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Mortal Kombat 2 gameplay system is an upgraded version of Mortal Kombat’s. There are lots of changes in standard moves: a crouching punch was added, low and high kicks have more distinction (whether you’re crouching or standing), roundhouse kicks are now stronger (throwing your opponent across the screen, like the game’s uppercut), and it’s easier to do combos because there is less recovery time for attacks. Characters who reappear in this edition also get new special moves, some that can be used while airborne, and the game plays almost twice as fast as the original did.

Mortal Kombat 2 is similar in many ways to its predecessor, with matches divided into rounds, and the first player to win two rounds by completely depleting their opponent’s life bar being declared the winner. The “Test Your Might” bonus games and point system from the first game are absent in favor of a consecutive win tally where wins are represented by icons.

The game introduced numerous Fatalities (special attacks that allow the winning character to execute their opponent at the end of a fight) and additional, non-lethal finishing blows to the franchise: Babalities (turning the opponent into a crying baby), friendships (a non-malicious interaction, such as dancing or giving a gift to the defeated opponent) , and more stage-specific Fatalities including spikes in the ceiling, an abyss below, or a pool of acid in the background). The finishing techniques cannot be used against or by the boss or secret characters.

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