Review of UMK3 for Java J2ME Capable Phones

Patrick McCarron - December 3, 2010

Title: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Platform(s): Java 2 Mobile Edition (J2ME) Capable Cell Phones
Publisher: EA Mobile
Developer: PlaySoft Games
Relase Date: 12/1/2010

INTRODUCTION

Early this week mobile gaming blog Pocket Gamer broke the news that EA Mobile was set to release a cell phone version of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. This was news to everyone, as we had heard nothing of this game on the horizon. Here is a trailer of the game that was released that will give you a good feel for the game.

This is not the first time a mobile version of Mortal Kombat has been produced. Back in 2004, Midway licensed Mortal Kombat to THQ Wireless for production of a J2ME port for cell phones. It was a very limited release with only four of the game characters in it. It didn't make major waves or interest at all in the gaming community. I can't even find pictures of it anywhere today to include in this article, just old stories of the announcement it was coming out.

The interesting thing about this latest announcement is this port of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is using the same technology and the same platform that THQ released their old MK1 port. Unlike back in 2004, now mobile gaming is much larger so this release has gotten people excited at the prospect of playing Mortal Kombat on their cell phones. Sadly this new port of Mortal Kombat is only made for older cell phones, not the latest line of extremely smart phones like Apple's iPhone line and Google's Android phones. So if you are holding onto a non-smart phone still you may be in luck for some Mortal Kombat on your cell phone.

[SELECT SCREENSHOT HERE]

This version is not quite "Ultimate" as it only contains seven of the twenty two characters from Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. It does contain characters exclusive to UMK3 like Scorpion and Kitana, so this is likely why it was not just called simply Mortal Kombat 3. The game contains a total of seven characters, six playable, and five backgrounds.

GRAPHICS & SOUND

[TWO GAME SCREEN LAYOUTS]

The game will be different on various devices and their various screen sizes. . They should have designed the game to be played in landscape mode only, as the screens are on . mode they make the playfield really.

[AUDIO OPTIONS HERE]

As you can see the in trailer above, surprisingly the music and sound effects sound fairly close to the original game. The trailer above mades it appear that the game can run both Sound and Music at the same time, but I could not get this feature to work. It was either one or the other, but never both, it may be different on different devices.

CONTROLS

[ADVANCED SCREEN HERE]

The game offers two control modes, Standard and Advanced. The Standard controls are fairly basic and the far less frustrating. Besides the obvious directional controls you are given two buttons. One button does a default attack while the other one does a special move. What about Block you may ask? Well the game Blocks for you automatically, and by automatically I mean almost never when really needed. They also implemented the RUN function by doing "F, F" much like the upcoming Mortal Kombat (2011). Combos are performed by pretty much tapping the attack button over and over. You get different combos by pressing Forward or Back before starting the combo.

[BABALITY SCREEN HERE]

Finishing Moves are also fairly limited, and different from the originals. As you can see in the trailer above Sub-Zero's is slightly different. Every character has one Fatality and a Babality. They are also simple to execute in Standard mode, you just hit the Special button for a Fatality and B-Special to do the Babality.

[ADVANCED SCREEN HERE]

Advanced controls are more like various Game Boy and Game Gear ports where you are given a Punch and Kick buttons. So you then have to do more classic-like movements do to Special Moves, Combos and Finishing Moves. I found this mode fairly difficult to work properly given the poor control response. I rather enjoyed the Standard mode, so I'd recommend anyone playing this also stick to Standard if you want to enjoy your experience.

[SHAO KAHN SCREEN HERE]

GAMEPLAY

MORE DETAIL HERE

The one major problem I have with the game is that they made Shao Kahn pretty much impossible to defeat even on the Easy difficulty. After playing for a few hours with different characters I finally found a way to trick Shao Kahn into falling for Sub-Zero's Slide pretty constantly enough to defeat him. It would be fairly easy to defeat him if you could manually Block in the game, but alas that ability is not there.

[SHAO KAHN PLAYABLE]

SECRETS

Shao Kahn unlockable by beating the Master Tower on Hard Difficulty Mode. That is for those who can actually defeat the game on that difficulty level. It took me a few tries, er make that MANY tries. This is made exceptionally more difficult as you can't change characters when you continue.

[SUB-ZERO's GIANT ARMS]

RANDOM OBSERVATIONS

  • Sub-Zero's arms look abnormally large (see above)
  • Endurance Rounds use only the secondary color palette for each computer controlled character
  • First MK game with point scores since MK1
  • No way to change characters once Arcade mode is started
  • Game allows restarting where left off after quitting the game

READER QUESTIONS

Q: What was NetherRealm Studio's and WB Game's involvement in these games?

A: Being published by EA Mobile and developed by PlaySoft Games, the game was licensed to EA Mobile by WB Games. We suspect the MK Team at NetherRealm had very little input beyond consultation, and had little to no direct involvement. To that point a few of the game designers like Paulo Garcia & Brian Lebaron and are listed as "Design Consultants" in the game's end credits.

Q: Does this mean we will see an Apple iOS or Google Android port of the game soon?

A: We don't know, but I would assume it's in the cards given EA Mobile's activity on both platforms as of late. It depends on if they got a license for it or not, I just hope they put in a lot more effort on those platforms. In all honesty I'd rather see the arcade games emulated on these platforms instead of custom ports like this that can suffer with differences that lessen the experience.

Q: How does this compare to MK Advance, which is considered one of the worse MK games ports in recent memory?

A: I had to go back to revisit MK Advance, as I haven't played that since it first released. Now I can answer that question and say that this port is BETTER than MK Advance. As Mortal Kombat Advance had a larger character roster, this port plays much closer to the arcade game than that terrible port. This port also looks BETTER. MK Advance should have been a much better game on that platform, where this game is about as good as it could possibly get on this platform.

OVERALL

For a game running on 12 year old technology, this port of UMK3 is actually pretty decent. It's one of the best J2ME games I've ever played and easily the best fighting game for J2ME capable cell phones. If your phone can still play these games, it may be worth checking out. But if you are just looking for a great mobile port of UMK3, you should look no further than UMK for the Nintendo DS which is as arcade perfect you'll get on a mobile platform today.

PROS

+ It's Mortal Kombat 3 in your pocket
+ Controls well simplified to fit platform
+ Looks great despite platform limitations

KONS

- Tight play area on some devices
- Shao Kahn extremely difficult
- Limited Roster / Backgrounds
- No competitive play

Score: 9.0 out of 10

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