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FGC #500 Mortal Kombat 11

Let’s learn about Mortal Kombat!

Or was that just some super violence? Who knows!

FGC #500 Mortal Kombat 11

  • System: Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC initially. It also migrated over to the Nintendo Switch and… what’s this? A Google Stadia? That thing plays video games?
  • Number of players: Two very unfriendly combatants.
  • Hey, haven’t you written enough about Mortal Kombat? Consider this a vaguely final chapter. The original Komplete Guide to Mortal Kombat Kharacters started as a simple “review” of Mortal Kombat 11, and then spiraled out of control almost immediately. It seems only appropriate to call this bookend the FGC’s MK11 feature. And, hey, it’s an excuse to play MK11 DLC.
  • How is MK11 Aftermath? It’s entirely pointless! Spoilers, the entire plot ends up exactly where it began, and the greatest tension in the story is “when is Shang Tsung going to betray us all?” And the simple answer to that is “immediately and constantly”. It’s a fun little tale, but it doesn’t add anything to our understanding of the characters or the larger mythos. Nightwolf is noble, Shang Tsung ain’t. The end.
  • But what about that Sindel retcon? Meh, I’ll probably write about that more later, as I feel like I have more to say there. Dammit! Mortal Kombat never ends.
  • Get 'emMaybe actually talk about the game for a second: It’s good! I still prefer Mortal Kombat X(L) for general gameplay, but this is certainly a step up from the overall stiffness of Mortal Kombat 9. And the endless challenge towers offer an interesting…. uh… challenge, too. Somebody remind me to pick up a thesaurus before I finish another 500 articles.
  • Sexual Dimorphism is a Scourge: Interviews regarding Mortal Kombat 11 include creators claiming that the emphasis on “sexy” had gone too far in previous games, and it had to be dialed back for Mortal Kombat 11. That’s why the women of MK now wear more modest clothing, and have more than one body type. Like, there’s a skinny ninja lady, a skinny bug lady, a skinny blonde lady, skinny titan lady, skinny black lady, and another skinny blonde lady that is actually two skinny blonde ladies from different time periods. All the skinny ladies are represented!
  • Favorite Fighter (MK11): My old favorites, Noob Saibot and Kabal, seem more than a little… annoying in this iteration of MK. As a result, I’ve gradually drifted over to Robot Ninja Frost, who is like Sub-Zero, but more likely to hurl her own spine at an opponent. I can respect that.
  • Would I play again: This might be another Street Fighter 5 that has DLC until the end of time. And I’m here for it! Bring on the kombat!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Alundra for the Playstation! I’ll see you in my dreams, Alundra. Please look forward to it!

MKK: Kronika & Cetrion & Geras

Netherrealm’s own Injustice (1) does not get enough credit for having the best damn concept for a fighting game Story Mode ever. Fighting games are wonderful for story telling in videogames because they don’t really have “mooks”, and your hero du jour can reach a heroic finale without having to incidentally kill millions of anonymous randos. Cloud Strife is a moral paragon that has saved the world in multiple ways… but he still slaughtered a healthy 90% of Shinra’s security staff across the planet. Most of those guys were just making minimum wage, saving up gil to buy some Cura material for their sick grandma! Guile, meanwhile, saved us all from the tyranny of M. Bison, and he’s only marginally morally compromised because he once had to punch a green, electrified orphan. Basically, fighting games, almost as a matter of course, follow much more cinematic through lines, and incidentally don’t have to waste time with Big Bad Sol Badguy grinding rats for experience.

Kanon!
This is kanon!

Unfortunately, this is terrible when your roster doesn’t meet the demands of a complete story experience. Skullgirls launched with a cast of like 1.7 playable fighters, so, in order to integrate actual gameplay into its story, every skullgirl had to fight every other skullgirl like 16 times. And, given you saw the same fights with generally the same excuses over and over again, it gave the initial impression that the whole of the Skullgirl Universe was a city street measuring about five feet wide. Similarly, anyone that read the Mortal Kombat comic adaptations could tell you that the MK universe had this problem for a while, as a host of incidental fighters had to be introduced just so Liu Kang didn’t win every last tournament in a single issue. Later Mortal Kombat games/stories filled these holes with larger rosters of various Order Realm denizens, but their necessity to the plot was… dubious.

But Injustice! Now there was a clever story! In short, it featured the roster of Earth 1 fighting their intermittently murderous duplicates from Earth 2 (not actual designations, shut up, nerds). And that’s amazing! It immediately doubles the “roster”, and all you have to do is get Batman a slightly different suit (and that man loves to have a complete wardrobe). Now you can have Flash fight Green Lantern all you want, and it makes perfect story sense, because this is the evil version of the Green Lantern. And you can have the good Green Lantern fight the other Flash, and it doesn’t seem redundant, because this Flash prefers Shadow the Hedgehog to Sonic. He’s a totally different character! You can even make the final battle a fight between Superman and Superman, and it works! Street Fighter can never come up with a decent reason for a bad guy to fight a boss character (Vega got bored? Is that his whole ending?), but Injustice can use its narrative conceit to justify a canonical mirror match! It’s a thing of beauty!

Theoretically identifying their own greatest trick, Netherrealm dabbled in this concept for Mortal Kombat X. In arcade mode, there were a number of “alternate” fighters that seemed to exist in a separate kanon where the likes of Liu Kang or Kung Lao grew old and became the creepy uncles to the next generation. In story mode, meanwhile, there were the undead revenant versions of these same fighters, and here Cassie identified the zombies with unusual blades (“does that lady have a lethal fan?”) as threats. So, while it was completely outside of the usual kanon, you technically could play as a pair of different Scorpions in Mortal Kombat X. Hooray for variety!

She seems nice

But Mortal Kombat 11 decided to take it all a step further. The basic plot of Mortal Kombat 11? Kronika, Titan of Time, has decided that Raiden has overstepped his authority, and now Kronika is going to mess with all of time in order to put the lesser god in his place. But who cares about that? It means we get two kanon Kitanas! Hooray!

Though I suppose we should talk about Kronika, Mortal Kombat’s first female final boss. Give or take the duo of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, she’s also the first final boss in the franchise that is…. How to put this… Quietly all powerful? She can control all of time, she can “rewind” your movements, and she can even perform a fatality that is essentially an eternity of suffering, but… but she’s not very swole. MK final bosses are traditionally hulking monstrosities, and even when they’re on the smaller side, they have a tendency to command all the powers of the roster’s souls or some other such thing. Kronika mostly just floats there, and doesn’t really knock around your fighter with anything but sand(s of time) magic. Her greatest attack is tossing a t-rex at ya, which, yes, that’s pretty rad, but it’s more on the dinosaur than the titan to do the damage. Basically, the point here is that, as a final boss and the theoretical source of all despair in the Mortal Kombat universe, she comes off as a little lacking compared to the likes of unstoppable foes like Shao Kahn or that immortal dragon dude. She’s a mage in barbarian world, and Skeletor is definitely more fondly remembered than Evil-Lyn.

And it doesn’t help that her dastardly plan alternately portrays her as all-powerful and marginally brain dead. It’s always a problem when you have an immortal that has clearly not learned even basic lessons about evil plan caretaking, but here we have a woman that theoretically lived through multiple iterations of the universe, and she still doesn’t have a friggen clue how to stop one karate man. Here’s how this all goes down:

1. Raiden kills Shinnok at the end of Mortal Kombat X. … Okay, he doesn’t kill him, because he can’t be killed, but he does leave the former elder god a sputtering, decapitated head.

2. Unfortunately, Shinnok’s removal from the board goes against Kronika’s grand scheme for the universe, so Raiden must be stopped.

3. Kronika summons various Mortal Kombat stars through time from the era of roughly Mortal Kombat 2. This includes bad guys (that she will recruit for future plans) as well as good guys (that she will assume are going to hang out at Denny’s and not interrupt any evil plans).

4. MK2 Raiden is among the summoned good guys. As part of a “rule” that has never come up before and will never be explained, there can only be one Raiden at a time, so “present” Raiden (MK10 Raiden) is blinked out of existence. This leaves us with only MK2 Raiden, who has all the powers of MK10 Raiden, but does not have all the plot baggage of having spent the last two games occasionally crossing into Dark Raiden territory.

She seems nice

5. But eliminating one Raiden is not enough, Kronika wants to reboot the entirety of the universe to revive Shinnok. In pursuit of her goals, she has her team of time displaced baddies (and Jax) generally mess with the good guys.

6. This is because Kronika needs to tap into some raw power reserves to reset the universe. For instance, Shang Tsung had a well of souls that would help, and she has to collect the power from there. The good guys try to stop her, but fail. No one stops to consider the fact that Shang Tsung apparently had enough power on tap to obliterate all of time.

7. Eventually, it is revealed that Kronika only fears one thing: the combined power of Liu Kang and Raiden. Thus, Kronika has pitted Liu Kang and Raiden against each other in every iteration of the universe. This has happened dozens of times before, if not hundreds. Raiden already killed Liu Kang once in this universe, so it shouldn’t be a problem, but, wait… did Kronika just bring another Liu Kang from MK2 back with the other time-displaced losers? Oh crap! She did!

8. Okay, okay, don’t worry about it. This shouldn’t be a problem. MK2 Liu Kang was killed by MK2 Raiden a few years back during that version of MK3, so Kronika can probably just nudge Raiden into doing that again. Raiden, just let the rage take over and…

9. Dammit! MK11, Undead Liu Kang just kidnapped and absorbed all the powers of MK2 Liu Kang. Now he’s Liu Kang². Okay… okay… we can still deal with this. Liu Kang² doesn’t like Raiden, so unless “good” Liu Kang overtakes “bad” Liu Kang…

10. Fudge! Liu Kang² and Raiden have literally fused into one being. That was the one thing Kronika didn’t want to see happen! I’m sure she can handle…

11. Liu Kang-Raiden (Liuden?) defeats Kronika, and is now the God of the Universe.

So, yeah, Kronika basically ushered in her own destruction. But at least her time travel powers effectively doubled the roster, making the story mode a lot more interesting! Good job, stupid!

But why did Kronika care so much about Shinnok and his “grand place” in her various schemes? Well, because she was Shinnok’s mama. And you know who else is Kronika’s brood? Cetrion, the Elder Goddess of Virtue and Nature.

Pretty butterfly

Cetrion is another character that has theoretically been bumping around the universe since the first Mortal Kombat. She’s the Elder Goddess of Virtue and Nature, and, given how much punching takes place in this universe, she’s essentially the combo god of war and peace like the Grecian Athena. Also like Athena, she can actually handle herself in a fight, and has an interesting fighting style that involves a whole lot of elemental magic. Fireball, tree branch, rocks, strong gust, fireball again, repeat until the other guy falls down. So, yeah, she might be literally the most benevolent deity to ever grace Mortal Kombat, but she’s still going to kick your ass.

Unfortunately, Cetrion doesn’t kick much ass in the actual story of Mortal Kombat 11. She’s literally a god-level threat, and she’s at least generally annoyed by the death of her brother/mortal enemy, but she mostly spends her time being Kronika’s lapdog. What’s worse, her whole “deal” appears to be being a goddess of “good” that is continually committing heinous acts, and the best she can do for pathos is occasionally note “oh, maybe eating the souls of all those innocent monks was… morally gray?” She does wholesale murder the entirety of the rest of the Elder God Pantheon (off-screen), though, so she takes the stage with a healthy body count, at least.

For a divine being that is meant to be the opposite number to a main villain from the franchise, Cetrion seems almost entirely like an afterthought that could be dropped from the story without losing a single beat. And you know what? She probably is an afterthought. Kronika, Titan of Time, is currently the only fighter in all of Mortal Kombat that is a boss that is in no way playable. Granted, that’s likely just an accident of being the last boss currently in MK kanon, as many other bosses started as unplayable before being selectable in later titles. But that quirk of design was likely noticed during MK11, so Kronika’s finer points were split among two selectable fighters. Cetrion is the “all powerful” goddess that can use divine attacks with a predominantly haughty demeanor, and Kronika’s time abilities drifted over to our final MK character, Geras.

Nice gauntlet

Geras is Kronika’s Goro. However, rather than being a hulking monster, Geras is meant to be “unbeatable” in a completely different way. Geras’s defining ability is that he exists “at a fixed moment in time”. What does that mean? Basically, he’s unkillable. Chop off his head, gouge out his eyes, or even just inflict a particularly nasty papercut, and he’ll revert to an earlier point in time when it never happened. And, taking a page from Injustice again, he has Doomsday’s signature ability to remember and react to whatever killed him the first time. So, basically, Geras is a dude that has been killed hundreds of thousands of times over the course of multiple timelines, and now he’s here staring down a 20-something with a pointy hat. Who do you think is going to win?

And, since the whole regeneration thing is a completely boring power for arcade mode (Sonya Blade is a generic human that is still fighting after surviving 6,732,601 fatalities and counting), Geras also seems to possess a baby version of Kronika’s time powers. He can freeze his opponents in place, create a time clone, or just manipulate literal sands of time because why not. He can even screw with the fight timer, because, ya know, time. Honestly, it’s a pretty innovative way of incorporating “time attacks” into a franchise entry that is all about time travel. Double points to Geras because we’re dealing with a fighting game where the entire plot is about fighters being plucked from across the time stream, and the best anyone could come up with is “what if the guys from Mortal Kombat 2 came back?” You can do better, MK! You could have Abraham Lincoln battling Socrates as guest fighters, and it would make total kanon sense! Follow the excellent and creative example of Geras!

Regardless, Geras’s contribution to the overall story is right there with that lack-of-Abraham-Lincoln boring thinking. He’s Kronika’s Goro, and, rather than using that level of intimidation to actually do anything memorable, he’s mostly just a go-fer. It’s established that he is effectively invincible and scary, but he doesn’t actually kill a single fighter. No kills! In Mortal Kombat! Hotaru at least messed up Sub-Zero, and the best Geras can manage is threatening Cassie Cage. And when he finally comes to blows with Raiden, he is instantly and effectively neutralized by the thunder god dropping him into a mystically bottomless ocean. Geras is supposed to be an unstoppable monster, but two separate versions of Johnny Cage manage to outlast him.

They're friends!

But it’s not like that matters, as the universe at large doesn’t last much past Geras’s defeat. Kronika is defeated by Fire God Liu Kang, and, given Kronika messed the universe up but good in her misbegotten attempts to reboot existence for the hundredth time, Raikang is left with the job of recreating the Mortal Kombat universe. What shape will it take? What fighters will we see in the inevitable Mortal Kombat 12? Who knows! But there is one thing I know. This is the end of this iteration of the Mortal Kombat universe, so, having covered every last kombatant, I can safely say that this has been a komplete guide to Mortal Kombat kharacters.

… At least until the next DLC.

Thanks for reading.

MKK: Bo’ Rai Cho & Li Mei

People have a tendency to underestimate how important “special moves” are to fighting game characters. The original Mortal Kombat only had five actors to go around, but they managed to squeeze another two characters onto the roster by dressing Johnny Cage up like a ninja and painting him various colors. And “Blue Ninja” and “Yellow Ninja” could have been forgettable roster-filler, but they wound up as arguably the most recognizable dudes in the franchise. Why? Well, who doesn’t like ice magic? And Scorpion’s distinctive “Get over here!” and fiery skull head leave an impression. Two quickie photocopy characters became the faces of the franchise almost entirely because of their iconic special moves.

BARF

Bo’ Rai Cho has a number of iconic special moves. They mostly involve puking and farting. And he’s the last kharacter from the MK5/6/7 trilogy to see a revival past Mortal Kombat 9.

According to interviews, Ed Boon wanted to see some new body types in MK: DA, and demanded a “slobby” fighter to contrast with the rest of the MK kast (which, yes, all appear to be rejects from the popular film Invasion of the Ab-ulons from the Planet Swole). This makes a certain amount of sense, as Mortal Kombat literally had more reptile fighters than tubby guys. And, while we’re still working on the technology to render anything but a slim, buxom woman on modern consoles, Bo’ Rai Cho’s meaty frame premiered back on the PS2.

And if you’re going to make a character a “slob”, you can’t just let the dude be “thick”, you have to go full hog.

“Borracho” is Spanish for “drunk”. Bo’ Rai Cho predominantly practices drunken fist style martial arts. His most distinctive special move involves vomiting on the floor and causing his opponent to slip. Another of his special moves is the “bump ‘n dump”, and it’s exactly what you think it is. He has a fatality that involves a combustible fart, and it is finished with an exclamation of “That was a wet one.”

Are you not entertained?

But he’s not just one stereotype! Bo’ Rai Cho is not a drunk, but a drunken master. BRC fills the previously unoccupied position as mentor to a number of different fighters (well, at least three), and basically hangs out with Raiden on the “Dad Tier” of Mortal Kombat kharacters. That’s… something?

BARF

To get into the details of Bo’s general existence, we’re looking at an Outworlder that is (for once) not an angry mutant. Like many quasi-humans in the franchise, he’s hundreds of years old, and has been training warriors for centuries. However, he does not train fighters for Outworld, but realms that oppose his home dimension. Why? Well, Bo’ Rai Cho opposes Shao Kahn’s rule, but, were he to compete in an MK tournament himself, he would technically be winning for Shao Kahn. This is because, a while back, his buddy was running for city council, so he registered to vote in his local Outworld municipality, but now he can’t figure out how to change his residential status. It’s a pain in the ass.

But Bo’ Rai Cho did train Liu Kang. It was Bo’ that taught the hero of Mortal Kombat his iconic bicycle kick, and it was that very bicycle kick that saved the Earth on four separate occasions. However, a bicycle kick can’t solve all your problems, and Shang Tsung murdered Liu Kang at the start of Deadly Alliance. Because the events of Deadly Alliance weren’t technically a sanctioned (by the Elder Gods) Mortal Kombat tournament, Bo’ Rai Cho decided to get off his butt and do a little fighting/vomiting of his own to avenge his fallen student. He also trained Kung Lao to defeat Shang Tsung during this time. That worked out really well, because Kung Lao went on to fight Shang Tsung, and only died once. That’s pretty good for Kung Lao!

Bo’ Rai Cho did rescue Li Mei during Deadly Alliance, though, and we’ll cover that little bit of failure during her section. After earning another loser student, Bo’ Rai Cho worked to amass the good (relatively speaking) forces of Outworld against The Dragon King and Baraka’s knife-boy hordes. He was successful in stopping the Tarkatans, at least, but mostly thanks to the reappearance of Liu Kang’s ghost. So, once again, Bo’ Rai Cho’s greatest victory was hanging out with Liu Kang. It apparently doesn’t matter if he was alive or not.

Bo’ Rai Cho… uh.. participated in MK: Armageddon. He helped out the good guys. He died. Then the universe died. I’m probably going to type that a lot in the coming biographies.

BARF

But Bo’ Rai Cho did make a return in the rebooted universe!

Bo’ Rai Cho wound up as playable DLC in Mortal Kombat X. Technically, his “arcade mode” story/bio takes place before the events of the MKX’s story proper. Bo’ is concerned that Shinnok might revive, and is looking for Raiden. That’s a good plan! Unfortunately for Bo’, though, his presence in story mode picks up after he has found Raiden, helps for like ten seconds, and is then mortally wounded by Shinnok. Bo’s current status is unknown, but it’s generally assumed he’s death-farting on the pile of corpses that is labeled “Raiden’s allies”.

And, yes, of all the fighters introduced in Mortal Kombat 5,6, and 7, only Kenshi, Frost, and Bo’ Rai Cho ever make another playable appearance. Though we do get one extra Deadly Alliance story cameo in Mortal Kombat X. Let’s look at Li Mei.

Look away!
(Face modeling was not easy on the PS2)

As far as conception goes, Li Mei is Bo’ Rai Cho’s polar opposite. It seems she was designed to present well (a conventionally attractive woman that looks fit and prepared to fight), but her story positions her as a novice in the world of martial arts (which is the only thing that matters in the Mortal Kombat universe). Unfortunately, unlike Bo’ Rai Cho, her designers forgot to hang any sort of hook on that setup, and Li Mei’s special moves (and general moves, for that matter) are wholly forgettable. She comes from the hazy “fireball and a jump kick” school that saw so much success for Johnny Cage and Liu Kang, but, as a random “support” kharacter (and not one of the towering heroes of the piece), that just isn’t going to cut it. Without a flaming skull or the ability to puke on command, Li Mei almost instantly fades into the halls of forgotten Mortal Kombat fighters.

Li Mei at least has a moderately interesting origin concept: she’s supposed to be your average Outworlder. After a series of games where it seemed like the only residents of Outworld were sword-mutants, lizards, and filthy wizards, Li Mei was introduced as simply your average Outworld villager. And, as you might expect, that’s a pretty crappy situation to be in. Li Mei and her entire village was enslaved at the start of Deadly Alliance, but, knowing exactly how prisons work, Li Mei knocked the tar out of Kano on her first day. This drew the attention of Quan Chi, who decided that Li Mei would gain her freedom if she won the loose tournament that was the Deadly Alliance epoch. She got a little training from Shujinko (we’ll get into that goober next game), and went on to do pretty well! She did so well, in fact, that Quan Chi and Shang Tsung decided to transfer her soul into a random immortal corpse for use in the Dragon King’s army. She was not happy with that outcome. And that, in the business world, is known as the Peter Principle.

Going down?

But Li Mei was rescued from her lethal promotion by Bo’ Rai Cho, because MK is not going to let a sexy lady model go to waste in a corpse Bo’ Rai Cho is a good guy. Li Mei’s soul is returned to her body, but it seems some of the dragon soldier taint came along with the transfer, so now Li Mei is less “naïve neophyte” and more “bloodthirsty revenge monster”. This didn’t change a thing about her boring special moves, but it did mean she traded in her old duds for some (sexy lady shaped) armor. And she got a sword! And her MK: Deception ending revealed that, had this version of Li Mei been allowed to flourish, she likely would have gone all-in on the whole “evil and serving the Dragon King” thing. That never happened, though, as Li Mei earned the dubious honor of being kanonically the first fighter to die at the start of MK: Armageddon. This was the event where literally everyone died, but, hey, good to have someone designated as first in line.

Li Mei does pop up in Mortal Kombat X, though. She’s not a fighter, but she does lead her village from Outworld to Earthrealm when a magically empowered Mileena threatens her people. Cool! And, in a weird dimensional echo, she once again jobs Kano, this time by ratting him out for being a weird, shifty dude with a robotic eye. This leads to the Special Forces capturing the fugitive Kano, so thanks, Li Mei, you didn’t even need a battle bikini to be useful in this rebooted universe. Cheers all around!

Still not great with faces

Of course, most people probably didn’t even recognize that Li Mei was supposed to be anybody when she made her little cameo, so she really only gets partial credit. Maybe if she had some more special moves that involved farts she’d have made the DLC cut.

Next time: Dragons of a different color.

MKK: Kai & Meat & Tremor

Mortal Kombat 4 featured exactly one fighter that was not previously seen in MK: Mythologies and was not originally intended to be another, more established kharacter. Kai, thus, is technically the most original choice on the MK4 roster.

Kai!

And he’s not even all that original.

Kai’s backstory explains that he is a member of the White Lotus Society, just like Liu Kang and Kung Lao. Unfortunately, Kai showed up late on the day they were handing out razor hats, so he merely went through typical fireball training. This means that a number of his special moves are “like Liu Kang, but weird”, like his fireballs that shoot diagonally. Couple this with his basic backstory of “he’s a monk that wants to do good and seeks self-improvement”, and it seems like Kai was intended as a Kung Lao replacement for MK4 (as Kung Lao was missing and assumed dead for the initial release), and was little more than the Luigi to Liu Kang’s Mario.

But Kai did have one original trait: he could do a handstand. And that was pretty cool!

This is actual gameplay
And the AI has no idea what to do with that

Developer interviews reveal that Kai was created with a specific goal in mind: there aren’t any nimble black guys in fighting games, and there should be! Practically every African American in the genre at the time was a bruiser type, including “strongest man in the world” Jax of Mortal Kombat. Some franchises have fed this weird stereotyping for decades (is Sean the single dude of color in Street Fighter without boxing gloves?), but MK decided to do something back in 1997. Thus, Kai was presented as a thoughtful, lithe guy that carries a staff (one of the more friendly weapons out there) and incidentally knows kung-fu. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar studied under Bruce Lee, people! There’s a precedent!

Goin' Clubbin'

Of course, this noble goal was completely forgotten ten seconds later. Like many of his MK4 contemporaries, Kai only returned in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Here, his handstand attacks were not implemented at all, and his “light” bo staff was replaced with a comically disproportionate spiked club. And, while his backstory of seeking enlightenment is still there in his bio and ending, his general look and abilities in battle… make him another African American bruiser character. And then he never appeared in the franchise again in any capacity.

Uh… good try guys. Going to try to do that again with another, new black character? No? Okay then. Moving on.

Mortal Kombat 4 seemed to be a return to Mortal Kombat 1’s roots: all of the finisher cruft that had accumulated over the years was dropped, and only Fatalities remained. Babalities, Friendships, and Animalities were all dropped in favor of simple, gory death. Mortal Kombat wasn’t going to entertain its bizarre brand of “humor” anymore; this is a serious game for serious fighters.

… And that lasted until Mortal Kombat 4 V. 3. Meet Meat.

Meaty

Meat was an unlockable kharacter in later versions of arcade Mortal Kombat 4, and all versions of the home ports (well, maybe not Gameboy Color). He was a reward for clearing Group Mode (which meant you had to beat literally everybody on the roster), but also little more than a model swap. Meat could technically be any fighter, just when you selected your fighter, he or she would have their normal model replaced with that of a bloody skeleton. Thus, Meat was little more than what today would be known as a “skin”, and we wouldn’t even have a name for the dude if Ed Boon wasn’t posting “Meat Lives!” on his website back in the 90’s.

But, like everybody else in MK4, Meat returned in MK: Armageddon. And this time he was a complete kharacter with a backstory and everything! Meat is apparently a Shang Tsung experiment originating from The Flesh Pits (aw, that’s where Mileena was born!), and… that’s about it. This Meat is now a bloody, muscular body as opposed to simply a bloody skeleton, but he’s otherwise the same “person”. He does now have some unique special moves (like rolling his head at an opponent, or sliding across a blood trail) and his own signature weapon in the form of a pair of meat cleavers (oh, I just got that). He doesn’t have anything to actually do in the story, but he certainly makes an impression when you have to fight a dude barely holding onto his eyeball.

Unfortunately, he only cameos in the reboot MK universe. … Which, sadly, is still more than Kai got.

And that’s it for Mortal Kombat 4 kharacters! But before we move on to the new generation of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, we have to address one more Playstation 1 Mortal Kombat game…

Shake it

As was mentioned during Jax’s biography, Mortal Kombat Special Forces was a terrible, terrible game that saw Major Jackson Briggs battling Kano and the Black Dragons. This was a prequel, so it would have made sense to include a pre-MK3, unscarred Kabal… but nobody felt like figuring out how to render such a creature, so Kabal did not appear. Dropping everyone’s favorite sand nomad meant that Kano and Jarek were the only Black Dragons already established in the kanon. So we need more Black Dragons! In an effort to see Jax punch new and interesting people, Kano recruited a few new (to the MK universe) henchmen:

  • No-Face, a pyromaniac with no ears, hair, or nose. How does he smell? Terrible!
  • Tasia, a dual-wielding ninja swordswoman. She’s clearly cut from the same cloth as Batman’s Talia Al Ghul, but Talia wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out in a sewer level.
  • Tremor, an incredibly lackluster brown color swap of Scorpion. Tremor is appropriately named, as his only two special moves are a generic fireball (everybody gets one of those), and the ability to shake the ground with a punch.

MK: Special Forces had a very troubled development, and its limited roster of new characters meant we were spared… I don’t know… A turd-colored version of Cyrax named Net Guy. And, since Special Forces was such a phenomenal dud, the original characters of SF never appeared again.

… Until eleven years later.

Likely as little more than an amusing easter egg (Mortal Kombat loves those things), Tremor appeared in the Vita version of Mortal Kombat 9. Tremor was simply a “brown ninja”, but he technically had his own moveset with his signature ground pound, fireball, and now an air throw borrowed from Jax. He wasn’t available on the regular roster, but could be controlled in Challenge Tower, a mode that featured various weird situations and challenges. This Tremor was clearly a late addition (even his portrait is just a quicky recolor of Noob Saibot, and his “voice” is an exact match for Scorpion), but, hey, Tremor is back for some reason.

And then he returned for realsie reals in Mortal Kombat X as an inexplicable DLC choice. Welcome home, Tremor! (?)

Sandy Beach

But what’s the deal with this former Kano henchman? Well, he’s basically the anime movie villain of the Mortal Kombat universe. Tremor previously simply shook the ground with his fist because, I dunno, he’s stronk or something. Mortal Kombat X steers Tremor into full-on elemental mode, with whacky earth/sand powers that recall Marvel’s Sandman or President Q of Street Fighter. Additionally, at some point, Kano sent Tremor on a random mission to pick up a magical bomb in the Dream Realm (first I’ve heard of it), where Tremor gained the additional powers of a lesser god. So he’s basically Fujin’s opposite number. And practically every fighter acknowledges it during battles, with pre-fight dialogue that goes something like “Tremor, you here to destroy every one and every thing today?” or “Oh no, it’s Tremor! Oh lawd he comin’!” Tremor doesn’t even seem to like Kano anymore (probably a spat over Kano borrowing Tremor’s handcuffs), and there’s this unmistakable air that Tremor is going to conquer the universe about seven seconds after MKX wraps up.

But MK11 chose to not include Tremor, so an interdimensional criminal running around with the powers of a god is never mentioned again. The universe got destroyed regardless, though, so I guess it all worked out okay in the end.

Oh, and as for Tremor’s other Special Forces pals? No-Face is briefly mentioned in an item description in MK11, and Tasia appears in the MKX comics. It’s kanon that she’s currently rotting in the same dungeon as Jarek. So that’s two more Black Dragons no one ever has to think about again. And let’s all do the same, and move on…

Next time: Put down that sword, you’ll poke an eye out.