Mortal Kombat II (SNES)

Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Sculptured Software | September 1994 | 24 MEGS
Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Sculptured Software | September 1994 | 24 MEGS

First there was Mortal Monday (September 13, 1993). And then there was Mortal Friday (September 9, 1994). That of course was the infamous release date of one of the most eagerly anticipated SNES games of all time: Mortal Kombat II. Following the censored disappointment of the first game a year ago, would the sequel learn from the mistakes of the past or were they doomed to repeat it? Thankfully the game was allowed to be uncensored. I remember the days leading up to the release. It was one of the biggest gaming events of the year. And I’m happy to say that they got it mostly right this time around. It was the redemption all SNES Mortal Kombat fans were waiting for.


The craze could not be contained
The craze could not be contained

When Mortal Kombat first exploded onto the arcade scene in 1992, it made an immediate impact and became the talk of the town. Its unique digitized graphics, extreme violence and infamous Fatalities left a lasting imprint. But there were many who felt the gameplay wasn’t anything special. The following year Mortal Kombat II was unleashed and it changed everything. More fighters, more combos, more Fatalities and more secrets made even the biggest Mortal Kombat critics raise an eyebrow. Now not only did Mortal Kombat II have the novelty factor going for it but the gameplay too.

The craze could not be contained
The cover that haunted my youth

In December of 1993, my brother Kevin subscribed to EGM. Our first issue was #54, January 1994. I’ll never forget coming home from school that one day, with dark clouds lingering overhead, opening my mailbox and seeing this striking cover staring right back at me. The game logo jumped off the cover as if it were in 3D. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the menacing monster, Baraka. He was an odd combination of looking cool yet also very cheesy. My mind couldn’t process which one won out, but I knew it struck an emotional chord. As much as I loved Street Fighter II at the time, Mortal Kombat was the more violent and gritty alternative. It was like ECW vs. WWF in the mid ’90s. To this day I vividly remember standing there at my mailbox holding this issue in my hand and admiring the cover for what felt like 10 minutes. Finally, I decided I better head in before the rain comes pouring down. Kevin would kill me if I got the goods damaged. I suddenly imagined him giving me his own version of a Fatality. And with that, I tucked the magazine under my arm like a running back and raced inside.

Mortal Kombat II was everywhere you looked
Mortal Kombat II was everywhere you looked

Just six months later, EGM put out their 60th issue in June of 1994. Once again featuring Mortal Kombat II on the cover, #60 was an absolute jaw dropper. This time it was all about the Mortal Kombat II home ports. What a time it was to be a 10 year old boy growing up in suburban America. I was smack dab in the middle of the fighting game golden age as well as the Super Nintendo’s prime. And with summer not far behind, which promised endless lazy days playing video games galore with my best friend Nelson, it was a special period of my life that a small part of me today every now and then still yearns for. The art of those Mortal Kombat characters were amazing. Inside there was a blow-out preview on all four home ports. They used a color coordinated border around each picture to indicate which home port you were looking at. I still recall it was ORANGE for SNES, which just seemed like a right fit. My brother and I read that article easily 100 times over.


What a change of heart for family-oriented Nintendo
What a change of heart for family-oriented Nintendo
At long last, redemption was ours
At long last, redemption was ours
Note: this was originally made on September 9, 2014
Note: this was originally made on September 9, 2014







SNES owners breathe a huge sigh of relief when it was confirmed that the SNES port of Mortal Kombat II would be uncensored. Not only were the Fatalities left intact but each character now had two to choose from. It only made sense to make everything about this sequel superior to the first. And Mortal Kombat II delivered just that; players marveled to the sadistic joy of severing limbs and heinous acts of decapitation. It was quite the 180 for Nintendo and looking back, part of me still can’t believe that this turned out as faithful to the arcade as it did. “SUPERB!”








Remember the Pit Fatality from the first game? The sequel has even more Stage Fatalities! The Dead Pool is my favorite one. Few things are as sweet as knocking a bastard into the green acidic ooze.








Traditional Pit Fatality for the purists out there.

I miss the traditional spikes though
I do miss the traditional spikes though







Spikes, eh? Here are your GAWD DAMN spikes!

What goes up must come down... or not
What goes up must come down… or not
Turn your opponent into... a baby?! Strange but true
Turn your opponent into… a baby?! Strange but true
Don't behead 'em... BEFRIEND 'EM!
Don’t behead them… BEFRIEND ‘EM!
Totally bonkers but it adds some humor to the game
Totally bonkers but it adds some humor to the game


Life was good. It was a great time to be a kid  ^_^
Life was good. It was a great time to be a kid  ^_^


I hope you weren't too fond of Sonya and Kano, though
Hope ya weren’t too fond of Sonya and Kano though


Dead Pool
Dead Pool

As a kid I thought the acidic pool looked so realistic. Even today it still looks pretty stunning to me. Best of all, it never gets old throwing someone into the burning acid.

The Living Forest
The Living Forest

One of the all time great fighting game stages, the Living Forest gives Mortal Kombat II a ghoulish and creepy vibe. The sound of the evil trees growling is embedded in my soul. Love how menacing and unsettling those unholy growls sounded…

The Portal
The Portal

Speaking of creepy, the Shadow Priests look like they jumped straight out of a deranged horror flick. I’ve always hated cloaked figures growing up and these bastards did nothing but perpetuate that childhood fear.

Seriously creepy with a capital C!
Seriously creepy with a capital C!
The Wastelands
The Wastelands

Welcome to the barren and desolated decaying mess of the Outworld. Cloaked in darkness and shadows, this bleak backdrop is as hopeless as it can get.

The Pit II
The Pit II

While Mortal Kombat II does almost everything better than the original, not so with The Pit. I miss the nice simplicity of the original pit stage. But it’s pretty cool to see a guy burning on fire in the background I have to admit. Adds that visceral punch to this stage but I still prefer the original one.

The Armory
The Armory

Sorry, this stage kind of sucks :P

The Tower
The Tower

Big Brother is watching you each step of the way, even up here. Scale the wicked Tower to continue your quest to face Mr. Big Evil himself, Shao Kahn.

The Kombat Tomb
The Kombat Tomb

Any stage that offers a “Stage Fatality” is automatically awesome by default. You can impale your foe on the spikes above. OUCH!

Kahn's Arena
Kahn’s Arena

The emperor of the Outworld sits high on his throne, watching with great amusement as opponents rip each other limb from limb. On each side Kano and Sonya can be seen tied up. Nice cameo and fan service there!

Goro's Lair
Damn straight!

Return to Goro’s decrepit lair of despair. The big guy is long gone but in his place is the deadly hidden character, Jade. More on her later.















Johnny’s projectile now curves high or low. I love how it’s got that sweet trailing action. Cage’s trusty Shadow Kick returns and his brand new Shadow Uppercut knocks fools out of the air.













Searching for your better half? So is Jax…















Similar to Sagat, Liu Kang’s fireballs now hit either high or low. His Super Kick makes Shawn Michaels jealous and his Bicycle Kick allows him to work out his abs as he’s smashing your face in.



















Easily one of the most memorable and coolest Fatalities in Mortal Kombat lore.















Rayden, the Thunder God, appropriately has some lightning-based attacks. He can also teleport and launch himself torpedo style in M. Bison fashion.







Uppercut from Hell.















Scorpion’s Harpoon Spear is back in all its glory. “GET OVER HERE!” Part man and part ghost, he can teleport from one side to the other.













Ripping his mask off to reveal his true grotesque nature, Scorpion roasts his victim. They spaz out before exploding into tiny charred pieces.















Freeze your competition with his trusty Iceball. The Slide is good for a sneak attack and his new Ground Freeze makes fighting Sub-Zero a slippery slope (sorry).







Iceman Cometh.















Scraping his blades together, the Blade Spark gives Baraka a long distance advantage. Up close he can damn near take his rival’s head off as well as catch them in a bloody game of slice and dice. Baraka is easily one of my favorite new characters.













Baraka impales his victim with his razor sharp blades, lifts them high and sneers as he watches them slide down ever so slowly. As a kid I could not believe this made it to the SNES uncensored. Grisly and graphic!















Making the most out of his powerful fist, Jax’s Ground Pound sends forth a devastating blast. His Sonic Wave makes the coolest sound effect. Up close he’ll grab and pummel you senseless.







Horror film aficionados can’t help but love this one. Talk about a serious headache…















Kitana’s oriental fans contain hidden razor blades. Whether you use her fans to slice and dice or lift them up for a combo attack, Kitana has developed quite the FANboy following [FANtastic… -Ed.]













Someone once asked Kitana for some “head.” She has been happy to comply ever since.





















Anyone can throw a projectile, but few can control them like Kung Lao does. Press up or down to guide his hat. His Whirlwind Spin would make Mechagodzilla proud. A quick striking kick and teleportation round out his arsenal.

Siiiiick. Speaking of sick, see below…





























Shades of Kung Lao from the film Tai Chi Hero!
Shades of Kung Lao from the film Tai Chi Hero















Throw her sai either on ground or in mid-air. Mileena can tuck and roll with the best of ‘em. Her Teleport Kick is a good way to surprise overly aggressive opponents.













Reminds me of a Dateline special I once saw on young anorexic girls who binge eat and then force themselves to vomit. This repulsive Fatality reveals Mileena’s ugly kisser.

Shades of the Slit Mouth Woman!
Shades of the Slit Mouth Woman!















Reptile is so cool. His Acid Spit fits the character perfectly and is one of my favorite projectiles around. He emulates Sub-Zero’s Slide and his Force Ball briefly suspends his opponent, leaving them wide open for possible combo strikes.

Reptile can also go invisible temporarily
Reptile can also go invisible temporarily



















Similar to Scorpion, this Fatality gives us a glimpse at the real Reptile behind the mask. After a hard fought battle there’s nothing quite like a tasty post-match meal…









Throw one, two or even up to three consecutive fireballs. It just keeps coming [That’s what she said -Ed.]







Shang Tsung will take your soul without consent.

Shang's greatest power is morphing into anyone
Shang’s greatest power is morphing into anyone




Shao, you ever thought of writing greeting cards?
Shao, you ever thought of writing greeting cards?
He's not very amused, I see...
He’s not very amused, I see…




During the ? screen, use only Low Kick to fight Jade.


There's also SMOKE and NOOB SAIBOT...
There’s also SMOKE and NOOB SAIBOT…
As kids we all thought he said WHOOPSIE!
As kids we all thought he said “WHOOPSIE!”




One of my favorite memories involving Mortal Kombat II took place in the winter of 1994. My best friend Nelson and I were so obsessed with the game that one morning before school began, we took turns on the playground pretending to be Shang Tsung. One of us would stick our hands out to emulate his fireball motion and the other one would lean back and breathe out. Our breath made it seem like “smoke” was coming out of our mouths. It captured the effect that Shang’s fireballs created upon impact. Damn, we were such dorks… [were? -Ed.]


My poor Crash Dummy :P
My poor Crash Dummy

In the early ’90s I was infatuated with the Incredible Crash Dummies. Its toy line stood out to me. With the press of a button, your Crash Dummy action figure would explode with limbs flying every which way. It wasn’t long before Tyco released a giant plush figure whose head and limbs were attached to Velcro. This led to new creative ways of torturing your Crash Dummy. On December 23, 1993, I finally got one from KB Toys. But rather than destroying my plush Crash Dummy buddy, I felt a bond with Spin and started to treat him as though he were my pet. Just… don’t ask. At the same time, Mortal Kombat II was pretty fresh in the arcades and reigning atop the gaming world. One weekend my out of town Gaming Crew came down for yet another legendary sleepover. I sadly made the fatal mistake of leaving Spin out in plain sight. The guy we affectionately referred to as Sushi-X, upon seeing Spin, grabbed him and issued an ominous decree. “WATCH THIS.” I gasped in abject horror as Sushi-X proceeded to replicate Jax’s Arm Ripper Fatality.













Everyone cheered. I watched helplessly as my Gaming Crew began taking turns acting out various Mortal Kombat II Fatalities on poor ol’ Spin. I wanted to tell them to stop but I also didn’t want to come off as the weird guy who had bonded with his Crash Dummy buddy. It was quite the quandary. Acceptance of your esteemed peers, or become the laughingstock of the group? Sadly, cowardly self-preservation won out. The next 10 minutes consisted of them reenacting every single last Fatality on the poor little guy. Hey, boys will be boys.


My actual childhood Hollywood Video!
The actual Target my bro got Mortal Kombat II from

One of my favorite gaming memories revolves around the release date of Mortal Kombat II. It came out on MORTAL FRIDAY, September 9, 1994. I sprinted home as soon as school got out in order to make the trek to Target with my mom and brother. She had agreed to buy the game for us. It was rare in those days for her to buy us a game outside of a birthday or Christmas. Somehow even she knew the magnitude of Mortal Friday. I have many fond memories of the local Target in my childhood home town. In fact, it’s one of the few entities from the ’80s that still stands today in the same spot. Oh sure it’s been renovated over the years but even to this day whenever I pass by four or five times a year I can’t help but stare and smile. A wave of memories always come roaring back ^_^


My mom and I used to go to Target every Friday after school back in the ’90s. I have fond memories of entering through the back via the classic Garden Center. I rarely came through the front entrance. My mom always went here first too since she loved gardening. And I loved it because the entrance into the store inside the Garden Center always led you directly to the toy section! So it was a win-win for all. As corny as this may sound, I can still smell the distinct and rich smell of fertilizer whenever I close my eyes and think about Target’s Garden Center. Some childhood smells just stay with you!


It was a tradition of mine to hit the toy section first, followed by the magazine section and then the electronics department that housed the latest 16-bit titles. I always went through the Garden Center. My mom did her shopping while I ran around Target by myself. Looking back, it was such an innocent time in my life. I remembering gawking at the various giant LEGO play sets. I drooled at the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys and I would always bounce those silly looking bright bouncy balls that they kept stored in a cheap black plastic rack. I would then make my way over to the magazine aisle where I could thumb through the latest EGM and GameFan issues. Finally, I’d hit the game section to admire the latest and greatest. Good times.


After buying Mortal Kombat II on Mortal Friday, my brother and I spent that entire weekend playing it to death. We were blown away by what a great port it was. But we did have one small issue with it. For whatever reason, our copy was defected. Rayden’s electrocution special move didn’t work. Sure, it was kind of a shitty move anyway that left you wide open for attack if you missed, but details! We didn’t like the idea of owning a game where even one special move didn’t work properly. But it was late Sunday night and so we had to wait until Monday. My mom couldn’t take me right after school so I had to wait for my dad to come home later that night… setting the stage for one crazy Monday night…

I'll never forget the lights disappearing under my feet
I was a man on a mission

My dad had to work overtime that fateful Monday night, so when he finally arrived home and finished his late dinner it was already 9:45 PM. We rushed to Target hoping to get in before closing time. The Garden Center was already closed so this was one of those rare times I headed in through the front entrance. I still remember the image vividly of power walking down that long well-lit aisle all the way down to the electronics department. I was a man on a mission as I clutched my defective copy of Mortal Kombat II. The lights reflecting off the floor passed under my feet as I power walked to the game section before they could close at 10. Once there I explained to them about the game’s defect. As I finished explaining, a voice blared over the PA system: “Attention Target customers, we will be closing in 5 minutes.” The worker I spoke to was a young buck in his early 20s. He gave me a funny look and then said, “Hey, I guess we can always check it.” I stood there waiting for him to take my game off the counter and to the back. But he never did. Instead he dropped a bombshell on me. “Hey kid, wanna come back there?”

Suddenly I had a backstage pass!
Suddenly I had a backstage pass!

Before I knew it the young college kid guided me and my dad through the backstage area of Target. Walking through the backstage tunnel felt quite surreal. Suddenly we were getting a sneak peek behind the scenes. As he led me and pops through that long hallway, I could only think to myself how awesome the whole thing felt. Finally, we came to a cozy staff room with some couches and a TV with a Super Nintendo plugged in. He threw my copy into the machine and away we went! It was absolutely surreal being backstage at one of my favorite childhood stores. After he confirmed that Rayden’s electrocution move didn’t work (he tried holding down HP for 2 seconds, then 4, then 6, then 20… none of them worked), he conceded and allowed me to exchange it for a working copy. He then most likely broke a law as he told me and my dad to hang tight. He ran off to snag a new Mortal Kombat II copy off the shelf so we can make sure it would not be defective as well. My dad and I suddenly found ourselves sitting there in Target’s staff room all by ourselves (as non employees). I remember just thinking to myself HOLY SHIT! I don’t think this is supposed to be happening but it was! As an 11 year old kid at the time it was frigging awesome.

All because this move didn't work in the first copy
All because this move didn’t work in the first copy

When he finally came back, I saw that he wasn’t alone. Not only did he have a nice new copy of Mortal Kombat II but yet another Target employee walked in with him. He was also a young college kid. I looked up at the clock and realized it was now past 10 — the store had closed! They tore open the new copy and fired it up. The two of them tested to make sure that Rayden’s electrocution move worked on this copy. It did. At this point more Target employees started pouring in and the staff room was suddenly swarming and buzzing with about 10 workers. My dad and I found ourselves right in the thick of it all. Before I knew it they even asked me if I was interested in playing a few rounds. HELL YEAH! Playing Mortal Kombat II with some cool random college guys past closing hours on a school night? SIGN ME UP! I looked at my dad, who was now standing in the corner looking on, and he nodded with a smile. I ended up playing about 10 matches with various Target employees! They let me play on even if I lost. I remember my first win caused the room to erupt as they gave me hi-fives and teased the guy I had somehow beaten like there was no tomorrow. Finally, we turned the game off and they gave us the exchange.

Best customer service ever
Best customer service ever

On our way out, and I’m not sure why but I remember this SO vividly, a lovely female employee asked me if I wanted something from the vending machine that hugged the wall at the end of the staff room. She told me and my dad it’s on the house. My dad got a Pepsi and I ended up getting an ice cold Sprite. We walked out of Target at around 10:30 that night, a solid half hour after they had officially closed. In our hands were two ice cold beverages and a new defect-free copy of SNES Mortal Kombat II. It was one of those magical nights from your childhood you can never forget. After all, how many kids can say they played Mortal Kombat II backstage at their local Target with some cool college cats? It’s a memory that has stuck with me ever since.

Looks like I wasn't the only one...
Looks like I wasn’t the only one…
Brian George from Indiana, you weren't alone...
Brian George from Indiana, you weren’t alone…
The Target guys and I were only 240 matches shy...
The Target guys and I were only 240 matches shy…



Mortal Kombat II fared extremely well with the critics. EGM rated it 8, 8, 8 and 9. GameFan gave it ratings of 85, 90 and 94%. Super Play rated it 90%. It was well received by nearly everyone. Tony Mott of Super Play fame said, “There’s a vast amount of playability lurking beneath its deceptive surface and in quality of conversion terms there’s little around to touch it.” K. Lee from GameFan declared “Mortal Kombat II is a 95% arcade to home translation. This is truly an Mortal Kombat fan’s dream come true.” Al Manuel of EGM called it “as close to the arcade as it’s gonna get” and Danyon Carpenter said simply, “Mortal Kombat II fans can finally shut up. Their game is here and what an excellent translation it is.” Well said, my friends. Well f*cking said.

Nintendo Power rated it the 53rd best game of all time
Nintendo Power rated it as the 53rd best game ever



It was only missing the names inside the bars
It was only missing the names inside the bars


Redemption never tasted so sweet
Redemption never tasted so sweet

The first Mortal Kombat was a disappointing port. Not just because it was censored but because there was a slight lag in the gameplay that kind of threw everything off a bit. Mortal Kombat II on the other hand thankfully got so much right. Crisp control and it was uncensored. It’s one of the best ports the Super Nintendo ever saw. From the moment my brother bought it on Mortal Friday, Mortal Kombat II became a permanent mainstay in our SNES collection. I think back to those times where my brother, our gaming crew and I would play this late into the night. We mastered all the Fatalities, tinkered with the Easter eggs and many evenings were spent happily glued to the glow of the TV set. Looking back on it, those were some of the best gaming days of my youth.

Twice the fun, twice the violence
Twice the fun, twice the violence, twice as nice

In some cases nostalgia can blind us. But in this case, Mortal Kombat II on the Super Nintendo holds up well even 20+ years later. The visuals were amazing for its time. Hell, they still look pretty damn good. The sound is well done and very memorable. From “FINISH HIM!!” to the eerie trees growling in the living forest, it is a true arcade-like experience. But most importantly, the gameplay is about as spot on as you can hope for a tap-tap Mortal Kombat affair to be. Unlike the first game, there’s no funky split second delay in control. Every once in a while that Mortal Kombat itch strikes. While there are other sequels with much bigger rosters and even more moves, Mortal Kombat II remains the one I most often reach for. It expanded on the first game enough yet it maintained a certain level of simplicity and purity that later sequels lacked. Those sequels became a bit unnecessarily convoluted (i.e. Animality and Brutality). Mortal Kombat II on the other hand hits the sweet spot. “EXCELLENT!”

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 9

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award


Check out my YouTube MK II tribute video below
Check out my YouTube MK II tribute video below















Sweet dreams...
Sweet dreams…

Mortal Kombat (SNES)

Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Sculptured Software | September 1993 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Sculptured Software | September 1993 | 16 MEGS

Street Fighter II arrived on the scene in 1991 and arcade fighting games were never the same again. It jumpstarted a revolution and inspired many other companies to develop their own fighting games, hopeful for a slice of the pie. Midway changed the gaming industry on August 2, 1992, when they released Mortal Kombat. Featuring a more “realistic” look, buckets of gore, eye-popping Fatalities and an elaborate backstory, Mortal Kombat became nothing short of a phenomenon. It’s crazy to believe it’s almost been exactly 25 years to the day that this game first came out. It was a different era back then. And whether you liked or hated Mortal Kombat, it was the kind of game that elicited a reaction. That year Midway, Capcom and SNK all battled for arcade fighting game supremacy. What a time to be alive.



Who could ever forget the infamous ad campaign for MORTAL MONDAY? That, of course, was the big day the home ports of Mortal Kombat were set to be released. It was one of the most memorable campaigns to any video game ever. September 13, 1993 was the day Mortal Kombat finally came home. It was quite the moment and an amazing time to be a robust 10 year old boy growing up in suburban America. Whether you liked the game or not there’s no denying that the hyped release was a HAPPENING. Yup, no 16-bit gamer who grew up back then will ever forget those two infamous words, Mortal Monday. Good times.

This was originally made on September 13, 2013
PS- this was originally made on September 13, 2013

Indeed, it was a special time. SNES owners had been enjoying Street Fighter II Turbo for a month, and then Mortal Kombat joined the fray. I was 10 years old, loving the 5th grade and loving my SNES. Life was simple and life was good.


Ah, I miss early-mid '90s video gaming comic art...
Ah, how I miss early-mid ’90s video gaming comic art
"Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds..."
“Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds…”


Love this opening sequence!
Love this opening sequence!







You’re not the only one who grew up in the ’90s wanting to do that to Acclaim at some point. Thanks for making our dreams come true, Goro. You’re a real hero.




Indeed, there were only a measly 7 combatants to select from, but one could argue Street Fighter II had only 7 itself as well (Ryu and Ken had matching movesets). At least the two palette swaps here, Sub-Zero and Scorpion, have their own unique, distinct fighting styles.


It previewed the daunting road ahead in grand fashion
It previews the daunting road ahead in grand fashion


Nope, you certainly did not
Nope, you certainly did not

We didn’t quite understand the infamous FINISH HIM!! part when we first encountered Mortal Kombat in the arcades as kids. It was clear though that in those 3 seconds post-battle, you had the chance to do something. I’ll never forget the first time I saw somebody pull off Scorpion’s Fatality in the arcades. It was the first Fatality I witnessed and a moment in time that I will never forget. Everyone huddled around the arcade cab started screaming and basically losing their shit. We had never EVER seen anything like THAT before. It instantly put Mortal Kombat on the map. Say what you will about the game — it’s a gimmick, it’s a novelty, it’s a far cry from what constitutes as a “good” fighting game — but there’s NO denying that being a kid and seeing your very first Fatality back in 1992 was a moment you’d never forget. It’s just one of those epic defining moments in the ol’ video game memory bank. It’s right up there next to the first time you saw the two Barons of Hell bursting out of their pods from DOOM, or the rabid zombie dogs crashing through the window in the very first Resident Evil.




Yeah it's not the same but it's still pretty damn cool
Yeah it’s not the same but it’s still pretty damn cool



You find yourself on the inside but the battle has only just begun. You feel the intense burning eyes of over 20 monks tracking your every movement. In the far distance, high above, the creepy Shang Tsung looks on. I love the way the monks are all quietly bobbing away. Reminds me of all the kung fu flicks I watched as a kid growing up…


Ominous clouds linger overhead as you continue to prove your worth. The giant Buddha statue there is certainly a nice touch. If you can defeat your opponent here, the gates open to reveal the…


Only the best of the best are immortalized here with a life-sized statue. Goro’s gigantic statue eerily towers over the combatants, constantly reminding you of what terrors await at the end of the arduous road.


Lurking deep below in the pit are hundreds of razor sharp spikes. Many bodies have been mutilated when knocked over the precariously narrow platform ledge. It’s a very basic but effectively sadistic stage. One of the true Mortal Kombat classics. Gotta love it!


Under the watchful glare of Shang Tsung, you battle to the death for his twisted amusement. It’s genuinely creepy how he claps at the end of a round. The motion of the clapping is a bit erratic and just doesn’t seem right…

Shang Tsung gets closer with each step of the way...
Shang Tsung gets closer with each step of the way…

The skeletons adorned to the walls and glowing red eyes flickering in the dark say it all. Many heinous acts, far too horrible to speak of, have been conducted down here in this decrepit dungeon of DEATH and DESPAIR. The foul and putrid smell of decaying bones invade your senses. You would probably puke and gag if you weren’t busy trying to stay alive. Meanwhile, somewhere nearby the hideous monster Goro lurks…


Every fighting game had to have one back in the day
Every fighting game had to have one back in the day



Can’t help but love that name. Johnny Cage is a shallow narcissist who also happens to be a grand martial arts fiend. He’s capable of taking out a small army in the matter of seconds. Why did he enter the tournament? To garner more publicity toward his brand and to prove he’s truly the best in the universe. His fashion sense could use some work but hey, it was 1992.







Through years of intense training, Johnny can muster up so much chi that he’s able to unleash a lethal green flame from the palm of his hand. His trusty Shadow Kick produces so much force that you can actually see a shadow trail.


His Fatality has been sadly neutered.


Kano is nothing but a punk. Leader of the deadly Black Dragon clan, Kano believes Shang Tsung’s palace to be made of gold. He entered the tourney in order to find out if the rumor’s true or not.







Never one to shy away from violence, Kano’s Knife Throw travels fast and cuts even harder. He’ll do anything to gain the upper hand, including putting his very own body in harm’s way. This is clearly evident by his Cannon Ball where he throws caution to the wind. Eat your heart out, Blanka. Hell, Kano would.







Infamous for his vicious “rip their heart out” Fatality, Nintendo of America of course would not allow such a thing. Wish I could tell you the pillar there is blocking the heart graphic but it was sadly censored and Kano in fact doesn’t hold a heart at all. This makes the animation of him staring into his empty hand a bit awkward.


Who didn’t get a kick out of Liu Kang back in the day? This Bruce Lee wannabe is out to restore nobility and honor to the tournament, which has been tainted by the likes of madman Shang Tsung. Liu Kang once said, “Spikes don’t hit back… wait, actually, they sort of do… hmmm.”







Dragon Fire scorches its target. His lunging Dragon Kick darts across the screen in a flash, keeping opponents on their toes.







Another horribly neutered Fatality, he does a little fancy flip into an uppercut. Really?


In my gaming crew back in the day we used to joke about how one of our friends was secretly the elusive Sushi-X from EGM fame. We also thought another one of our friends, Tommy, moonlighted as Rayden. For a couple years there in the early-mid ’90s, we tried several times to sneak a rice hat onto Tommy’s head, always to no avail. I swear the dude was the spitting image of Rayden. Ah, those were the days…







Rayden’s Lightning Bolt is sure to electrify the competition (sorry). His infamous Super Man torpedo elicited many exaggerated “AH-LA-LA-AHH-LAAA!” yelps from fans back in the early ’90s.













Teleport from one side to the other to catch the opposition off guard. Start a fancy combo if you wish or simply nail them with an uppercut that sends them sky high!



















Rayden electrocutes his victim into a pile of dust. It’s a bit hard to pull off but it’s one of the better looking Fatalities in this port. Don’t mess with the Thunder God.


Ah, Scorpion. My friends and I — hell, everyone I knew growing up — always thought he was badass. But when we witnessed his Fatality for the very first time and saw that hideous skull behind the cool ninja mask, Scorpion officially became a legend among legends. This hombre is frigging awesome. Besides, he is responsible for three of gaming’s most iconic words: “GET OVER HERE!!”



















Scorpion’s infamous “GET OVER HERE!!” Spear is to Mortal Kombat what the Hadoken is to Street Fighter II. It’s one of the most iconic special moves in fighting game history. Scorpion can also teleport and quickly reappear attacking on the other side.



















Never before 1992 had I seen anything like this. There was a palpable buzz in that arcade hall the moment the screen went dark. Scorp takes off the mask, reveals his true horrific identity which naturally elicits a collective gasp from the crowd, *POOF* does his thing and the rest is history. It’s one of those legendary video gaming moments that you never forget.


Sonya was Miday’s answer to Capcom’s Chun-Li. You may scoff at her fashion sense but back in ’92 no one knew any better. Kind of scary, when you think about it.













Before Chun-Li’s Kikoken fireball you had Sonya Blade’s Energy Rings. Sonya also loves taking to the air as well as tossing her opponents with her mighty strong legs.













Brings a whole new meaning to “Kiss of Death.”


Sub-Zero is the man. Who doesn’t love ninjas, especially ones with ice powers? His longstanding rivalry with Scorpion is well documented.







Putting the big freeze on an opponent leaves him or her frozen for a few moments. This makes them ripe for the taking. Sub-Zero also has a sliding attack to keep his opponents honest.













While it’s not his uncensored arcade original Fatality of ripping out one’s bloody spinal cord, this more kid-friendly reimagining is not too shabby.




Indeed he is. And what a sight for sore eyes. When we first saw him, like many of the Fatalities themselves, there was a palpable visceral reaction. He looked, moved, sounded and played the part of a menacing monster like we had never seen before.

Not ashamed to admit he kinda scared me as a kid...
Not ashamed to admit he kinda scared me as a kid…


What a creepy portrait!
What a creepy portrait!


Shang Tsung is a shapeshifting bastard. The idea of a boss who could turn temporarily into any of the other fighters always appealed to me. After all, if there was a boss code that meant you could pick a character who would basically serve as an in-game Russian Roulette :P



The arcade had actual shots. We settled for this
The arcade had actual images. We settled for this


It was cheap and lazy but hey it is what it is
It was cheap and lazy but hey it is what it is


Remember the Mortal Kombat song? It was actually pretty damn cool. Great beat and I loved the actual Mortal Kombat announcer saying the fighters’ names and memorable phrases like “EXCELLENT!” and “TEST YOUR MIGHT!” To honor the theme song, I compiled a montage below that walks you through the first part of the song. So if you’d indulge me for a bit, click on the YouTube song and enjoy a blast from the past as you scroll through the pictures below.












Ah, what a lovely trip down memory lane :)
Ah, what a lovely trip down memory lane :)


There will never be another era like this ever again
There will never be another era like this ever again

EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 7 and 8. GameFan gave it ratings of 75, 76, 78 and 80%. Super Play scored it 81%. It was praised for its amazing visuals and sound but the severe censorship definitely was not a popular choice with the critics. Late 1993 was a great time to be a Super Nintendo owner as well as a fighting game fan. Street Fighter II Turbo and Mortal Kombat, released only a month apart of each other, battled for SNES supremacy. I always saw Turbo as the superior game but Mortal Kombat did stand as an intriguing alternative. The tap tap style was certainly unique, as well as the huge digitized characters. The debate would rage on that fall of ’93 as the two games graced magazine covers galore. It was all part of the fun of that magical era… a time period in which I still look back on with a real deep fondness even more than 20 years later.

The classic Mortal Kombat symbol
The classic Mortal Kombat symbol


Dang. it's almost been 25 years. I'll be damned...
Dang. it’s almost been 25 years. I’ll be damned…

1993 was a special time in my life. It’s a year I’ll never forget. I was 10, I had a best friend, my 5th grade teacher was the best I ever had, the school’s two cutest girls were in my class, the SNES and Genesis were waging war at their peak, and it was the age of the 2D fighting game. When I think back to that precious time of my life and the games that helped to define that era, Mortal Kombat inevitably comes to mind. Its bloody mayhem and rivalry with Street Fighter II Turbo was simply the stuff legends are made of. And so too was the hype train when these two games were set to make their shiny SNES debut. My brother bought Street Fighter II Turbo and our gaming crew bought Mortal Kombat. It was the best of both worlds as we hosted tournaments for both games whenever we got together back in those days. Good times!


The SNES port, aside from being censored, was decent for its time. The fighters were colossal and looked pretty amazing back in 1993. The sound captured the intensity of the arcade original. I’ve always enjoyed the music and sound effects of Mortal Kombat. The gameplay, however, takes a bit of a hit. I was never the biggest fan of the arcade original in terms of sheer playability. I always felt the Street Fighter games were in another class. The original Mortal Kombat, I feel, was never a fantastic game to begin with. It was the unique novelty that drew us in. While the SNES port is fairly faithful, Fatalities and blood aside, it’s a fairly faithful port of an arcade game that wasn’t all that good to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy busting out this game even to this day for the random stroll down memory lane. But the control wasn’t all that great and left the gameplay feeling a little stiff as a result. Moves don’t flow out smoothly and it takes a while to get used to. It’s a fun piece of history I suppose, and a look back at simpler times — a magical time of childhood and the awe of witnessing your first blood-laced Fatality. But as a game, it just doesn’t quite hit the mark. Now, Mortal Kombat II on the other hand…

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 6.5
Longevity: 6.5

Overall: 6.5

MK72Mortal Kombat falls a little short in my book, not just because it was censored but because the control is not as crisp as it should have been. Still, it’s something of a guilty pleasure I have to admit and a game that I still randomly pop in for the sake of nostalgia. It’s a relic from my youth that perfectly captures those lazy, hazy, crazy 1993 days.

Nothing but cheesy goodness
Nothing but cheesy goodness
Thanks for the memories, Midway...
Thanks for the memories. Long Live Mortal Monday!

NBA Jam Series (SNES)

Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Iguana | March 1994 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Iguana | March 1994 | 16 MEGS

On the eve of Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals, pitting the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers, I can’t help but be in a basketball state of mind. Yesterday I reviewed Looney Tunes B-Ball, which is one of my dear childhood favorites. It clearly drew inspiration from this next game. NBA Jam dominated quarters in the arcades and later living rooms across the nation in the mid ’90s. It was basketball like never seen before. Prior to NBA Jam, many basketball games were serious and more simulation-based. Sure, you had games that came before it such as Arch Rivals and Midway’s very own Basketbrawl. But it was NBA Jam (also developed by Midway) that really broke the ceiling, appealing to even non-basketball fans with its wild acrobatic dunks and frenetic gameplay. Once in a blue moon, a game comes along and becomes more than a game. It transcends the hobby, becoming a beast and fusing its way into pop culture. In the history of video games, only a small handful of games can truly claim that. NBA Jam is one of those select few that etched itself into our hearts. It is still fondly revered to this day. So put on your squeaky sneakers and tiny John Stockton shorts [wait, WHAT?? -Ed.]… because it’s time to jam.

The battle of the NBA titans
The battle of the NBA titans
Crank up the drama -- things are getting chippy!
Crank up the drama — things are getting chippy!


Nothing like being with the boys on a Saturday night
Nothing like being with the boys on a Saturday night

Growing up I was lucky enough to have a local best friend as well as a tight-knit band of brothers and sisters who lived about two hours away. The birth of this connection all started during the Vietnam War. It was there that our dads met on the battlefield. They were blessed enough to survive. Their bond continued post-war. They each went on to marry, have a family and kept in touch. Our countless family friend sleepovers during the late 1980s to mid 1990s were legendary. Staying up until 2 AM, the adults would be downstairs laughing up a storm, dancing the night away, singing bad karaoke songs and reminiscing about the good old days. Not to mention the occasional war story retold for the 90th time. Meanwhile, upstairs, a group of young boys and girls were busy hanging out, chilling, filming crappy home movies, and of course, playing video games galore. It was the greatest time of my childhood. So many epic sleepovers and events that took place whenever my “Gaming Crew” got together. They’re a big part of what made my childhood such a special time in my life.

Many Saturday nights were spent blasting one another
Many Saturday nights spent blasting one another

My gaming crew and I played hundreds of games together back in the good old days. But of all the titles we played, there were three we constantly came back to. The first was Super Bomberman. It was our first foray into 4 player party gaming bliss. Dropping bombs like mad men, cavorting around the various maps and praying that the flames will miss you by at least a pixel was incredibly addicting. Add to that the natural chemistry our group shared and WOW. It was video gaming magic.

You became a hero if you could knock off Sushi-X
You became a hero if you could knock off Sushi-X

The second game my group loved to play on Saturday nights was Street Fighter II Turbo. In our group the top dog was a guy we all affectionately nicknamed as Sushi-X. He earned this nickname thanks to his lavish love of EGM and all things Street Fighter II, just like the Sushi-X persona from EGM fame. One glance at our disfigured thumbs would clue you in at just how many bloody hours we spent dragon punching one another. Like a guitar player’s calluses, we were proud of our battle scars. There was nothing better than all 11 of us huddled around the Sony monitor, determined to finally down Sushi-X, the tough bastard. Many tried but few ever did.

Everyone was kung fu fighting... and JAMMING
Everyone was kung fu fighting… and JAMMING

Before we get to the third game my crew was madly obsessed about [I’m pretty sure they already know what that third game is -Ed.], let’s continue this stroll down memory lane. THE YEAR WAS 1993. Fighting games were all the rage. Everywhere you went it was all about Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. Fighting games dominated the arcade scene. They graced gaming magazine covers month after month and every kid on the playground was buzzing about them. What could stop this roaring freight train? Or at least steal some of the thunder? That’s when NBA Jam swooped in and took a gaming nation by storm. The unique and outrageous arcade style of 2 on 2 basketball immediately caught on like gangbusters. In a nutshell, 1993 was conquered by fighting games and NBA Jam.

Yes, NBA Jam was THAT big of a deal....
Yes, NBA Jam was THAT big of a deal…

NBA Jam became a monster in its own right, captivating the imagination of a gaming nation so much that some people were forced to beg the question, is NBA Jam better than even Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II? Walk into any arcade hall back in 1993 and you would hear the eclectic medley of “HADOKEN!” “FINISH HIM!” and “HEATING UP! HE’S ON FIRE!!!” Man, those were the good old days right there. Coupled with the 16-bit war, it was a hell of a time to be a robust 10 year old boy growing up in suburban America. In March 1994, NBA Jam hit home consoles to much fanfare. My brother and I bought the SNES version on launch day. What made NBA Jam so compelling? What made it such an amazing phenomenon? I came up with six reasons why. Fittingly so, in the form of NBA JAM, acrostic style.


N = No Holds Barred
B = Boy on Fire
A = Aerial Assault

A = Al Gore, ‘Nuff Said
M = Multiplayer Madness!


It was Arch Rivals on steroids
It was Arch Rivals on steroids

The very first thing that strikes you about NBA Jam is the simplistic 2 on 2 tornado tag team style of play. After that you quickly realize there are no rules. No fouls, no out of bounds, hell, you can even push the opposition as if you’re in the WWF. This made for a unique, frenetic and exciting experience.


Three simple, iconic words
Three simple, iconic words

Sometimes an athlete gets locked into the zone. You catch fire on your best days, and this is the case here almost literally. There was nothing better (or worse, depending on which side of the coin you’re on) than hearing those infamous words, “HE’S ON FIRE!” To enable this, nail three consecutive shots with the same player without letting your opponent score. Your shot percentage shoots way through the roof once you’re on fire. This lasts until the opposition scores or you score several times in a row. It is essentially a built-in temporary cheat code!







Literally scorching hot! I love how the net is temporarily singed. Best of all, besides your three point shot being nearly automatic (even if you’re not a good 3 point shooter), your turbo meter never runs out. This means you can shove to your heart’s content without discretion. I love the sweet sound of the ball scorching its way through the hoop. It’s beautiful. MAKE IT RAIN, BABY!


More dunkin' than a donut shop
More dunkin’ than a donut shop

You can’t talk NBA Jam without mentioning the crazy slam dunks. It would be like talking about the Civil War sans Abraham Lincoln. Or discussing all-time movie monster icons sans Godzilla. In other words, it just wouldn’t be right. Here at NBA Jam, there are no limits to what these athletes can do. They flip, twist and launch themselves 20 feet in the air to throw it down with the best of them. Everything’s larger than life here!







Favorite dunk? I like the one where you soar in the air spinning like a mad top before you come crashing down with a thunderous one-handed jam. But the best part of dunking occurs in the 4th quarter. With the right power dunk, you can actually shatter the glass!

Tell them, Jim Ross
Tell them, Jim Ross
I'm on it!

It’s pandemonium up in here, folks! Sir Charles has shattered the soul of Texas — Houston, we have a problem! Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is step dancing all over Barkley’s face! Mad Max Vernon Maxwell’s flesh is being pierced and mutilated by the shards of glass — WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE STOP THE DAMN MATCH! It looks like a 10 car pileup on I-10 here folks, and I don’t like it a damn bit! Bodies are strewn everywhere. For the LOVE OF GOD, these are human bodies! As God is my witness, he is broken in half!


Shattering the glass is such a rare occurrence in real life basketball that anyone who does it becomes a small part of basketball lore. From Darvin Ham to Shaquille O’Neal, few things in sports match the sheer spectacle of a grown man ripping down the rim as thousands of glass pieces engulf him and anyone nearby in a shower of broken glass. NBA Jam replicates that!

Collins was the first openly gay player in NBA history
Collins was the first openly gay player in NBA history
The best glass shattering though was Slam 'N Jam '96
The best glass shattering though was Slam ‘N Jam ’96
The perspective alone puts it in the driver's seat
The perspective alone puts it in the driver’s seat
Simply a thing of beauty
Simply a thing of beauty
Made for good trash talkin' times
Made for good trash talkin’ times

4. “JAMS IT IN!”

The zany announcer was in your face. You had to smile
The zany announcer was in your face. You had to smile

NBA Jam is known for many things: wild slam dunks, being on fire and basketball brutality. But that list would be incomplete without giving proper credit to the game’s wacky announcer. Being in an arcade hall filled with fervent screams of “HE’S ON FIRE!!” and “BOOM SHAKA LAKA!!” is something arcade goers of the early-mid ’90s will never forget. Some of the zany catchphrases have gone on to become rooted in American pop culture. NBA Jam transcended video gaming itself, something in which very few games could claim.


Easter eggs kept NBA Jam in the spotlight for months

Full of easter eggs and fun oddities, NBA Jam has more secrets than a congressman. I mean, for goodness sake, you could play as the chief-of-state himself, Bill Clinton. Or the vice president, Al “Brings The” Gore. At the time this was rather unheard of and made for some interesting water cooler discourse among the boys. The developers of NBA Jam were wise; they knew having a logjam of secrets meant extra and prolonged publicity. It helped fuel the fire and made NBA Jam even bigger and stronger. Indeed, it was a brilliant strategy. The proof was right there in the pudding. Because in 1993 *AND* 1994, everyone was NBA JAMMING.


The memories live on to this day
The memories live on to this day

I spent countless quarters on this game when it ruled the arcade scene in 1993. It was only a matter of time before it would come home to the 16-bit Super Nintendo. Sure enough, when it did in March 1994, my brother and I rushed out to buy a copy and we never looked back. My gaming crew and I spent countless hours buried in this game, basking in the glow of highly addictive 4 player jam sessions. Between Super Bomberman, Street Fighter II Turbo and NBA Jam, we spent countless Saturday nights in ’93 and ’94 bombing, dragon punching and slam dunking on one another. Nearly 25 years later, I still look back to those good old days every now and again, recalling the special moments those epic and classic games produced for us. There was nothing better than spending a Saturday night with your boys playing 4 player NBA Jam, with the winners playing on and the losers rotating out. We played this amazing port until the cows came home. What an idyllic time to be a 10 year old boy growing up in suburban America. It truly was a special period in my life that I’ll always remember and carry with me.


Give them credit for a spectacular port
Give Iguana Entertainment credit for a great port
THE definitive arcade style basketball game of the '90s
THE definitive arcade style basketball game of the ’90s
Almost 25 years old? Damn I'm getting old
Almost 25 years old? Damn I’m getting old
Its simplicity is part of the charm
Its simplicity is part of the charm
I always liked the hardwood [Of course you do... -Ed.]
NBA Jam is at its best when experienced with four


Who didn't love the bar stats on the back?
Player ratings in NBA Jam reminded me of Marvel ’91
The greener the better
The greener the better

Back in the day, 1991 to be precise, my friends and I were obsessed with collecting and trading cards from the Marvel ’91 series. I couldn’t get enough of the cool pink bars on the back of the cards. You can see where someone fits in the pantheon of the Marvel universe at a quick glance. NBA Jam used a similar system, evoking fond Marvel memories of days gone by. Here’s a look at the 26 other NBA teams below.















































































Although I love the rating system in general, I did find some of the ratings a bit suspect. Reggie Miller’s 3 point rating should be MUCH higher. Also, I have no idea why Nick Anderson’s 3 point rating is zilch, as that season he shot 35% from distance. Interestingly enough, in the sequel, he was rated a perfect 9 out of 9 from downtown.

Halftime's cinema blew my mind back in the day, ha!
Halftime’s FMV blew my mind a bit back in the day :P
Always satisfying to hit that magical 100 point mark
Always satisfying to hit that magical 100 point mark
Patrick Ewing was the man
Patrick Ewing was the man
No battery back up memory? BOO!
No battery back up memory? BOO!

Yup, sadly NBA Jam uses a password system rather than a battery backed save. Thankfully, that was rectified in the “sequel” which appeared less than a year later… not to mention NBA Jam T.E. featured some new tricks (literally) that made it more than just a minor upgrade.

Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Iguana | February 1995 | 24 MEGS
Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Iguana | February 1995 | 24 MEGS

NBA Jam was such a smash success in the arcades and later at home that a sequel was bound to happen. Some see NBA Jam T.E. (Tournament Edition) as a minor upgrade but others see it as a legitimate follow-up and THE definitive NBA Jam title. I fall in the latter camp. Here are some differences highlighted below.







Akklaim or Acclaim? Yeah, you weren’t the only kid who was confused by that growing up back in the ’90s! Anyway, after a nifty little intro we come to the options menu. This is where you can customize the game to be as crazy or as “normal” as you want. This includes hot spots, power-up icons and juice mode. The higher the juice, the faster the speed. x4 is blazing fast — I personally like it on OFF. But it’s there to be tweaked with if the urge ever strikes. More on hot spots and power-up icons in a bit.







Remember how the first game only gave you two players on each team? NBA Jam T.E. starts you off with three, but a secret code expands the roster to give each team 4-5 players. That’s what I’m talking about! At the title screen press start, Y, up, down, B, left, A, right, down, start. Then enter JAM as your initials.







Golden State Warriors start you off with Tom Gugliotta, Latrell Sprewell and Rony Seikaly (damn, my spellcheck just went bonkers). The expanded roster adds in Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, two of the better NBA players in the early ’90s who were part of the vaunted RUN TMC (Tim, Mitch, Chris). Wow, talk about two major additions! Not only that but the ratings have also been expanded. Instead of four measly categories the players are now rated in eight! Multiplied by two is kind of the theme here.







Dennis Scott, 3 point extraordinaire, is the fourth man on the Orlando Magic squad. Sadly, no SHAQ to be found here (same with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and a few others). The Magic is my go-to team. Nowhere else will you find three bombers like Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott!







Hersey Hawkins of the Charlotte Hornets used to freak me out / pump me up as a kid. He was the only character in the game that when you pick him, his eyes light up white like a demigod. It was the only reason I used the Hornets on occasion, to freak out my brother and friends. Hersey’s white eyes remain a mystery to this day. Perhaps mankind is never meant to know… and yes, that is Dell Curry there, the father of NBA superstar Steph Curry.







Enabling hot spots in the options menu causes pinball-like markers to randomly appear on the court. Score on said marker and be rewarded with the number of points appropriately marked. They range from 4-8 points and can really change the tide of a battle.













Power-up icons if enabled randomly pop up during play. This one is the D icon, which stands for Dunk. Grab this and you can dunk from anywhere on the court, even beyond half court. Made you feel like E.T.













Outrageously fun, you gotta turn on the hot spots and power-up icons. This is the only way to experience NBA Jam T.E., baby!

Other power-up icons include:

  • 3 = better 3 point accuracy
  • B = bomb that knocks out everyone else
  • F = automatically on fire
  • P = increased power
  • S = increased speed
  • T = infinite turbo

All temporary, of course.

Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith were pop culture stars in '95
Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith were megastars in ’95

And in typical NBA Jam fashion, you knew NBA Jam T.E. was going to crank up the number of hidden selectable characters. The first game had a dozen secret characters, including Al Gore and Bill Clinton. The sequel more than tripled that, with over 35 extra secret characters. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of my favorite TV sitcom shows back in 1995, so when my friends and I heard the rumors that you could play as Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff… well, a picture is worth a thousand words…

That's what we thought
That’s what we thought

I mean, sure, president Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Prince Charles of England were all in play… but THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR? Get the hell outta here! Well…


Yup, NBA Jam T.E. went there. I was a huge Will Smith fan back in ’95. I thought he was going to be the next megastar of Hollywood (and he proved that with films such as Independence Day and Men In Black). So to be able to play as him on NBA Jam T.E. was a thrill and a half! We used to joke about how Robert Horry of the Houston Rockets was a Will Smith lookalike. Well now, we can use the real McCoy! :)

Rock out with your boys
Rock out with your boys
Hmm, looks like Will was ready for JAM all along
Hmm, looks like Will was ready for JAM all along


They absolutely freaking loved it
They absolutely freaking loved it

NBA Jam made a killing with the critics. EGM appointed it “Game of the Month” honors by awarding it with scores of 9, 9, 9 and 9. GameFan gave it ratings of 83, 90, 94 and 94%. Super Play rated it 87%. NBA Jam T.E. fared even better. EGM gave it an 8 and 9 while Super Play rated it 90%. In Nintendo Power’s 100th issue, they ranked NBA Jam as the 28th best game of all time. Interestingly enough, they decided to go with the original instead despite admitting that the sequel “refined” certain aspects of the first game. Personally, to me that makes zero sense. If a game refined pretty much everything to its prequel, then give me that sequel any day of the week. But I digress. You can’t go wrong with either title.

Give me Tournament Edition any day of the week
Give me Tournament Edition any day of the week!



NBA Jam slammed its way into our consciousness nearly 25 years ago and to this very day it still resonates deeply and fondly in our hearts. It took the simple sport of basketball and made it even simpler by stripping it down to 2 on 2. Add to that no rules and wild exaggerated slam dunks. Above all else, it tapped into something many video games would kill to have: it was simply a total blast to play. With three buddies in tow, it’s super competitive, highly addictive and downright magical. Although the game features greater than life abilities, I still enjoy executing the basic fundamental plays. For instance, going for the slam dunk only to throw a mid-air pass to my teammate for the wide open 14 foot baseline jumper. It’s immensely satisfying to trounce someone with a sound strategic play in a world that promotes the complete exact opposite. And that’s also what makes NBA Jam (and its sequel) so layered. You can play it as crazy as you wish or as basic and sound as you want. Or, the best of both worlds, which no other game at the time presented the player with. To me that’s always been a very underrated aspect of what makes NBA Jam so timeless and classic. Yeah everyone talks about the crazy plays and what have you, but at the end of the day it’s still a basketball game that allows you to win by simply making the simple fundamental plays, if you choose to do so.


Graphically, both NBA Jam and NBA Jam T.E. look great, but I give the slight edge to T.E. for looking just that little bit more refined. I love the music in both games. Composer Jon Hey did a tremendous job with some catchy tunes. Of course, you can’t talk NBA Jam without mentioning its zany announcer, Tim Kitzrow. His voiceovers made the faithful leap to the Super Nintendo in brilliant fashion. NBA Jam T.E. is the definitive Jam on the SNES simply because it plays faster, there are more players (and hidden characters), more options (the hot spots and power-up icons help spice things up) and oh yeah, MORE MEGS! NBA Jam T.E. is boosted up to 24 MEGS while the original is just 16 MEGS. But in all seriousness, like I said earlier, you can’t go wrong with either game, but make no bones about it — NBA Jam T.E. is the better of the two. Having said that, NBA Jam captured the imagination of a nation and reinvented the way sports video gaming was presented and perceived, cementing itself in gaming lore for all eternity.

NBA Jam overall score: 9.0

Gold Award
Gold Award




NBA Jam T.E. overall score: 9.5

Double Gold Award
Double Gold Award




Jamming on after all these years
Jamming on after all these years :D

Rampage (NES)


Ah, Rampage. Hard to believe the 1986 arcade game turned 30 last year. Next year will mark 30 years for the 8-bit NES port. Who didn’t play this game back in the day? I remember seeing the lovely cover at my local mom ‘n pop rental shop EVERGREEN VIDEO and absolutely going nuts. I loved monsters and the cover promised monster mayhem and destruction. My old man handed a Washington over to Tom, Evergreen Video’s owner, as my dad did every Saturday afternoon when my brother and I would go to rent the latest NES title. Remember when games were that cheap to rent? Hell, remember when renting games was a thing?! But I digress. That whole car ride home, all five minutes of it, was the longest five minutes of my life. I couldn’t wait to play Rampage. We rushed to our game room, popped it in and the rest is history. The fact that I remember it fondly to this day nearly 30 years later says it all.


More amazing than your eyes can believe!

Man, I remember gawking at this VHS cover at Toys R Us in the late ’80s. Toys R Us used to have a super small VHS section that contained Disney movies and the odd Godzilla film. Long before Capcom made crossovers popular in the late ’90s, there was 1962’s KING KONG vs. GODZILLA! I had no clue such a film existed so I nearly crapped my pants when I first saw the box sitting pretty on the shelf. Suddenly I no longer cared about buying that latest ThunderCats toy or the newest Nintendo game. Rather, all I wanted was to walk away with just a movie… from Toys R Us! We’re talkin’ TOYS R US here! You know it had to take a pretty damn special movie to possess any kid to want to do that. King Kong vs. Godzilla was that special. My parents bought it on sight and I remember being a bit disappointed when I finally saw the movie. Still, I liked it enough and had no regrets of not buying Leonardo: Scuba Diving Edition!

Can't wait for their rematch in 2020!
Can’t wait for their rematch in 2020!

Speaking of King Kong, I just watched Kong: Skull Island the other night. It was pretty good, and I am excited for this new “MonsterVerse” that Legendary has created. Crossover franchises are all the rage now, and I can’t wait for King Kong vs. Godzilla to hit theatres on May 29, 2020. That’s sure to be epic.

One of the best shots in any monster film ever!
One of the best shots in any monster film ever
My body is ready. TAKE MY MONEY
My body is ready. TAKE MY MONEY

After discovering the internet in the late ’90s, I purchased a subtitled version of King Kong vs. Godzilla. I enjoyed it a lot more than the English dub. So, how does this all relate to Rampage? Well of course…

I hope you weren't too fond of the wolf guy!
I hope you weren’t too fond of the wolf guy…


I'll say!
I’ll say!

A used… pink bathrobe
A rare… mint snowglobe
A Smurf… TV tray
I bought on eBay!

My house… is filled with this crap
Shows up in BUBBLE WRAP
Most every day
What I bought on eBay!

Tell me why I need another pet rock
Tell me why I got that ALF alarm clock
Tell me why I bid on Shatner’s old toupee
They had it on eBay!

I’ll buy… your knick-knack
Just check… my feedback
“A++!”  they all say
They love me on eBay!

Gonna buy a slightly damaged golf bag
Gonna buy some Beanie Babies, new with tag
From some guy I’ve never met in NOOOORWAAAY
Found him on eBay!

I am the type who is liable to snipe you
With two seconds left to go, whoaaaa
Got Paypal or Visa, whatever’ll please ya
As long as I’ve got… THE DOOOUGH!

I’ll buy… your tchotchkes
Sell me… your watch, please
I’ll buy… I’ll buy, I’ll buy, I’ll buy…

Hey! A Dukes Of Hazard ashtray
OHHHH YEAH… I bought it on eBay!

Wanna buy a Pac-Man Fever lunchbox
Wanna buy a case of vintage tube socks
Wanna buy a Kleenex used by Dr. Dre, used by Dr. Dre!
Found it on eBay!

Wanna buy that Farrah Fawcet poster
Pez dispensers and a toaster
DON’T KNOW WHY… the kind of stuff you’d throw away
I’ll buy on eBay!

What I bought on eBay-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y!

Stop staring at me and do it you goof!
Stop staring at me and do it you goof!


[That's not kinky at all... -Ed.]
[That’s not kinky at all… -Ed.]

Jump safely off, or fall down and lose health
Jump safely off, or fall down and lose health
Hey, I did originally write this review in 2008...
Hey, I did originally write this review in 2008…
Better enjoy it -- there's not a whole lot...
Better enjoy it — there’s not a whole lot…


[No wonder he moved, and it ain't coz of the hairy ape -Ed.]
[No wonder he moved, and it ain’t coz of the ape -Ed.]

See that little guy?
See that guy?
[I knew there was something funny about the ape -Ed.]
[I knew there was something funny about the ape -Ed.]
I mean, look how beautiful Vegas is! So let's check it out
I mean, look how beautiful Vegas is! So let’s see…
Bloody hell, man. That's it?!
Bloody hell, man. That’s it?!
Love that sign. Brings some much needed variety
Love that sign. Brings some much needed variety

Indeed. The best part of the game is scaling a building that allows you to clobber that one, the one behind it and the one next to it as well. That, along with playing with your brother or friend, was as good as it got in Rampage.

Hmmm, where have I seen this before?
Hmmm, where have I seen this before?
Ah yes of course... THE KING OF MONSTERS!
Ah yes of course… THE KING OF MONSTERS!
[Damn you Bowe, I had money on you that night -Ed.]
[Damn you Bowe, I had money on you that night -Ed.]
Fan Man dropping by...
Fan Man dropping by…

November 6, 1993 marks one of the strangest incidents ever witnessed in sports history. It was a rematch between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield. During round seven, a fan parachuted down just missing the ring. The bizarre incident caused a 21 minute delay.

Holyfield eventually won the bout after the fight went 12 rounds. He regained his World Heavyweight title. It was the only loss Riddick Bowe would ever suffer in his boxing career.









Every five or so stages, you conquer another region. No password or save system made beating this game a daunting and tedious chore.


The boys are back in town ♫ ♫ ♫
The boys are back in town  ♫ ♫ ♫

I was a bit saddened when we never got a Super Rampage on the SNES. I thought that spelled the end but Rampage saw a revival during the 32-bit generation in the form of Rampage World Tour. I bought a copy back in 2003 and it’s OK for what it is, but I was disappointed there wasn’t a three player mode. There was no excuse for that especially since the Saturn could more than handle it. Therefore the port always came off as incredibly lazy to me.

The last Rampage game to date
The last Rampage game to date

Rampage: Total Destruction came out on the Wii in 2006. Who knows if Rampage will ever be resurrected again (in video game form).

Well, speaking about a resurrection...
Well, speaking about a resurrection…

Coming to theatres in April 2018 — Rampage starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Rock is no stranger to video game movie adaptations. This will be his second video game film, with his first being 2005’s Doom. That was not a good movie. Hopefully Rampage turns out OK, and I think it will. We’ll find out in about a year!



Even nearly 30 years ago, I knew Rampage wasn’t a great game or anything. It’s best played with a like minded bud for no more than 15 minutes. Is there a more mindless one trick pony game than Rampage? It is what it is. It can be fun to pop in for a few minutes once in a blue moon but it’s not something you’ll want to play often. I’ll always remember Rampage for its cool box art and allowing kids to live out our fantasy of being a towering monster crushing buildings left and right — even if it fell way short of what we imagined. I guess there’s only so much you can do with this sort of format. Rampage is one of those games that gives you the nostalgic feels but the memories far surpass the actual experience, if that makes sense. It’s certainly a memorable relic from the good old NES days of late ’80s yore.

The arcade marquee is forever burned in my mind
The arcade marquee is forever burned in my mind