Mortal Kombat II is a tournament fighting game released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy. It's the sequel to Mortal Kombat. This was planned to be released on Virtual Console before Midway went under.


The gameplay of Mortal Kombat II improved a great deal from the original Mortal Kombat. Standard moves received several changes: a crouching punch and turnaround kick were added, low and high kicks have greater differentiation (be they crouching or standing up), the roundhouse kick was made more powerful (knocking an opponent across the screen, like the game's uppercut), and it was easier to perform a combo due to reduced recovery times for attacks. Returning characters also gained new special moves, including some mid-air ones, and the game plays almost twice as fast as the original. However, all playable characters in the game still share most generic attributes and all normal moves are the same between each character.

As with its predecessor, matches are divided into rounds, and the first player to win two rounds by fully depleting their opponent's health is the winner; at this point, the losing character will become dazed and the winner is given the opportunity of using a finishing move. The game marked the introduction of multiple Fatality as well as additional, non-lethal finishing moves to the franchise: Babalities (turning the opponent into a crying baby), Friendships (a non-malicious interaction, such as dancing or giving a gift to the defeated opponent) as well as additional stage-specific Fatalities. These finishing moves cannot be performed by the boss nor secret characters. Mortal Kombat II lacks the "Test Your Might" bonus games and point system from the first game, in favor of a consecutive win tally where wins are represented by icons.



Following his failure to defeat Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat tournament, the evil Shang Tsung begs his master Shao Kahn, supreme ruler of Outworld and the surrounding kingdoms, to spare his life. He tells Shao Kahn that if they hold it in Outworld the invitation for the next Mortal Kombat cannot be turned down, and the Earthrealm warriors must attend. Kahn agrees to this plan and also restores Shang Tsung's youth. He then extends the invitation to the thunder god and Earthrealm's protector, Raiden, who gathers his warriors and takes them into Outworld. The new tournament is much more dangerous, as Shao Kahn has the home field advantage, and an Outworld victory will allow him to subdue Earthrealm.

According to the Mortal Kombat series' canon, Liu Kang won this tournament as well, defeating Shao Kahn and his bodyguard Kintaro.[1] The game's story mode can be also finished using any other playable character, resulting in different non-canon endings for each character.


According to the project's lead programmer Ed Boon, Mortal Kombat II was "intended to look different than the original MK" and "had everything we wanted to put into MK but did not have time for."[2] In 2012, Boon placed creating the game among his best Mortal Kombat memories, recalling: "When we did Mortal Kombat II, we got new equipment and all that stuff, but it was funny because when we started working on Mortal Kombat II, the mania, the hysteria of the home versions of Mortal Kombat I was literally all around us. We were so busy working on the next one, going from seven characters to 12 and two Fatalities per character and all these other things that that consumed every second."[3] Both the theme and art style of MKII were slightly darker than those of its predecessor, although a more vibrant color palette was employed with a much richer color depth than the previous game. A new feature was the use of multiple layers of parallax scrolling in the arcade version.[4] The game was made to be less serious with the addition of humorous alternative finishing moves. Some of the considered Fatalities were rejected as too extreme at the time.[5]

Care was taken during the programming process to give the game a "good feel", with Boon simulating elements such as gravity into the video game design. John Tobias noted that the previous game's reliance on juggling the opponent in the air with successive hits was an accident, and had been tightened in Mortal Kombat II. Boon said that the reason to not completely remove it in favor of a different system of chaining attacks together was to set the game apart from the competing titles such as Street Fighter and allow for players to devise their own combinations of attacks. At one point, a bonus stage was planned to feature "a bunch of ninjas jumping all over the place and you would swing at them, just like you're in the middle of a fight in a kung fu movie." All of the music was composed, performed, recorded and mixed by Dan Forden, the MK series' sound designer and composer, using the Williams DCS sound system.[6]

To create the character animations for the game, actors were placed in front of a gray background and performed the motions, which were recorded on videotape, which had been upgraded since the development of the first title from standard to broadcast quality. The video capture footage was then processed into a computer, and the background was removed from selected frames to create sprites. Towards the end of the game's development, they opted to instead use a blue screen technique and processed the footage directly into the computer. The actors were lightly sprayed with water to give them a sweaty, glistening appearance, while post-editing was done on the sprites afterward to highlight flesh tones and improve the visibility of muscles, which Tobias felt set the series apart from similar games using digitized graphics. Animations of Shang Tsung morphing into other characters were created by Midway's John Vogel using a computer, while hand-drawn animations were used for other parts of the game, such as the Fatalities. For animating Goro and Kintaro, clay sculptures were created by Curt Chiarelli and then turned into 12-inch latex miniatures that were used for stop motion filming. Because of technical restrictions, the actors' costumes had to be simple and no acrobatic moves such as backflips could have been recorded;[7] the hardest moves to perform were some of the jumping kicks.[8]

Several characters (namely Jade, Kitana, Mileena, Noob Saibot, Reptile, Scorpion, Smoke, and Sub-Zero) were created using the first game's palette swap technique on just two base models. The game was noted for its "strong female presence,"[9] as it was featuring more than one woman character as it was common in the genre at the time. Due to memory limitations and the development team's desire to introduce more new characters, two fighters from the original Mortal Kombat, Sonya Blade and Kano, whom Boon cited as the least-picked characters in the game, were excluded, substituted by two palette swaps, Mileena and Reptile. In place of Sonya, two new playable female characters, Kitana and Mileena, were introduced so the game might better compete against Capcom's Street Fighter II's Chun-Li. Another planned female fighter, based on the real-life kickboxer Kathy Long, was omitted due to time constraints.[8] A male bonus character played by Kyu Hwang was also cut from the game.[10]


Mortal Kombat II proved to be an enormous commercial success and even a cultural phenomenon.[11]The initial critical reception of Mortal Kombat II was overwhelmingly positive,[12] with Nintendo Power calling it "the hottest fighter ever."[13] Tony Brusgul of The Daily Gazette opined the "incredible" hype surrounding the game was "well deserved," describing it as "a perfect blend of great graphics, action and violence."[14] In his review of the arcade release, Rik Skews of Computer + Video Games (C+VG) wrote: "the only true rival to Street [F]ighter II" returned "in a sequel that bites off the head of the original."

Mortal Kombat II received numerous annual awards from gaming publications. Game Players gave it the titles "Best SNES Fighting Game" and "Best Overall SNES Game" of 1994.[15] The staff of Nintendo Power ranked MKII as the second (SNES) and fifth (Game Boy) "Top Game" of 1994,[16] while the magazine's readers voted it to receive the "Best Tournament Fighter (all Nintendo platforms)" and "Best Play Control (Game Boy)" in 1994 Nintendo Power Awards,[17] with the game having been nominated by the staff also in the categories "Worst Villain" (positively, an equivalent of "Best Hero") and "Best Overall (all Nintendo platforms)".[18] VideoGames named MKII as the "Best Fighting Game" of 1994, also awarding it second place in the categories "Best Super NES Game" and "Best Arcade-to-Home Translation".[19] Other awards included "The Best of the Show (Super NES)" for the SCES '94 from GamePro[20] and "Bloodiest Game of 1994" from EGM.



  1. Dan Ryckert, Who Actually Won Mortal Kombat?,, February 1, 2012.
  2. GamePro 76 (November 1995).
  3. Reyan Ali, Ed Boon's 12 Biggest Mortal Kombat Memories,, September 12, 2012.
  4. GamePro 55 (February 1994), pages 32-33.
  5. "Macie pół godziny wolnego czasu? Zapraszamy na wycieczkę po dziejach serii Mortal Kombat" (in pl). 2015-04-14.,96455,17754294,Macie_pol_godziny_wolnego_czasu__Zapraszamy_na_wycieczke.html. Retrieved on 2015-05-04. 
  6. Video Games The Ultimate Gaming Magazine 75 (April 1995) page 49.
  7. The On Blast Show Ep10: Katalin Zamiar (Kitana), TheOnBlastShow.
  8. 8.0 8.1 GamePro 58 (May 1994), pages 28-31.
  9. Retro Gamer issue 90 page 20.
  10. VideoGames 63 (April 1994).
  11. CJ Miozzi, The Convoluted, Blood-Spattered History of Mortal Kombat (Infographic), GameFront, April 15, 2011.
  12. Retro Gamer issue 96 page 21.
  13. Nintendo Power 64 (September 1994), page 103.
  14. The Daily Gazette, October 20, 1994.
  15. Game Players 48 (January 1995).
  16. Nintendo Power 68 (January 1995).
  17. Nintendo Power 72 (May 1995).
  18. Nintendo Power 70 (March 1995).
  19. VideoGames, The Ultimate Gaming Magazine 74 (March 1995), pages 45-46.
  20. GamePro 62 (September 1994).

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