Tag Archives: netherrealm

MKK: The New MK Universe & Skarlet

In the beginning there was Midway, and it was good. In seven days and seven nights (or maybe, like, thirty years), Midway produced some of the most amazing arcade titles on the planet. Midway distributed Space Invaders. Midway distributed Pac-Man. I’m moderately certain Spy Hunter was somewhere in there. Tapper. Gorf. Smash TV. Journey: Not the Journey You’re Thinking Of. Let’s skip ahead to NBA Jam. NFL Blitz. Revolution X: Music is the Weapon. War Gods. Happy Feet for Nintendo DS. Ozzy & Drix for the Gameboy Advance. And, of course, through it all, Midway was responsible for Mortal Kombat and its many, many sequels.

Get 'em George
Happier Times

Unfortunately, Midway blew all its development money on Ozzy & Drix, and they went bankrupt in 2009. This, as you may expect, impacted the Mortal Kombat series. Specifically, this whole “goin’ bankrupt” thing started back around when Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was happening, so planned DLC for the game, Harley Quinn and Quan Chi, got cancelled due to a complete lack of interest in Quan Chi (and the bankruptcy thing, too, I guess). But! Possibly because Midway Chicago was already working with Warner Bros. Interactive, the WB purchased the remains of Midway Chicago and its IPs. This meant that, finally, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot could cross over with the lucrative The Suffering franchise. It also meant that Mortal Kombat and its kast of kharacters that once uppercutted Superman are now the property of the same dudes that owned Superman, so… hooray? Go ahead and add Sub-Zero to the Arrowverse Multiverse map, nerds.

Watch your nethers

But, crossover opportunities aside, the important result of the end of Midway was NetherRealm Studios. NetherRealm Studios technically started its WB time as WB Games Chicago, but, before that, this team was basically Midway Games Chicago. And who has been the consistent lead of this team? Ed Boon, one of the original four men that created Mortal Kombat. And why is it “NetherRealm Studios”? Well, because NRS predominantly only makes Mortal Kombat games (featuring Scorpion, popular denizen of the NetherRealm). They’ve also got the Injustice franchise, but that is, at its core, MK with a Batman skin. Beyond that, NetherRealm Studios has only ever produced one mobile WWE game and a mobile Batman Arkham City spin-off. The point here? We now have an entire videogame developer devoted to Mortal Kombat, and it doesn’t have to waste resources on maintaining the CarnEvil extended universe.

This is a great situation for Mortal Kombat! Finally, its team can take some time, breathe, and get back to designing the new legends of the Mortal Kombat franchise. We went through some lean, Hotaru-based years back there, and now we’re ready for the titans of a whole new generation. Show us this year’s Sub-Zero, NetherRealm Studios!

DESTROY

Oh, snap, he’s a robot? …. Didn’t you already do that? No? But, didn’t you already do all of this?

Mortal Kombat 9 (officially titled simply “Mortal Kombat”) was the first game produced by NetherRealm Studios (then officially titled WB Games Chicago). At its core, it is little more than a Star Trek 2009-esque reboot of the franchise. As a result, it introduced exactly zero new kharacters (until DLC, where we got one), and the best anyone could hope for was seeing some cyborgs take off their robot suits. From the perspective of someone expecting to make some new friends (and then roundhouse them), Mortal Kombat 9 was a complete disappointment.

On the other hand, Mortal Kombat 9, appropriately enough, was a return to form for the Mortal Kombat franchise. Did you enjoy all of the fighting styles of the previous three (non crossover) Mortal Kombat titles? They’re gone now! Back to four-button face-punching (or kicking). 3-D? Not in this timeline! Back to two dimensions! And do you like fatalities? Because the design team apparently put a premium on its finishers for the first time in the franchise’s history. After two games of “Heroic Brutalities” and supremely generic finishers, we’ve got some really specific buckets of blood being tossed around. There’s also a stage that contains a literal blood fountain! And it has nothing to do with Johnny Cage slashing an artery!

And, while the cast is wholly familiar, the story is appropriately Mortal Kombat bonkers, so we scored another goal there.

Mortal Kombat 9 has been tangentially referenced in the other recaps, but, because your stupid ape brain can only quantify events in a linear fashion, and all future kharacter spotlights will be firmly in this new timeline, let’s review how Mortal Kombat 9 went down.

So, to be clear, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (MK7) happened. And the end result was that literally everyone died except Raiden and Shao Kahn. And, frankly, Raiden wasn’t doing so great against a now mystically-empowered Kahn. So Raiden came up with the bright idea to send a magical text message back to his past self, and the general assumption was that Past-Raiden would be able to instantly understand Future-Raiden because, hey, they’re the same guy, right? And he’s got god-level knowledge, too! Raiden is the guardian of the entire realm of Earth, of course he’s going to be smart enough to figure out a message from his future self.

Unfortunately, Raiden is a blithering idiot. Both of ‘em.

Look out!
Granted, most MK kharacters have had brain injuries at this point

Raiden told Raiden that “He must win.” Raiden assumed that a pronoun would work, but, other than completely disqualifying Sonya Blade, it didn’t exactly help the situation. In fact, Past Raiden following the “He must win” mantra nearly got everybody killed (including a good number of “he”’s). And it all turned out to be some stupid riddle to begin with, and the only explanation for that is that apparently at least one Raiden involved here is suicidal.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what you need to know about the brand new Mortal Kombat universe:

• “Past Raiden” starts at the top of Mortal Kombat 1. Given he is involved in a fighting tournament featuring almost exclusively men, “He must win” isn’t exactly helpful. And, since Raiden doesn’t have any further future information, he assumes that Liu Kang must win Mortal Kombat. Given that is how MK happened the first time, very little changes at this point in the timeline.

• However, there are a few inconsequential retcons. For instance, Baraka, Nightwolf, and (the human versions of) Cyrax & Sektor participate. Also, Quan Chi, who previously did not appear until MK4, is part of Shao Kahn’s general entourage. He’s currently acting like Scorpion’s manager, and it’s never not weird that mundane karate man Liu Kang has to deal with King Goth of Gothania pirouetting around.

• Also, Raiden tries to bribe Scorpion into not killing Sub-Zero I. But, Raiden? My man? Scorpion is an unstoppable vengeance demon fueled only by his desire to avenge himself upon nebulously blue, ninja-shaped life forms. You would have had an easier time bribing the Kool-Aid man into dodging brick walls.

• Liu Kang wins MK1 like normal, but things start going south during the second Mortal Kombat tournament. For one thing, Jax is slightly more gung-ho about rescuing Sonya in this timeline, so Ermac meets Jax’s enthusiasm by tearing the guy’s arms off.

• Also, Raiden sees a vision of Smoke being captured and transformed into a robot, and rescues Smoke from his cybernetic fate. However, this leaves Sub-Zero II vulnerable, and he’s captured by Lin Kuei forces. So now we have a whole new robot to deal with!

Kitana discovers the dark secret of Mileena (she never got braces), but Kitana does not kill Mileena. In the original timeline, Mileena had to be magically revived to participate in every title past MK2, and Kitana was being pursued by Shao Kahn for her murder. Kitana’s hands are clean in this timeline, but she still winds up on Shao Kahn’s shitlist for being a general nuisance.

Mime!
Obviously, Johnny Cage’s seminal Ninja Mime still happened.

• Oh, and quite crucially, Raiden interprets “he must win” as a call for the brash Kung Lao, not Liu Kang, to win Mortal Kombat 2. Kung Lao does pretty well until Shao Kahn realizes he’s wholly in charge of the tournament, and, when you make the rules, you can break the rules. So Shao Kahn breaks Kung Lao’s neck. Kung Lao becomes the first “real” casualty of the rebooted universe.

• Liu Kang kills Shao Kahn in retribution, and, like before, wins Mortal Kombat 2. However, Shao Kahn is revived about seven seconds later thanks to the ever-pesky Quan Chi. Quan Chi also kicks off MK3 by reviving Sindel. In the original timeline, there was never an exact explanation for how Shao Kahn survived MK2 and revived Sindel for MK3 (a wizard did it… seriously!), so Quan Chi’s presence here is only marginally a retcon.

• MK3 is fast and furious with the retcons and timeline changes. Kabal is now a cop (!) and Stryker’s partner (!). Like before, Kabal is BBQed in the early days of the Outworld invasion, but now it is confirmed that his cybernetics and magical speed powers are the results of Kano and Shang Tsung.

• Raiden screws the pooch by killing the horse. Motaro was Shao Kahn’s dragon du jour for MK3, but Raiden receives a vision of Motaro killing Johnny Cage, so Raiden kills Motaro first. Johnny is saved, but in the absence of his beloved centaur, Shao Kahn decides to kill Shang Tsung, drain his soul bowl, and transform Queen Sindel into her super saiyan form. Queen Sindel is now a boss-class monster (for story purposes, she’s still pretty lousy in actual gameplay).

• Sub-Zero, now a robot, seemingly kills Noob Saibot, who was already dead. It was confusing. But what’s important is that now Noob Saibot is going to have to take a game off to recover. Robot Sub-Zero never gets around to “freeing” his robot brethren like in the original timeline.

• And, since it looks like the good guys are actually winning this war against Shao Kahn, Queen Sindel gets sent to take out Team Good. And she does! Sindel leads an assault on Earthrealm that leaves… let’s see here… Nightwolf, Sub-Zero, Jax, Stryker, Smoke, Kabal, and… probably some other guys… all dead. Oh! Kitana! She’s dead. So is Sindel, in the end. This leaves us with only Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Sonya surviving into the fourth quarter.

• This all made Raiden really frustrated with the situation, one thing led to another, and, blah blah blah, Raiden may have killed Liu Kang and left him a particularly well done corpse.

Sorry!
“Sorry about that.”

• But that gives Raiden an idea: why not just give up? “He must win” is revealed to mean that Shao Kahn must win specifically Mortal Kombat 3, because the fights of Mortal Kombat 3 are not an officially sanctioned tournament presented by Mortal Kombat Korp., and, when Shao Kahn “wins”, the Elder Gods call foul, and Shao Kahn is obliterated on a technicality. Shao Kahn is gone forever (thus he can never go on to win Mortal Kombat 7), and Raiden has won Mortal Kombat 3 by the two sweetest words in the English language: default.

• But everybody is still dead, and, thanks to Netherrealm (the realm, not the company) contract negotiations, enslaved by Quan Chi. Only Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage are left standing to represent Team Good.

• And that’s why Mortal Kombat 4 starts with a full-blown Netherrealm invasion featuring Shinnok, Quan Chi, and an army of undead fighters. But that’s a story for next time.

Anywho, what does it all mean? Well, to use up my last few bullet points (I got them on sale at Target, and I want to use them all before they expire):

• Most of the Mortal Kombat old guard is dead. This does not stop them from participating in future titles, but they’re going to be angrier when they do.

• To be completely clear, Shao Kahn, is totally dead. So is Shang Tsung. So they’re not coming back for future titles like in the good ol’ days (or at least not for a whole one game).

• This means that Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, featuring Shang Tsung killing Liu Kang, will never happen in this timeline. And given those events immediately led to MK: Deception and MK: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat 5-7 will not “reboot”, and are not remembered by anyone.

• However, Mortal Kombat 9-11 have confirmed that events from the “old games” could happen again under different circumstances, and any kharacters introduced in those titles are still legitimate… they’re just not participating right now. Hotaru is still out there living his best life.

• And, of course, the timeline veering off into this new direction means there will be all new kharacters introduced in these (mostly) all new storylines.

So get ready for new, never before seen kharacters! … You just have to wait a game for ‘em, because there was nobody new in Mortal Kombat 9.

Blood!

… Well, except Skarlet. She was DLC, and didn’t actually impact the storyline proper, but Mortal Kombat 9 did technically have one original kharacter.

Skarlet is the “red female ninja” to match Ermac (the red boy ninja). Like Ermac, she originally existed as the rumored “fourth female ninja” in Mortal Kombat 2 that could only be accessed by glitching out the Sega Genesis version while licking a dog’s nose and chanting the entirety of Yellow Submarine backwards. Unfortunately, this was only a rumor, and, if a certain dog still looks at me funny when I pick up a Genesis controller, that’s a coincidence. Given (real) Skarlet was introduced well past the point that color-swaps were all the rage in MK, she was designed from the start to merely “evoke” the concept of being another ninja twin, and is not intended to actually be another literal sister to Kitana and Mileena. She’s still one of Shao Kahn’s assassin women, though, so she at least has the same job as the other ladies.

As far as her history, Skarlet was a starving street urchin that was “rescued” by Shao Kahn, and transformed into a blood-mage assassin. Yes, “blood” is a magical element in the Mortal Kombat universe, and, frankly, that makes a whole lotta sense (in the MK universe, people are 80% blood by volume). Skarlet is not a vampire (that would be Nitara), but she does gain unsubstantiated power through drinking blood. But, again, not a vampire, so she presumably eats a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables when she’s not empowering herself with the blood of her enemies. She can also telekinetically manipulate blood, and transform it into projectiles, swords, and balloon doggies (though that last one rarely comes up).

Skarlet also has “bloodhound”-like tracking abilities, and, while you may think this trait would grant her some manner of bounty-hunting-based task for her premiere in Mortal Kombat 9, her official job was keeping track of Quan Chi and determining whether or not he was up to anything untoward. Fun fact: she failed. But her boss was dead by the time MK9 concluded, so she didn’t have to worry about a poor performance review. Skarlet does not appear in Mortal Kombat 10, but she teams up with Reiko in service of Havik for the MKX comics, and her ultimate reward is Milenna chopping off her legs (!) and leaving her for dead. And then she died.

Like most dead people, Skarlet returns as a playable fighter in Mortal Kombat 11. In this case, “future” Skarlet appears to still be dead, but a Skarlet from roughly Mortal Kombat 2 (MK9) steps through a time portal to serve Shao Kahn in her usual bloody manner. But, in a more Avengers manner, she just winds up being “the henchwoman”, and is forced to fight (good, time-displaced) Kitana and Jade a couple of times. She loses every time, and winds up impacting the plot at large slightly less than Baraka. Hell, if she didn’t show up for MK11, she could have been replaced by Reptile, and literally nothing would change.

But at least she came back for one game, thus legitimizing the one original fighter from Mortal Kombat 9. This makes a certain amount of sense though, as it appears the MK franchise had been stockpiling all of its kreative juices for Mortal Kombat 10…

Tasty!
Speaking of creative juices…

Next time: Kill the franchise before it breeds!

MKK: Drahmin & Moloch & Mokap & Nitara

Look out!

Drahmin and Moloch are a couple. To be specific, they’re a couple of oni. Oni are a specific “breed” of demon in the Netherrealm (home to Scorpion, Quan Chi, and Adolf Hitler). They have a codependent, Jay and Sadistic Bob-esque relationship. Their place in the story was that they assisted Quan Chi in escaping the torture of Scorpion, but were left behind when Quan Chi actually made his way out of that literal hell. Shang Tsung, ever scheming to have a backup plan (because he fails so often), decided to keep the oni on speed dial, and turn their feelings of betrayal against Quan Chi should the need ever arise. Of course, Shang Tsung is an equally awful employer, so he just kept Drahmin and Moloch in the basement, waiting for a revenge that ultimately would never come. Sorry, guys. Other than tossing Scorpion into the Soulnado during their lunchbreak, Drahmin and Moloch didn’t do much for anybody, least of all themselves.

Drahmin is the more mundane of the two oni. Apparently he was born a human, but became the most hated of all creatures in this or any other realm: a landlord. He was damned to the Netherrealm for holding people’s homes as a commodity, and eventually mutated into an oni. He wears a magical mask that restores rational thought, but if he removes the mask, he becomes a mindless, vicious monster that posts on Reddit about the graphical fidelity of high-definition consoles well into the morning hours. He also has a spiked club permanently bonded to his right arm, and is constantly circled by a swarm of demonic flies. He has a tinder profile, but no one ever swipes right.

He's got a ball!

Moloch is the “monster” sub-boss of MK: Deadly Alliance. Like Goro, Kintaro, and Motaro before him, he is meant to be a brick wall before facing the real final boss(es) of the title. Moloch was born an oni (I have no idea how that works) and he has a gigantic stature, three eyes, blue skin, and a wrecking ball that he holds in the palm of his claw. As of this writing, he is the last “giant monster” sub boss that was introduced in the franchise, as future games either used gimmicky humans (like a team of Noob & Smoke), reused previous big bosses (say hello to Goro again forever), or saved their big guy for the real finale (behold the glory of Blaze).

Drahmin and Moloch both return for MK: Armageddon, but no one bothers to explain where they’ve been since MK: Deadly Alliance. I guess they just hung out in the basement when the temple exploded? Or they went back to Hell for some… Hell snacks? Whatever. The franchise doesn’t care, and neither do I. Drahmin and Moloch both seem to exist as an excuse to wedge some more visually interesting kharacters into the roster, but there isn’t much there beyond “Hell’s enforcers”.

He lost his ball!

Mortal Kombat 9 and onward seems to agree with me, too. Moloch and Drahmin are beheaded at Quan Chi’s behest in the MKX comics. This might be kanon, as Moloch’s severed head is tossed out as an opening taunt by Quan Chi during some Mortal Kombat X intros. But Moloch’s corpse also appears in Goro’s Lair in Mortal Kombat 11. And he’s got a head! This is so confusing! Maybe that’s just some other, somehow less interesting oni. Though I don’t see how any creature could be less interesting than Moloch…

Oh, wait, my bad. There is a kharacter less interesting than Moloch. Here’s Mokap.

Flawless

Mokap is a motion capture (get it?) actor that is inexplicably pulled into Mortal Kombat tournaments. He’s the super-secret kharacter of MK: Deadly Alliance, and he’s pretty much just there as a goof. Apparently he’s a tribute to Carlos Pesina, the motion capture actor for Raiden in the original MK Trilogy. This is kind of amusing, as Carlos is the brother of Daniel Pesina, the actor who played Johnny Cage (and Scorpion/Sub-Zero), who became such a persona non grata at Midway, the writers revenge-killed Johnny Cage like sixty times in two games. Oh, dang, I guess this trivia does make him more interesting than Moloch.

Regardless, Mokap is technically, kanonically present for two Mortal Kombat games (MK: Deadly Alliance and then MK: Armageddon), but he doesn’t actually impact anything. Given he doesn’t seem to be dead, he probably didn’t actually fight anybody, and just got the heck out of dodge once he saw a dude chuck a fireball across the arena. Smart guy.

Anybody left in Deadly Alliance? Hopefully somebody actually interesting? Oh! I remember now! The vampire lady!

ORB!

Now, this is entirely conjecture, but I’ve always had the floating theory that MK: Deadly Alliance was originally conceived as a Vs.-style tag-team fighting game. I’ve never seen any real evidence of this being the original intent, but it seems like nearly all of the fighters have thematic or general reasons to be paired up in duos across the roster. To wit:

· Shang Tsung and Quan Chi are the titular Deadly Alliance
· Kung Lao and Kitana are the “good” opposite numbers to the Deadly Alliance
· Johnny Cage and Raiden are the other obvious heroes in Liu Kang’s absence
· Sub-Zero and Frost are master and student
· Bo’ Rai Cho and Li Mei are Outworld buddies that wind up as master and student
· Sonya Blade and Jax are Special Forces comrades
· Mavado and Hsu Hao are the Red Dragons
· Kenshi and Kano are both being hunted by the Red Dragons
· Drahmin and Moloch are the oni duo
· Mokap and Blaze are the secret fighters
· And Reptile and Cyrax are the “masterless” wanderers that have teamed up at the behest of a vampire

These pairings account for the entire roster save two kharacters: Scorpion, the eternal loner (until he becomes un-undead later in the series), and Nitara, the vampiress that has successfully tricked Reptile and Cyrax into doing her dirty work. Do Scorpion and Nitara have anything to do with each other? Not in the least. Am I implying that there should have been some contrived reason for these two to team-up? Of course not. But what I am saying is that if Nitara did have a partner in some way, maybe she’d be part of the MK mythos for more than about thirty seconds.

ORB!

First of all, Nitara is definitely a vampire. It’s her race. She’s got wings, she drinks blood, and the Sun of Earthrealm will kill her. But she is allowed to wander around Outworld’s purple haze with impunity. Unfortunately, she’s pretty much stuck in Outworld, because her home realm, Vaeternus, was conquered some centuries ago. But there is a way out! Apparently some glowy orb hidden in lava is the only thing keeping Vampire World tethered to Outworld! If Nitara could find a way to shatter this orb, she’d be able to return to Castlevania with impunity. And Nitara had a plan for that! She just needed one robot, and a lizard man to help control the robot. Where was she going to find one of those…

Luck smiled on Nitara the day she found Reptile. She bribed the cold-blooded warrior with a sword of his ancestors (she actually found the thing in a Cracker Jack box, and Reptile knew this, but he was just happy to receive a gift from anybody), and demanded he incapacitate Cyrax, a robot man that had wandered into Outworld in pursuit of something to do. Reptile obeyed, and this left Cyrax damaged and without a way home, so Nitara made a deal with the cyborg: retrieve this orb dealy in a lake of lava, and I’ll send you home. Cyrax trusted Nitara completely (robots and vampires always get along [it’s in the Bible]), performed her task, and was sent home without so much as a kiss on the robo-cheek. Nitara destroyed the orb, her realm was instantly separated from Outworld, and she awoke back on the (presumably not at all sunny) shores of Vaeternus. Happy ending all around!

Nitara then found an excuse to return for Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, as she had to defeat Ashrah, a demon from Mortal Kombat: Deception that was making it her job to kill anything demonic or demon-adjacent. Apparently vampires qualified. Nitara set off to defeat Ashrah, but, like everybody else in MK:A, she died in the melee. And she didn’t even get to be revived in the new Mortal Kombat universe or comic book. Her last known whereabouts involve MK11 Erron Black casually noting that they used to date. Hey! There would be a good tag-team partner!

Oh, and that orb thingy? Turns out that was the incubation “egg” for the revival of the Dragon King. When Nitara broke it, she freed her realm, but she also released a spirit that possessed Reptile and transformed him into Onaga, the Once and Future King of Outworld. How did that work out? Well…

Next time: Onaga and his favorite idiot.

FGC #316 Injustice 2

This is a bit of a mismatchInjustice: Gods Among Us was a pretty rad fighting game for a couple of reasons. First, obviously, it was a fun game that allowed the player to live out the ultimate DC Comics dream matches, and finally answer the question of who would win a fight: Lobo or Killer Frost? But that’s to be expected of a fighting game. What was completely unprecedented was that Injustice included a story mode that was both fighting game good and comic book good. Using common tropes from both genres, Injustice wove a story that was not only interesting (what happens when Superman stops being polite and starts getting real) but also very appropriate for the medium. Mirror matches have been a staple of fighting games since the early days of Mortal Kombat, and most fighting games go in some very bizarre directions to justify “oh, Ryu has to fight Ryu now because… uh… raisins”. So why not just have a bad guy universe and a good guy universe? Green Lantern can fight himself all he wants, and it makes perfect sense! Want to make the final boss Superman versus Superman? Sure! It works really well here!

So it’s kind of a shame Injustice 2 forsook all of that for a generic alien invasion plot. We’ve still got a good game here, and the roster/gameplay satisfies, but the plot and story mode are… fairly boring. It’s the next day (or whatever), alien(s) invasion, and former rivals have to work together to stop a threat bigger than both of ‘em. That… has been done. Granted, “alternate universe doppelgangers” has been done, too, but that plot fit the format, whereas this is indistinguishable from a CW crossover of the same year. This is the biggest “sequel where uneasy superheroes fight a super smart robot dude” disappointment since Avengers 2.

But I suppose it’s to be expected, because “let’s punch Brainiac” stories are always boring. He’s super smart! He’s got a robot army! He’s built a body that is just stronger than everybody, oh my gosh, how are we ever going to punch him harder than ever before? And then somebody, I don’t know, does that, and we move on to the next threat. Maybe Superman’s dad dies? It’s been done, who cares?

Let’s move on. Let’s look to the future, and in the interest of Injustice 3 being actually fun, here are a few suggestions for the next adventure:

Injustice 3: Blackest Night

Orange you glad I didn't say green?This one has the greatest odds of actually happening, so may as well tackle this first. For those that haven’t been reading comics for the last decade, the Blackest Night event was a time in the DC Universe when basically every dead hero and villain came back as a murderous zombie powered by a black ring provided by Necron, a death god. So right off the bat, you’ve got an opportunity for dead characters to return (Lex Luthor, Joker) and even some superpowered “normals” (Black Ring Powered Lois Lane, please) to join the cast. Then there’s the other side of Blackest Night: everybody gets a power ring for no reason. Big Angry Dictator Superman powered by a red ring of rage? Go for it. Scarecrow manipulating the fear spectrum? Slam dunk. And we have to throw one random dude in there… Roy G Bivolo aka The Rainbow Rider? I’d buy that DLC. Heck, you could get an entire subsystem going on all the characters using different special moves to “fuel” their magical wishing rings. In brightest day, in blackest night, let’s all get ready for a fight!

The Good: Ring Zombies allow for basically any character, living or dead. Evil Zombie Lincoln wouldn’t be out of place. Also, the promise of power rings for every character spices up the move sets of everyone from Flash to Harley Quinn. And we might even see the sensational character find of 2008, Larfleeze!

The Bad: The Blackest Night plot is pretty boring once you get past the cameos. Hey, here are a bunch of zombies and their zombie boss, how are we ever going to work together to defeat this threat? I know it’s the plot of most comic books anyway, but this one relies almost exclusively on characters reacting poorly to revived loved ones, and that won’t translate well to a fighting game.

And The Batman: Batman is the DC headliner, so he has to be featured in every possible Injustice story. While Batman was dead for the comics Blackest Night event (yet somehow still became a focal point), he could certainly be alive here, and equipped with any number of Lantern rings. Batman loves justice so much, he’s a Star Stapphire? I’d be down with that.

Injustice 3: Clash of the Titans: The Sidekick Showdown

Boo-ya!DC Comics has never held the same grip on the teen market/characters as Marvel and its X-Men, but there has always been a proud group of sidekicks in the DC Universe. And, for whatever reason, the animated divisions have been trying to exploit this superhero subset for decades, so we’ve seen everything from Teen Titans to Young Justice to Teen Titans Go. We’ve got a pretty healthy stable of super powered teens as a result, so why not let them all fight for superiority? Claim there’s an opening in the Justice League or something, and there’s a fighting tournament to determine the latest member. Inevitably, it turns out one of the entrants is a spy or replicant or whatever, and the final boss is somebody completely outside of the teen weight class. Let’s say Darkseid? It’s always Darkseid.

The Good: Who doesn’t want to see every single Robin fight? And the whole “good teens” thing would allow for a story where best friends are fighting thanks to a friendly rivalry and not mind control or whatever excuse pops up every time Black Canary and Aquaman have to fight. And the Teen Titans Go models could be unlockable joke characters! There’s room for humor in the DC Universe, I swear!

The Bad: I suppose it is kind of hard to go back to the sidekicks when you’ve already played with the main events. Supergirl is only more interesting than Superman on the CW, and there’s no way anyone would pick Speedy over Green Arrow. Though I do think Static beats Black Lightning. Also, while I may get excited at such a prospect, no one is going to wig out at a trailer for Greta “Secret” Hayes.

And The Batman: Time travel is always an option, and a “mysterious newcomer” who turns out to be a young Bruce Wayne would be an interesting twist. Oh! He could be disguised as a Robin, and there is some sort of Sins of Youth age swap, and…. Oh nevermind. It’s never going to happen.

Injustice 3: Legion of Superheroes

All together nowSpeaking of teenagers and time traveling, where is the Legion of Superheroes fighting game? The Legion of Superheroes have two rules: you must be a teenager, and you must have at least one superpower. That’s basically the entry rules for every anime fighter ever! You’re guaranteed an interesting moveset when you’ve got a girl that can manipulate gravity, or a boy that can bounce better than a tigger. And don’t worry about dropping the entire Injustice roster: there are enough overlapping superpowers that Polar Boy can adopt Captain Cold moves while Lightning Lass pulls a Black Adam. And, if you’re worried about the Legion being too nice for the Injustice universe, that means you just have to call Geoff Johns. His ideas for the Legion are… disarming.

The Good: Matter-Eater Lad.

The Bad: Matter-Eater Lad.

And The Batman: Hey, if Superman can travel to the future to hang out with his old buds, Batman can follow along, too. Actually, that can be the hook: Bad Superman flees to the future for reinforcements, and Batman trails him through time. Cue Batman having to fight everybody.

Injustice 3: World War 3

I bet they're saying something coolIn this case, we’re not going to focus on the multiple World War 3s of the DC Universe, but instead toward the opposite end of the sidekick spectrum: the old men. DC Comics has a number of characters that fought in World War 2, and, depending on the continuity du jour, sometimes those heroes got caught in a never ending Ragnarök version of World War 2. So, why not let the Injustice cast dip their feet in those waters and fight alongside the old guard against a never-ending siege of Nazis? Throw in a few Nazi supermen, and you’ve got excuses for Star Man, Doc Midnight, and Jay Garrick to punch Nazis all day long. There is nothing videogames should endorse more than punching Nazis.

The Good: An interesting excuse to have “shiny happy” 1940’s DC heroes be a little annoyed and Injustice-y. And a fine excuse for Sgt. Rock to yell at Superman for being a whiny, namby pamby dictator while we’re at it. Also, another game where the finale can be exploding Hitler’s head.

The Bad: If a fighting game includes Nazis, there are good odds you can play as Nazis… and I can’t see that ending well. There are enough Hitler420LOL Miis in the universe to have another online platform where even subtle Nazi overtones can sneak into posts. Then again, if we could all focus on how Nazis are completely terrible, it might all work out.

And The Batman: Batman fucking hates Nazis.

Damn Nazis

Injustice 3: Multiversity

NerdGo nuts, Injustice! Two parallel worlds are fine, but how about every damn parallel world ever. Superman vs. Captain Carrot. Joker vs. The Jokester. Zatanna vs. That One Version of Fate That Just Kicks People in the Balls (Hey, Presto!). Squeeze Pharmaduke in there! And don’t just give me an endless selection of lame variants, make some actually varied movesets for the inevitable Batman vs. Vampire Batman vs. Dark Knight Batman. This would also be a fine excuse to get some people of color in the cast, as we need that one version of Superman that was based on Obama yesterday. And, in this case, the plot really doesn’t matter. The universe is crumbling, everyone has to fight and then work together, and the final boss is Darkseid The Gentry. That sounds scary, right? Bah, it’ll just be the Anti-Monitor anyway.

The Good: An unlimited variety of fighters available from the near-century’s worth of DC characters. Even the most hokiest of characters would work with a serious character’s disgruntled reaction (“I’ve gotta stop drinking before fights”). And there’s even the opportunity for trite characters like Catwoman to use new and fun abilities thanks to multiversal variants.

The Bad: With an unlimited roster, everyone is inevitably going to be disappointed. Sure, this includes every variant of Superman ever committed to paper, but why can’t I fight as a Jimmy Olsen as The Giant Turtle Man? The message board debates would rage for years.

And The Batman: Considering how many times he’s starred in Elseworld tales, Batman could fill up an entire roster just by his lonesome. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s a storyline that’s happening at DC comics as I write this. And that gives me an idea…

Injustice 3: The Brave and the Bold

He is the nightScrew it. Batman is the headliner, right? He’s the focus of every story, and the reason DC Comics still has a few dimes to rub together, correct? Let’s just make a 2v2 fighting game ala Marvel vs. Capcom, but the partner character is always Batman. Think of the possibilities! Batman & Superman vs. Batman & Green Lantern. Batman & Robin vs. Batman & Joker. Batman & Gorilla Grodd vs. Batman & General Zod. And you’ve got to have Batman & Batman vs. Batman & Knuckles. This is the fighting game we’ve all been waiting for!

The Good: The most batmaningest game to ever batman would batman over to your batman, with even batmanner graphics than you ever thought batman. Oh, and it would be a fine excuse to revive the Batusi.

The Bad: I suppose it would be disappointing to see Batman team up with villains and then fight just as hard. Maybe that’s an alternate universe Batman? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

And The Batman: There is no way fighting Batman over and over again is any less boring than fighting Brainiac.

FGC #316 Injustice 2

  • System: Playstation 4 and Xbone. … There isn’t a PC version? Huh.
  • Number of players: However many people it takes to fight. Two? That sounds right.
  • Favorite Character: Conceptually, I love that Swamp Thing made the cut at all… but I kind of hate playing as the guy. Same for orange-variant Green Lantern. But I actually enjoy playing as Blue Beetle, so that’s another time Jaime Reyes made a videogame great. It probably helps that he’s basically Mega Man, though.
  • That's gotta hurtRandom Select: The big new “feature” of Injustice 2 is the acquisition of equipment that will allow you to “kit out” your preferred hero or villain. Unfortunately, in practice, this system is basically a slot machine, and, while all you want is that staff that lets Robin play as Nightwing, no, you’re going to get a thousand new masks for Bane instead. This is the opposite of fun.
  • Future Proof: ROB chose this game before all the DLC was released, so if you’re reading this in the future, and we already got Captain Carrot as DLC, please use the nearest available time machine to send an email back to August 2017 Goggle Bob and blow his mind.
  • New Law: Jeffrey Combs should be responsible for voicing all super-smart villains from this point on. Thank you.
  • It’s the little things: Sub-Zero is now in a superhero universe, so naturally he’s acquired a cape. It was meant to be.
  • Did you know? There’s a tie-in comic for the Injustice universe, and its continuity is… dubious. For instance, during various character intros in Injustice 2, characters make distinct references to events from the comics (like the last time a character got stomped into paste). However, the comics have also noticeably killed characters that reappeared in Injustice 2, so… your multiverse may vary?
  • Would I play again: This is a fun game! I have to ignore the fact that it has a built-in casino, but just fighting around with DC characters is always going to be fun (unless it’s that one Genesis game). So, yes, I might get Batman to fight Batman again sometime in the near future.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Press Your Luck 2010 Edition for the Nintendo Wii! That’s a game I certainly own, apparently! Please look forward to it!

Hot stuff

FGC #285 Mortal Kombat (2011)

FIGHTEverybody wants a do-over.

It’s a pretty standard part of the human experience to wind up with a crushing number of regrets by the age of… oh, let’s say… five? I’m pretty sure my life would be a lot better if my mother had never thrown out my old bunny doll. Yes… that would have made all the difference. Regardless of past traumas, regret is an integral part of being alive, so it’s no surprise that a lot of media has been dedicated to the concept of “What if you had a chance to do it all over again.” In some cases, this leads to a simple “imaginary story” where the hero finds that if the “mistake” they’ve been regretting for the last decade or so was actually avoided, then Galactus would have eaten the planet… or something. And we all learn a valuable lesson about being greater than the sum of our faults/being eaten by space giants. But the more common use of this trope (or at least the one that seems to get a larger audience) involves a despairing adult traveling back to a happier time, and, using knowledge from the future, finally realizing what’s really important, and I guess that’s falling in love with your high school sweetheart, and not taking that high-powered job you worked your entire life to achieve. Oh, and then Galactus devours the planet.

I’ve always been a fan of this kind of storytelling (no, I’m not going to go to TVTropes to find the actual name of this trope), because, like everybody else on Earth, I fantasize about going back and changing the past and righting what once went wrong. However, unlike everybody else, I’m also fascinated by this concept because it terrifies me.

And I’m glad to see Mortal Kombat 9 agrees with me.

FIGHT MOREMortal Kombat Armageddon was a fun game that was, conceptually, a sequel to Mortal Kombat Trilogy. After seven or so Mortal Kombat games, about 90 roster changes, and a million shattered pieces of Boon plot, MK had accumulated a memorable collection of characters (and Stryker). As a sort of love letter to the fans, MKA boasted a roster that contained every Mortal Kombat Kharacter that ever was, and let ‘em duke it out for supremacy. Didn’t matter if a fighter had been dead for years or had appeared in every game (or had been dead for years and appeared in every game, hi Scorps!), everyone got to participate, and, considering this franchise doesn’t feature Kuddles Kombat, there was a vampire’s buffet of blood spilled. Basically, even by the standards of a franchise where every other round ends with a triple decapitation, it was a bloodbath, and when the dust cleared, pretty much everybody was dead.

And they made that canon.

Err… kanon.

So, unless Mortal Kombat wanted to do something stupid like focus on the real heroes’ kids or a cast of dead guys (cough), it was time for a reboot. And, taking a page from Star Trek rather than beloved DC Comics, Mortal Kombat got rebooted with a sort of parallel, “do-over” reality. Raiden, lightning god of Earth Realm, sent some crazy psychic message back to his younger self of before the first (videogame) Mortal Kombat Tournament (or thereabouts). Now, gifted with vague future knowledge, Raiden can redo his life (or the last couple years of it, I mean, he has been around for a while) and avoid the tribulations of a timeline that saw Johnny Cage die like sixteen times. So, simple goal: Raiden knows Shao Kahn is a menace that is not to be trusted (didn’t he already know this?), so stop this nonsense before it begins. Easy-peasy.

GLOWY!Unfortunately, as ever, the issue appears to be that Raiden is an idiot. Despite being a god who has like one job (come to think of it, is some lesser god handling lightning duties during the franchise? Fujin?), Raiden messes up in new and exciting ways throughout the rebooted franchise. I can forgive him missing out on saving a certain frosty individual from a yellow wrath, as we all knew how that was gonna go, but when Raiden saves Smoke from cyberization only to give rise to Cryo-Freeze Sub-Zero… that one is on you, pal. Can you not keep track of two ninja? It’s not that hard! They’re wearing bright colors! And then Raiden trusts Kung Lao to step up to the plate… so naturally Kung Lao gets turned into a fine paste. But he’s not alone, as practically all the Earth heroes wind up dead halfway through Act 3. Whoops! And right around the time that Raiden turns Liu Kang, Hero of Mortal Kombat, into barbecued beef… well, I’m pretty sure someone got the message that Raiden is maybe not cut out for a leadership role. When your champion can best be described as “smoldering”, you’ve done something wrong.

But I can relate, because I’m pretty sure that if I got a do-over on my life, I’d do the exact same thing.

Okay, maybe I wouldn’t sauté any beloved allies, but I’m pretty sure I’d ruin any chance of enjoying my re-life. Ultimately, I feel like it comes down to the simple fact that I appreciate my current existence. Yes, there are things about my past that I would absolutely change (about two years ago I started a website that is part catharsis and part addiction, I could definitely cut that out), but I also acknowledge that a lot of good in my life, whether it be regarding career or friendships, stems from happy accidents. And, granted, none of those accidents are the direct result of generational ninja wars (at least to my knowledge), but I feel like if I were to… re-accident some meetings, I would completely destroy the timeline as I know it. … Probably somewhere around when I’m arrested for madly screaming at a woman that we’re destined to be together, so can we get this over with, because I enjoyed dating your best friend a lot more. Look, I can be impatient sometimes.

RARGHAnd I guess that’s the crux of my belief on how life works. We’re the culmination not only of carefully laid plans, but also a big pile of coincidence and chance, some for good, some for ill. Maybe I’d be happier if I had stayed my college girlfriend, or if I hadn’t died fighting against my undead banshee of a mother, but if I changed those important/unhappy events in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am now. And I like where I am now. So, thank you, Mortal Kombat 9, for understanding that a do-over isn’t the secret to happiness. Different choices lead to different mistakes, and not every imagined “what if” has a happy ending.

Oh, and then Galactus ate the Mortal Kombat universe.

FGC #285 Mortal Kombat (2011)

  • System: Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Oh, also, there was a Vita version. For reasons that I have never really understood, I once bought a new copy of the Vita version at the local Gamestop for zero dollars. There was some kind of sale, or the universe had twisted in on itself, or something.
  • Number of players: Isn’t there a tag mode that can involve four players? Yeah, there totally is, it’s right there on the menu. I’m not sure I’ve ever had four people together in one place that all wanted to play Mortal Kombat.
  • OuchWhat’s in a name? Technically, as a reboot of the franchise both conceptually and gameplay-wise, this game is simply titled “Mortal Kombat”, and is not Mortal Kombat 9. However, its direct sequel is Mortal Kombat X, and Mortal Kombat (1) is a very important game in gaming, so let’s stick to the nine.
  • Favorite Character: This roster brings back all the old favorites (in fact, it’s practically the same collection as Mortal Kombat Trilogy) so I’m going to have to pick Kabal. He’s in full-on Flash mode here, which… I really have no objection to that. Maybe he can dash through time and make this story a little happier.
  • Favorite Fatality: It made it into that silly video I made apropos of nothing, so I’m pretty sure you can guess.
  • Regarding the gameplay: Call me crazy, but I’m one of the few people that actually liked the general feel of the Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance/Deception/Armageddon games. I find the new Netherrealm style kind of clunky by comparison… but it’s still pretty fun. I mean, in the fighting game genre, very few games feel like you’re actually in a fight, and these MK experiences do seem to nail that heavy-hitting feeling. So I guess it evens out?
  • Did you know? Skarlet, original character, do not steal DLC female ninja, has a fatality wherein she drenches herself in the blood of her opponent. Except… all the cyber-robot opponents have oil or coolant for “blood”, so… well… I don’t think this is going to be good for that quasi-vampire’s digestion.
  • Would I play again: I like this game! But it is, by and large, completely unseated by Mortal Kombat X, a game that lets you play as Goro. And that counts for a lot! Eh, maybe I’ll replay 9 again when the inevitable MKHD Kollection arrives.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Sonic Adventure 2 Battle! Ah-ha! Speak of original characters, and he shall appear. Please look forward to it!

Nice sweater, nerd