Tag Archives: sub-zero

MKK: Scorpion & Sub-Zero(s)

I covered Hanzo “Scorpion” Hasashi’s journey in great detail a couple of years back (man, 2015? Time flies in universes that don’t reboot), so I’ll just cover the highlights here:

Look out!


Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Normal ninja dude that gets murdered by Sub-Zero before the end of the first level.

Mortal Kombat 1: An avenging ghost skeleton from hell that payback-murders Sub-Zero. Mission accomplished!

Mortal Kombat 2: Still an avenging ghost, still trying to kill Sub-Zero, but learns that “this” Sub-Zero is actually OG Sub-Zero’s lil’ bro. Vows to become a protector skeleton for Baby Sub-Zero.

Mortal Kombat 3: An avenging ghost that is accidentally released from Hell. Kind of a free agent, but eventually winds up protecting Baby Sub-Zero.

Mortal Kombat 4: An avenging ghost that completely forgot what he was doing. Tries to kill Baby Sub-Zero again, but backs off when he is informed Quan Chi is responsible for the death of his family. Drags Quan Chi to Hell.

Aw, hell

Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance: An avenging ghost that spends a lot of his free time torturing Quan Chi. Eventually, Quan Chi gains the upper hand, and has his new oni buddies toss Scorpion into The Soulnado.

Mortal Kombat Deception: An avenging ghost that is made Defender of the Realms after The Soulnado accidentally spits Scorpion out in Heaven. The Elder Gods are even worse at their job than Raiden, so appointing a murder skeleton the guardian of reality apparently seemed like a good idea.

Mortal Kombat Armageddon: An avenging ghost that is really pissed off. The Elder Gods said they would bring back Scorpion’s family and tribe in exchange for helping out during Deception… but Scorps didn’t read the fine print, and his friends and family were returned to “life” as undead fire skeletons (just like dad!). Scorpion attempted to kill just about everybody in this contract dispute, and, considering the world then wound up in a reboot, he kinda did.

MK v DC: An avenging ghost that thought Batman was Sub-Zero in disguise. This ended… poorly.

Mortal Kombat 9: An avenging ghost that is living MK1-3 again.

They're friends now

Mortal Kombat X: A dad. Thanks to some unusual plot contrivances, Scorpion is revived as a perfectly normal dude who incidentally possesses hellfire-based magical abilities. Score! Scorpion reboots his ninja clan, and even adopts another fighter’s son as his own. And he’s best friends with (baby) Sub-Zero! He still sends Quan Chi to Hell, though, so everything isn’t completely topsy-turvy.

Mortal Kombat 11: A dad and an avenging ghost. Time travel grants us Diet and Original Scorpions, so you’ve got your choice of skeleton man or regular man. Take your pick!

So, tldr, Scorpion is the most popular character, and no one has a damn clue what to do with the damned soul.

And now for a different story…

Once upon a time, there was a man named Bi-Han. Bi-Han was an assassin of the Lin Kuei clan, and was regarded as their best and brightest. So, when an albino wizard with spikes on his neck came calling with a job, Bi-Han was hired. And Bi-Han, like a boss, made his way through some magical temples, killed a rival ninja, and ably completed Quan Chi’s tasks, despite the fact that this all had to be done with the handicap of taking place during Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Quan Chi then inevitably betrayed Bi-Han, and the two squared off for the fate of the world in the very bowels of Hell. Bi-Han was successful, but he also learned that he was only able to fight in Hell because his soul was tainted by evil. Maybe it was because he worked with an evil sorcerer. Maybe it was because it was literally his job to kill hundreds of people. Maybe it was because he did not delete downloaded roms after 24 hours. Whatever the reason, Bi-Han, aka Sub-Zero, was informed that if he did not change his ways, he would be damned for all of eternity.

Then Mortal Kombat happened, and Scorpion BBQ’ed Sub-Zero but good. Sorry, bud, we don’t all get to have a wonderful life.

That's our Sub-Zero!
This is kanon


But anyone that knows mythology knows that if you are killed by an undead spirit of vengeance, then you will rise again as an undead spirit of vengeance. Or maybe that’s vampires? Whatever, Bi-Han aka Sub-Zero was reborn as Bi-Han aka Noob Saibot.

So, a quick word about hidden characters in Mortal Kombat: We’ll talk about this more when we get to the relevant character, but Mortal Kombat more or less created the whole concept of a “hidden fighter” in fighting games when Mortal Kombat 1 V3.0 first unleashed Reptile onto the scene. By the time of Mortal Kombat 2, MK’s adoring public was already expecting crazy hidden fighters with even more ridiculous unlock conditions. A big ol’ question block became part of the game progression, and gray ninja Smoke and green ninja woman Jade were the obvious hidden characters of MK2. There was also Noob Saibot, an even more hidden ninja that was colored entirely black, and was so named because the franchise (and Noob) was created by Boon and Tobias (and read those names backwards if you didn’t catch that bit of wordplay immediately). Fighting Noob Saibot in Mortal Kombat 2 required a single player winning 50 consecutive versus matches. Assuming a credit cost 50¢ at the time, this meant that to even see Noob, at least $25 had to be deposited into a MK2 arcade cabinet.

Shadowy!

What am I getting at? Noob Saibot was trolling the audience from the very beginning.

Back to anti-reality: Bi-Han-now-Noob-Saibot became a nefarious shadow wraith, and the canon explanation (mostly a retcon) for his presence in Mortal Kombat 2-3 was that he was working for Shao Kahn, but secretly spying on everyone on behalf of Quan Chi and Shinnok, whom he was now damned to serve for eternity. He was released from duty when Shinnok was defeated during Mortal Kombat 4, and briefly went back to his old job with Shao Kahn during Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance (or at least the confusingly named GBA port of it, Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition). That ended when Shao Kahn died (or “died”), and Noob Saibot, after years of infernal enslavement, could finally collect his undead unemployment.

The throne of Hell was empty after Shinnok and Quan Chi wound up dead (damned? Vaporized? Just that general incapacitation that occurs to Mortal Kombat kharacters when they’re not directly involved in the plot?), so Noob decided it was time for a promotion. He got his own robot ninja, Smoke, and started a tag-team operation with the ultimate goal of grooming a robot-demon army. To be clear, that is an army of robots that are also demons, and not demons that are incidentally working with robots. Nanomachines are involved. Regardless, Noob and Smoke ambushed Noob’s brother, Other Sub-Zero, but Sub-Zero escaped. Quan Chi decided to resurface then, and Noob, Smoke, and Quan Chi all decided to storm Sub-Zero’s front gates together. It was kind of like The Wizard of Oz, except there wasn’t a Dorothy, and the Tin Man was an undead robot ninja demon that could turn into a gas. That motley crew failed, but Sub-Zero was able to restore Smoke’s consciousness. He attempted to do the same for his brother, but Noob continued to be a jerkass demon. There was some rumbling in Noob’s Annihilation ending that original, compassionate/alive Sub-Zero was going to resurface as a controlling force… but the universe rebooted about seven seconds later.

GHOST MAN!

So, good news, the universe is fresh and new again, and Bi-Han/Sub-Zero is alive and chill again. Bad news though, the world rebooted at about the start of Mortal Kombat 1, so, despite everyone’s best attempts to avoid such a fate, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero is still kanon. This means that when Scorpion inevitably killed Sub-Zero all over again, he became Noob Saibot, again, just like last time. Unlike last time, though, since his big reveal as OG Sub-Zero was already spent back during Deadly Alliance, this Noob Saibot was out and proud, and basically became Quan Chi’s personal bodyguard for much of the story. And then he got tossed into The Soulnado. Whoops.

The Soulnado should have either torn Noob Saibot to pieces or made him Defender of the Realms (there’s precedent!), but it wound up doing exactly nothing. Noob Saibot laid low for the entirety of Mortal Kombat X, and, like in the original timeline, only decided to skulk out of the shadows when his bosses got murdered. In this case, he joined up with the bad gal du jour in exchange for a promised clan of shadow ninja. Every last kharacter in Mortal Kombat 11 fails, though, and the universe gets flushed down the toilet once again. So will Noob resurface as Sub-Zero again, or will he be doomed to be a Noob forever? Time will tell!

So let’s try this story again…

Frosty!


Once upon a time, Bi-Han aka Sub-Zero was a warrior that fought in the first Mortal Kombat, but was fatally defeated by his rival, Scorpion. However, Bi-Han was not the only cryomancer in the Lin Kuei. There was his younger brother, Tundra. There was also his sister, Ice, his other brother, Freezing, his estranged cousin, Frost, his weird uncle, Kinda Cold But I Guess You Could Turn Down The Thermostat If You Want, and his dog, Cool Joe Canine. But this story isn’t about any of them, this is simply the story of Kuai Lang, formerly Tundra, who decided to adopt the title of Sub-Zero upon the immolation of Sub-Zero I.

Sub-Zero the Younger is a very different person from his brother. Well… not technically, as they both looked identical between Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat 2, but, when Sub-Zero decided to avenge his brother by completing Lin Kuei’s contract on Shang Tsung’s head (oh yeah, that’s why Bi-Han showed up for MK1), he made two important choices. One, he brought backup in the form of Smoke, another Lin Kuei assassin who had control over… I don’t know… probably earth or something. Second, Sub-Zero proved himself to be less blood-thirsty than his bro. Despite being in the tournament for the exclusive purpose of murdering a dude, Sub-Zero did not needlessly murder some rando during Mortal Kombat 2 (probably Baraka. He’s always the chump), and this mercy conveyed to Scorpion that Sub-Zero II was certainly not the vicious Sub-Zero I. Never mind that an immortal vengeance creature should probably be able to tell two different people apart for all sorts of other reasons, but I suppose poor perception is one of the drawbacks of being a skeleton without, ya know, eyes. Regardless, Scropion and Sub-Zero became best buddies for a game or two as a result, and everyone went home happy.

Wait, crap, nothing happy ever happens in this franchise. So we had two Mortal Kombats, and a Sub-Zero was supposed to kill Shang Tsung in both of them. And, while the newest Sub-Zero at least survived Mortal Kombat 2, he didn’t actually complete the contract, as Shang Tsung still lived. This meant the Lin Kuei assassins had to make a difficult choice to regain their fallen honor. Options available included:

• Send more assassins to kill Shang Tsung
• Declare the contract null and void, as Shang Tsung proved to be an other-worldly sorcerer
• Find out who the hell kept putting out a hit on Shang Tsung, and offer a refund
• Launch a social media campaign that would convince everyone that killing Shang Tsung was for nerds
• Turn everyone into soulless robots

So the Lin Kuei, naturally, decided to go with the robot option. Look! They were going to try the social media option, but Bi-Han was the only one with their clan’s facebook password. It happens!

He doesn't look Asian...

So Sub-Zero and Smoke were chosen to become soulless robots in the first of a line of robot assassins that clearly wouldn’t attempt to destroy all of humanity immediately. Sub-Zero and Smoke escaped, though. Well… mostly. Smoke was captured and automated, and Sub-Zero got away with a pretty significant (and bitchin’) scar. Then Shao Kahn invaded all of Earth, and Sub-Zero got stuck fighting the forces of Outworld and robot ninja programmed to hunt and kill exclusively him. This is when we all learned that Sub-Zero is not only an expert ninja, but also some kind of computer genius. It’s kanon that, during Mortal Kombat 3, Sub-Zero fought the forces of evil, reprogrammed Cyrax, reprogrammed Smoke and reawaked his soul, and found the time to reawaken the true soul of the Lin Kuei (or something). Basically, in one game, Sub-Zero went from a fledgling fugitive to nearly the leader of his clan. Though I suppose promotion opportunities were ripe as almost everyone else on Earth was effectively dead at the time…

Comparatively, Mortal Kombat 4 was a pretty chill time for Sub-Zero. Sub-Zero decided to fight against Shinnok because he read a plot synopsis of Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, and thought it was time to avenge his brother (or prove he was better than him). Scorpion plum forgot that this Sub-Zero had no input on his death or the death of his family, though, so Sub-Zero did have to deal with an angry skeleton during the battle. In the end, Scorpion and Sub-Zero made up, again, and Sub-Zero went home pretty satisfied when Liu Kang defeated Shinnok. Sure, Sub-Zero failed to kill the final boss again, but you really can’t get upset when Liu Kang saves the world. He’s good at it.

Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance presented a much worse time for Sub-Zero. One day, Sektor, the one robot that Sub-Zero decided not to reprogram, showed up, and murdered the Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei. Sub-Zero chased Sektor off with a broom, but the Lin Kuei was left without a leader. Sub-Zero, figuring that he was currently the only Lin Kuei member with a backstory and a name, decided to take up the mantel of leader. Literally. The position came with a rad dragon medallion, and, fun fact, it enhanced his ice powers a hundredfold. Sweet! It had the unfortunate drawback of making him look about 50 years old, though. The other assassins told him it made him look “distinguished”, but that was probably just because he wouldn’t stop making ice mirrors and sighing loudly. It was a rough time for Sub-Zero morale.

Sub-Zero then was the first Mortal Kombat kharacter to become a fake dad. Sub-Zero, now Grandmaster, took on a pupil, Frost. Frost was an unruly girl with ice powers just like Sub-Zero, so it only made sense that he would be able to help her to be a better person through training and whatever assassins do when they’re not assassinating people. Unfortunately, Sub-Zero completely failed, and, while everyone was supposed to be saving the world during Deadly Alliance, Frost betrayed Sub-Zero, and stole his rad medallion. This backfired immediately, and Frost was overwhelmed by her own overflowing cryomancy, transforming her into a comatose Frostsicle. Sub-Zero, not really anxious to ever see Frost again, decided to find the deepest ice box in Outworld to stow his treacherous protégé. And, score, he managed to find his family’s ancient land in Outworld, and, apparently, this was when he discovered his ice powers had some kind of origin story, and it wasn’t just a “Guile can throw fireballs because whatever” situation every time he shot snowballs at an opponent. Neat!

Chill Armor

With knowledge comes cool equipment powerups, so Sub-Zero donned the armor of his people in time for Mortal Kombat Deception. So, if you’re curious why Sub-Zero looked like The Shredder for a game or two, there you go. Sub-Zero then became super best friends with Kenshi, a blind swordsman, and the two had whacky adventures in Outworld that really didn’t have much to do with anything. They probably learned something about disabilities and tolerance and killing dudes with swords for arms. Sub-Zero then encountered his long lost brother, Evil Shadow Man, and Sub-Zero barely escaped with his life. He was also reacquainted with Smoke, who was now a robot demon that was none too pleased that Sub-Zero forgot he existed for like three games. Oh, and then Sub-Zero finally got home, only to discover that Frost had reawakened, got home before him, and murdered a healthy portion of his clan. Whoops!

Things only got worse during the events of Mortal Kombat Armageddon, when Smoke and Noob invaded the Lin Kuei temple, and converted anyone that wasn’t already killed by Frost into a robot demon. Sub-Zero technically “won” that battle, but the Lin Kuei were not looking too good by the end of Armageddon. Luckily, this was about when the universe rebooted, so no one had to dig out a manual on demon robot assassin clan maintenance.

DETECTED: Frosty!

The new universe of Mortal Kombat 9 started about the same: Sub-Zero took up the mantle of Sub-Zero after the death of Sub-Zero. But! This time, instead of Smoke being captured and transformed into a robot, Sub-Zero was captured, and automated into Cyber Sub-Zero. And that was kind of cool! Except he wound up having the same arc as Cyber Smoke (is robot, rediscovers soul, decides to fight for virtue) with the added handicap of being murdered about seven seconds into joining the forces of good. Cyber Sub-Zero then becomes an evil zombie robot, but Quan Chi immediately transformed Zombie Robot Sub-Zero back into simply Zombie, Fleshy Sub-Zero, because there was no way this albino sorcerer was going to deal with a zombie that required update reboots every three days.

So Undead Sub-Zero (but not Noob Saibot, he was already double dead at this point) served Quan Chi and Shinnok for a little bit, until Raiden (maybe accidentally) revived a group of revenants that included our favorite frosty buddy. Alive Sub-Zero then follows his old “destiny” again: he becomes grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, fights off Sektor and his evil robot ninja, and even begins a new friendship with Alive Scorpion. Frost, rather chilly in any timeline, nearly cocks it up, but Sub-Zero bonds with Scorpion over some footage of his entire family being murdered, and all is forgiven.

Great friends!

Mortal Kombat 11 continues the trend of Sub-Zero being vaguely tangential to the plot. The big bad of the game has recruited Frost and some time-displaced Cyber Ninja to her cause, and it naturally comes down to the all-star team of Scorpion and Sub-Zero to squash this threat. Sub-Zero, once again, reprograms Cyrax and more-or-less destroys the Cyber Initiative, thus ending the threat of this army of mooks that weren’t going to be useful in anything but a Musuo game anyway. When the universe is rebooted, Sub-Zero doesn’t distinctly have anything to do with the final victory (no Ice God Sub-Zero for you), and is vaporized having not ever found that sweet armor in this timeline.

Personally, I find that ending for a beloved kharacter to be a little… cold.

Next time: Six arms, two characters.

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

FGC #150 Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

Get ready to rock!Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a game about a bunch of guys (and gals) from disparate universes punching each other. When it was even just previewed, everyone with at least a second level geek knowledge complained about this crossover’s premise, because Superman would punch Liu Kang’s head clean off, and what is militantly anti-murder Batman doing in the Fatality-based Mortal Kombat universe? And Baraka? Who wants to see that dork again? These were all valid concerns, and, while the plot creates its own excuses for why the Clown Prince of Crime can evenly battle a cybernetic marine, it… still doesn’t make a lot of sense. Is Kano lobbing magical knives at Flash? Preposterous.

So, let’s be real here, the only way these two franchises are going to get a fair fight is if we take a few steps back and judge them based on other merits. In fact, let’s rank them based on their most interesting criteria. That’s right, folks, it’s time for…

The Silly Off

This is going to get image intensive…

FGC #004 Mortal Kombat Trilogy

Stryker is bad and should feel badMortal Kombat is a sincerely weird series.

Right from the get-go, MK was a strange mix of realistic graphics and over the top gore, famously featuring a masked ninja effortlessly plucking the head and spinal column from a blonde in gym wear. Somehow, seven random fighters (“A Japanese god and… how about an Australian cyborg? Do we have one of those yet?”) with approximately three special moves apiece and barely any variation in “normal” moves combined to form a Voltron of unstoppable arcade juggernautery. I almost feel bad for the makers of Street Fighter II, who must have put hours of effort into something as silly as every last fighter having an “electric x-ray” animation in response to one character’s special move, and then watched as Mortal Kombat flew to the top of the pack based exclusively on its ability to just tear your heart out.

Oh, and Goro. Goro was always pretty cool.

Mortal Kombat quickly begat Mortal Kombat 2, which was a typical video game sequel: more of the same, with maybe a few bits of “silly” tossed in to offset the ultra-violence. Don’t worry, moms, we’re all in on the joke here! Your kids can’t turn into dragons, right? See, it’s all whimsical, loony tunes violence. Please ignore that fellow with the hat bisecting that man with the swords in his arms.

Bunny!Speaking of Looney Tunes, this is about where the insane mythology creep started, as Mortal Kombat was no longer a martial arts tournament hosted by an ancient master, oh no, this was all a plot by the ruler of another dimension that got all of its fashion tips from Mad Max. And that green ninja hiding in the first game? He’s a member of an ancient lizard race and secretly fighting for oh man I cannot finish this sentence.

Can’t we just have a ludicrous four armed dragon man without having to explain his entire breed’s history?

And then came Mortal Kombat 3, where we learned the four armed dragon men had a long standing rivalry with the fanatical horsey man with the metal tail.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy is appropriately named, as it is the third version of the third game in the Mortal Kombat series. Featuring the largest cast Mortal Kombat would ever see until Mortal Kombat Armageddon (effectively Mortal Kombat Trilogy 2), you’ve got a lot of choices for pummeling in MKT, from She-Goro to She-Kahn or even She-Reptile (note that She-Sub-Zero would not be introduced until Mortal Kombat 5, and we’d have to wait until MK6 for She-Kano). There’s even some male characters, like Yellow Ninja, Blue Ninja, Prince Reference, Red Ninja, and two versions of Gray Ninja! How do those boys at Midway come up with this stuff!?

Shake it, sisterSecret shame? I might be a little harsh here with a series that is, at its core, just an excuse for roundhouses and uppercuts, but the sad truth is that I eat this stuff up with a spoon. I have always been a sucker for “comic book” universes, and Mortal Kombat is no exception. You can sell me one hundred issues of the Green Lantern Corps fighting the Yellow Lantern Corps and better watch out for the Red Lantern Corps, and you can keep me up all night on a wiki detailing the full exploits of the guy named after a temperature.

Let’s take a look at the theoretical Mortal Kombat mascot: Scorpion. For those of you that are unaware, Scorpion is literally part of Mortal Kombat’s current caretakers’ logo and has appeared in nearly every Mortal Kombat game and spin off (he missed the original version of Mortal Kombat 3, but swung back in with a vengeance in MK3 Ultimate and Trilogy). Scorpion is the face of Mortal Kombat, and no one has ever had any idea what to do with him.

In Mortal Kombat I, Scorpion was a simple skeleton man that wanted revenge on Sub-Zero, who had forcibly caused Scorpion to lose about eleven pounds during a previous, fatal encounter. Fire Ghost vs. Ice Man, a tale as old as time. Scorpion wound up scoring the only fatality to canonically take place during Mortal Kombat I, and introduced Sub-Zero to his own private burning man exhibition. Flame Wraith gets his revenge, end of story.

Mortal Kombat 2 sees Sub-Zero return, and Scorpion could swear he remembers killing that guy, but maybe his fireball missed? Or Smokey the Bear put him out? Who knows, Scorpion telejumps at the chance to double kill Sub-Zero. But Scorpion finds that, whoops, this Sub-Zero is actually the younger brother of the dead Sub-Zero, and cools his skull down to friendly fire levels. Young Sub-Zero seems to bear Scorpion no ill-will for his part in his brother’s flambé, which, really, we could all learn a lesson here about forgiving unstoppable murder skeletons.

Shao Kahn gets downright glutinous in Mortal Kombat 3, attempts to steal all the souls on Earth and in Hell, and accidentally releases Scorpion to roam the Earth and thrash ninja robots. Scorpion’s bio for the game claims he’s unaffiliated with any side, so he’s just running around, throwing spears at folks because it seems like something to do. Suppose it beats Hell.

Toasty!Scorpion remembers nothing and goes right back to trying to kill Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat 4. Scorpion completely flakes on not only having already killed Sub-Zero, but also learning that Current Sub-Zero is not Dead Sub-Zero. Scorpion comes this close to committing murder for absolutely no reason, but pulls back when he learns that Quan Chi, the Shang Tsung of MK4 (… err… MK2 Shang Tsung), was actually responsible for his family’s death. Whoops! Scorpion is actually pretty good at this vengeance thing, so he drags Quan Chi to Hell… wait… we’re calling it the Nether Realm now.

In what seems to be one part Dante and one part Three Stooges, Scorpion continues to torture Quan Chi until the start of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. He just chases him around not-Hell, swinging his axe all over the place and presumably repeatedly shouting something about getting over there. Quan Chi eventually found a couple of oni (onis? It’s just one of those words you hope you never need to know the plural), was like, “Hey, you guys? That yellow ninja guy said yo’ mama so fat, when she sits around the third circle of Hell, she sits AROUND the third circle of Hell!” Quan Chi then scampered off and started the titular Deadly Alliance while Scorpion dealt with the dual oni, Bashy and Pigpen. According to canon, Scorpion didn’t even really participate in MK:DA, and was simply tossed into a soulnado (glossary: soulnado: a tornado of souls) which sent Scorpion off to the Realm of the Elder Gods, effectively MK’s Heaven.

The afterlife of the Mortal Kombat universe is peculiar and terrible.

The Elder Gods are basically DC’s Guardians of the Universe: know-it-alls from the dawn of time that somehow have never made a worthwhile decision within our generation. The Elder Gods take one look at Scorpion, avenging demon from Hell, and unanimously decide to elect Scorpion as their champion, successfully making him the champion of all of existence. I don’t need to add anything to that, do I? Flaming Vengeance Incarnate is the defender of all that has ever been? Gonna end poorly.

And it does! All of reality gets sucked down the toilet, and Lord Raiden reboots all of existence after making a brief stop over in the DC Universe. A new world is formed in Mortal Kombat 9, and… Scorpion is a vengeful wraith hell bent on liquefying Sub-Zero. Go with what you know, right?

Penguin!Now we’re up to Mortal Kombat X, home of a very much alive Scorpion. How did that happen? I’d claim you should play the game and find out for yourself, but, spoilers, it’s because Cyber Sub-Zero was a hit in Mortal Kombat 9, and the writers needed a new “the same, but different!” iconic character. So, Scorpion, best known as “Ninja Ghost Rider” is now some Asian guy with inexplicable fire powers. Of course, if Cyber Sub-Zero is any indication, Scorps will be back to normal by next game, probably due to a flesh mangling accident with a paper shredder Sub-Zero was trying to repair or something, so let’s not get too used to the new status quo.

Bizarro PitMy point to all this nonsense? Mortal Kombat’s story is about as well plotted and forward thinking as your average DC comics plot (Hal Jordan: Hero, Out-of-Touch Old Man, Super Villain, Dead, Alive, Greatest Hero Ever, Renegade, Space Hobo). Mortal Kombat Trilogy is an early, lame effort to bring these characters together for one final showdown before beginning the truly terrible era of “games no one liked that introduce sixteen new characters a game that are all the same as the previous characters, but maybe with different hair” (MK: GNOLTI16NCAGTAATSATPCBMWDH). It is impossible to play this game today without seeing the insanity of the future stretching before it, and it’s retroactively ruined an experience that could just be a man with metal arms shooting missiles at Elvira.

Or maybe I’m just bitter because I’ve wasted so much valuable brain space on this series. Did you know Stryker was originally intended for Mortal Kombat I? See the original idea…

FGC #4 Mortal Kombat Trilogy

  • System: N64, Playstation
  • Number of Players: 2, really. 8 in a “tournament”, but good luck getting that going.
  • This Roster Looks Familiar: It is, give or take, exactly the same as the MK9 roster. Assuming Random ROB ever chooses that game, I’ve got a lovely post about reliving past glories all ready to go.
  • Admit it, you’ve played this and Killer Instinct Gold more hours than you’ve devoted to anything else in your life: Never!
  • PSX or N64: The N64 is lacking the ability to play as the bosses and unmasked Sub-Zero, and it lacks the PSX’s one-button fatality cheat that makes life so much better. On the other hand, the load times on the PSX edition are atrocious, particularly in a game where matches are over in fifteen seconds. So, good news, we’re all losers! Maybe the Saturn version was best, but I’m not buying this game again!
  • Did you know? The PSX version is the only MK game where you can play as a centaur without any kind of code. This should be an option in other games. I’m not talking about just other Mortal Kombat games, I mean every video game. Think about it. Princess Zelda is just chilling in Ganon’s clutches, and to her rescue is Link, brave Hylian Centaur of Lore. Wait. Nevermind, just googled that. Bad idea.
  • Would I play again? Exclusively for nostalgia purposes. The actual nuts and bolts of playing this game are improved upon in every conceivable way by Mortal Kombat 9. Assuming some centaur-related DLC was ever released for that game, we’d have absolutely no reason to turn on MKT again.

Quite the Fatality

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Yoshi Touch & Go. Woof. Alright. Let’s see how that shakes out, you stupid robot. Please look forward to it!