Sega Genesis MKII Pre-production Sample

Cartridge (front)

Cartridge (front)

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.

EPROM chips

EPROM chips

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.)

Tutorial: Getting Sound To Work In MKII (WinXP)

I came across this old tutorial I created on how to get sound to work in Mortal Kombat II under Windows XP. It’s irrelevant now, but I decided to revise it a bit and post it here for reference.

Getting DOS games to work in Windows XP can be a major pain, especially when trying to get sound to work. Here’s an application that will fix the sound issue in Mortal Kombat II when running in Windows XP. It’s called VDMSound. It emulates SoundBlaster/AdLib/MIDI in DOS games better than XP does. By default, XP tries to emulate DOS audio using A220 I5 D1 T3 P330. This obviously isn’t working for MKII, but getting it to work is incredibly simple by following the steps below. On a side note, VDMSound will only run on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 95/98/ME (with some tinkering), Windows 2000, and Windows XP. It will not work on Windows Vista and above.

Step 1) Download and install VDMSound 2.0.4.

Step 2) Download and install VDMSound 2.0.4 “Update 2”. Extract directly over the VDMSound 2.0.4 files, typically residing in C:\Program Files\VDMSound, and overwrite all.

Step 3) Download and install LaunchPad 1.0.1. Run install.bat

Press any key to close the window that follows, then locate your MK2.exe and right-click on it. You should see two options listed near the top called Run with VDMS. One has a musical note icon next to it and the other one doesn’t. Select the one with the icon. When ran for the first time, this will bring up a configuration wizard with the choice of using the default configuration or a custom. Let’s choose default for now. Continue by clicking Next. On the next screen, leave everything as is, with Remember my settings checked, and click Finish. This will start up MKII. By default, VDMS uses A220 I7, so make sure these are set correctly in the game (should be default), as well as configuring the sound (F10), which is generally Soundblaster.

I got my custom configuration to work without playing the horrible MIDI music. However, disabling the MIDI emulation (located within the custom settings) will not do this. If disabled, your system will take over. So simply uncheck Dev (Device) below Output located under the MIDI tab and change MKII’s sound to Roland LAPC-1. Also, once you create a configuration of any kind, it will create a shortcut in the same directory as the game’s executable that you may edit later by right-clicking on it and selecting Properties > Advanced.