Mortal Kombat (Introduction)

This entry is part 1 of 17 in the series Mortal Kombat

At the start of the 1990s, Street Fighter II was the absolute king of the then fledgling fighting game genre. Sure, they had some competition, such as SNK’s Fatal Fury, but such games tended to take their ideas directly from Capcom’s game. Midway, an American arcade game developer best known at the time for games like Smash TV, however, had their own ideas for a fighting game. Having noticed the popularity of Street Fighter II, a team was organized to make a fighting game of their own. Unlike other games that copied Street Fighter‘s look and controls, Mortal Kombat went in an entirely different direction. Instead of drawing the characters in pixel art, the decision was made to have real actors perform moves on a greenscreen, which were then digitized into the game. The effect looks a little goofy in these modern times, but at the time, the digitized actors made Mortal Kombat appear more lifelike than any other arcade game out there.

The other major change from the Street Fighter formula was the addition of tons and tons of blood, an extra feature that would begin to define the series as a whole. Sure, the Street Fighters would end up a little bloodied up after every fight, but characters in Mortal Kombat bled pints of the stuff after every hit. And of course, there were the Fatalities. The developers liked how you could lay devastating hits onto a dizzied opponent in Street Fighter, so they took that basic concept and added a violent new twist onto it. In Capcom’s game, defeated opponents would fly dramatically through the air before crashing to the ground, but that was about the worst you could do to them. Mortal Kombat, however, gave the winner the ability to finish off the opponent in incredibly violent ways at the end of the match.

Mortal Kombat (Arcade)

This ended up dragging in hordes of players, all hoping to see some blood and decapitations, as well as a ton of controversy from parents, moral guardians, and people who generally hate fun. Along with games like Night Trap, Fatalities were the cause of major backlash against Nintendo’s then strict censorship policies, the severe toning down of said policies, as well as helping bring forth the creation of the ESRB. The insane success of the original game brought forth a whole slew of sequels, along with an incountable number of imitators. Some of these games, like Eternal Champions and Primal Rage, had flaws, but gave an admirable effort, and some were just plain old garbage, like Kasumi Ninja and Survival Arts.

As the series continued on, the blood and Fatalities would become even more over the top, to the point where you’d regularly see people explode into 3 skulls and about 5 legs. With the popularity of the games came a series of increasingly baffling merchandise, including a surprisingly watchable live action movie, the horrendous sequel that followed it, and a children’s cartoon. Yes, a children’s cartoon! As time went on, however, people started to lose interest in the series, moving on to more traditional fighters like Street Fighter Alpha and King of Fighters. Even as the series moved into the third dimension, it didn’t help much, with the series looking absolutely dated compared to games like Tekken. While the series kept on chugging, for years it would end up in its own little niche, popular only among its hardcore fans, with “professional” fighting game players scoffing at each new release.

Mortal Kombat Gold (Dreamcast)

With the release of the ninth game in the series, however, the series actually became something worthy of respect once again, bringing back everything the fans could have asked for while delivering a solid fighting game behind it. The result was a game that people could take seriously once again, and hopefully, the future of the series will continue to remain bright. It’s been a long, crazy ride from 1992 to the present day, and it wasn’t always pretty. For every Mortal Kombat II, there’s always a Special Forces just behind it. The series may have had some spotty points, but Mortal Kombat‘s an important part of gaming history, both for challenging Capcom’s monopoly over the fighting game genre and for introducing a bunch of innocent arcade players to all kinds of blood and gore.

The story to Mortal Kombat isn’t buried quite as deeply as your average Japanese fighting game, where you’d often have to import and translate audio CDs, art books, and other merchandise to have any sort of real idea what’s going on. Instead, most of it can be gathered through the into sequences of each game, biographies, story modes, and random tidbits right from the developers. The basic premise for most of the games is that various villians from Outworld, an alternate dimension ruled by the tyrant Shao Kahn, seek to conquer the Earthrealm, which is basically our world. As the series continues, characters from other dimensions start showing up, like Chaosrealm and Orderrealm, but these are generally never that important. Aside from that overarching plot, the characters themselves have their own agendas, ranging from defending Earthrealm, or trying to assist in conquering it, seeking vengeance on those who wronged them, or sometimes, just being evil jerks.

As in most every long running fighting game series, the cast is constantly shifting around with each game. Some characters are mainstays that surive to see almost every game, while others are more or less forgotten after their first appearances. And even the most popular characters will constantly gain and lose new moves, so much like in King of Fighters, just because you know a character in one game doesn’t mean you will in the next. And as you’d expect from such a series so focused on the violence, characters tend to die in the story. Rather frequently, in fact. One of the important “rules” of Mortal Kombat, however, is that, much like in superhero comic books, nobody stays dead for long. Only the most hated or obscure characters are left buried, and even then, they’ll usually have at least one “dream match” game left in them before they see their last Fatality.


Liu Kang

Basically the ‘Ryu’ of the series, this Shaolin monk is more or less Bruce Lee, a few years before every fighting game would end up having its own Bruce Lee clone. It’s more obvious in the original game, although his design was since changed to give him a more unique look. Liu Kang, for most of the series, is the one that ends up ‘winning’ each game canonically. That is, until Shang Tsung manages to snap his neck, leading to his corpse becoming a rampaging zombie. Yeah, it’s that kind of series. A lot of his moves are followed by high-pitch gibberish that the fans affectionally dub ‘turkey calls’.



Even if he doesn’t have main character status, Scorpion’s almost always the person people think about when they think of Mortal Kombat. After having his spine ripped out by the elder Sub-Zero some time before the first tournament, Scorpion returns as a wraith, bent on revenge. Then he finds out Quan Chi murdered his family and clan, and he starts hunting him instead. Best known for his signature weapon, a kunai on a rope that he uses to make opponents… well… get over there. He also has the ability to shoot fire out of his mouth, which he typically uses to finish off defeated opponents.


Woooooah, Chinese ninja warrior, with his heart so cold. The Ken to Scorpion’s Ryu, Sub-Zero is best known for his ice based powers he uses to freeze opponents. There’s actually two Sub-Zeros, the elder of which would end up getting killed by Scorpion during the first tournament. His younger brother took his place for the rest of the series, becoming more of a hero than his deceased brother. In this series, however, being dead hardly slows you down at all. Eventually, the younger Sub-Zero manages to make peace with Scorpion, but they still fight a lot in the trailers because it looks cool. The elder Sub-Zero also got his own game, which was… not very good, sad to say.

Johnny Cage

This action movie star entered Shang Tsung’s tournament to prove his skills weren’t just special effects, without realizing just what it was about. Since then he fights for Earthrealm when he isn’t busy being dead. Due to his actor appearing in an advertisement for the rival game Bloodstorm, he was ‘punished’ to be a joke character like Dan in Street Fighter Alpha, but he’s still capable of kicking as much ass as anybody else. Best known for his Split Punch, where he splits his legs and delivers a crushing blow to his enemy’s privates. He’s also never seen without his pair of $500 sunglasses. He used to be heavily based on Jean Claude Van Damme, who was originally supposed to play the part.


The god of thunder (here pronounced Ray-den, unlike the actual Japanese word) is pretty arrogant towards humanity in the first game, even destroying it in his ending. He mellows out in later games, becoming a mentor to the good guys – at least until things go very bad in Deception, which makes Raiden go just a little bit crazy. Best known for his flying attack, where his screams of gibberish have been interpreted as things like “Johhny bought a car!”, “Your mom’s from L.A!” and “Raiden’s over there!” Not to be confused with SNK’s wrestler, the shoot-em-up, or that one guy from Metal Gear Solid.

Sonya Blade

A member of the US Special Forces, sent to Shang Tsung’s island to capture the crime lord Kano. After becoming one of the defenders of Earthrealm, she still spends a lot of time fighting Kano, although neither of them can seem to actually beat each other. Much like Chun Li in Street Fighter II, she tends to use her legs a lot, particularly for grabs.


A vicious criminal and leader of the Black Dragon crime syndicate, Kano does whatever he can to help himself, including selling modern weaponry to Outworld’s armies. He is Sonya’s archrival, even keeping a lock of her hair around his neck after one of his fights with her. One of his eyes has been replaced with a bionic laser implant, which he sadly can’t use in kombat until Deadly Alliance. He was originally designed to be of American-Japanese descent, but after his portrayal in the movie by the late Trevor Goddard, he’s been retconned as an Australian.


Goro is the original monster sub-boss, probably one of the most defining features of the original Mortal Kombat. He’s a Shokan, a species of four-armed monsters said to be half man, half dragon. It was his strength alone that gave Outworld so many victories, until his defeat at the hands of Liu Kang. He’s actually not that bad of a guy, as he only fights to uphold the honor of his race, even if he serves some really bad people. He’s had a few playable appearances over the years, mostly in the ‘dream match’ games, but as a sub-boss he can be exceptionally cheap.

Shang Tsung

An evil sorcerer who was born in Earthrealm, but pledged his alliegance to Shao Kahn, emperor of Outworld. A curse from the gods means he needs a steady supply of souls to keep himself youthful. Eventually, he takes down Shao Kahn with the help of Quan Chi, manages to kill Liu Kang, and then gets blown up. An old man and boss in the first game, he returns afterwards in a younger form as a playable character. His gimmick is that he can morph into any of the other playable characters in the 2D games. He loses this skill in his 3D appearances, before getting a nerfed form of it back for the reboot.


Possibly one of the very first ‘secret’ characters in a fighting game, Reptile can only be encountered in the original game by meeting a series of ridiculously obscure conditions. Since then, he would become a regular playable character, and one of the many, many palette swapped ninjas. He looks human with his mask on, but he’s actually part of a race of nearly extinct lizardmen. While he works for Outworld, he’s more of a sympathetic villain than anything, hanging around with the bad guy of each game in the hopes they’ll restore his race. Sadly, he tends to end up getting screwed over every time. He becomes more bestial as the series continues, ending up an anthropomorphic lizard by Deadly Alliance.

Kung Lao

Kung Lao’s been waiting to avenge the defeat of his ancestor 500 years ago, but he wasn’t able to make it to the original tournament. After the monastery he and Liu lived in ended up destroyed by Shao Kahn’s army, he’s fighting for the side of Earth, along with his cool hat. He tends to show up quite often in the games as part of the main team of good guys, and replaces Liu Kang after his death in Deadly Alliance. He likes to use his hat as a weapon and a projectile against his foes, Oddjob style.


Baraka is leader to the Tarkatan, a half-human, half-demon race of Outworld. The Tarkatan are heartless and bloodthirsty, which is probably why Shao Kahn uses so many of them for his army – them having a pair of blades coming out of their arms might also have had something to do with it. After his army destroyed Liu Kang’s monastery, Baraka continues to join up with each game’s current bad guy, trying to betray them, and moving on to the next whenever they end up getting bumped off. Fun fact: In the 2D games, his face is a Nosferatu mask with press-on nails attached to it.


When Shao Kahn’s forces capture Sonya and bring her to Outworld, her commanding officer Jackson Briggs steps in to save her. After Shao Kahn’s invasion of Earth, he founds a government agency along with Sonya to combat threats from Outworld. While in his original appearance, he was just a really strong guy, he’d get a pair of metal arms in later games. One of the very few characters in the series that could be considered a grappler, complete with an air throw. He also ended up in his own game for the PlayStation, Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, which… wasn’t very good. At all.


The original game had the ninja palette swaps, and the sequel introduces the female ninja palette swaps, for twice the laziness. Princess Kitana always thought herself the daughter to Shao Kahn, and worked as his personal assassin. Then she found out he killed her real father, conquered her home realm of Edenia, and drove her mother Sindel to suicide. Obviously, she wasn’t very happy about this, so she joins up to fight for the side of Earthrealm, where she would end up having a minor relationship with Liu Kang. When they’re not trying to murder each other, anyway. She also carries a pair of bladed fans that she uses for her special moves and Fatalities.


The other female ninja palette swap, Mileena is actually a clone of Kitana. After Shao Kahn gets suspicious of her daughter’s loyalties, he has Shang Tsung make a clone, mixed from the DNA of Kitana and a Tarkatan. The result looks close enough to Kitana, except for the rows of sharp teeth hiding just under her veil. She’s much more evil than her twin sister, hoping to kill her and take her place as princess. So, yeah, she’s just a little bit nuts. Instead of fans, she uses a pair of sais, and she’s not afraid to put those teeth to use, either. She also seems to have a bit of a thing for Baraka.


One of the new secret challengers in Mortal Kombat II, Jade would remain little more than a mysterious green pallete swap of Kitana until the third game. It’s there where she is revealed as a close friend of Kitana, defecting to her side after Shao Kahn orders Jade to kill her. In her later appearances, she uses a staff to fight. In MK2 she was entirely immune to projectiles, and afterwards she gets a special move which makes them pass right through her.

Noob Saibot

The second of MK2‘s secret challengers, Noob is a shadowy pallete swap of the male ninjas. His true identity would remain hidden until Deception, where it is revealed he’s actually the elder Sub-Zero. Some time after Scorpion killed him, he returns from the Netherrealm as a wraith, using control over darkness instead of ice. He uses a shadow clone of himself to fight opponents, including probably one of the most brutal Fatalities in the history of the series. Fun fact: His name is actually Boon Tobias backwards, the names the two main guys behind Mortal Kombat. And yes, the MK team knows the joke about his name, which is why he carries a Troll Hammer in Armageddon.


The last of the three secret challengers in MK2, Smoke is yet another palette swap of the male ninjas in his first appearance. When he was human, he was one of Sub-Zero’s Lin Kuei buddies, before the clan decided it’d be a great idea to turn all their members into soulless cyborgs. While Sub-Zero managed to escape, Smoke didn’t. From this point on, he appears in robot form. The reboot is the first time he returns as a human since the 2D games, with new special moves to distinguish him from the other ninjas. It turns out he’s also hiding flowing silver locks under that hood, which has caused many a fangirl, along with a few fanboys, to take a major interest in him.


More or less Goro’s replacement in MK2. He’s part of the same Shokan race as Goro, which means he has four muscular arms, but unlike his predecessor, he’s part of the lower-class Tigrar clan, which explains the tiger stripes that run across his body. He shares a similar moveset to Goro, constantly leaping off the screen so he can land on you and stomp on you. While he’s been playable a few times, he’s never had quite the same popularity as Goro, although he once again takes the spot of sub-boss in MK9.

Shao Kahn

The evil emperor of Outworld, and one of biggest villians of Mortal Kombat. Much like M. Bison or Rugal, he might not be the only boss of the franchise, but he’s the one that people identify with the series the most. Shao Kahn is immsenly powerful, ruthless, and it’s been implied more than once that he’s actually a physical god. He constantly plots to take over Earthrealm, which actually ends up nearly working out once. While he takes a hiatus from his final boss status after Mortal Kombat 3, he’s still usually involved with the plot in some way or another. Known for being one of the cheapest fighting game bosses in history. What makes him worse is how often he reminds you just how much he’s kicking your ass.


Kabal is another member of Kano’s gang, the Black Dragon, or at least a former member, depending on which of the two timelines you follow. He’s one of the few people who ever survived an attack by Shao Kahn’s extermination squads, but it left him horribly disfigured. So disfigured, apparently, that seeing him without his mask will literally scare the soul out of you. It also somehow ended up giving him super speed, which he uses along with his two hookswords. In the original version of Mortal Kombat 3, he had insanely damaging combos, which probably explains why he’s used so often in tournaments.


Once, Sindel was the queen of a realm known as Edenia. After Shao Kahn took over and made her his bride, she killed herself. By the events of Mortal Kombat 3, she’s been brought back from the dead and brainwashed into serving Shao Kahn, which for reasons not properly explained, means he can march straight into Earthrealm and take over. After the defeat of Shao Kahn, she ended up joining the good guys, continuing to rule over Edenia. Her main attribute is her long hair, which she can use to grab people. She can also float and scream out projectiles, which isn’t nearly as interesting. In her reappearance in MK2011… er, let’s just say she takes a rather large role in the lives of quite a few of the heroes.


Since the first two Mortal Kombat games had huge Shokan monsters that were grossly unfair, the MK team thought it’d be a cool idea to have what was basically a balanced Shokan. For whatever reason, however, Sheeva was never that popular. So unpopular, in fact, she never even showed up in the 16-bit versions of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. In the original timeline, she’s a bodyguard for Sindel who ends up getting killed off before the end of the game. She doesn’t fare much better in the reboot, where she’s a jailer, and gets offed by Liu Kang.



In the mid ’90s, it was practically an unwritten law that every fighting game had to have either a Bruce Lee clone, a Native American, or both. MK already had the Bruce Lee clone covered, and Nightwolf takes up the latter slot. A shaman who used his powers to help his tribe survive Shao Kahn’s invasion, Nightwolf generally kept hanging around after MK3, using his powers to fix whatever problems each game’s current bad guy was causing. He can create weapons like axes and bows out of energy, along with calling down lightning onto his opponents. Which you think would be something the god of thunder would be able to do, but apparently not.


Memory and workload limitations have always been the bane of the Mortal Kombat series. It’s how we got Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Reptile in the first game, and the female ninjas in MK2. Now we get the robot ninjas, who look more like guys strapped into BMX gear in the 2D games. Cyrax was one of the members of the Lin Kuei that were forcibly converted into cyborgs and sent to capture the rogue Sub-Zero. After failing his mission and getting stranded in the desert, he got his humanity restored by Jax and joins the Outworld Investigation Agency. He’s basically a robotic Predator, with a set of robot dreadlocks and a Fatality where he uses his arm console to blow himself and the opponent up. In MK9, he gets an alternate costume where you can actually play as his human form.


One of the other two Lin Kuei cyborgs sent out to capture Sub-Zero, and the son of the Lin Kuei’s grandmaster. Unlike Cyrax, the grandmaster trusted him enough to keep his personality preserved during his conversion. Since Sektor ended up murdering his father and grandmaster, this was obviously a bad idea. After that, he ends up forming a clan of robotic ninja known as the Tekunin, who… uh, don’t do much of anything. He does get a cool airship out of it in Armageddon, at least. Just like Cyrax, his pre-cyborg form is playable as a really cool alternate costume.


A former riot control cop for New York City, Stryker was one of the few survivors after Shao Kahn’s invasion. Unlike the rest of the MK cast, who use supernatural powers or physics-defying martial arts, all Stryker needs is a loaded gun, a nightstick, and an infinite supply of grenades. Stryker started off as one of the most hated characters in MK history, probably due to his beer belly and stupid backwards cap. After rotating his cap 180 degrees and becoming the closest thing you’ll get to being John McClane in a fighting game, he’s much, much less lame, these days. He became so badass, his win pose in the reboot involves him blowing up his opponent even when he’s not doing a Fatality.



Every Mortal Kombat game has to have some kind of huge monster as a sub-boss. Hold onto your hats, though, because this time, the boss has four legs. Motaro is the centaur leader of Shao Kahn’s extermination squads, sent out to kill off the human race and take their souls, and he’s the one who killed Johnny Cage, too. His skin is also apparently leathery enough to reflect projectiles in his first appearance, meaning he’s not much fun to fight. Due to his unusual body shape being difficult to handle in a 3D enviroment, he’s down to two legs in Armageddon, which takes away the one cool thing he had going for him.


When the MK team is out of ideas for new characters, they’ll take a look at one of the rumours floating around about the games and make a character out of that. Ermac spawned from a rumor from the original Mortal Kombat: Supposedly there were times when Scorpion’s outfit would turn red, and the name in his health bar changed to ERMAC, short for Error Macro. This spawned a ton of rumours about him being a secret challenger, until he finally made his first appearance as a secret character in UMK3. Here it is revealed he’s a ninja made of the souls of dead warriors, which gives him telekinesis to use on his opponents. After the death of Shao Kahn, he ends up eventually losing his bond to the emperor, becoming a good guy to atone for his past.



In the attract mode for UMK3, people occasionally caught a glimpse of a purple ninja named Rain. This had to be another secret character hidden even deeper than Reptile, right? No, it’s just Ed Boon making a dumb Prince joke – until the home versions of the game hit, and Rain is actually made into a playable character, with his own unique special moves. Rain is a member of Edenian royalty (I see what you did there, Midway), who eventually betrays his homeland to join Shao Kahn’s forces. Rain has the power to control storms, using water and lightning to inflict damage on his opponents. He also has a roundhouse kick that hits the opponent so hard, they wrap around to the other side of the screen. Keep the obvious comparisons to yourself.

Quan Chi

Quan Chi used to be a demon in the Netherrealm, before somehow gaining the intelligence to become a master necromancer. Since then, he’s been a major force behind the scenes, being the one who murdered Scorpion’s family and clan, releasing Shinnok from the Netherrealm, and oh yeah, killing nearly all of the heroes of Earthrealm with the help of Shang Tsung. Like Stryker, he was one of the lamer characters before the reboot, where his ‘manipulative bastard’ side shows through a lot better. He also has one of the best and one of the worst Fatalities in the entire series. Fun fact: It was actually the animated series where he made his first appearance, not the games.



Shinnok was an elder god who attempted to conquer Earthrealm with a special amulet he made, which weakened the dimensional barriers. When Raiden found out, Shinnok got his ass kicked and was sent to the Netherrealm. From there, he managed to dethrone Lucifer himself and become the ruler of hell. So when Quan Chi returns with his amulet in MK4, where he can launch another assault on Earth, you’d expect him to be a pretty huge badass, right? …Well, no. In fact, Shinnok’s quite possibly one of the lamest final bosses in the series. He can steal the moves from other characters and summon skeleton hands, but that’s more or less it, which is pretty lame for a guy who overthrew Lucifer. In his return appearance in Armageddon, he doesn’t even get the gimped morph.


Probably one of the most obscure MK characters out there who’ve made a playable appearance. Sareena was one of three female demons sent by Quan Chi to kill Sub-Zero. While he killed the other two, he let Sareena live, and from there, a relationship bloomed between the two of them. She ended up getting killed by Quan Chi and sent back to the Netherrealm, and she never managed to escape before the original Sub-Zero got killed off. She’s not actually a villain and hates her demonic heritage, even though Quan Chi managed to convince her otherwise at one point. She also apparently has a demonic form hiding under her human guise, but it’s never been shown.


After Sonya threw Kano off of a skyscraper in Mortal Kombat 3, Jarek seemed to be the last remaining member of the Black Dragon syndicate. He managed to talk his way out of custody by offering to help in the fight against Shinnok. After a long and stupid series of events, Jax dropped him off a cliff, where he managed to save himself. He would eventually join the forces of darkness in the Battle for Armageddon, then die. That’s all that’s really there to say about Jarek, because he’s literally just a reskin of Kano. That includes the laser vision, except that he doesn’t have Kano’s bionic implant, and thus, no explanation on why he even has laser vision. He gets his own moves in Armageddon, but that doesn’t make him any less lame.


Formerly one of Shao Kahn’s generals, he quickly jumped ship to Shinnok’s side after Kahn’s defeat. In MK4, he’s basically just a reskin of Noob Saibot. Probably the most interesting thing about Reiko is his MK4 ending, where he jumps through a portal that leads to Shao Kahn’s throne room. From there, he puts on the emperor’s helmet, and the scene fades to black. Theories abounded to who Reiko was, with some people wondering if he was Shao Kahn in a new body. The canon truth is that Reiko just likes to wear Shao Kahn’s helmet a lot, and it frankly kind of weirds him out. By Armageddon, he has a new outfit more like Shao Kahn’s and uses a hammer just like his former master does. Reiko has issues.



A monk from the same Shaolin order as Liu Kang, Kai had to stop his training in order to help fight off Shinnok. The only other interesting thing about Kai is that he’s the only character in MK4 to get a stance move, where he performs a handstand. In his reappearance in Armageddon, however, he can’t even do that. With all his projectile moves, he’s basically the black Liu Kang.


Fujin is the elder god of wind, and aside from Raiden was the only god who survived Shinnok’s attack. After Raiden goes crazy during Deception, Fujin returns in Armageddon, trying to see what his problem is. As his profession suggests, Fujin’s moves are based around using the power of the wind.



Tanya was the one who helped lead Shinnok and his forces to her home realm of Edenia, letting them take over. After Shinnok’s defeat, she fled to Outworld, becoming an enforcer for Quan Chi & Shang Tsung. When that failed, she quickly joined up with the Dragon King, Onaga. Basically, Tanya’s kind of a chronic backstabber. In her first appearance in MK4, she takes the place of Kitana, although she at least gets her own set of moves.


Calling Meat a character would honestly be really stretching the term. In MK4, he’s a “skin” that gets applied to characters that have their own skin removed. Through a code, however, this skin can be applied to a character as an alternate costume, letting you play as… well, meat. In Armageddon, he’s actually his own unique fighter, where it turns out he’s one of Shang Tsung’s failed experiments. It’s unknown how super this Meat boy actually is, or how well he’d handle a series of difficult, buzzsaw-laden platforming challenges.



When Sub-Zero became grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, the first thing he did was look for new pupils. One of these was a woman named Frost, who had the same powers over ice that he did. She was doing pretty well, until she got the idea to steal the magical amulet Sub-Zero was using to enhance his powers. It ended up freezing her solid, and Sub-Zero, understandably believing she was dead, buried her. Turns out she wasn’t, and so she spends the Battle of Armageddon trying to hunt him down. While she has ice powers like Subby does, she’s more of a speed type than a power type.


A demon from the Netherrealm who ran into Quan Chi, who promised him an escape from the Netherrealm if he distracted the very pissed off Scorpion chasing after him. After managing to escape from Scorpion, Quan Chi ended up in the Dragon King’s tomb. So, yeah, Drahmin is more or less responsible for the game’s entire plot. The mask he wears is the only thing keeping his demonic rage in check, and without it, he resorts to smashing things with his club arm really hard. Going by all the flies circling his body at all times, which he can throw at people, he also probably smells really, really bad.



Mavado is the leader of the Red Dragon crime syndicate, which Kano’s Black Dragon gang split off from. Apparently at one point he nearly killed Kabal and stole his hookswords, which he uses in kombat along with a couple of grappling hooks. Originally his design was more akin to a matador, which, while it looked incredibly stupid, make him much less boring.


Before he went blind, Kenshi was a swordsman who had a severe lack of humility going on. An old man asked him to open a well that only those of Kenshi’s bloodline could open. It turns out the well was the burying ground of Kenshi’s ancestors, and as all the souls stuck in there flowed out, the light it created ended up blinding Kenshi. Oh yeah, it also turns out the old man was Shang Tsung, if that weren’t bad enough. While he’s stuck in the well, he finds a mystical sword that enhances his senses. After he meets up with Ermac and releases him from Shao Kahn’s control, he teaches Kenshi how to use his latent physic powers in gratitude. He’s probably one of the least lame characters to come out of Deadly Alliance, which his probably why he makes a reappearance in the reboot.


Lei Mei

When the Deadly Alliance sent Kano to gather up some slaves from an Outworld village to build them a palace, Lei Mei beat him up. And so, the Deadly Alliance offered her the chance to fight in a tournament to free her village, with no sort of ulterior motives whatsoever. Surprise! There were. After she “won,” Shang Tsung attempted to steal her soul and put it in one of the Dragon King’s dead soldiers. While she was rescued before it was too late, apparently it gave her a darker personality. Not that it actually makes any visible difference, of course.

Hsu Hao

Hsu Hao is, without a doubt, one of the most hated MK characters in the entire series. The fans hate him, and even his own creators hate him and want him to die. Which makes you wonder why they included him in the first place, honestly. Hsu Hao is another member of the Red Dragon, who was sent in by Mavado to sabotage the Outworld Investigation Agency and destroy their portal to Outworld. He does, then Jax rips his cybernetic heart out. And then he comes back for Armageddon, anyway. He also looks like a slightly racist take at a Village Person.


With the move from 3D, the series went from using digitized actors to motion capture, much like every other 3D fighter of the time does. For whatever reason, Midway thought it’d be a great idea to have one of their motion capture actors be a secret character. Apparently he does work on Johnny Cage’s movies, but how he got involved in a fight for the fate of the universe, nobody knows. He can also somehow throw energy balls and uses telekinesis, which raises a lot of questions about what “normal” people are like in the Mortal Kombat universe.

Bo Rai’ Cho

You know Shun from Virtua Fighter, the silly drunken fighter who’s always swaying and stumbling around? OK, make him a big, fat guy, take all the charm from him, and make him throw up and fart a lot, and you have Bo Rai’ Cho. This loser was the mentor to Liu Kang before the events of the first game, and after Liu’s death, he joins the fight against the Deadly Alliance. Unfortunately, he joins the fight while being absolutely trashed, which includes throwing up on his opponent’s feet to make them slip around.


Nitara is a vampire who spends her eternity trying to find an orb that will separate her home realm from Outworld’s. Since the orb is submerged in molten lava, she manages to manipulate Cyrax into getting it for her, which he somehow survives. After her home realm is separated, Ashrah shows up and starts killing her fellow vampires, since they’re evil and she has to kill evil things. And so, she joins the Battle of Armageddon to find and kill her. As you’d expect from a vampire, Nitara can spit blood at her opponents, as well as drain it from her foes with a throw. In case you were wondering, she’s fine in the arenas set during the day because only Earthrealm’s sun hurts vampires, which isn’t a handwave at all.


Blaze first showed up all the way back in Mortal Kombat II, on The Pit II stage. The fans actually referred to him as Torch, but since Marvel’s got a trademark on that, his official name was changed to Blaze. All he actually did was stand in front of a Liu Kang dressed in green, who the fans named Hornbuckle. He shows up as a playable character for the first time in Deadly Alliance, where he gets captured by the Dragon King Onaga’s holy men and is forced to protect the egg that will hatch him. Eventually, he manages to escape and take on his true role: helping to kill off the kombatants before their combined power destroys the universe. He reappears as the final boss of Armageddon with a more buffed-up appearance, and defeating him somehow gives people superpowers.


Moloch is another demon from the Netherrealm, and along with Drahmin, he was hired by Shang Tsung as a bodyguard in case Quan Chi ever betrayed him. Moloch stays with that fine tradition of having an uber-cheap monster sub-boss, and much like Motaro, he’s totally immune to projectiles. And he can utterly murder you at close range. Lovely.


Ashrah is actually another demon from the Netherrealm, not that you could tell by her pure white outfit that actually covers her entire body. A modest outfit on a MKfemale, who could imagine? After escaping from the Brotherhood of Shadow, a cult started by Quan Chi to worship Shinnok, she came across a sword that cleansed the evil from her with each demon she kills. After literally becoming too good for the Netherrealm, she ended up dying shortly after during the Battle of Armageddon. That’s pretty much all she does, honestly.



Fun fact: Shujinko is literally Japanese for “protagonist.” Hey, Midway was based in Chicago, you can’t blame them for not being great with Japanese. Ever since he was a boy, Shujinko was always a major fanboy of the Mortal Kombat tournament. So when a glowing ball gives him a life-long quest to go across the realms and meet all the kombatants, he can hardly refuse. The quest actually does take his entire life to finish, with him looking almost exactly like Pai Mei from Kill Bill by the end. Unfortunately, it turns out that the entire thing was a lie made up by Onaga to aid in his resurrection, and Raiden kills Shujinko for being a gullible dumbass. Since Shujinko’s mode sucked and he had literally no special moves of his own, nobody really cared.



After Kabal started up the Black Dragon gang again, Kobra was one of the two recruits he picked. The thing with Kobra was that he liked being a martial artist. He really liked being a martial artist. So much that he started using his skills to kill drug dealers and gang bangers, before eventually using his martial arts skills to somehow rob gas stations. When he was caught by the police, Kabal and his other recruit Kira rescued him from custody. The only thing that’s really interesting about Kobra is that he looks a lot like Street Fighter‘s Ken. In fact, in one of the betas for Deception, he was actually given the name Ben Masters. When a German magazine found out about this, they wrote that Ken from Street Fighter was actually going to be a playable character. Oops.


Dairou comes from a realm called Seido, a previously unmentioned place where everything is always about order, all the time. After killing somebody he thought had murdered his family, he escaped from prison. He becomes a mercenary, and is given a job to kill Hotaru. As it turns out, in an odd twist of irony, Dairou was hired by Darrius, the guy who killed his family.


Hotaru’s a general of the Seidan army, which means he’s big on order. So much so, that he’s entirely OK with Onaga taking over, just so things will be that orderly. And since Sub-Zero has been killing so many of Onaga’s Tarkatans, he’s sent out to go find and kill him. Also, he can shoot lava, apparently.


Darrius is also from Seido, the realm of order, but unlike Hotaru, he’s pretty sick of the oppressive nature of the Orderrealm. And so, he started a revolution, gathering up like-minded people to overthrow Seido’s senate. He also murdered Dairou’s family without him knowing about it, which made him perfectly happy to join up with Darrius’s army.


Probably the least lamest of the newcomers in Deception, even though that’s not saying much. Havik’s from the Chaosrealm, which as you’d expect from the name, is pretty much the exact opposite of Orderrealm. Everything Havik does is to further the forces of chaos, including healing a dying Kabal and telling him to restore the Black Dragon. He’s fighting against Onaga in the hopes of restoring Shao Kahn to power, just so he can make things nice and chaotic again. His special moves involve breaking his bones in ways that somehow damage the opponent, which is a pretty cool gimmick. He can even break his own neck, which somehow gives him health back.


Kira is one of the other two recruits Kabal hired for the new Black Dragon. She’s probably one of the least original characters in the game, given that she has three special moves: Kano’s cannonball, Sonya’s kiss of death from Deadly Alliance, and… a low projectile.


A long time ago, Onaga was the absolute ruler of all of Outworld. He was pretty good at it, too, considering his power to raise the dead made his armies undefeatable. And then one of his chief advisors, some nobody named Shao Kahn, poisoned him and ended up taking over. A millennium later, though, an egg that Reptile happened to be near hatched, transferring its energy to him and turning him into Onaga. Onaga’s plan is to use the Kamidogu he tricked Shujinko into gathering and use them for ultimate power. At least until Shujinko wised up, absorbed the fighting power of all the kombatants, and ejected Onaga’s soul from Reptile’s body. As you’d expect from a proper MK boss, Onaga’s a tough fight. Unlike most MK bosses, Onaga made the slight tactical error of scattering his power sources around his arena, where somebody can easily break them.



Taven is the utterly generic hero of Armageddon‘s Konquest mode, and son of Argus, one of the Edenian gods. When the Elder Gods told Argus about the threat the kombatants were posing to the realms, his first instinct was to kill them all. Then his wife gave him the much more reasonable suggestion of having his two sons race to the top of the pyramid he crated and killing the giant fire monster at the top. And so, after being awakened some time later than his brother Daegon, Taven murders his way to Blaze. Problem is, him killing Blaze somehow makes all the kombatants stronger. Nice work, Argus.


Deagon is the evil brother of Taven, as shown so subtly by his missing eye and goatee. After being prematurely awakened to begin the quest to kill Blaze, Shinnok tells him that it would be a great idea to murder his own parents. After that, he went off to form the Red Dragon syndicate for the express purpose of killing Taven. He shows up as the last opponent Taven faces in Konquest before fighting Blaze, along with being a playable character in the arcade mode. Fun fact: In development, they called him Doug, which is probably the most interesting thing about him.


Playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne was only a child when he witnessed his parents getting gunned down by a random thug in an alley. Since then, he devoted his life to fighting crime in his hometown Gotham City. He doesn’t actually have any super powers, instead using his martial arts skills and the many, many, many gadgets he keeps on hand, like grappling hooks and Batarangs. In this game, he’s also perfectly capable of kicking the ass of a man who can lift cars, fly so fast he can go back in time, and fire lasers out of his eyes.


One of the few remaining inhabitants of the planet Krypton, Kal-El was placed on a rocket to Earth shortly before his home planet exploded. When he reached Earth, he took the name Clark Kent, and discovered as a teenager he had powers like laser vision, super-speed, and near invicibility. Since then, he’s been fighting crime in his home turf of Metropolis. Possibly one of the most broken superheroes of all time, depending on the writer. Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe is also probably the best game he’s ever been in, which is really saying something.

The Flash

Forensic scientist Barry Allen was working in the lab one night when a lightning bolt struck the shelf full of chemicals he was standing near. Instead of having his skin melted off, he somehow ended up with super speed, using it to fight criminals. He’s called ‘the fastest man alive,’ even though in this game, he’s not really much faster than everybody else aside from a few of his special moves, at least one of which is directly stolen from Kabal.

Wonder Woman

Princess Diana is one of the greatest warriors of the island of Themyscira, an island populated only by women. Her powers, such as super strength, were given to her by the Greek pantheon, along with her weapons, bullet-proof bracelets and a magic lasso that makes people tell the truth. In this game, though, since that wouldn’t really do much, it just makes her a long-range grappler.

Green Lantern

Hal Jordan was just an average guy when he met a dying alien one night, who entrusted him with a ring. This ring gave him the ability to create shapes made from hard light, like hammers and buzzsaws. Shortly after, he joined the Green Lantern Corps, which is basically an intergalactic police force. He also has a weakness to the color yellow, which thankfully never manifests in this game, or else he’d never be able to fight Scorpion.

Captain Marvel

Not to be confused with the other Marvel. Billy Batson was a 13 year old orphan given the ability to transform into the mighty Captain Marvel by saying the world “Shazam” from a wizard. His powers are based on the Greek pantheon, like “the strength of Hercules” and “the speed of Mercury”. Keep in mind that, despite his new appearance, he’s still a 13 year old boy when you do Fatalities on him. Yes, this Mortal Kombat game lets you murder a teenage boy. Take that, Fallout 3.


Selina Kyle is a well-trained cat burglar who specializes in high-risk thefts. Much like Batman, she makes up for a lack of superpowers with agility, skill, and a ton of gadgets, including her whip. She also happens to have a kind of relationship with Batman, when he’s not trying to arrest her. She’s more of an anti-hero than an out and out villain, although she’s perfectly fine with pulling off Fatalities.

The Joker

The Joker’s pre-villian past is sketchy at best, but the most commonly accepted story has him fallen into a vat full of chemicals during a confrontation with Batman. That ended up bleaching his skin white, turning his hair green, giving him a permanent clown grin, and making him crazy as hell. Most of the Joker’s plans revolve around “kill everybody” and little else, and although he lacks superpowers, his array of deadly clown-themed weapons means he doesn’t ever actually need any. Midway must have known a ton of people were going to go for him, because he has more moves and more effort put into him than practically anybody else in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe.


US soldier turned merc Slade Wilson was used as a guinea pig in a US millitary experiment. Instead of it working off the bat, he fell into a coma and woke up years later. It let him use all of his brain capacity and gave him a healing factor, which he used to fight children in tights and lose most of his family to said children in tights. Don’t get him confused with Deadpool, because Deadpool came after. He also carries around a personal arsenal, including a pistol and a sword. You may also known him as Slade from the Teen Titans cartoon, where he tended to have a lot of very uncomfortable overtones.

Lex Luthor

Lex Luthor never liked Superman, since it always bothered him how much he seemed to be better than the rest of humanity. It got so bad he devoted himself to destroying Superman through any means possible. He was also ruthless enough to steal forty cakes. That’s as many as four tens, and that’s terrible. He’s somewhere between a ruthless businessman and a mad scientist, more of the latter in this game than the former. Since he doesn’t have any powers, he brings his battlesuit into a fight, which comes equipped with missiles, jet boots, and other gadgets.


The absolute ruler of the hellish planet Apokolips, the god of all that is evil. Darkseid is practically immortal, incredibly strong, and can fire laser beams that kill anybody ever, instantly. Even Superman. In this game, he’s one of the two playable subbosses in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, and compared to his depiction in the comics, he’s actually only about as strong as everybody else here.

Dark Kahn

The final boss of Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, he’s Shao Kahn and Darkseid merged together into one. He’s the one causing the merging of the two dimensions and the constant flow of “rage,” both of which are very bad things. As befitting for an MK boss, he’s incredibly cheap to fight, and has the powers of both Shao Kahn and Darkseid.


Only available on the PS3 and Vita versions of the 2011 reboot Mortal Kombat, Kratos is the protagonist of Sony’s God of War series. Formerly a Spartan general, Kratos found himself becoming the God of War after a long and bloody series of events. When the Greek pantheon takes away his powers, Kratos responds by murdering them all, along with every other living being in a 100 mile radius. After Shao Kahn’s magic brings him to the MK universe in a failed attempt to control his mind, Kratos just goes doing so. Considering that he is a bald, pale-skinned warrior who uses supernatural powers and brutal finishing moves to kill gods and monsters alike, you’d be surprised to see how many people think he doesn’t belong. All his moves are based on weapons and equipment he used in his own games, and one of his special moves lets him do a QTE on his opponent for extra damage.


Much like Ermac, Skarlet’s existence spawned from a supposed glitch that would change the pallete of MK2‘s female ninjas to red. About eighteen years later, she finally makes an appearance as a playable character. A warrior created by Shao Kahn out of the blood of fallen warriors, Skarlet is sent out to discover Quan Chi’s intentions. Her powers involve manipulating blood, which she can use to teleport, or throw out a very damaging projectile that hurts her, as well.

Freddy Krueger

In the gaming industry’s race to find the most unlikely guest character they can, we’ve got Freddy from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. Since Freddy’s from a dark and bloody film series himself, it at least makes a little more sense than Darth Vader in Soul Calibur. But only a little. After being burned alive by the parents of children he murdered, Freddy became a demon who killed people inside their dreams. Throughout the movies, he’s gone from a brutal killer to a punmaster who’s entirely too zany to actually be scary. In this game, however, his look and personality is based on the far darker 2010 reboot. He uses two gloves with razor blades attached, one more than he actually had in the movies. One of his Fatalities is a recreation of how he killed one of the characters in the original film.

Cyber Sub-Zero

In the original timeline, Smoke was the one captured and converted into a cyborg, while Sub-Zero managed to escape. This time around, things end up happening differently. This, as you can imagine, has pissed off an inconceivable number of fans, even though it’s perfectly possible for human Sub-Zero to fight his own robotic self. Cyber actually plays a lot differently to his human version, with ice bombs, a teleport, and a counter added to his move set.

Cassie Cage

Yes, of all people, Johnny Cage somehow managed to breed. With Sonya, of all people. Cassie takes a little of her mother’s military stylings and combines it with her dad’s flashy moves, including his classic nut punch. She’s part of the new group put together by Johnny & Sonya to investigate the recent troubles in Outworld, and basically serves as the team’s leader.

Kung Jin

As a cousin of Kung Lao, Kin turned to a life of thievery instead of facing the pressures of the Shaolin temple. After being caught by Raiden trying to steal from the temple, he’s eventually convinced to take after his cousin. As the stealthy guy of Johnny’s new team, Jin uses a snazzy combination bow/staff to fight. Interestingly, he’s also the first gay character in the series. While it’s not a trait mentioned very often, it means he’s also handled pretty tastefully.


After Kenshi’s wife was murdered by the Red Dragon, he sent his son Takeda to study under a revived (and somewhat more pleasant) Scorpion. Eventually, he joins up with Cassie’s new team, where he uses the telepathy learned from his father, along a cool whipsword. Despite this, his tendency of complaining about his family life in his story mode appearances can make him a little annoying.

Jacqui Briggs

After her father Jax ended up becoming a horrible undead slave, his daughter decided that making a career of going into hand-to-hand combat to the death would be a fine idea. As Cassie Cage’s best friend and part of her team, she fights to help avenge what her father went through. In kombat, she uses a pair of mechanical gauntlets that come with a variety of weapons, including machine guns and rockets.

Kotal Kahn

After overthrowing Shao Kahn’s daughter Mileena as ruler, Kotal takes his place as the new emperor of Outworld. He’s slightly less of a jerk than Shao ever was, but as you might imagine from his Aztec-esque mannerisms, he could hardly be qualified as a nice person. While he assists the Earthrealm warriors every so often, he’ll also try to murder them just as often. In terms of kombat, he has some interesting moves, such as being able to create a ray of sunlight he can stand under to heal with, or sacrificing some of his blood to boost his damage.


Dvorah is part of a race of insect people known as the Kytinn, and serves as Kotal Kahn’s main advisor. As a bug person, she has control over smaller insects, which she uses in various ways in kombat. Not entirely unlike Darkstalkers’ Q-Bee in concept, only much, much less cute.

Erron Black

There’s a sad lack of cowboys in fighting games, with Eternal Champion’s Dawson McShane serving as a rare exception. Erron does a pretty good job of filling that niche, thankfully. While he was formerly from Earthrealm, Erron eventually moves into the Outworld, where he serves Kotal Kahn as a bodyguard and an enforcer. He’s also apparently hundreds of years old, which helps to explain why he’s still dressed as a cowboy. He uses a pair of revolvers to blast directly at his opponent and perform fancy trick shots, but he also uses a lot of dirty tricks, including using what’s implied to be Baraka’s severed arm as a weapon.


Torr is the lumbering hunk the player actually controls, while Ferra is the little creature who rides around on his back. The two of them serve Kotal Kahn as his bodyguard, with Ferra occasionally pitching in to help by stabbing people in the face. And yes, they probably are meant to be one giant Master Blaster reference. This series is like 80% movie references, after all.



As the antagonist of the film series of the same name, the Predator is part of an advanced alien species that travels the universe searching for the most dangerous game. He mixes primitive armaments like spears and thrown blades with advanced weapon technology, His appearance in MKX also means that Johnny & Jax get special costumes. Should they start a match wearing them, Johnny will re-enact Arnold’s character’s infamous greeting to Carl Weather’s character.

Jason Vorhees

As the antagonist of the Friday the 13th film series, Jason started off as a young boy who drowned at what was apparently a very poorly supervised summer camp. Through a long sequence of events, he ended up becoming an undead serial killer who typically preys on misbehaving teenagers. Being basically a zombie, he’s incredibly tough to put down, which shows through his many armored moves. Much like Freddy, one of his fatalities re-enacts one of his most famous kills, in this case, the sleeping bag kill from Jason X.


Tremor actually made his first appearance in Special Forces, so it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to think he was a brand new character. In his original appearance, he was basically a brown ninja who worked for Kano. For his MKX appearance, not much has changed, aside from giving him a much more distinct design and moveset. Much like the other colored ninjas before him, he focuses on one particular power, that being earth, in this case. Apparently, he also enjoys Johnny Cage’s movies, an opinion not often shared in the MK universe.

Series NavigationMortal Kombat (1992) >>

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