Mortal Kombat 4 Dreamcast

Mortal Kombat is, like Street Fighter , one of the oldest fighting game series, both in arcade and console. Who does not know the reputation of this fighting game banned at least 16 years old?

At the time, to stay in the race against his rival, Midway had to take his MK in 3D. It was done with Mortal Kombat 4 . The series was starting to run out of steam.

We could play it in Versus mode against one of our friends or against the artificial intelligence which was configurable (difficulty to adjust). Endurance mode was making its appearance, the goal being to kill as many opponents as possible round after round without recovering much life after a fight. Team Battle allowed you to select a team of up to five players. As for the tournament, the last mode of play, it was designed especially for long winter evenings with friends in order to know that it was going to be the best!

Mortal Kombat 4 Dreamcast Logo

The 15 characters in the game were mostly from 2D versions and their special moves hadn't changed. We found Scorpion , Sub Zero and Johnny Cage .

Great novelty of this fourth episode, all the combatants, by means of a special move, were provided with a bladed weapon to throw at their opponent to inflict significant damage on them. If we took a hit, we lost it. Elements of the scenery could be thrown at the head of our assailant. A Mortal Kombat would no longer be a Mortal Kombat without Fatalities which are still in the game !!!

We  will blame MK4  the lack of modernity of its game system, especially compared to new competitor Soul Calibur . Player reviews were mixed.

Dreamcast Mortal Kombat 4 prototype textures

For the Dreamcast version, Midway decided to convert its software into a reworked version. This new frame  will be called Mortal Kombat Gold .

All of the fighters were from Mortal Kombat 4 , with a few new characters added. MKG included  new battle arenas, and a new weapon management system. The gameplay remained identical to that of MK4 .

Designed in less than a year, Mortal Kombat Gold suffered from many flaws including a technical finish unworthy of the sixth generation of consoles, the  128 bits. Magazines will even compare it to the Nintendo 64 MK4 , a machine half as powerful as the Dreamcast.

Why did the Eurocom team want to make a new version of Motal Kombat 4 for the Dreamcast when the port of the PC version had already started? Why didn't the developers continue to work on the build below?

Sega Dreamcast prototype of Mortal Kombat 4
Raiden Mortal Kombat 4 Dreamcast prototype
Mortal Kombat 4 Dreamcast prototype copyright Eurocom
MK4 Dreamcast prototype
Dreamcast MK4 prototype credit
MK4 Dreamcast vertex count.png
MK4 Dreamcast prototype debug characters.png

The character of Belokk (abandoned)

Dreamcast Mortal Kombat Belokk.png

The rerverse of a build of Mortal Kombat 4 Dreamcast

VincentNL was able to work on a mysterious Mortal Kombat 4 Dreamcast build in my possession which couldn’t boot up. The only way to learn more about this release, to make it talk, was to reverse engineer data .

According to him, developers started porting the game to multiple consoles at the same time, prioritizing PSX version. It is for this reason that "Playstation Piracy Warning copyrights" screen remains in the Dreamcast textures.

This high-quality arcade prototype was probably the starting point for every platform. With this base, Eurocom began to downgrade textures and models to adapt them to the hardware of each console.

VincentNL extracted textures and then compared them to PC version.

He used SORCERER public documentation on MK4S to extract data from MK4 PC and compare data formats :

  • DC MK4 prototype has more and better quality textures than PC version!

  • PC uses 1 texture per character, DC MK4 prototype 2 per character.
  • EUROCOM__5.bmp texture appears to be a remnant of the Playstation Piracy Warning copyrights screen, which could lead us to say they were working hard to convert MK4 on multiple consoles at the same time.

You can download the Dreamcast and PC Texture Pack below:

Mortal Kombat 4 Dreamcast, Texture Pack

The executable code is in SH-4. MK4 could have been bootable on later builds, but this version might had just ran through debug windows. There are two main reasons why this could have gone wrong.

  • Vertex count, especially for character models is about 30-80% higher than MK Gold, even if their aspect is pretty much the same they are not optimized at all!

  • Textures use a custom 15-bit RLE compressed format, which is  not a good choice to run on Dreamcast. In MK Gold , the format have been replaced in favor of .IMGs which simply use uncompressed RGB555 image data.

  • Based on the general state of file formats, the development team was in the early stages of porting phase for an hardware they probably didn't have much experience with.

For Mortal Kombat PC fans:

  • The models of the prototype of MK4 DC represent the highest quality version and probably the very same of Arcade.

  • .GEO file are simply binary data containers, sharing the same structure as the PC version, they contain model data and texture images.

  • MK4 PC modding scene has grown a lot in last years up to the point of importing models from MK Gold or custom ones.

  • With time and proper format reversing, modders may will be able to create the definitive port that has never been achieved by Eurocom.

In the image on the left side you can see Scorpion’s head geometry lined up from MK4 PC , MKG and MK4 DC. Please note Scorpion’s head in MK4 DC is using manually extracted vertex data but face data isn’t complete. Special thanks to Egregiousguy for his awesome excel form and concept in using quad strips for face index generation!

Even if vertex count is different, there are tiny changes in model aspect between MK4 DC and MKG. Eurocom has done a fantastic job optimizing them to MKG!

Ermaccer, a Mortal Kombat expert and fellow reverse engineer, helped VincentNL to deep further into the subject and provided following details:

  • While this build is technical referred as Mortal Komabt 4 , it does represent the very first step of what eventually became Mortal Kombat Gold. A number of characters exclusive to MKG : Baraka , Mileena , Kung Lao , Cyrax are present in executable strings, but not in resources. There are specific characters named Eurocom 1 -2 -3. They are most likely placeholders for Sektor , Belokk (a character removed from the game) and a third unnamed character. Belokk appears on the MKG prototype scan, as you can see in the below image.

  • Model format is different than DC / PC versions and have been used with several variations including War Gods.

  • Characters portraits have a much higher resolution than MK4 PC or MKG .

If this version could boot, it may had looked much better than the other ports but at the cost of an extremely slow fps rate.  In this video you can see how MKG prototype, which came later than MK4 DC prototype, looked like:

Even though this build doesn't work, it's very exciting to see so much content. Thanks to a remarkable work of reverse engineering, Mortal Kombat 4 prototype for DC reveled as precious treasure holding many development secrets.

You can download the non-functional Mortal Kombat 4 prototype below

Mortal Kombat 4 Dreamcast (prototype)

Thanks to VincentNL for reversing this build and Ermaccer for helping out with it! You can see more of his works on the website: "https://github.com/NaomiMod"