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Perhaps no other entertainment industry contains venomous fans arguing over the content of multiple versions of a solitary product. And for good reason - games are made to be ported over to multiple consoles in order to recoup staggering losses of cash. Each console has its own strengths and its own failings. That’s why we see a frame rate glitch here or a severely neutered feature there.
And with competing hi-tech, hi-def formats, we’re bound to choose sides based on what we can afford (go recession and limited expendable income!) This isn’t a new phenomenon either. You might remember very important schoolyard arguments about why Sonic is better than Mario or why Halo is better than... well, everything.
But sometimes you’re dead wrong, dear reader. Sometimes your friend with the lackluster console has the better version of the game. And you can’t refute this cheap friend of yours either, because you know he’s right. His game looks and plays better than yours. Now you’re the clown! Don’t cry, just read up on several times you were wrong when discussing a game’s validity to your friends.
Let’s get this out of the way, despite how solid the Genesis platform was and how fast blast-processing made Sonic, the system could not even remotely compare in its color palette against the SNES. Even its audio prowess was severely lacking. So how can the graphically and audibly superior SNES Mortal Kombat be worse than its Genesis competitor?
Above: See that grey matter coming out of Liu Kang’s crotch? That’s the SNES’s version of blood… sweat
The lack of blood. Oh and a neutered combo system, but that wasn’t a big deal. See, back in 1992-1993 everyone was way more of a pussy than they are now. The end of civilization was afoot because rap lyrics were offensive and games contained blood. Politicians whined aloud and parents forgot they had to fake a vented interest in their own children. For some reason, Nintendo decided to censor all of the blood, fatalities and religious imagery from the SNES version of arguably the most popular game at the time. And Sega followed suit.
Above: Looks terrible, plays great
Well, kind of. See, you had to enter the code ABACABB on the “subtle” code screen to gain access to all of the blood and gore, thus earning the game an MA-13 on Genesis. It may have still looked like ass (from the life bars to the characters, everything screams “barf”), but at least pixelated sweat wasn’t flying off Liu Kang when he was uppercut. The next year, SNES released an arcade-faithful Mortal Kombat II. MK was never censored or dumbed down again… unless you count this.
We’ve already talked about why the SNES topped the Genesis in terms of pure system architecture alone. That’s why this next entry is incredibly strange. How could Aladdin for the Sega Genesis look and play better than Aladdin for the SNES? Here’s a hint: direct involvement from Walt Disney Studios.
Above: The Genesis version looked this good! Well, not really
See, the SNES version was developed at Capcom and not Virgin Interactive (the Genesis dev), because Capcom still held the licensing rights to create Disney games on Nintendo systems. That’s why we got Ducktales and Darkwing Duck among others. Virgin on the other hand, was comprised of people like David Perry and Mike Dietz (who eventually created the stellar Earthworm Jim). These guys worked extensively using sprites from actual cel animations from Walt Disney Feature Animation studios. That can account for why the Genesis version looks like an actual cartoon, while the SNES port looks like every other platformer at the time.
Above: A regular platformer for the SNES
As for how it played? Genesis gave you a sword and let you cut down a guard’s pants, revealing hilarious heart-patterened boxers underneath. Not to mention each level being environmentally specific. SNES just let you run and jump on enemies like some kind of Arabian Mario through same-y environments.
Above: Blast Processing enabled more heart boxers on Genesis