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Kombat Kolumns: Midway Arcade Treasures Issues

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In today's article I will review all Midway Arcade Treasures Compilations that include Mortal Kombat games. I will try to describe some of the flaws of what could have been an amazing opportunity to bring the classic Arcade games into the new millennium. Actually some of the high-level MK2 players I know even prefer MAT2/MKSM versions because of the speed, but thus imo still does not make the games better than the original arcade versions. And let's see why.

Midway Arcade Treasures 2 (Game Cube, Xbox, Playstation 2)

Midway Arcade Treasures 2 Front Cover

The Mortal Kombat II versions are supposed to be arcade perfect, but they really aren't. Side note: The version of Mortal Kombat 2 included in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is actually the same as the one from MAT2. So, everything written below applies to it too.

Although the MAT2 versions should be the same as the Arcade, there are small differences here and there. First, they are faster. On some arenas the game becomes even faster, especially on Shao Kahn's Arena (most noticeable on XBox). The PS2 version of the game drops frames in Dead Pool when 1 player game cause the words Press Start flash on 2 player's side. The game mechanics and physics should be identical with those on the arcade but there are little differences here too. For example crouch HK for female ninjas could stop easy Raiden's Torpedo, but in the MAT2/MKSM versions it just doesn't work. aaHP seems to be fast as hell and is very easy to be done on PS2 and XBox. The GameCube version acts more like the arcade, but the sound there has some awful lag (actually that applies to all games in MAT2 games on this console). The character shadows in all 3 compilations are flickery (notice how they appear when you jump or if the opponent is in the air). In the PS2 and GameCube versions the game often slows down in the Living Forest stage.

All 3 versions have sound issues. For example even after beating Shao Kahn you will hear in background continue track playing, and while the cast of characters is showed, there is no music. One of the biggest mistakes the development team did, was that there is no way to fight against Smoke, due to the newly included Pause button. So when you fight on The Portal arena, and Dan Forden comes out to say Toasty, if you hit Down + Start, you will not be taken to the famous battle with a secret warrior from Mortal Kombat 1, Smoke. Instead, the game will just pause. Another really annoying thing is that some arenas are a lot shorter, than they should be (The Tower for example).

MAT2: Mortal Kombat 2 MAT2: Mortal Kombat 2

Mortal Kombat 3 was another "arcade perfect" port. On all three systems the versions of Mortal Kombat 3 are almost identical, For example, the sound on GameCube is delayed, being even more muffled and irritatingly trembly than the MKII's one. Despite of that the GameCube version keep up reasonably well.

One of the most annoying issues in this port is the sound. For example the background arena music continues playing even while you are doing a Fatality (it stops for Friendship, Animality and Babality), If you are playing on The Bridge stage, you will keep hearing the wind sound until the continue screen or until your next fight begins. If you do a stage Fatality you will keep listening the ending music. There is no music during the credits when you beat the game.

The gameplay is faster than the original arcade, and that's easily noticeable. The game is even faster on XBox. Kabal's name is not announced on the character selection screen.

Remember the shadows problem in the Mortal Kombat II version of Midway Arcade Treasures 2? You have it again, but here it is even worse. If you beat Shao Kahn on The Pit 3 stage the music continues to play and you cannot hear the victory fanfare. The gameplay is an arcade emulated, so basically all the stuff and combos that work there will work here too. I haven't noticed any slowdowns in either versions, except sometimes on PS2/GameCube while doing Shoulder Slam with Nightwolf on the Soul Chamber. Despite the glitchy sound and the the faster gameplay everything else is the same as the arcade.

MAT2: Mortal Kombat 3 MAT2: Mortal Kombat 3

Another thing worth mentioning here is that the GameCube controller is so uncomfortable (for 2D MK games) that some of the special moves and fatalities are almost impossible to be performed.

MAT2: Mortal Kombat 2 Gamecube Controls MAT2: Mortal Kombat 3 Gamecube Controls

Here is also an early trailer from the Xbox version. You can see some things from Mortal Kombat 3 that never appeared in the actual game: like the bells in the Belltower stage, the missing names of the robots, ... Footage from Mortal Kombat Trilogy was used as well for some reason. Apparently there was an option to play the compilation online (XBox Live option, probably same was planned for PlayStation 2) but later it was removed.

And at last but not least, you got extra features on the compilation, such as TV teasers and some behind the scenes videos. Bottom line is, if you feel comfortable with the XBox controller, then this is the best version, otherwise go for the PS2 one. In my opinion the GameCube version of MAT2 is the worst of the three.

MAT2: Mortal Kombat 2 Extra Content MAT2: Mortal Kombat 3 Extra Content

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Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play (Sony PSP)

Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play Front Cover

About a year after the PS2, Game Cube and XBox versions of MAT 2were released, Midway decided to deliver a version of the compilation to the PSP. Good idea but... let's see how it was realized.

The Mortal Kombat 1 version that appears in this compilation has adopted almost every single glitch/issue that exists in the PS2/XBox versions from the Mortal Kombat: Deception Bonus Disk: No Palace Gates background music, no credits background music, choppy controls (delay similar to the one in the XBox version only worse) but surprisingly no slowdowns. All this, plus the fact that the game is faster than the arcade makes it really annoying at times. Also the PSP monitor's resolution is weird (i'm not sure what exactly resolution it uses (Editor's not: 480px x 272px)). The game, even not stretched, doesn't look as good as it was on the PS2 and the XBox. Kano's victory yell has been replaced with Goro's roar. Sonya should have separate jumping sounds for straight and diagonal jump, however both have been replaced by the sound of her attack. Sonya only has one voice sample when being killed. Various intro screens are missing. The "Goro lives" screen does not darken when the text appears. The Throne Room does not scroll as far to the right as it should. Arcade perfect? I really don't think so.

MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 1 MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 1

Mortal Kombat II I played a lot just to list as many of the issues of this version as I can. OK, first and the most annoying is the LOADING time. It really kills the fun to watch this after every battle. Another IMO completely unforgivable mistake was the Smoke and Jade glitch. OK, you can't fight against Smoke because of the Pause button like it was in Midway Arcade Treasure 2 but Jade?!?! If you try to fight Jade the game freezes! What possible programming error can cause this?!?!?! Get ready, that's not all! The game often appears to be dropping a lot of frames. The clouds in The Tower stage are missing. The Tower stage does not scroll as far left and right as it should, and the floor does not scroll. Sounds seem to cut out towards the ending seconds of a match. Missing voice samples for the female characters (for example, when you uppercut them off The Pit II they don't scream like they do in the Arcade version). Raiden only has one sound sample for his torpedo move (the other is missing). One sound effect is used for all kicks and punches (with the exclusion of uppercuts and throws, as opposed to every different basic move having its own sound effect). Some intro screens seem to be missing. The controls are choppy. Some endings also are fucked up (like Liu Kang's ending). They could definitely do a lot better then that.

MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 2 MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 2

Mortal Kombat 3. This is the worst version of Mortal Kombat 3 from all Midway Arcade Treasures compilations. First, the loading times! They are not that long as they were on the PSX version of the game, but still they are VERY annoying. Basically you have all sound issues from the Midway Arcade Treasure 2 compilation present plus MORE. During various parts of the ending (where Shao Kahn explodes), the game freezes for half a second and the game plays the wrong track. Randomly the game will freeze for a half second at the Pit 3 stage. Floors on the backgrounds no longer have their scrolling effects. Kabal's name is not announced on the character selection screen again. Sound glitches when loading between fights (music from the previous stage will play before going into the proper stage music). Sounds are cut out every time new characters pop up for the ending character credits. Sindel's ending, the word year is cut off to ye. Kabal's ending cuts off after the line "he will give". Sub-Zero's ending has the word "his" at the end on a new line. You should forget using Robot Smoke (unless you use Action Reply) because you will need two PSPs to unlock him. Also the analogue stick is glitchy and holds down direction. This was a well known glitch in some other games as well and usually you need to rotate the stick to fix it. Unfortunately this workaround rarely works in Mortal Kombat 3.

MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 3 MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 3

You don't have all the extras from MAT2 version - like flyers, videos and such stuff, but hey they at least put Mortal Kombat 1 there, plus you could play the games using wireless connection, despite the fact that if you use the digital pad its delayed! A little annoying is also that the games run at so called "Ghost Frames", what it means is that you will see two frames in one, so the games run at 30fps, but it does not look choppy. That is ok with MK1 and MK2, but it looks really ugly for MK3. Is it worth buying? You decide...

MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 1 Menu MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 2 Menu MAT: EP Mortal Kombat 3 Menu

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Midway Arcade Treasures: Deluxe Edition (PC Windows)

Midway Arcade Treasures: Deluxe Edition Front Cover

If you ignore the horrible and useless protection this compilation has, its the best MAT compilation imo. You have of course some of the issues that exist in the previous versions but at least Midway released two patches to fix a bunch of them. For some reason i couldn't screen capture videos from the games, which really makes no sense for me, but anyway, at least sceenshots were OK to grab.

MAT: DE Mortal Kombat 1 MAT: DE Mortal Kombat 2 MAT: DE Mortal Kombat 3

At first the versions of the Mortal Kombat games that appeared in this compilation (MK1, MKII, MK3) had all the problems that were present in the MAT2 and the Bonus Disk for Mortal Kombat: Deception (MK1 was on it). As the fans finally started to get pissed of, Midway was forced to release 2 (TWO!) patches to fix some glitches. One to fill missing music for half of the games that was accidentally left out of the shipped version, and a second one to correct a button function oversight that prevented Random Select and Smoke battle Easter eggs in Mortal Kombat 2 (these were bugs that plagued the console versions of Midway Arcade Treasure 2). I really haven't noticed any slowdowns while playing Mortal Kombat 1, but the missing and glitchy sounds existed here too. Sometimes, mostly when you play on Palace Gates, the music will just switch into the Courtyard's one. Overall, I'd say that this version is better than the PSP, PS2, XBox ones. The version of Mortal Kombat II is completely identical with the one that appeared in Midway Arcade Treasure 2. Every single glitch/difference that exists there is here too, except the slowdowns. The game is still faster than the arcade, but now it's way more acceptable. You can configure a pad for the games but what could be a little annoying is that you have to configure it separately for every single game. The compilation has potential of course, but it's not better then the Arcade in any way. And finally MK3 - again, no slowdowns which is good! As for the gamepla, it's still like the MAT2 versions. Don't forget to install the patches first to skip at least some sound issues.

MAT: DE Mortal Kombat 1 Menu MAT: DE Mortal Kombat 2 Menu MAT: DE Mortal Kombat 3 Menu

Something i forgot to mention before is that you must install not one game, but two. Midway Arcade Treasures: Deluxe Edition is actually Midway Arcade Treasure 2 plus Midway Arcade Treasure 3 plus Mortal Kombat 1 and you have to install both separately and also switch between them if you want to play a game from the other one. What is particularly aggravating is that there is every indication that the Starforce disk check is performed whenever the game menu is loaded, then the disk check is performed again when a game from the collection is started. If you happen to want to play a game from the first collection, then another from the second - this means four slow copy protection checks. But if you want to play these games, you will have to live with it. Midway has always been afraid of software piracy, and that's the result.

To finish this article, I'd would like to say that in my opinion PC version of the compilation is probably the one you should go with. Here are a bunch of reasons why: less slowdowns, patches (!) that fix some glitches and you get MAT2 and MAT3 in one, which is just better.

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Written by: ded_
Date: June 19th, 2009