K is for Kontrols
It doesn't really need to be said that the control system is the main reason the Wii has been such a success. In fact, we've only said it just so that we can muse on the paradox of saying something we said shouldn't be said.
Pondering aside, it's a shame that there have been very few action games that have successfully taken full advantage of the Wii's motion sensitive control system. Early games like Red Steel
and ports like Call of Duty 3
have suffered from failing framerates and poor movement recognition at times. Still, that could all be about to change because, if there were any genre which we'd imagine could translate perfectly to a motion sensitive control system then it'd be beat-em-ups.
Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat
lets the Wii down here as the motion sensitive control system is flawed at best.
In arcade play, gamers will be left standing still most of the time, which is a woeful thing to happen on an energetic system like this. All the basic attacks are assigned to the wiimote's D-pad, which is a problem all in itself as it isn't exactly comfortable to reach that far for long periods of time using just your thumb.
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Movement is handled using the Nunchuck control stick, with blocking and the switching of fighting styles handled with the Nunchuck buttons. Throws are completed simply by pressing the A button.
In fact, the only time that motion sensors even enter into arcade play is with special moves. Executing special moves requires the player to press and hold B while waving the Wiimote in one of a few shapes – either left and right, right and left or upwards and downwards arches. What's worse is that the special move controls are the same across all of the characters, so no real knowledge or subtlety is required.
Movement recognition is a mixed bag. While the Wiimote easily and reliably responded to some movements, using the arch shapes to complete special moves was often not picked up by the machine and left us open to a series of counter-attacks.
The game does support using the Gamecube and the Wii-Classic controller, but we reckon these would only see real use if there aren't enough Wiimotes to go around in a tournament and any self-respecting gamer who wanted to play a beat-em-up on a standard controller would probably play on a console that could offer better graphics.
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In Motor Kart mode the Wiimote is slightly more useful and can be tilted sideways to use as a steering wheel. It's not tremendously easy to hold the Wiimote like this for long, but the game picks up the Wiimote signal much more reliably. In fact, for the sheer ability to use the Wiimote in a four player kart race, Motor Kombat could well be the best of the lot and it's just a shame there's not much replayability in the Motor Kombat mode.
The Konquest mode meanwhile makes use of the Wiimote for the special moves also, differing little from the Kombat mode in terms of how responds, with the exception that the four movements required are different, comprising of a single thrust in each direction.
It's a shame that the game hasn't made fuller use of the Wiimote, and we would have loved to be able to literally throw punches around in spite of what Jack Thompson would inevitably say. Midway has shown that it understands the motion sensing at least with the Motor Kombat mode, so why it doesn't play a larger part in actual combat is a mystery.