Many years ago, I used to frequent a local arcade near my house. The fact that there was an arcade near my house should certainly date me. I originally started going to play games like Bad Dude, Altered Beast, and WWF Royal Rumble, until one day a new game showed up called Street Fighter 2. The lines to play it were very long, but every once in a while, I’d make it to the front where I could play for around 45 seconds while another kid beat the crap out of me. After a while, I realized I was playing more often and getting better and better. Proof of how oblivious I am was the fact that I never noticed that the crowd had moved to the machine just to the right of Street Fighter 2. One day, when I made it all the way through Street Fighter 2 and no one showed up to challenge me, I looked at the crowd beside me just in time to see a yellow ninja remove his mask to reveal a bare skull. The ninja then breathed fire onto the other guy reducing him to a skeleton. That game was the original Mortal Kombat and I was instantly hooked.

While Mortal Kombat was only in the arcades, I would go to great efforts to get a chance to play, taking guide books along with me. I can remember my excitement when I was staying at a hotel with my family and they had the game. I must have spent $30 in one day, finishing the game with each fighter over and over. Later on, I even owned the HORRIFIC port of Mortal Kombat for the original GameBoy and played it for hours. When Mortal Kombat 2 game out, I bought a Super Nintendo just to be able to play it whenever I wanted.

Why did I tell you all of this before my review? It’s because I wanted to show just how much I’ve always loved the Mortal Kombat franchise over the years. When Capcom brought Street Fighter IV to the iPhone and showed just how beautiful fighting games can be done on the platform, my first question was: When will we get Mortal Kombat? Well, EA finally answered that call. And frankly, I wish they hadn’t.

I downloaded Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 the minute it became available. I’m not exaggerating here. When I heard it would be released at 11PM in my time zone, I searched for it on iTunes every couple of minutes until it finally showed up. In my mind, $6.99 was a small price to pay…I was wrong.

I started playing the game almost immediately. Since it had been a while, I chose the novice difficulty setting and began my journey. The controls worked very well, I thought. They took the model that Street Fighter IV used and emulated it nicely, for the most part. That said, there are five buttons and a stick. The buttons feel a bit like overkill. You get punch, kick, block, run, and special. I think the game would have been better suited to have punch, kick, run, special, and an autoblock if you’re not pushing anything else (including movement). Again, though, it works well, and is customizable to a fair degree, which is very nice. The special button, now a staple of the genre, does different things based on what you press with it, but the list of moves is near impossible to find. You have to press a script “i” in the top left corner WHILE FIGHTING to see the list. It took me a few days to find this. Until then, it was guessing until I figured it all out (which was hell with the fatalities).

My problems came in with the actual gameplay. It’s buggy. Really buggy. Really, REALLY buggy. Moves that hit the other fighter won’t actually hit half the time. Moves that don’t hit the other fighter will register as a hit half the time. Characters warp all over the screen very randomly. The worst example of this is Motaro, who does nothing but warp all over the place any time you throw a move. Aside from these glitches, the difficulty is much harder than it should be with no practice mode to warm up with. Even me, a die-hard fan of the series, couldn’t finish the Novice setting.

Not only is this game glitchy, there are many, MANY things missing. The game only sports eleven fighters. There are 26 in the original, so that’s less than half. While updates may add more in the future, why did they leave out staples like Rayden, Reptile, and Milleena (but they included Jade). Other things missing were minor, but very noticeable: The screen doesn’t darken when you do a fatality, no one says “FINISH HIM!,” the blood is almost non-existent, and the amazing photographed graphics the series is known for were been replaced with awful looking 3D rendered animations. These are some of the key things that differentiated Mortal Kombat from all the other generic fighting games of its day that have long since been forgotten.

Without mincing words, in this reviewer’s opinion, the game completely sucks and it looks like EA just pushed for a rapid holiday release and let an unfinished game out to the masses. That can be fixed with updates, right? Sure, if EA supports it, it might see fixes. Although from EA’s previous update track record, I’m not counting on it, but I feel they owe it to their players. Still, EA’s next move is quite possibly the worst part of this whole experience.

To recap a bit, in my excitement for this release, I bought this game for $6.99 the minute of its release and was treated to a glitchy, unfinished mess. Less than a week after buying this, in what has been dubbed the EA-pocalypse (by my good friend @wondroushippo on The Portable Podcast), EA dropped the price of the game to 99¢. That’s right, 85% off in under a week. This was not because of the game’s lack of quality, instead it was a huge one-week holiday sale on “every” game they have in the store to boost sales numbers and drive their apps up the top 10 list. Although, if it truly was every title, why wasn’t ROCK BAND Reloaded included (which was released 2 weeks before Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3)? Games of this price point normally won’t see a drop to 99¢ until more than six months after their release. Essentially, EA was spitting in the face of the game’s biggest fans with this move. I was more than unhappy. Not only did I get a buggy mess, I could have spent $6 less if I’d waited only a few days to buy it.

In Conclusion

If you’re a fan of Mortal Kombat, don’t buy this. It will only make you cry for what is now being done with this great series. If you’re not a fan, don’t buy this. It’s not worth your attention. To everyone, buy Street Fighter IV instead, which is an absolute masterpiece, and is actively supported by its developers with new characters and features all the time. If you’re one of the unlucky people that paid $6.99 for this travesty, request a refund from Apple. I did, and they gave me one. In fact, this experience has been so negative for me that EA has lost a customer.