Friday, October 21, 2022

Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition and Mortal Kombat

Sega CD Summer has launched! This is the tenth entry in the Sega Tote Series

The '90s were a time of rivalries. You had Sega vs. Nintendo (and thus Sonic vs. Mario). Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks (and Spike Lee by extension). Sub-Zero vs. Scorpion and Ken vs. Ryu (rivalries within the same game).

And, of course, we had Street Fighter II vs. Mortal Kombat.

The two fighting game franchises are inseparable, and their impact is still felt in video games to this day. I'm not sure I preferred one over the other because they're both very different games in style and execution.

Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition for the Sega Genesis

The Sega Genesis got Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition, an admirable port of the arcade hit on Sega's already aging hardware. All the characters were there, the music wasn't bad, and the game played great. It didn't look as colorful or sound as good as the SNES version, however, and the awkward method of using the start button to switch between punch and kick definitely wasn't ideal. 

The Street Fighter II port did give us the six-button Genesis controller, which may be its greatest contribution to the console. I think it's one of the finest controllers ever made.

Mortal Kombat came out on the Genesis just a couple weeks before Street Fighter II hit store shelves. Sega fans had to wait a while to play as Ryu, Guile, Chun-Li, and company, as the Super Nintendo got a Street Fighter II port in December 1992.

"Mortal Monday" fell on September 13, 1993 to mark the release of four home versions of Mortal Kombat (Genesis, Game Gear, SNES, Game Boy). You probably know the story by now: the Genesis port featured the violence and blood from the arcade version while the Super Nintendo version lacked blood and sanitized the fatalities. The SNES port looked truer to the arcade port and had better music. However, the controls were a bit slippery and the game just didn't feel quite as much like the arcade as the Genesis version.

The MK situation was a major win for Sega, which outsold the censored Super Nintendo version because the Genesis version included the blood and gore via a simple cheat code (the Game Gear version also had a cheat code for blood). It cemented Sega's sleek black console as the "cooler" one as gamers hammered Nintendo for its Mortal Kombat approach.

By the time Mortal Kombat II came around, Nintendo had learned its lesson. While both ports are good, the Super Nintendo version is generally regarded as more arcade-accurate, blood included (and no code needed).

I owned Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition but not Mortal Kombat for my Genesis (I bought the six-button controller as well). I did have the Game Gear version of MK; it was obviously inferior to its 16-bit counterparts (and lacked Kano) but was a decent effort considering the hardware.

Again, I really didn't have a favorite between the two franchises. Street Fighter II is probably the better fighter from a technique standpoint while Mortal Kombat will always be splashier. Like many silly rivalries over brands and products, it's okay to like them both.