Tag Archives: kotal kahn

MKK: Jarek & Reiko & Tanya

It’s hard to say what anybody wanted out of Mortal Kombat 4.

Friendly dude

Like, okay, yes, everybody wanted a successful videogame. Nobody got one, but you have to assume someone wanted Mortal Kombat 4 to make the same impact as literally every previous Mortal Kombat. MK4 was the first Mortal Kombat was entering the third dimension, and it would have been nice if that produced a game that was, ya know, enjoyable, too. But gameplay aside, who made it into the roster? Who was going to represent Mortal Kombat in this brand new generation of gaming? Well, we’ve got some of the best of the established roster like Goro, Jax, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Raiden, Reptile, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion. That is (almost) the entire MK1 roster, plus Jax, who was originally intended for that adventure anyway. Then we’ve got Shinnok and Quan Chi, who are the new big bads, and were just established in MK Mythologies: Sub-Zero (which, at the time of MK4’s production, was probably assumed to be successful, too). Fujin was also added from Mythologies, and interviews with developers have stated that he was there for further MK:M synergy. What more could players ask for?

Well, how about a little originality? Shinnok, Quan Chi, and Fujin may technically be new fighters, but they’re all from another Mortal Kombat game. Drop that trio, and you’ve just got MK1 + A Few Extra Dudes (and, let’s be real here, Shinnok in MK4 is a discount Shang Tsung already). So the producers could include other popular fighters like Kano, Noob Saibot, and Kitana… but why not make a few changes to those kharacters, and produce all new, all different kharacters! Brand new fighters designed to entice old players! What could possibly go wrong?

Jarek is exactly what could go wrong.

Friendly dude

Jarek is a Black Dragon thief on the run from Sonya Blade and Jackson “Jax” Briggs. He is little more than a petty criminal, but is caught up in a magical fighting tournament when an evil sorcerer decides to try to invade Earth. Jarek chooses to fight not necessarily for his home planet, but to maybe earn his freedom and a few bucks along the way. And if this sounds like Kano’s Mortal Kombat 1 story, that’s because that’s exactly what it is. Jarek is a clone of Kano in all but physical similarities. He’s got the knife throw. He’s got the cannonball roll. He’s even got the laser eye fatality, which is significant, as he doesn’t even have a cybernetic eye.

It was pretty clear, even to the uninformed, generally brain-dead Mortal Kombat fans of 1997 (I have such a low opinion of myself) that Jarek was just a “reskin” of Kano. He was a hastily assembled substitute for a kharacter we already liked (or at least begrudgingly tolerated). What’s more, he wasn’t even an interesting substitute. You replace a thief that is about two degrees removed from being a T-1000, you maybe try to add a little visual flair more exciting than a freaking goatee. Jarek’s signature item is a boring vest, which is less a combat accessory and more something you pick up at The Gap.

Stomping around
Me and the boys looking for trouble

Though, speaking of gaps, Jarek was thrown off a mountain in Jax’s MK4 ending, and that wound up being his kanon ending. Nobody wanted to see Jarek again, and the storymasters of Mortal Kombat were happy to oblige (save an appearance as a generic boss in MK: Special Forces aka the game that killed the franchise). Jarek resurfaced (along with everybody) for MK: Armageddon, where it was revealed that he barely survived his cliff diving (likely because he played enough Tekken to know the trick), and was nursed back to health exclusively by his thirst for vengeance. He became the only officially official serial killer in the MK universe (all the other serial killers are just doing their jobs in a bloody tournament), and returned to fighting wielding a bloody cleaver and his own (marginally) unique special moves. Of course, he fails to get any confirmed kills, and then dies, because nobody cares about Jarek. After the reboot, he appears in the Mortal Kombat X comic as a generic Black Dragon mook, and is last seen rotting in a dungeon with Kano (as you do). Kano escapes. Jarek is missing and presumed boring.

STARS!

Jarek wound up the most obvious loser clone in the MK4 roster, but Reiko had similar origins. Noob Saibot, a confirmed member of Shinnok/Quan Chi’s Brotherhood of Shadow and secretly the titular star of MK Mythologies: Sub-Zero, was initially supposed to be on the default MK4 roster. However, it was decided that his slot would be given to another, newer fighter, and Reiko was born. Reiko basically looked like an unmasked Ermac (that is to say, “red ninja”), but with Brotherhood of Shadow-style facial tattoos (see also Sareena). His special moves were a mix of Noob’s shadow moves and a new, unique shuriken toss. Aside from that, he was pretty unremarkable, and was inevitably heading for the Jarek pile.

Except…

In the original arcade version of MK4 (and the N64 version, for whatever reason), Reiko’s ending was a pretty “we had thirty seconds to make something” affair, featuring only Reiko enigmatically entering a portal. Where is he going? What is he doing? Nobody knows! Like, literally, as the designers have commented they didn’t have anything in mind for poor Reiko. But! The Playstation version of MK4, and the Champion Edition of MK4, Mortal Kombat Gold, modified that ending just a little bit. In the new version, Reiko steps through the portal, and arrives… in Shao Kahn’s throne room. And then he wears Shao Kahn’s helmet! Holy $&$*! Reiko is secretly Shao Kahn! The Gameboy Color version of MK4 even added narration alluding to Reiko wanting to conquer Earth! Oh man!

STARS!

Except it was all bullshit. The developers eventually noted that this whole thing was just done “to be funny”, and, since they didn’t really have anything in mind for Reiko in MK4, tying him to Shao Kahn (at the time, presumed dead) seemed like a good idea. It wasn’t intended as some sort of secret identity situation, simply a way to humorously add a slight bit of depth to a character that is otherwise little more than another ninja.

But that didn’t stop the fan community from speculating for years. Reiko was the orangutan in the fandom for quite a while, until, finally, in Mortal Kombat Deception, Shao Kahn made reference to one of his generals wearing/stealing the good (bad) emperor’s helmet. And thus was a controversy put to rest by a one-off gag line.

Of course, MK loves sniffing its own butt, so Reiko returned in MK: Armageddon as a character that completely ditched the Brotherhood of Shadow, and is now Shao Kahn’s Number #1 Fanboy. He’s got the shoulder pads, his own giant hammer, and can even perform Shao Kahn’s dash (complete with a magical little Shao Kahn helmet appearing during the attack). His ending features Reiko literally becoming Shao Kahn. But that wasn’t kanon. Kanon is that Reiko died with everybody else.

Reiko hasn’t returned for the new timeline, but he was at least mentioned in MK9 as a dude fighting Kenshi off-screen during nuMK2. He was also practically the star of the Mortal Kombat X comic series, but his whole stupid quest to become a god to rival Shao Kahn turns out to be trickery provided by another god, and Reiko winds up destroyed by Shinnok’s amulet. So even when he’s featured in a Mortal Kombat adventure, Reiko can’t win. But at least he isn’t Shao Kahn!

Ambassador of Boomerangs

Our final “clone” character in MK4 is the most successful of the lot… and that might not be an accident. Tanya was originally going to be Kitana, but blue ninja girl was modified into yellow ninja girl in an effort to see more original characters. Unlike Reiko and Jarek, though, this switch apparently happened very early in development, so Tanya wound up with a wholly unique moveset. Tanya has her own fireballs, a drill kick, and even the most powerful of all videogame weapons: the boomerang. Tanya was her own woman in a way Reiko and Jarek couldn’t even touch, and the fact that she resurfaced for later titles seemed to reinforce her status as one of the few gems of the MK4 lineup.

And her general storyline wasn’t bad, either. Actually, scratch that, Tanya’s story is good for general storytelling, but terrible for Tanya herself. Simple rule: Tanya always backs the loser. Always. Right from the start, she’s presented as the daughter of an Edenian ambassador, and she was involved in accidentally allowing Shinnok into Edenia and whoopsie poopsie starting an interdimensional war. However, her ending reveals that she deliberately allowed Shinnok to enter the realm, and was always working with the baddies because… I guess that’s what she does. Shinnok loses, and then she gets a new job with Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, the Deadly Alliance. Then they fail, and she winds up working for the Dragon King, because Baraka said so. This allows her to participate in Mortal Kombat: Deception, and she continues to be the ambassador of evil in MK: Armageddon. She dies a bad guy, but at least she died on the same team as every other bad guy she served before.

Such a friendly lady

Tanya returns in Mortal Kombat X, and is now serving Mileena. Mileena ran for empress on a platform that she would release Edenia from Outworld’s rule, so Tanya battles on her behalf against Kotal Kahn, who wants to make Outworld great again by never breaking up the band. Tanya is featured on Team Mileena during story mode, and returns as a playable kharacter through DLC. Thus, Tanya winds up with a kanon ending that notes she betrayed fellow Mileena acolyte Rain, got his fool ass killed, and is currently chilling in Kotal Kahn’s dungeon. Considering her ending’s only sanguinity comes in the form of “at least I’m not dead”, it seems the current Tanya might have a general idea where a few decades of only serving bad guys gets her. Now I just want to see another MK vs. DC where Tanya winds up hanging out with Harley Quinn and Mercy.

But at least we got one decent recurring kharacter out of the three “clone” characters. Jarek and Reiko might have been complete duds, but Tanya is always a fun time. 33% accuracy ain’t bad. So let’s give Mortal Kombat 4 a healthy review score of 33%. That sounds about right.

Such a friendly lady

Next time: The one completely original Mortal Kombat 4 fighter!

MKK: Baraka

Mortal Kombat 1 took place on Shang Tsung’s magical karate island, a wonderland of fists that you would likely see in any “kung-fu movie” from Kentucky Fried Movie to at least seventeen Bruce Lee features. Mortal Kombat 2, however, was meant to showcase Outworld, the realm of Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung and, most importantly, Goro. Outworld had to be a fantastic land to feature such fantastic creatures, so, naturally, the architects of the Mortal Kombat franchise quickly defined the realm as one giant toilet.

So purple


Outworld features fabulous purple, barren landscapes. It contains acid pits and flesh pits. There are deserts aplenty, pointed mountains, and forests full of freaky-faced trees. While it has never been confirmed in-game, it is naturally assumed that Outworld smells like the ass end of an ass. People ride giant bugs through the sky. There is, like, one Waffle House, and it’s been closed for “repairs” since 1997. You do not want to spend any time in Outworld.

However, a lot of different races live in Outworld. Shao Kahn may have been trying to conquer Earth for (at least) the last 500 years, but he was actually successful in conquering other dimensions. As a result, Outworld has become a veritable melting pot of eclectic cultures and people (all trying to kill each other). Residents of Outworld include:

· Outworlders – Your basic human-esque race, but extremely long-lived, and with a greater affinity for magic. Basically elves without the ears.

· Edenians- Same, but they’re officially the conquered race of Outworld.

· Wizards- Fuggin’ wizards are their own race in Outworld, and it’s illegal to not hire a wizard just because they’re a filthy wizard.

GORO!

· Shokan – Goro’s race of four-armed people that have not yet mastered the ability to produce shirts. They are occasionally described as half-dragon or half-tiger, but are all into ponytails.

· Centaurians- Motaro’s race of centaurs. Sometimes they’re satyrs, because they’re going through some stuff.

· Zaterrans- Reptile’s race of… uh… reptiles. They’re mostly extinct, but Reptile is right there, so I think they count.

· Vampires- You’re damn skippy this franchise has vampires running around. Apparently Mortal Kombat vampires are only allergic to Earth’s sun. It seems relevant at this point to ask if ol’ Purple Outworld even has a sun. That arena stage might just have really good lighting…

· Osh-Tekk- Oh, wait, they must have a sun, because they have kinda sun gods running around. The Osh-Tekks are basically the gods of the Aztec culture, and they gain power from the sun (apparently any sun) and blood (conveniently found all over in this universe).

My heart!

· Sub-Zeros- Sub-Zero and Frost’s ancestors come from Outworld. They’re not around anymore, but they’ll probably pop back up in MK Mythologies: Sub-Zero 2: The Next Day.

· Kytinn- Insect people that work pretty much like the xenomorphs of Alien, but are, like, bugs. This is my worst nightmare, and if it is not yours, I don’t want to know what’s going on in your head.

· Naknada- Like the Shokan, but six arms, and a lot more scrawny. Though we’ve only ever seen one Naknada. It’s possible the other Naknada are buff as hell, and Kollector is just the runt of the litter.

· Dragons- Onaga the Dragon King was the ruler of Outworld before Shao Kahn, so dragons are official denizens of the realm for tax purposes.

· Whatever the hell Ferra and Torr Are- A symbiotic race where a lil’ dude rides a bigger dude and together they fight crime. Or make it.

I don't like these guys

And then we have the Tarkatans, the race introduced in Mortal Kombat 2 to further cement the “Outworld is not a vacation destination” thesis of the title. Tarkatans are all over the place on the ol’ “what’s this race’s deal” map. On one hand, they’re generally portrayed as blood-thirsty monsters that are animalistic enough to be driven into murderous rages over bottled pheromones or a Black Friday sale on knife sharpeners. On the other hand, they have their own language, are capable of using “Earth weapons”, and are widely regarded as the absolute best soldiers in Shao Kahn’s army. And their origins are equally confusing: they’re either the result of human/demon breeding, or they’re their own thing from a realm Shao Kahn conquered long ago. Meh, let’s face it: the Tarkatans are whatever the plot needs right now.

And, true to his Tarkatan heritage, Baraka is equally mutable. Baraka appeared in Mortal Kombat 2 as a fine representation of Shao Kahn and his less-than-photogenic army… but didn’t really accomplish much. He killed some monks in the prologue, and apparently there were some rumors of Baraka attempting to overthrow Shao Kahn with Milenna, but Mileena wound up dead before that plan could go anywhere. Baraka then returned for Mortal Kombat (4) Gold (not coincidentally only being proto-retro-dlc in the final game that required a motion capture actor to don a skin-tight face mask), and did the exact same thing: worked for Shinnok, and planned to betray him, but never got around to it.

Is that another Baraka?

Baraka then started working for the Dragon King in Mortal Kombat: Deception (once again, Baraka took a game off to wax his arm blades), and teamed up with Mileena (now alive again) to actually be a faithful minion for once. The duo attempted to deceive and exterminate Kitana’s forces on behalf of the Dragon King, but Liu Kang’s ghost and Liu Kang’s master beat back the Tarkatan hordes. Thanks to the overwhelming boredom of not betraying anyone for a solid thirty seconds, Milenna then attempted to kill Baraka, but Baraka sent another Tarkatan in his place, and Milenna is kind of racist anyway, so it all worked out (for Baraka, the other guy got gutted).

Baraka was officially killed during MK: Armageddon, as Kung Lao finally avenged his fallen monk buddies from Mortal Kombat 2 by slicing Baraka in twain.

Mortal Kombat 9 retkonned Baraka into being a Mortal Kombat 1 participant… but he was defeated by Johnny Cage almost immediately. Then he got beat up by the (still human) Cyrax. Then he was trounced by an old lady wielding a basket full of kittens. He got to kill those monks again, though! And then he got jobbed a few more times before not even bothering to show up for the rehash of Mortal Kombat 3. He went out for a pack of cigs while the other Tarkatans ran around with the centaur dude. Better use of his time.

Such nice teeth you have

In Mortal Kombat X, Baraka is a loyal servant to… am I reading this right? Oh, wow, Milenna actually finally got somewhere with her whole power lust thing, and she’s ruling Outworld with Baraka by her side. And then he gets killed by the bug lady. But it’s okay! He was replaced by a xenomorph with all his powers, so Baraka is still with us in spirit.

Baraka The Younger and Less Dead returns through a time-hole in Mortal Kombat 11. He learns that, since Mortal Kombat X, Kotal Kahn, the new ruler of Outworld, committed outright genocide, and every last Tarkatan is dead because Baraka supported Milenna. Ouch. Luckily (for Baraka), the Time Baddie of MK11 decides to timeport the Tarkatans back to the future, and Baraka has some buddies to hang out with between battles. And, recognizing a ruler he could almost certainly betray later, Baraka decides to join up with (time-displaced) Kitana to overthrow (time-displaced) Shao Kahn. Together, Baraka and his people join the final siege on the Time Boss that is the only reason his race even exists at all. Luckily, there is no reckoning, as the universe reboots yet again about seven seconds after Baraka gets off the boat.

In conclusion, if you need someone for your heroes to beat up, please remember the Tarkatan race. Baraka is here to help.

Like a porcupine

Next time: Mortal Kombat 2 means 2 playable ladies.