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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: Kollector & Kut Kontent

Mortal Kombat 11 introduced four new fighters, and three of them are either literally or metaphorically related. The only odd-man out is Kollector.

Nice chain

We’re down to the dregs of Shao Kahn’s support group at this point, so Kollector was Shao Kahn’s tax collector (I’m not dignifying that with a K) back in the day. Given Shao Kahn has been dead for a quarter of a century by MK11, Kollector has spent most of his time recently on the run from Kotal Kahn, the current big man on the throne. At the top of MK11’s story, Kollector has been captured, but is immediately freed by a time traveling Shao Kahn. From there, Kollector seems to exist as the one person on the planet that isn’t scheming to betray and/or murder Shao Kahn, and spends the rest of the plot as… Wow. Is there a level below Baraka? Because he’s there. He’s a sub-Baraka minion, and that’s all he has to offer.

As far as actual gameplay, Kollector’s whole deal is he collects all kinds of fun bulbs and baubles, and uses interesting weapons in combat with his non-standard number of arms. Unfortunately, Erron Black is right there doing the same thing better (as a cowboy!), and Kollector only seems to have a collection of basic bladed weapons, a bola, and, like, one cruddy mystical artifact. He could pull a whole Zelda’s worth of items out of that bag of holding, but, nope, he’s just got a sickle or two. Pathetic. Kollector was clearly envisioned as “what if Goro, but a nerd?” and then everyone knocked off for the rest of the day to slowly sip chicken broth while discussing economic theory.

Dude looks cool, but is boring and half-baked. Elder gods help us, we’re back in the MK: Deadly Alliance days…

And… uh… that’s it for this week. The last three in Mortal Kombat 11 are their own triangle, and I pretty much have to cover ‘em together, and…. Hm. If that’s going to be the last look at Mortal Kombat Kharacters, I may as well wrap up any loose ends here. Oh! I know! Let’s look at…

Mortal Kombat Kut Kontent

This is the Komplete Guide to Mortal Kombat Kharacters, and while we can certainly say every playable kharacter across the franchise is getting covered, noting every last rumor or cut character from Mortal Kombat is marginally impossible. Mortal Kombat has been around for decades at this point, and, in that time, there has been everything from officially licensed hoaxes, to a sprawling comic book universe, to a show on TNT that aired at 11 PM that I was never allowed to stay up to watch. Did you know that Raiden had a pair of female servants named Wynd and Rayne in the comics? And they, like everybody else in the universe, beat Kano within an inch of his life? It happens, but it’s not exactly worth noting in the grand scheme of things. However, there are kharacters that should be logged in a holistic look at MK. For instance, the comics introduced the God of Order, Abacus, and God of Chaos, Zaggot. They’re both entirely forgettable (Zaggot has a Crow named Rook, which is like having a snake named Iguana), but they’re clearly ancestors to the Order/Chaos Realms that eventually dominated the story of Mortal Kombat for a game or two. … Or it’s just a coincidence. But at least it’s neat!

So let’s look at a few neat kut kharacters across Mortal Kombat history.

First of all, we’ve got the fighter that I hate more than any other: Nimbus Terrafaux. Nimbus was supposedly an African American kickboxer hidden in the original Mortal Kombat. He was, in reality, an April Fool’s Day gag by Electronic Gaming Monthly, brought to you by the same nerds responsible for claiming Master Sheng Long was hiding in Street Fighter 2 if you could only beat the entire game without taking a single hit. Nimbus could only be unlocked on the Sega Genesis version, and only through entering a special code when Reptile arbitrarily appears and says exactly one of his many random phrases. It’s unclear if this “rumored character” was actually the creation of “a reader” or the EGM staff forging a hoax for giggles (they notably state it could be a fake, and compliment the potential faker’s image manipulation skills… and that name…), but, one way or another, the rumor of Nimbus Terrafaux got out there, and from then on, it was open season on any stupid thing someone could come up with.

FAKE
VERY FAKE

Here’s EGM’s Issue 56 touting the legend of Nimbus. Note that what was later called an “April Fool’s Day” prank was published in their March 1994 issue.

ERROR

Also, for giggles, here’s “Ermac” back in Issue 51. October of 1993 was clearly not April, either.

Speaking of that particular hoax, Ermac and Skarlet, the red ninja of various genders, were originally rumor kharacters that graduated to full personhood, but the likes of Emerald (a green female ninja with white skin from MK2) or Red Robin (basically Ermac again) weren’t so lucky. We’ve also got Pedro from Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, who is seriously just Stryker with a super racist mustache (and super racist moves!) from Computer and Video Games Issue #173. That one was at least published in April (’96, for the record)!

Racist!

And these are just the fake characters that were featured in various magazines, it is impossible to quantify the sheer volume of playground rumors associated with Mortal Kombat.

And it all traces back to some random jokes from “reputable sources”. Thanks for fanning the flames, guys!

Though I’m probably being hasty in blaming magazine editors here, as the fans were as bad as anyone.

Look out!

That is clearly a mini version of Liu Kang in the background of MK2, and he’s clearly just watching another Liu Kang clone catch fire, presumably as part of some kind of fatality. But that didn’t stop the fanbase from speculating that these were two unique characters, so fire dude got named Torch, and the inflammable one (editor’s note: that doesn’t say what you think) was dubbed Hornbuckle. Hornbuckle (so named for a nonsense statement from hidden kharacter Jade) never materialized as anything other than a background element, but “Torch” was eventually repurposed to be the hidden kharacter Blaze in MK5, and then returned as the final boss of MK7. So maybe the fans are helping? Who the hell knows.

What in blazes

But let’s move on to monsters that almost made it. On the demonic side of things, we have Belokk who was supposed to appear in Mortal Kombat Gold. He was part of a batch of screenshots that were published by Game Informer, but he was apparently always intended to be cut content. Or the pictures were leaked to see if anyone cared enough to see a new demon fighter in the franchise? It’s pretty clear from the images that Belokk is at least a partial body swap of the MK4 Goro model, so it’s possible he was some half-hearted attempt at a new mini-boss for that title. Approximately 110% of Mortal Kombat 4 was slapdash, so it would only make sense that its potential mini boss and his “reveal” would be equally lousy. There’s an “unclaimed” question mark block in the MK4 Gold roster (it’s behind Tanya), so maybe he was supposed to be there? If he’s supposed to be somewhere, at least Belokk ain’t talkin’ about it.

Demonic

And while we’re looking at devils, there’s Baphomet, a kharacter that was kut early in the development of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. He would have been an Elder Demon to contrast with the Elder Gods that had been established in Mortal Kombat kanon for years. This could have been cool, and certainly would have had an impact on later storylines that feature the Elder Gods getting up to various less than holy hijinks, but Baphomet and his whole race was cut well before MK: DA hit modeling. It’s presumed that he was cut because MK didn’t want to garner any further demonic connotations after its last gigantic, won’t-someone-please-think-of-the-children controversy, but this is a franchise that already has a murder skeleton that lives in Hell, so what would be the harm? Regardless, Baphomet’s head greatly resembles what would become the symbol of the Netherrealm in Mortal Kombat: Deception, so presumably someone misses the guy.

Drag on

Also cut from MK: Deadly Alliance was Tiamat, a lizard dragon man. It’s pretty clear that whatever technology was going to keep Tiamat going was incorporated into Reptile’s extreme lizard makeover in Deadly Alliance, and a big, bad reptile, Onaga the Dragon King, did wind up as the final boss of Mortal Kombat: Deception.

Just Reptile

So, in this case, pretty much everything remarkable about Tiamat wound up with two pretty memorable characters, so no great loss there. Not like this Tiamat had enough heads anyway…

Zebron, on the other hand, never had a chance.

Black and white and red all over

None of his distinctive traits were incorporated into other fighters. Which is a shame. That looks like the face of a man that would kill his own mother for a free churro.

But there is hope for everyone. It might be because he has the dumbest, most obvious name on this list, but let’s take a moment to discuss Hydro.

Damp
Hydro


Like Sub-Zero, Hydro was a Lin Kuei assassin, but he had fire water powers. In the Malibu comics of 1994, Scorpion swore to kill everyone Sub-Zero ever loved… and that was kind of difficult, as Sub-Zero didn’t have any actual friends in Mortal Kombat kanon. Does Smoke count? He’s more of a coworker, though… Regardless! Mortal Kombat: Blood and Thunder needed at least one friendly for Sub-Zero to babble at, so a blue clad ninja named Hydro made the scene. And then he got killed. Sorry, Subs, but Scorpion can fight through a refreshing shower.

But! Hydro technically resurfaced in the franchise in 2011 as part of the Mortal Kombat: Legacy series. MK:L was a live-action webseries that told the origin stories of a number of Mortal Kombat kharacters while looking cool, and that was absolutely all it ever had to do. The whole series started thanks to the director’s own “fan made” Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, a short film that dropped the mystical from Mortal Kombat and reimagined its characters as “real” murderous malcontents in a marginally down-to-earth setting. Baraka was a human surgeon who stitched blades to his arms, and Reptile had a skin condition. It was weird. Naturally, Warner Bros identified the audience interested in this “real” Mortal Kombat, and decided to serve them the same magical stories MK had been telling from the beginning. C’est la vie.

Wet robot
Hydro-Electric. Damn.


But what’s important is that the ninth episode focused on the cyborgs Cyrax and Sektor, and their opponent was an “earlier model” of cyber Lin Kuei, Hydro! Hydro is established as an old man (well, 50, but that’s pretty old for a ninja assassin) that was one of the first Lin Kuei to undergo the cyberization process. Unfortunately, they were still working out the bugs there in the beginning, so by the time Cyrax and Sektor were “built”… uh… just going to come out and say this: Sektor beats Hydro. Sektor kills Hydro. It’s a fatality. Sorry, buddy, you’ve appeared in two different mediums now, and you’ve suffered death by ninja in both.

But! There’s still hope! In Mortal Kombat 11, you can now use the Water God’s Artifact, and it “summons” Hydro (off screen) to help in a fight by launching your opponent with a tidal wave. So see! Hydro is in there! He’s a real boy! Other luminaries like Reptile (throwing an energy ball) and Bo Rai Cho (throwing a fart) get the same treatment, so Hydro is in good company.

There’s no kut kontent in Mortal Kombat, just ideas resting and waiting for their turn. We’ll see Nimbus again some day.

… He can have Kollector’s spot.

Next time: The end of everything. And it’s about time.

MKK: Erron Black & Ferra / Torr & Triborg

Kotal Kahn has his own gang of malcontents. Ermac and Reptile are his federally mandated differently colored ninja (red & green? It’s Christmas for Outworld!), but the rest are all newbies as of Mortal Kombat X. This serves the required function of being the MK “next generation” of villains to stand in opposition to the kids on the Light Side hanging out with Cassie. Unfortunately, they generally have the same issues as Cassie’s Crew: they’re very underdeveloped compared to their more established “ancestors”. However, almost by virtue of being villainous, they do fare a little better than the likes of Takeda and whathisface.

bam bam!

We already covered the turncoat D’Vorah, so Erron Black is our next featured player from Team Kotal. He’s a cowboy, baby, and, frankly, it’s kind of amazing it took this long for an actual cowboy archetype to show up on the roster. I guess it’s the guns thing? Maybe that’s the answer: Stryker ruined the concept of firearms for the franchise so thoroughly that it took an even twenty years before they tried again. It’s not like guns are much more lethal than routinely having a spear thrown through your chest…

Regardless, Erron Black is the “mysterious stranger” model of cowboy, but he only ever seems to work as a generic mook in the story proper. In Mortal Kombat X, it is revealed that he worked for Shao Kahn in the past, works for Kotal Kahn now, and is an actual cowboy from the age of cowfolk because he worked for Shang Tsung a few years (centuries) back, and got an excellent health care package as a reward. This was soft retkonned in Mortal Kombat 11, as it was revealed that Erron previously worked for (at least with) Kano and the Black Dragons around the time of MK2 (and nothing is mentioned in his interaction with Shang Tsung)… but that little plot thread was likely only added so there was an easy excuse for Young Erron Black to hang out with Kano and that gang of featured antagonists. And, in both games, while he is certainly an imposing figure, he… doesn’t do anything. He’s this generation’s Baraka: you know he’s tough and dangerous, but the good guys keep beating him down on the way to the final boss. From a story standpoint, he’s less of a cowboy, and more of a met.

bam bam!

But Erron Black’s lack of a story is rounded out by some excellent, good ol’ fighting game “fight-based” storytelling. After Mortal Kombat 9 (and MK vs. DC) dropped the fighting styles of Mortal Kombat 5-7 in favor of “simpler” battles, Mortal Kombat X reintroduced the concept of different fighting styles for each fighter. Now, unlike the old games’ styles, you cannot switch between styles during actual combat. Additionally, each “style” is not an entirely new fighting style, but more of a variation on some simple themes. However, each style does feel distinctive enough to make an impact, and Erron is an excellent example of how this works. Erron’s Marksman style relies on his guns and gaining advantages through being as far away as possible. Gunslinger is the “tricky” style that also relies on distance and firearms, but attacks from more unpredictable angles. But, if you want to get up close and personal, Outlaw grants Erron a sword, so it’s time to rush up and stab someone. All fighting styles are equally viable, so this obviously long range fighter (remember: guns. Have you gotten that yet?) has options if you’re a Cowboys fan but don’t like going the distance.

But regardless of which style you choose, Erron has style for days. The “sword” Erron uses for his Outlaw style is a blade stolen from a Tarkatan’s arm… and the skeletal arm is still attached! Reptile doesn’t appear in MK11, so Erron has a vial of his corrosive spit just for the purpose of fatalities. And he’s got some manner of bear trap (Goro trap?) that is fashioned from the jaws of an Outworld beast. In short, while Erron’s actual story may be slim pickings, his in-game moves and abilities reveal a man that is not just “a cowboy”, but a rather innovative survivor that uses all the resources available during combat. And, considering he lives in a world that has a strangely high concentration of free-standing acid, those resources can be remarkable.

But he technically doesn’t do anything like that during the “real” story, so Erron doesn’t make much of an impact outside of combat. We’ll see if he makes a return appearance past MK11 thanks to his “arcade mode” charm.

This is unpleasant

Ferra / Torr are the last of Kotal Kahn’s enforcers. Torr is a hulking brute that stands as tall as a sub-boss and wears a bag over his head, and Ferra is an impish little Twilight Princess that is voiced by Twilight Sparkle. They fight together, with Torr delivering crushing blows, and Ferra barking orders, slashing with some kind of Wolverine-claw, and occasionally being launched as a projectile like Uncle Jack. Most of the time, Ferra stays planted on Torr’s back, and you technically can’t harm the lil’ girl boss no matter how hard you try. She gets shot with an arrow once in story mode, and that’s it. She’s technically the most immaculate kombatant in the franchise.

The duo’s ending reveals that they are part of an Outworld Wastelands-based “forgotten” race, and they have a lifecycle that consists of a creature being born small and (relatively) smart, and surviving by riding/commanding a “brute”. Eventually, the diminutive dude or dudette metamorphoses into a brute, loses the majority of their intelligence, and is mounted by an all new lil’ creature. And the previous mount simply withers and dies. Circle of life! Ferra / Torr’s race is never named, but I guess we know their whole biological deal.

Ferra / Torr only appear in Mortal Kombat X, where they are Kotal’s all-purpose Goro. Like Erron before them, they don’t particularly accomplish much, and exist mostly to menace the Cassie Crew. They survive the adventure, but do not return for Mortal Kombat 11. D’Vorah claims to have “found their bodies” during some fight intros, but she’s a lying bug lady, and I don’t trust a single thing she says.

This is unpleasant

Regardless, Ferra / Tor, like Erron, are irrelevant to the plot, but an absolute blast to pilot in combat. The MK franchise has traditionally taken its sub-boss scale fighters very seriously, as they’re conventionally the last and most threating hurdle the player must face before winning a murder tournament. Ferra / Tor is a bad, rad monster that is absolutely played for laughs, complete with a tiny, sarcastic goblin that seems to exist exclusively to hurl poorly constructed insults. Ferra / Tor are a breath of fresh air for the typical MK archetype, and it is sad they’ve only appeared in one game. They deserved better than to be in the same castoff pile as Daegon.

Beyond Kotal’s gang… After Tanya, Tremor, Bo’ Rai Cho, and a host of (delightfully) horrific guest characters, Triborg wound up being the only wholly original DLC kharacter in Mortal Kombat X. However, “original” might not be the right word here, as Triborg’s whole deal is that he’s four established fighters all rolled into one (literally). Back before the first Mortal Kombat, the Lin Kuei Grandmaster had everybody duke it out, and he secretly digitized all the fighting data just in case he might have to program some fighting robots in the future. In this timeline, Sektor, Cyrax, and Sub-Zero all became robots, and Sektor wound up conquering the Lin Kuei for his own cybernetic purposes. Sub-Zero died, became a human again, and stole back the Lin Kuei thanks to ninja skills, computer science, and Cyrax’s love of warm puppies. This meant that the whole Lin Kuei “cyber initiative” went right in the trash compactor before MKX even got going. However! The Special Forces (government organization helmed by Sonya Blade) found some old Lin Kuei hard drives, and attempted to process the data into a spare robot body. This abhorrently horrible idea lead to the cybernetic data for Sektor, Cyrax, Sub-Zero, and Smoke (who was never a robot in this timeline, and is currently an undead demon) being downloaded into said body, coalescing into a gestalt personality, and murdering the living hell out of everyone in the immediate area. Triborg is loose, and he’s here to conquer the world on behalf of robotkind.

Rockin robots

Incidentally, he’s Triborg and not… uh… Quartborg because the Sub-Zero personality is evidently entirely dormant. Cyber Subs is only a ridealong, and is just sleeping in the back while the big boys make all the driving decisions.

Triborg is the ultimate extent of MKX’s style system: he’s effectively four wholly different fighters for the price of one ($4.99). He has a base “gray” form, but his color and helmet shifts to match the moves of the kombatant he’s mimicking. How, you ask? Well, do you need Otacon to explain nanomachines again? Because it’s nanomachines. That’s also why he has “cyborg” internal organs when his backstory notes that he’s a wholly robotic being. It’s nanomachines all the way down!

Triborg is DLC, so he doesn’t participate in the “real” plot of MKX. Additionally, he doesn’t reappear for MK11, and he doesn’t seem to be referenced at all by the returning Sektor and Cyrax (granted, they’re both from the past), or the cyberized Frost (she at least lived through MKX) so it’s hard to say if he (it? They?) ever even kanonically existed at all. At the very least, when Cyrax and Sektor appear as non-playable story mode opponents in MK11, they seem to be recycling Triborg’s models and animations, so that’s at least something.

Poor Triborg, you were only ever an excuse for some sweet, sweet robot battlin’.

Next time: Something old, something new, something borrowed, and someone blue.