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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.

MKK: Taven & Daegon

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (5) reinvented Mortal Kombat gameplay. Mortal Kombat: Deception (6) refined and distilled the essence of that new system. It was only natural that Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (7) reinvented Mortal Kombat yet again… as a kart racer!

Watch where you're going

Wait, no. Take two.

It was only natural that Mortal Kombat: Armageddon carried the changes of MK: Deception to the finish line, and created the new Mortal Kombat Trilogy of its generation. Mortal Kombat Armageddon’s greatest achievement was that it featured literally every fighter that had ever appeared in a (fighting-based) Mortal Kombat title up to that point. This meant that kharacters that had not appeared in the “new trilogy” had to be re-created in 3-D and granted movesets appropriate to the new normal. These returning kombatants were mostly forgotten fighters from Mortal Kombat 4 (Fujin, Jarek, Kai, Reiko, and Shinnok), a few low-tier MK Trilogy “stars” (Chameleon, Khameleon, Rain, Sheeva, Stryker, and Sektor [edge-case, long story]), and a handful of bosses/hidden kharacters that we never thought we’d see again (Meat, Kintaro, Sareena, and Motaro). Some fighters, like Motaro, were drastically redesigned to “fit” with the rest of the bipedal kast, but, by and large, everybody was here for a good fight.

Of course, with the entire, bloated MK roster in attendance, there were a few… concessions. If you tally up the old geezers that are new to the Armageddon generation of the franchise, you’ve got fifteen new models that had to be created for the fight. Somehow, 46 legends had already appeared between Deadly Alliance and Deception, so we’ve got 61 dudes and ladies that all need unique moves, fighting styles, and fatalities. That’s pretty daunting for a development team that was pumping out a new MK title every other year! So, corners were cut (kut?). Previously, every fighter had two fighting styles and a weapon style. Now, everyone simply had one fighting style and one weapon style, the end. Many of the “discarded” fighting styles from the earlier 40 fighters were distributed amongst the newbies, and one hurdle was quickly vaulted. And unique fatalities? Right out. Everyone worked off the same “dial a fatality” system that allowed for some gruesome ends, but nothing distinctive for a fighter that may or may not be able to summon hellfire. And all the “boss” fighters were limited to very narrow, singular move-sets, ostensibly to balance their hulking frames and ridiculous super armor. Oh, and the majority of the roster didn’t get biographies in game (websites and later titles eventually filled in the blanks), and everyone’s ending was just text over a recording of your dude doing calisthenics on top of a pyramid (exactly the same as the endings of Battle Arena Toshinden 3, which is a really weird thing to ever have to say). As a result, Armageddon did seem like the bloated, simple descendant of its previously lean and focused ancestors. Don’t get me wrong, I was one of the people shouting about how it all doesn’t matter if we still get to play as the centaur/satyr again, but the whole experience did feel a tweak compromised to compensate for that full roster.

Look at 'em all

Oh, and another chief complaint about Mortal Kombat: Armageddon? There were only two wholly new kharacters added to the mythos, and they both sucked.

Pull up a chair, and I’ll tell you the sad tale of Bob and Doug.

Wait, those were just their production names. Meet Taven and Daegon.

Actually, let’s take another step back and talk about Mortal Kombat: Deception again. There were two significant complaints about the “adventure mode” of Deception:

1. The gameplay felt more like Fable than Mortal Kombat. Where is all the fighting in this fighting game?
2. Shujinko, the protagonist, was an enormous tool.

With these complaints in mind, it seems obvious where Armageddon’s Konquest Mode originated. First of all, aping the recent (though non-kanon) Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, MK:A decided to drop the JRPG-inspired bits, and make its Konquest Mode more akin to a beat ‘em up. Less exploring, more punching. Unfortunately, this meant that all the bad guys of the MK universe (or at least the dudes popular enough to host levels) had to hire some mooks for Taven to punch through. This would be exactly why Sektor, previously an independent, homicidal robot ninja, suddenly owned a flying airship filled with disposable, other robot ninja. And Scorpion got his clan restored to “life”, but his wish was genied to the point that all his buddies are now fire skeletons. Oh well, means that Taven is going to have a fun time roundhousing various armies full of identical opponents!

But while the gameplay of Konquest Mode seemed much more Mortal Kombat appropriate, it’s debatable on whether or not Taven was an adequate replacement for Shujinko. On one hand, Taven’s quest is a lot more straightforward, and doesn’t require a masters in MK mythology to fully grasp the century-long history of a dude punching across the universe(s). And, important bonus, Taven is not inadvertently and obviously following the advice of the main villain of the piece, so he immediately comes off as smarter than Shujinko (granted, we could apply that same description to a marginally bright species of mollusk). On the other hand, Taven might not be a complete idiot, but he is still the kind of guy that starts his epic quest across the land by demanding to speak to the manager.

But daaaaaaaaad

What’s Taven’s beef? Well, Taven’s daddy is Argus, a major deity in Edenia (the realm of Kitana and Sindel before Shao Kahn conquered the place and merged it with Outworld). Argus was basically Edenia’s Raiden, and, hundreds of years ago, he decided to get his Zeus on with Delia, a sorceress with fire powers and questionable fashion choices. Delia also had the ability to see the future, and determined that one day in the far future, Mortal Kombat rosters would become unsustainable, and there would be too darn many people in the universe that can easily chuck fireballs around the place, so the realms would be obliterated in the biggest Mortal Kombat ever. Argus’s response was a resounding “kill ‘em all, and let me sort them out”, but Delia claimed that some of the kombatants shouldn’t be obliterated for the minor sin of being great at uppercuts, and the good fighters should be spared (even if, at this point, the last surviving non-zombie good guy was, like, Kenshi). Thus did Delia come up with the most convoluted plan ever.

Here was how it was all supposed to go down:

1. Delia and Argus screw like rabbits until at which point they have two (2) sons.
2. When both of the sons are old enough to know right from wrong (legal drinking age), they will be put in suspended animation for potentially centuries.
3. Each son will also receive one (1) guardian dragon.
4. The sons, protected by their dragons, will sleep until which time that the Mortal Kombat franchise has too many ninja running around.
5. At that point, both of the sons will awake and partake in a quest to acquire some divine items (armor, weapons) that were scattered around Earth for some reason.
6. Then both sons will scale a magical pyramid that houses a fire monster that Delia created for this exact purpose.
7. Whichever son slays the fire monster will be crowned the victor and most morally developed (because… uh… swordplay is the true judge of moral superiority), and will be responsible for using his newly acquired god-like powers to sort the good guys from the bad guys.
8. The divine victor will thus obliterate all the evil fighters, and the good fighters will, I don’t know, get to ride on the dragon or something.

Mom, really?
Don’t judge Edenian fashion

Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan. Despite the fact that the creator of this proposal was a friggen’ sorceress with precognition, Nostradamus here didn’t foresee that Blaze, her pet fire god created for one stupid task, would be kidnapped, brainwashed, and reemployed by the forces of Onaga, the Dragon King. This unbalanced the whole stupid contest, and caused Daegon, technically the younger of the two brothers, to awaken centuries before Taven, who had mastered the art of the snooze button. Daegon woke up, assumed his quest had already begun, and enlisted the help of Shinnok, the God of Evil. Poor choice, Daegon! Apparently, this was all a misunderstanding, as Shinnok was a god in well-standing before Daegon took his little nap, but, whatever the case, it did lead to Shinnok manipulating Daegon into killing his own parents. Whoopsie! Since Daegon already crossed the moral event horizon with his bout of deicide and matricide, he decided to form an entire clan of thieves/assassins, and enslave his guardian dragon as a handy teleportation device for his new buddies. Oh, and he found the magical swords intended for him and his brother, and decided why not take both. Thus, before Taven even had time to shake off the morning sleepies, Daegon pretty much had this whole contest wrapped up.

What is happening here?

But let’s look at Daegon in the greater mythology of Mortal Kombat villains. Yes, Daegon has a beef with the main kharacter (he killed his parents!), they’re literally related, and he committed the unforgivable sin of grand theft cool sword. However, beyond that, Daegon is… just a dude with a scar. Nearly every previous Mortal Kombat made the effort to create a new and greater threat than the last (evil wizard was followed by his boss who was followed by his old, immortal boss, and there was an evil god in there for good measure), and later installments would eventually escalate things to fighting the God(dess) of All Time. Daegon is… a dude. He might be half-god, but he literally cannot stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the hulking Shao Kahn, left alone that enormous dragon that ruled the previous installment. And it appears there is an attempt to tie him to the greater MK mythologies by positioning him as the immortal founder of the Red Dragons… but do you, dear reader, even remember who the Red Dragons are? They’re Kano’s rival gang of thieves. They were introduced in MK: Deadly Alliance, and every one of them was kanonically killed during that adventure. The only Red Dragon in MK: Deception appeared as a corpse. At best, the Red Dragons only ever achieved threat level: nuisance. And this is their leader? Oh boy! Wonder who’s gonna instantly kill him?

It’s no wonder Blaze was the final boss of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon’s arcade mode, even if his role in the story is basically magical speed bump. Dude at least looked cool.

Lookit dem swords

Anywho, Taven eventually wakes up when he’s supposed to (after Shujinko defeats the Dragon King, causing Stryker to decide to rejoin the fray, so there’s too many fighters now), and, after some discussion with his stupid dragon, sets off on his quest to figure out what the hell is going on. Unfortunately, he’s immediately kidnapped by robot ninja (Delia, come on, girl, you couldn’t foresee that one?). He escapes, finds his way to Sub-Zero’s digs, and learns that, while his Master Sword may have been stolen by Daegon, his Blue Tunic is still available in the Lin Kuei temple. Bad news, though, as the Lin Kuei are currently dealing with Frost murdering everybody and another, different tribe of robot demon ninja are attacking the place. Busy day! Taven obtains his magical armor and saves Sub-Zero from Noob Saibot (aw, brother parallels), so Subs sends Taven on the trail of the Red Dragons. Taven takes about ten minutes to find the lair of the thieves that are supposed to have been operating in secret for centuries, and he finally confronts his malicious bro. Daegon filled his brother in on the plot so far (“Mom’s dead. I killed her.” “Bogus!”), and then teleported away to the final boss room. Taven was left to sulk and rescue Kano from some dungeon with a peculiarly sticky floor. And then he rescued Daegon’s pet dragon, which was much more of a win for everybody. Daegon’s dragon was rightly pissed off, so he stayed behind at the Red Dragon stronghold to wreck up the place while Taven went to Hell. Literally. Shinnok, evil god trapped in Hell, successfully tricked the other brother, and had Taven wander around Hell defeating illusions for a while. And every MK hero is contractually obligated to visit Outworld, so he wound up sneaking around Shao Kahn’s castle for the flimsiest of reasons. And when Taven finally found his way back to his home realm of Edenia, Scorpion of all people (wraiths) tried to stop him. And, naturally, Scorpion got nowhere. After that, Taven finally confronted Daegon, and, in the end, he defeated his brother, because…. Uh… Guess he was better at punching.

Unfortunately, Taven’s quest somehow psychically resonated with all the kombatants he encountered (or some other excuse), and literally every fighter gathered at the final pyramid in Edenia to fight every other fighter for the right to fight the fire dude. Thus, there was a fine excuse for the real “arcade mode” of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, and, specifically in the kanon of this one game, Taven defeated everybody, ascended the pyramid, defeated Blaze, and attained the Boon-given right to obliterate MK kharacters at will.

Swoosh

Except in the ongoing kanon of Mortal Kombat, Taven actually lost to Shao Kahn, ol’ Kahn obtained Blaze’s power, and he conquered the universe. Way to whiff it, Taven.

And, yes, in general, Taven certainly did whiff it. He wasn’t nearly as stupid as Shujinko, but if it seems like his “biography” is just a series of “he went there and did this thing” reports, then you see the problem. He might have starred in a modern (for the time) beat ‘em up, but Taven was a hero in the silent JRPG protagonist mold, and his only two settings were “confused” and “angry”. And when you’re supposed to stand proudly with other kharacters that have had seven games worth of development, you’re not going to shine like a star. In fact, Taven looks more like a tourist. He isn’t the hero! He’s just some yokel visiting Mortal Kombat Land for the afternoon! The poor, sweating park employee in the rubber Johnny Cage costume makes more of an impression.

So, as you may expect, Taven doesn’t return after the Mortal Kombat reboot. He appeared in exactly one game, and that’s it. Technically, his whole stupid backstory did occur, though, as evil brother Daegon appears in the comics as the leader of the Red Dragons. He’s responsible for killing Kenshi’s wife/baby mama, but, since no one cares about Kenshi or his son past Mortal Kombat X, that thread is left unexplored.

So Taven and Daegon were MK: A’s only new kharacters, and they’re the most forgettable bros in the franchise. Kind of par for the course with this generation of Mortal Kombat kharacters. But have no fear! The developers realized this issue, and MK: A is the only MK with a Kreate a Kharacter option!

Make your own damn hero

You can set their moves, name their fighting style, and dial up a new fatality any time you want. And if you think this plot is so stupid, smart guy, you can just write your own ending that will appear at the end of your kharacter’s arcade mode. Yes, that’s right! Mortal Kombat is tired of making new kharacters, so why the hell don’t you do it!?

Next time: Or why don’t we just import a bunch of characters that are already established? Hmmmm….

MKK: Frost

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance introduced all new, all unique fighting styles to its kast of kharacters. However, something was lost along the way. Familiar fighters like Johnny Cage and Liu Kang had acquired long lists of special moves over their tenures in the MK franchise. And that makes perfect sense! The only way to truly distinguish a kombatant in MK previously was special moves, and the more special moves, the better. Unfortunately, the new system put a premium on distinctive fighting styles, and was absolutely not built for designing new kharacters with two unique fighting styles, one unique weapon style, and seven or so unique special moves. So the newbies only got a special move or two, and the old guard got their signature specials moves gutted down to nothing.

Chilly today

This had an interesting impact on some of the fighters’ longevity. Sonya Blade or Johnny Cage, for instance, were never really defined by their special moves, so it wasn’t really a big loss that Sonya wasn’t tossing around pink energy rings anymore. Some, like Scorpion, gained a move that seemed like it should have always been there (the ability to summon hell fire), but retained the signature move (throwing spear) that everyone expected, and no one really noticed a missing teleport. However, unfortunately, some were defined by their special moves more than anything else. Sub-Zero gained Shotokan and Dragon fighting styles, and a sword entirely made of ice, but nothing there really screamed “this is how you would fight if you had access to ice magic” (can’t he just keep his enormous sword in his pants like everybody else?). His special moves were reduced from his ice blast, ice avalance, ice slick, ice clone, and sliding kick of Mortal Kombat Trilogy to simply an ice blast, a “cold shoulder” substitute for the slide, and the “Ice shaker”, which was like his ice clone, but less adaptive. And that’s it! We’ve got an ice wizard, but he’s just going to toss around mundane punches like everybody else. Can’t we do better? If everyone has to cut down on special moves, can’t we have, like, another ice wizard?

Here’s Ice Wizard #2 (or at least “#2 with a different name”). Meet Frost, the Deadly Alliance proprietor of Sub-Zero’s ice slick and sliding kick.

Hot tamale

As you may recall, Sub-Zero was promoted to leader of the Lin Kuei assassin’s guild after the Grand Master was killed by his robot son. Sub-Zero gained a magical medallion, augmented ice powers, and a club full of murderers that should more or less follow his orders. Sub-Zero decided that his promotion was an excellent time for performance reviews, so he sponsored a wee fighting tournament to gauge everyone’s skills (fighting tournaments are all Sub-Zero knows). Frost emerged victorious, and won the coveted position as Sub-Zero’s direct disciple. Of course, there was a lot of concerned muttering among the Lin Kuei rabble, because, come on, there are like two ice wizards in this clan, and now they’re both hanging out together? Nepotism much?

So Frost became the first “generations” kharacter in the Mortal Kombat mythos: the direct underling and obvious “child” of a more famous MK fighter. This would become practically the entire basis for Mortal Kombat X, but a solid five games earlier, here’s Frost, all hoping senpai notices her. Actually, strike that, Frost distinctly doesn’t want Sub-Zero to notice her, as it turned out her grand plan for Deadly Alliance was to pal around with Sub-Zero, be a general cuss to everyone, and then find the exact right moment to betray Subs and steal his shiny new medallion. And she actually succeeds in her heist! Frost deceives Sub-Zero and steals his jewelry, but it doesn’t work out quite how she expected. The Dragon Medallion imparts too much ice power to Frost, and she’s trapped in an ice cocoon summoned by her own overflowing power. So Frost is a popsicle by the end of her debut game.

Hot tamale

Now, in the real world, freezing to death is a legitimate way to die. Sub-Zero, despite all evidence to the contrary, believed he lived in the real world, and stuck the frozen Frost in an Outworld freezer/crypt, and nabbed some chill armor before hitting the ol’ dusty road. Unfortunately for Sub-Zero’s clan, Frost was merely temporarily frozen, and she thawed out in time for the PSP port of Mortal Kombat Deception (MK: Unchained). She took being buried alive poorly, and decided she was going to kill the heck out of Sub-Zero. She returned home, found she had beaten her former boss back to the business, and switched to just wholesale murdering everyone in the clan. Or she was insane, and only saw everyone as Sub-Zero. Given literally everything this woman does post-Deadly Alliance is wholly homicidal, it’s possible she was just murdering everyone, but didn’t feel like learning anyone’s name. Or maybe the Lin Kuei really need to get more distinctive uniforms. Whatever the case, Frost went on a rampage, and when daddy finally did get home, she was re-frozen in her own little time out chamber. Taven, the extremely confused protagonist of MK: Armageddon, reawaked Frost when he was just swinging by Lin Kuei HQ for some party supplies (they always seem to have an excess of ice cubes), and Frost once again went on a murder spree that probably ended right about when she and her entire universe was obliterated. She went out doing what she loved.

As the unofficial daughter of Sub-Zero (and official third cousin once removed), you may have expected Frost to pop up again in the new timeline of Mortal Kombat X. After all, random washouts like Kenshi and Kung Lao got to have “second generation” kharacters taking up their respective torches, and reboot Sub-Zero once again became the leader of the Lin Kuei, so this would be a fine time for Frost to return to service. And she did appear in Mortal Kombat X! As a ten second cameo that confirmed that, yes, Frost is still around, and she’s still crazier than a partially frozen rat. Frost pops in for five seconds to declare that she is not happy with Sub-Zero’s decision to become super best friends with Scorpion (which, considering the whole “keeps trying to murder you” thing, seems like a valid concern, even if it is coming from someone actively trying to murder you), but is swatted aside by the combined might of Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Sub-Zero just goes ahead and leaves Frost a frozen statue thawing out on the balcony while the adults continue their conversation uninterrupted. The general feeling there is that Sub-Zero is trying with Frost, but, dude, ice magic doesn’t make you a decent dad.

Hot tamale

But Frost gets to return as a real kharacter and (marginal) threat in Mortal Kombat 11. Long story short (we’ll get there), Kronika, Elder God of (All) Time, is recruiting a collection of psychopaths (and Jax) to beat up the good guys (or what passes for such in MK) while she busies herself with resetting the whole of the universe. One of her earliest recruits is Frost, as Kronika only seems capable of recruiting people overwhelmingly known for their treachery (and Jax). However, the timeline on “this” Frost is a little murky. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Frost is now a robot. Or, more specifically, a cyborg. She seems to have more fleshy bits than the usual MK cyborgs (and I’m sure that has nothing to do with a female cyborg cutting a more feminine silhouette than her male contemporaries), but she also can and will routinely launch her severed head at opponents. It’s pretty clear the mechanical side of her biology is doing the heavy lifting. Regardless, we don’t know the specifics of when she became a robot. It is entirely possible that she was “cyberized” thanks to (time-displaced) Sektor. It is also possible Kronika personally gave her some manner of upgrade, as she was able to produce new super arms for Jax at a moment’s notice (or, again, Sektor was responsible for those). And, of course, there’s the more interesting explanation that this Frost is from some manner of nebulous “future”, and is technically the Terminator of the franchise (ya know, before the actual Terminator showed up) called back in time to wreck the measly humans of the present. Whatever the reason, Frost is now an entirely unique fighter with her crazy ice-robot moves… or at least she’s totally different from that time Sub-Zero became a robot. She’s not a copy, dammit! She’s her own person! Who accomplishes nothing!

Anywho, aside from killing Fujin (off-screen), Robo Frost doesn’t exactly have an illustrious career before that iteration of the universe implodes, so she’s pretty consistently “just kinda there” throughout the series. Photocopied origins, fascinating direction for a protégé archetype, but, in the end, there isn’t much to Sub-Zero’s tsundere pupil. At least Sub-Zero’s slide found a passable home.

Don't lose your head

Next time: Try not to puke.