For a while, we've really enjoyed seeing all the classic arcade cabinets that Arcade1Up was able to make from some major companies. Recently the company was kind enough to send us one that harkened back to my pivotal gaming years when I was running around arcades. We received their Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet for review in all of its majestic glory. But does this smaller new-school cabinet hold up to the glory that once was one of the most popular cabinets of the '90s? We cracked our knuckles, remembered a few old moves, and put it to the test.
First off, let's examine this thing design-wise. The cabinet itself is the Mortal Kombat II design. This is the same design I saw at both a local arcade and an old Pizza Hut restaurant back in the day, so I know it well. The amazing look of Raiden on the side calling down the lightning, the bold red and yellow coloring on the markee imprint, those classic designs on the control panel. As far as design goes, this is about as to the letter as you get. The only difference is the front of the cabinet, which as you can see, replaced the usually bare coin slots with graphics from the first three games.
When we built this thing, it was pretty easy going. There are instructions in the box, as well as a link to a YouTube video that can guide you through the process of putting one together. I do not recommend doing this one by yourself, you should always get someone to help you out.
Putting the unit together took about an hour with a second person, and that's because we took our time and made sure we weren't messing it up. We even did it with a manual screwdriver and not a powered one. Everything in the box was already pre-designed with the graphics attached and whatnot. The biggest thing to deal with was the installation of the 17" LCD monitor, based on the tiny screws used to secure it to the framework of the cabinet.
As far as the gameplay goes, this is about as close to the original as you're going to get. Now what I mean by that is that yes, this is a port of the original arcade ROM to a new system, using a board similar to the original. But it's not the original. I don't care how many arcades you play at, longtime users will tell you that a modern system with modern tech does not play exactly the same as the way they were constructed. Same as how modern ports of old Atari games play a hair faster than their predecessors. So while this is Mortal Kombat 1-3, there are some slight changes in the way the gameplay flows compared to the way it was back in the original cabinet.
I do want to stress that while it is different, it isn't broken or messed up in any way. I'm just saying old-school players will notice a slight difference in the way they're able to handle the game. That said, these are still the glorious fighter games you remember telling the original story. And while some would be sticklers for wanting the original MK3 in the cabinet, I give kudos to Arcade1Up for putting in Ultimate MK3 as that was the version that gave us the characters we wanted and became more popular. I mean… the original MK3 was missing Scorpion. SCORPION, kids! I'm happy not having it on this machine.
Arcade1Up did a hell of a job recreating the old Mortal Kombat cabinet and bringing these games back. I will say the cabinet is only 4' tall, so I would recommend getting the additional riser for the system to bring it up to 5' tall. The biggest hangup people will have is the price, which is going for $300. However, if you're an arcade cabinet collector, most will tell you getting three games in one for that price is a steal. May not be the original, but those will run you up to $1,700 for a single game and take up more space. Plus the maintenance. This version is a bargain that you and your kids can get into.