As some people in the MK community already know, I have a pre-production sample of Mortal Kombat II for the Sega Genesis. I obtained the cartridge several years ago from a friend, who apparently purchased it from a seller on eBay. With so many Mortal Kombat prototypes surfacing in recent years, curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to learn as much as I could about it. However, I couldn’t justify buying a backup device for a single task, so I decided to seek out someone in the prototype “scene” who would be willing to dump it for me.
In August of last year, news spread about an in-house gag version of NBA Jam for the SNES, dubbed NBA Jam XXX, which contained explicit commentary by the game’s announcer, Tim Kitzrow. I decided to get in contact with Mike over at NintendoPlayer.com, the source of the release, regarding the game’s authenticity. After much discussion, I learned that Mike had a special connection with Mortal Kombat as well, so I asked him if he would be interested in dumping my pre-production cartridge.
Mike was very informative about the whole process, citing the pros and cons of dumping prototype cartridges and how to handle them. Time wasn’t on my side, as EPROMs retain their data for a minimum of ten to twenty years, a deadline that was vastly approaching — that is, if an unknown amount of light exposure hadn’t caused erasure already. There was also the fact that the EPROMs were soldered to the board as opposed to socketed. This meant they would be difficult to remove and reattach without damaging the game. A risk Mike wasn’t willing to take.
Mike informed me about the Retrode, a device capable of dumping Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and Nintendo SNES/SFC games and SRAM1 data (save files) through a USB connection. But it wasn’t cheap. Again, I couldn’t justify buying something I’d only use once, so Mike began to ask around on my behalf. I was eventually directed to Luke Zapart who, to my surprise, was willing to ship me a Retrode. Needless to say, I was pleased with this arrangement because it meant I didn’t have to send my beloved collector’s item to a complete stranger.
Upon receiving the Retrode from Luke, I dumped both the pre-production cartridge and my own retail cartridge, and compared the two checksums. To my disappointment, they were a match. You may be wondering what this all means. Basically, the code is identical to the retail version and not a prototype after all. It was likely a press copy that was sent to magazines and such to be reviewed. While not the result I was hoping for, it’s still a neat little piece of video game history. I even learned a thing or two along the way, so it wasn’t all for naught.
(Special thanks to Mike and Luke for all of their help and kindness.)