Mortal Kombat Console War: Genesis Vs SNES

Posted by Steven Collier on Feb. 26th, 2016

Which Mortal Kombat was superior, the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo version? If you grew up in the 90's It was the game that almost single-handedly created the ESRB system, and the first to receive a "Mature" rating. It was the controversial arcade smash that made national headlines. To this day, there's still debate over which version was superior. Well, It's time to put this argument to rest. Here's the blow-by-blow analysis of which Mortal Kombat was the best.

1. Graphics

Mortal Kombat graphics - SNES vs. Sega Genesis

This is where most of the debate about this game comes from. In an effort to maintain its image as a family friendly gaming system, the SNES port heavily censored the game's gore. Blood was recolored from red to grey, and relabeled as "sweat." The iconic Fatalities were mostly replaced with substantially less violent "Finishing Moves." And, even the text in characters' endings was altered to remove pretty much any reference to death.

However, the Super Nintendo offers a few perks that try to make up for these omissions. The character sprites are larger and more detailed than those on the Genesis. Additionally, the SNES offers unique animations on each character's bio screen. But, its most notable advantage are the stage backgrounds. Thanks to its hardware, the Super Nintendo could render animated, multi-layered backgrounds for each stage. This made its fighting arenas substantially more pleasant to look at.

Unfortunately despite all of this, the Genesis' added gore and character-unique win screens make for a more arcade accurate experience. It may be uglier than the SNES, but then Mortal Kombat was never really meant to be pretty.

Winner: Genesis

2. Sound

Mortal Kombat Sound - SNES vs. Sega Genesis

This one's an easy victory for the substantially more robust sound card of the SNES. Its 16-bit covers of the game's tunes are miles ahead of the tinny chiptunes on the Genesis. However, where the Super Nintendo port really shines is in the vocal department. 

Every character in Mortal Kombat had unique battle cries and screams of agony, and these were all accounted for on the SNES. Sega dropped the ball by only voicing a handful of characters, and even then the audio quality isn't nearly as crisp as what Nintendo produced.

Winner: Super Nintendo

3. Gameplay

Mortal Kombat Gameplay - SNES vs. Sega Genesis

For some reason this usually turns into a debate about the systems' default controllers. The Super Nintendo controller has more buttons than the basic Genesis model. However, I refuse to count this as better gameplay.. The popularity of fighting games blind-sided both companies, and if you're honest with yourself, you'll admit that neither controller was designed with something as complex as Mortal Kombat in mind. Both Sega and Nintendo later released gamepads that were specifically designed for the fighting game genre, so it's not like either company is blameless.

If you give both versions a fair shake and assume they're being played with dedicated fight pads, it becomes a easier to declare a clear winner. The Genesis port of Mortal Kombat plays faster than the SNES, with all of its controls being noticeably more responsive. As a whole, the Genesis comes closer to accurately replicating the speed and and feel of the arcade game, despite its technical shortcomings. The only slight advantage the SNES version offers is the exclusive ability to pause the game between stages of the single-player campaign. It's a nice touch, but it's no game changer.



Mortal Kombat Konclusions

The definitive Mortal Kombat port is almost impossible to choose for one simple reason: no one can agree on what Mortal Kombat's supposed to be. If you think that Mortal Kombat simply is not complete without its notoriously gruesome visuals, then the Genesis version is the victor by default. However, if you genuinely think that Mortal Kombat should be judged by the merits of its core gameplay, and don't care about the blood and fatalities, the SNES' superior graphics and audio make it a substantially more impressive port. 

But you came here to get my verdict on the matter so here it is: 

There have been a lot of of bloody, controversial games made over the years. But, for the most part they've all faded into obscurity. Chiller for the NES is far more gruesome than Mortal Kombat, but it rightfully languishes in gaming obscurity because its just not that fun to play. 

Mortal Kombat wasn't a flash in the pan success, and it hasn't endured as a franchise for over two decades simply because it featured some choppy decapitation animations. No, it became a classic because gamers genuinely enjoyed its gameplay! 

While it is true that ludicrous amounts of violence have always been the series' hallmark, underneath that grim facade lies a genuinely fun fighting game. So, if you want my opinion as to which console did it better, I've got to go with the one that came closest to replicating the arcade experience, and that is the Super Nintendo. 

Even if it lacks the trademark gore of the Genesis, the SNES port excels in its presentation of virtually every other aspect of the original arcade game. Purists will rightfully claim that the Genesis offered more arcade accurate speed and controls, but in the end Nintendo offered the more Komplete package.

The Winner!

Super Nintendo: No Ifs, Ands, or Guts!

SNES Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat - SNES Game For Sale

Now, I doubt that my article will end this decades-long debate. So if you feel I was unfair in any of my rulings, let me know. I'll happily continue this battle in the Komments section below and give you an original comment style Fatality! has original Mortal Kombat games in stock right now for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Buy your favorite today!

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