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Mortal Kombat 4 is the fifth and final arcade game in the Mortal Kombat series of fighting video games developed by Midway Games. Released in 1997, Mortal Kombat 4 is the first title from the series to use 3D computer graphics as well as one of the first games that Midway made in 3D. Eurocom later ported it to the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, PC, and Game Boy Color during 1998. An updated version titled Mortal Kombat Gold was released a year later exclusively for the Dreamcast.

The gameplay from Mortal Kombat 4 is similar to the previous games' ones. One of the most notable additions is the use of weapons and objects during fights. It chronicles the attack from the corrupted god Shinnok against his former comrades who trapped him in the Netherealm various of years prior to the series' start. The other seventeen playable characters take part in this war, with a group aiding Shinnok and the others attempting to stop him. Mortal Kombat Gold would expand the number of available characters.

While developing the game, the Midway staff had problems making the 3D graphics as it was one of the first 3D fighting games they developed. Co-creator Ed Boon commented that the staff wanted to make Mortal Kombat 4 more violent than its prequels, removing the comical finishing moves featured in them. Since its release, Mortal Kombat 4 received positive response from critics due to its graphics and gameplay. On the other hand, the Game Boy Color port and Gold received criticism.

GameplayEdit

Mortal Kombat 4 is played in a similar way to the previous titles from the series. It introduces a limited weapon system, allowing one to take out a weapon using a set button combination, having an almost completely new movelist for the said character. The weapons can also be thrown and dropped, in similar fashion as the arena objects. If an opponent's weapon is dropped the other character is able to hold it and use it. By sidestepping the player is able to move the camera, making both characters unable to hold up the weapons or objects they had in the ground. MK4 added a "Maximum Damage" cap to the game's combo system, automatically breaking off combos if they deal over a set amount of damage to a player and, thus, preventing infinite combos (although this cap can be removed with a code). Unlike Mortal Kombat Trilogy which contained several finishing moves like fatalities, animalities, etc., Mortal Kombat 4 only gives two fatalities per character and two "stage fatalities", fatalities that can only be done in a certain arena and involve the character throwing the opponent to part of the arena where he can die.

MK4 also contains a Game Over countdown which showed the player's defeated character falling down what appears to be a never ending well. When the timer hits zero, the camera pans to the character's side. The character then screams as they hit a spike pit with a crunch. Game over then appears.

StoryEdit

Thousands of years ago, during a war with the corrupt Elder God known as Shinnok, Raiden was responsible for the death of an entire civilization. To avoid a repeat of this event, as well as to protect all realms from Shinnok's threat, Raiden waged a brutal campaign and, at a heavy price, exiled his rival to a dark place known as the Netherealm. A few years before the 1992 Shaolin tournament, the original Sub-Zero assisted the necromancer Quan Chi in obtaining Shinnok's amulet, the source of Shinnok's power (as recounted in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero). Now (1997), Quan Chi has allied himself with Shinnok and helped the god escape from his confines. With the help of an Edenian traitor, they enter the Heavens and kill most of the gods, but Fujin and Raiden escape and gather Earthrealm's finest warriors to fight them. The Raiden-Shinnok feud had burst open once again, but this time... the battle could be won by Mortals!

CharactersEdit

New charactersEdit

  • Fujin - God of Wind and ally of Raiden.
  • Jarek - Last of the Black Dragon.
  • Kai - Shaolin monk and friend of Liu Kang.
  • Quan Chi - Mysterious evil sorcerer. First appeared in Mortal Kombat: Defenders Of The Realm and then would later reappear in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero as the main antagonist. Quan Chi poses as the final boss when Shinnok is used by the player.
   * Reiko - Shinnok's general.
   * Shinnok - Imprisoned Elder God. First appeared in MKM: SZ as the final boss. Shinnok appears as both the boss and sub-boss character when playing as Goro.
  • Tanya - Traitor to Edenia.

MK4 also included the following hidden characters:

  • Goro, the 4 armed menace, giving the game a new style in playability. Playable only in home versions.
  • Meat, a bloody skeleton.
  • Noob Saibot, 1st hint of his relation to Sub-Zero, due to an ice fatality.

Returning charactersEdit

  • Liu Kang - Shaolin monk who seeks to destroy Shinnok.
  • Jax - Special Forces who finds out that Jarek is still alive.
  • Johnny Cage - Hollywood movie star who will produce his next movie.
  • Raiden - Thunder god who again guides the mortals.
  • Reptile - Zaterran warrior who seeks to serve Shinnok to save his realm.
  • Scorpion - Undead specter who again seeks revenge on his nemesis Sub-Zero.
  • Sonya Blade - Special Forces lieutenant who seeks to destroy Jarek.
  • Sub-Zero - Lin Kuei again stalked by Scorpion.

DevelopmentEdit

Co-creator from the series Ed Boon found difficulties to lead the team in charge of developing Mortal Kombat 4 due to how large had to the staff had become since the first Mortal Kombat title with him being the only programmer. Therefore, Todd Allen and Mike Boon (Ed's younger brother) joined on as programmer with Ed noting the staff was more than twice its original size.[1] The Midway Staff wanted to remove the comical elements from the previous Mortal Kombat titles. Therefore, they focused in the making of the fatalities.[2] On the other hand, the animalities finishing moves from MK3 were removed since the transformation of a character into an animal was considered to be hard to make in 3D graphics. In order to make fatalities more entertaining, it was decided to make a few replays from different angles of the scenes where the characters' bodies explode or a ripped off. Since actors were no longer needed to make the characters' movements, the staff found it easier to make fatalities as it was all done by animation.[3] The gameplay was planned to be similar to the prequels although this would be the first game from the series to be made in 3D. Another desire from the staff was avoid making all the mistakes they made in War Gods, Midway's first 3D title. To advertise the game, Midway organized a 35-stop road tour of the United States. The version of the game shown in the tour had nine characters, and within these nine one was Noob Saibot, who would become a hidden character in the arcade and console ports.[2] The staff had trouble making the 3D graphics as they them on custom hardware rather than their V-Unit. As Ed Boon was skeptical about the quality of the result noting that the gameplay would slower than previous titles, he decided to hand-animate frames with timings in a similar fashion to Street Fighter EX.[4] Art director Tony Goskie created a 3D model for each character of the game, whom he called "Meat". It was later decided to make him a playable character as part of a hidden Easter egg.[5] Players first learned of the character's given name after the text "Meat lives!" was placed on Ed Boon's website promoting Mortal Kombat 4's 3rd arcade revision.[6] Years after the game's release, Boon commented that he and the staff should not have made Shinnok the final boss from the game as previous titles used enormous characters as bosses.[7]

Eurocom was in charge in the making of the homeversions from the game and they worked for eight months to finish the Nintendo 64 port. One of their main objectives was to maintain 60 frames per second as they never did it with a 3D fighting game. While all the traits from the arcade mode were added to the homeversion, Eurocom had to change the to polygon count to "squeeze into the resources of the Nintendo 64". Eurocom was also assisted by Ed Boon and the lead artist on the coin-up, Dave Michicich. While the home versions were still in development, Ed Boon gave fans hints about what were the things that would be in the ports of the game. These hints included Goro being a playable character and the extra costumes.

PortsEdit

Mortal Kombat 4 was ported to the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and PC. An upgraded version titled Mortal Kombat Gold was also released exclusively for the Dreamcast. A Game Boy Color game based on Mortal Kombat 4 was also released as well.

All the home ports of MK4 are notable for containing exclusive content not featured in the original arcade version. Possibly the biggest inclusion to the ports is Goro. He was not featured in the arcade game, but now serves as a playable sub-boss who is fought before Shinnok in single player mode. Also added to the ports is the Ice Pit, which is a snow-filled arena taking place in an icy, carved-out pit. Another new feature added to these ports are a second set of alternate outfits for all characters. The arcade version provided only one set of alternate outfits which the player could unlock. The PC and PlayStation versions run FMV intro, bios and endings, due to the CD-ROM media. The Nintendo 64 version, being a cartridge game, uses the in-game character animations to run them just like its arcade counterpart.[9]

The Game Boy Color version of MK4 was developed by Digital Eclipse and was released by Midway. It is in 2D instead of the others' 3D. It features nine selectable characters: Raiden, Quan Chi, Fujin, Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Reiko, Tanya, Scorpion, and the hidden character Reptile. Shinnok is still the final opponent. In addition, there are a few speech clips, and instead of using the in-game graphics for the fatalities, the game uses short FMV clips.[10] The Game Boy Color port's 2D engine reuses the game engine utilized in the Game Boy port of Mortal Kombat 3, including the same character select screen, "Choose Your Destiny" screen, and how the characters move and interact. The background music was replaced with repetative techno-ish songs with instrumentation befitting a Game Boy release, and the port does not contain any blood outside of the fatality videos. The combo system and weapons were also removed. However, the graphics for the port were above average for a Game Boy fighting title, and it contains many of the arcade's backgrounds in vivid clarity.

Mortal Kombat GoldEdit

The Dreamcast version, titled Mortal Kombat Gold, was released on September 9, 1999 as a launch title for the console in North America. The game retains the character roster from the previous versions of Mortal Kombat 4, along with six additional characters from previous Mortal Kombat games. These new MK4 characters are Kitana, Mileena, Cyrax, Kung Lao, and Baraka, and one unlockable character, Sektor. Gold also includes new levels not seen in Mortal Kombat 4 and a new weapon select mechanism.

A new character named Belokk was intended to appear in the game, but was cut from the released game. The developer of the game, Eurocom, sent information about the game with Belokk in it to Game Informer, and as a result, six screenshots of him were published.[1] According to Ed Boon, Belokk was cut due to time constraints during development.[13]

Mortal Kombat Gold did not receive high marks for visual quality; Game Revolution commented: "The graphics are inexcusably horrible [and] it's quite a depressing let-down on Sega's 128-bit masterpiece, especially when compared to Soul Calibur". The weapons that characters can use during the game are "dull and uninteresting", often have little relation to the characters, and are "either a sword, axe, or club".[14] IGN had similar bad reviews about Mortal Kombat Gold, particularly regarding the poor weaponry: "Readying your weapon is a slow process in which one can be hit any number of times during the attempt". Although they commented on the improvements from previous Mortal Kombat games, the lack of depth was considered somewhat inexcusable.[15]

A second revision of the game, known as version 2.0, was released about a month after the initial release intending to address some of the major issues in it.This version fixed the most severe bugs and glitches in the game and added VMU support, which allowed saving to work properly. The revision is identifiable by a red tinted disc, as opposed to the original's gold tint, and a green sticker saying "Hot! New!" placed on the instruction manual cover.

ArenasEdit

  • Elder Gods
  • Goro' Lair
  • Ice Pit
  • Living Forest
  • Reptile's Lair
  • Shaolin Temple
  • The Prison
  • The Tomb
  • The Well
  • Wind World

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