Aside from the pretty decent PSP port, Mortal Kombat Unchained, handhelds have been unkind to Mortal Kombat. Gamers wanting to rip out spines while waiting in the doctor's office only had the PSP's dated entry, or shoddy versions of the arcade classics on the GBA and Nintendo DS. But with the Playstation Vita, Kombat fans get the full console experience of arguably the best Mortal Kombat game to date (opens in new tab). So now you can eviscerate people on the subway, in school, or any number of places where you should not be playing this game.
The ultra-gory fighter stays nearly entirely intact in its conversion to handheld form, and actually gains additional exclusive content. If you played the game on consoles last year, the content looks exactly the same. There is still the story mode that re-imagines the first three Mortal Kombat games, complete with over-the-top melodrama and dozens of characters. The Challenge Tower is in here too, as are the mini-games like Test your Might. The game plays exactly the same, with the notoriously evil AI, spammable special attacks, and multiple horrendously violent Fatalities for each character. And let's not forget the brutal, slow motion X-Ray Attacks (that made the guy watching me play over my shoulder gasp in shock).
The one major change in controls is that swapping characters in a Tag match is done with the right stick, located directly below the face buttons. Trying to do a Tag Combo (which requires you to press a button and the right stick at the same time) gets considerably more cumbersome.
A cool feature of the Vita version, like the recently released Komplete Edition, is that players get all the previously-released DLC content included. There are four additional fighters: the blood-lustful Skarlet, the blind warrior Kenshi, the purple ninja Rain, and master of dreams Freddy Krueger. Additionally the other extra content, like the extra costumes/fatalities for certain characters that were preorder and promotional bonuses, are packaged in with the game as well.
But the most notable addition to Mortal Kombat Vita is an entirely new Bonus Challenge Tower, giving you 150 extra missions to beat, in addition to the 300 missions in the regular Challenge Tower. The Bonus Challenge Tower is primarily themed around the Vita's unique features, and the missions often have you use the touchscreen and tilt functions to win. Most of the time you get a cool touchscreen accented battle, or a silly mini-game, like the Fruit Ninja-inspired, Test Your Slice. Other times you get dumb, gimmicky affairs like when you have to shake the Vita during a fight to keep the environment from flipping upside down. Not only is it hard to win a fight while you're shaking your Vita, it's also not much fun.
Adding another Challenge Tower makes a lot of sense, as the mission structure lends itself well to a portable. Playing a few mini-games is easier on the train than trying to work through the Arcade Ladder or Story mode. It's the easiest way to add new content to the package, and while I would have loved to see a return of Puzzle Kombat as a bonus, the new challenges are a mostly good addition.