miss those days on some level, even if the practice of paying money for a bad port is something that the industry actively discourages now. I guess I just have a soft spot for things that were created under intense restriction. I’d like to see what a Game Gear port of current day Madden would be like. Maybe a Game Gear Deus Ex.

One day, I’m going to get really good at Construct or something and make all of these wacky dreams a reality.

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