Mortal Kombat II


STORY:  Following his defeat to Liu Kang, Shang Tsung begs his master, Shao Kahn, to spare his life. He tells Shao Kahn that the invitation for Mortal Kombat cannot be turned down, and if they hold it in Outworld, the Earthrealm warriors must attend. Kahn agrees to this plan, and restores Tsung's youth. He extends the invitation to Raiden, who gathers his warriors and takes them into Outworld. The tournament is dangerous, as Shao Kahn has the "home field advantage," and an Outworld victory will unbalance the furies and allow Outworld to subsume Earthrealm.


Mortal Kombat 2 character selection screen.

Many fans still consider Mortal Kombat II to be the best installment out of the early MK series. Maybe because the MK team at Midway improved on nearly every single aspect of the original title... and exceeded all expectations. MK2 sees the return of most of the original cast, with the exclusion of Kano, Sonya, and Goro. Additionally, the boss of MK1, Shang Tsung, makes his appearance as a regular playable character (with a new look to boot), and joins newcomers, such as: Mileena, Baraka, Kung Lau and Jax. In addition, two new boss characters await players at the end of MK's iconic Arcade Ladder, those being Kintaro and Shao Kahn. MK2 also includes a variety of "secret" characters (Jade, Smoke & Noob Saibot) whom players can fight against if they meet certain conditions during the 1-player mode.


The Pit 2 was one of the coolest stages... still is.


Along with all new highly-entertaining Fatalities, Mortal Kombat II adds "Friendships" and "Babalities" to the array of entertaining finishing moves... and no doubt, surprised the hell out of returning players with unexpected humor. These additions were designed to add levity to the game simply because some people took the violence and gore a little too seriously. Friendships involve the victor performing a "joke" on the loser, instead of killing them. Because of the pure randomness of the Friendship and Babality moves, rumor spreading become prevalent during the course of MK2... adding even more hype to the franchise, no doubt.

gameplay feels very much like the original, but perhaps was a bit more accessible and more fun to play (multiplayer) this time around. As you probably just noticed, I did put "multiplayer" in parentheses, and that's because... one does not "play" 1-player MK2. Allow me to explain: See, the computer AI is so cheap and abusive (primarily in the arcade version), it's not really even a fighting "game" that can be played. The CPU AI was written with a certain (evil) code that "mirrors" and predicts the player's movements as soon as they've inputted their command, whether it's walking, jumping, or attacking.

This is how to punish Liu Kang's flying kick! 

It's a bit tricky to explain with words alone, but basically, fighting against the CPU is more like looking for ways to exploit its cheap, and incredibly unfair (yet stupidly effective) tactics. Quick story: I returned to MK2 for a run through the arcade ladder in 2015... and holy hell, my brain hurt by the time I beat Shao Kahn. It was not fun.... I forgot how cheap the AI was in the arcade version. However, I'm 95% sure the default CPU AI was toned down in the SNES version (which I played more of as a kid, over the arcade version).

Every Fatality in MK2 was entertaining. . .

To sum up the greatness of MK2... the sequel was faster, bloodier, gorier, louder, and even improved quite a bit in the graphics department. MK2 made just as big a splash, if not a bigger splash than the original made when it released in arcades (a pretty difficult thing to do for any fighting game). As a 10-11 year old when MK2 came out, I can tell you that it was hard to make a case that Mortal Kombat II wasn't "the shit" when it came out. Nearly everyone I knew was playing it or at least talking about it... and MK2 certainly gave players enough to talk about! Secret opponents, secret Fatalities, Babalities, Friendships, Easter eggs... you name it. (This trend of hidden secrets continued and "fully blossomed" in the sequel, MK3). 


FUN FACT: In MK2, Johnny Cage can uppercut his opponent's head off 3 or more times. If you could perform this at your arcade, you were famous!


Speaking of secrets... Like the first game, Mortal Kombat 2's hidden Easter Eggs definitely added a ton of hype to the game - even for "casual" fighting game fans who don't normally pay attention to the genre.  it was pretty cool that the original "secret" opponent in MK1 (Reptile) became fleshed out and playable in MK2. As a whole, the new characters introduced in MK2 also made for a more balanced and better-looking roster. The moody new stage environments and BGMs are straight up badass as well. Some new combo possibilities were introduced in this installment, which helped make the game a bit more competitive (but still not quite as competitive or technical as other 2D fighters of the time). 

The epic-looking stage Fatalities, multiple traditional fatalities, and the obscurely hilarious Babalities & Friendships were the icing on the cake to the most playable iteration of MK to date. One of the only noticeable flaws of MK2 (besides the cheap CPU AI in the arcade version) was that the entertaining "Test Your Might" mini game from the prequel was nowhere to be found. Besides that, for a fighting game.... MK2 basically "had it all" in 1993/1994.

Page Updated: September 4th, 2022
Developer(s): Midway
Publisher(s): Midway, Acclaim
Designer(s): Ed Boon, John Tobias
Artwork By: Patrick Rolo   Character Illustrations
Platform(s): Arcade, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega 32X, Nintendo Game Boy, Sega Game Gear, Sega Saturn, PC, Amiga, PlayStation Portable (in Midway Collection), Xbox 360 (XBLA), PlayStation 3, PSN
Release Date(s): June 25th, 1993             Arcade
May 16th, 1994               PC
Sept. 1994                        SNES/Game Gear/Game Boy
Oct. 27th, 1994                Game Boy
Nov. 11th, 1994               Game Boy
Dec. 5th, 1994                  Mega Drive/Genesis
1994                                     32X/Sega Master System/Amiga
Mar. 28th, 1996               Saturn
Mar. 29th, 1996               Saturn
Aug. 30th, 2011              PSN - in MK: Arcade Kollection
Aug. 31st, 2011              XBLA - in MK: Arcade Kollection
Characters Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Reptile, Mileena, Kung Lao, Baraka, Kitana, Johnny Cage, Rayden, Shang Tsung, Liu Kang, Jax Briggs, Shao Kahn, Jade, Smoke, Noob Saibot, Kintaro

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Related Games: Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate, Mortal Kombat 4, Mortal Kombat Gold, MK: Deadly Alliance, MK: Deception, MK: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe, Mortal Kombat 9, Mortal Kombat X, Mortal Kombat 11, Mortal Kombat 1, Eternal Champions, Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury Special, World Heroes, Virtua Fighter 2, Super Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter: The Movie, Killer Instinct, Primal Rage

Gameplay Engine

 9.0 / 10

Story / Theme

 10 / 10

Overall Graphics

 10 / 10


 9.5 / 10

Music / Sound Effects

 9.5 / 10


 10 / 10

Art Direction

 9.0 / 10


 5.0 / 10

Options / Extras

 8.5 / 10

Intro / Presentation

 8.5 / 10

Replayability / Fun

 9.0 / 10

"Ouch" Factor

 10 / 10


 9.0 / 10


 9.7 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version    


Final Words: Mortal Kombat 2 was a smash hit in arcades, naturally. It had every reason to succeed and was one of the "best sequels" of the time period. There was a lot to like about MK2... memorizing all the moves, Fatalities, Friendships, and other random secrets.

MK2 definitely raised the bar for "realism" in fighting games. There were some similar games floating around the market in the early-mid 90s, attempting to ride MK2's coattails with "lifelike" digitized graphics, but MK2 easily outshined them all. In terms of quality on that front, it was definitely hard to compete with MK2. The game was just so crisp!

The smash hit arcade version (which definitely turned heads at the time for being visually impressive) thankfully, made a great translation onto home consoles. Shoutouts to the SNES port, which I'm pretty sure was the visually superior version at launch (until later versions arrived). I must've clocked 500+ hours onto that little MK2 SNES cartridge. Good times.

I was always a fan of the "hard-hitting moves" of MK2. The ouch factor was really solid for back then. Uppercutting your opponent off the stage for the win, or performing Katana's crazy fan combos never seemed to get old. Like many other obsessed 90's arcade kids, I had all the fatalities memorized. Back then, I'm pretty sure I memorized every move in the game (and all these decades later, I've forgotten most of them).
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen  

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