Tag Archives: sub-zero

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.

MKK: Kenshi Takahashi

So Mortal Kombat 4, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Mortal Kombat Advance (don’t ask), and most of all Mortal Kombat: Special Forces combined to form an evil Voltron (Sincline) that ultimately killed the Mortal Kombat franchise for a good number of years. There was a two year gap between Special Forces and any sort of MK game, and a four year gap between fighting game installments. Four years might not seem like a long time to old and wizened gamers such as ourselves, but, to put that timespan in perspective, it only took a little over four years for Mario to de-age from a perfectly competent plumber to a useless, football-esque infant. Can you imagine what could happen to the Mortal Kombat franchise in that same span of time? Johnny Cage might become some manner of fighting fetus!

He can't see much

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was the first fighting game to see the return of the franchise. It was the official fifth game in the franchise (the logo looked like a deadly roman numeral), and it sought to right what once went wrong with Mortal Kombat 4. First of all, MK: DA ported the familiar fighters of Mortal Kombat into the third dimension in a way that didn’t completely suck. Finally, MK had graduated to graphical fidelity that would put War Gods to shame. And the gameplay had improved in this strange new dimension, too. Moving in 3-D space was bizarre and clunky (klunky?) in MK4, but MK: DA included side-stepping that actually felt smooth and remotely natural. MK was (and, seemingly, always would be) a 2-D affair (there are too many flying spears that would have to be adjusted to be infinitely wide to truly be 3-D), but MK: DA faked it well enough to make us all believe Mortal Kombat had entered the 21st century with uppercuts a-blazin’.

But the other gigantic change to the Mortal Kombat formula was that MK: Deadly Alliance was the first MK title to introduce a little bit of variety to the fighters. Previously, every kharacter had unique special moves, combos, and fatalities, but possessed “basic” movesets that were exactly the same. Sonya Blade’s roundhouse was exactly the same as Kano’s. Give or take a few pixels, every combatant was virtually identical when using anything but their generally unique fireballs and alike. MK4 made the babiest of baby steps toward some differentiation by granting each fighter a unique weapon… but this was unbalanced to the point that Fujin could snipe his opponents with a crossbow while Kai stumbled around with a staff. MK: DA, meanwhile, granted everyone an exclusive weapon and two distinctive fighting styles. Everyone was now completely dissimilar, random select felt more diverse than ever, and style switching was optimized for home console controllers, so going from roundhouses to sword slices was just a shoulder button away. This was a whole new era for Mortal Kombat!

He can't see much

Of course, not everyone liked it. One could easily argue that the appeal of the old MK system was that the fighters weren’t distinct, and claiming Scorpion or Kitana as your favorite didn’t mean you had to relearn how to play the game. Now, if you chose Reptile for his sweet acid spits, you had to also learn how to effectively use his crab fighting style, and restrain your laughter as this Yoshi-looking mofo scuttled across the battlefield. Fighters now had an “ease of use” rating, and, let me tell you, you didn’t used to have to figure out whether or not “ice throwing guy” was going to properly conform to your “playstyle”. In short, taking every kharacter from “0 variety” to “3 fighting styles each” very possibly overcomplicated the previously straightforward gameplay of the franchise.

And, heralding this brave new day of density is Kenshi Takahashi, the most complicated new fighter from the era.

Kenshi must possess the most archetypes crammed into any one fighter’s backstory. Kenshi was originally a Ryu-esque world warrior looking to be the best fighter. He eventually stumbled upon a helpful old man that claimed he could help Kenshi find a magical sword worthy of his fighting prowess. Unfortunately, that old man proved to be Shang Tsung, who was using Kenshi to uncover some magical crypt of fighting ancestors. Kenshi gained his own private Excalibur, but a curse upon the sword blinded the fighter, so now he was stuck with being a sightless master for the rest of his days. Shang Tsung ate some souls, but whatever leftovers were around possessed the sword and guided Kenshi, so he’s also got some soulcalibur wiz biz going on. And, as any Neurospear will tell you (I have decided to go all in on esoteric references now), losing your sight will increase your telepathic abilities, so Kenshi possesses both telekinesis and general mind control powers. And he’s probably really good at making sushi. And if he was on the Star Trek Enterprise, everyone would be his friend, and he’d totally be running the place by the end of the week. Captain Picard would cry happy tears.

Blindy

As you might expect from that origin story, Kenshi really wants to stab Shang Tsung but good, and he’s willing to use his two separate fighting styles and one magic sword-based weapon style to do it. He joined up with Sonya and the Special Forces sometime around Deadly Alliance in order to gain access to Outworld (apparently generating portals is one of the few powers he does not possess), and volunteered to help out Cyrax in exchange for access to sweet, sweet Shang Tsung murder. Better men than you have tried, Kenshi! Unfortunately, Kenshi never gets his chance, as Mavado (look forward to that bio!) was tasked with killing the swordsman, and world class fighter Kenshi here got his ass kicked. Kenshi spent the finale of Deadly Alliance lying dead in a ditch, but was rescued by Sub-Zero, who was similarly waylaid on his way to the final battle. They instantly became sword buddies, and ventured around having whacky adventures and distributing snow cones to Outworld children. So all Kenshi did during Mortal Kombat: Deception was bump around in the dark like some kind of dude with severe vision impairment.

But things were really looking up in Mortal Kombat Armageddon! Kenshi found his way back home, and decided to drop the pretense and just straight up become Daredevil. He dismantled criminal empires “from the shadows”, and probably would have had time to complete his law degree if another stupid Mortal Kombat tournament didn’t pop up. Kenshi actively decided to refuse the call when he not only heard murmurings of the Armageddon plot amongst the criminal elements, but also when Johnny Cage straight up invited the dude to come along and fight for the forces of good. But Kenshi’s ol’ reliable psychic powers kicked in when the battle began in earnest, so he turned his car around and lead the forces of good at Armageddon (which is apparently in Edenia). Kenshi probably did lead the armies of general friendliness well, but he definitely died, too, so he couldn’t have been that great of a general.

Blindy

Not like it mattered, though, as Kenshi got a second shot as one of the few “later” MK kharacters to appear in the rebooted universe. That’s right, boys and girls, we’re almost out of fighters that bother to show up for MK9 and later! Kenshi was DLC for MK9, and only appeared in the storymode as a name check during nuMK2. But his DLC appearance confirms that he has the same backstory, and he’s out to get all blind justice on Shang Tsung. Unfortunately, he whiffs that blow again, and is now 0 for 2 in two different universes on actually exacting vengeance. That’s a fairly impressive loss record when you consider how many times Shang Tsung has been killed by other people.

Smarting from that loss, Kenshi decided to find comfort in the arms of a woman. Or maybe he did earlier? Look, what’s important is that Kenshi met a woman by the name of Suchin, had wild, probably telekinetic sex, and then didn’t think to use any of his powers for birth control. Suchin had a kid a few (probably, like, nine) months later, but, by that time, Kenshi had already knocked off to the pub for a cig. Kenshi did not learn of his son, Takeda, until years later when Suchin was murdered for the crime of being a woman in a man’s story. Kenshi was then granted custody of his only son… and immediately dropped the kid off with Scorpion. Scorpion. You know, the one guy in Mortal Kombat who kanonically got his son killed as a result of being an assassin for hire (or whatever the hell he was doing in MK Mythologies). Father of the freaking year. No, I don’t care if he’s a recovering fire skeleton that needs something new to focus on. That is a poor choice, Kenshi. Regardless, Takeda winds up in the care of Scorpion so he can become the next generation of Shirai Ryu ninja, and Kenshi ventures forth to knock off to the pub for a cig avenge his baby mama’s death. Unfortunately, the outcome of that quest was lost with the cancelation of the Mortal Kombat X comic book, but let’s just go ahead and assume Kenshi failed yet again.

That's going to smart

Kenshi was moonlighting with the Special Forces again all this time, though, so he had an excuse to participate in the prologue and main bits of Mortal Kombat X’s story. He’s instrumental in stopping Shinnok’s initial invasion, as his magical sword directs the party to a magical elevator. Seriously. That’s a thing that happens. It’s supposed to be triumphant or something. Then he spends most of the “present” of MKX telepathically informing his son that he’d love to swing by and help, but the pub has got so many cigs, and he’s gotta go get them, and he’ll be back to help just as soon as he’s done. Kenshi is last seen being knocked out by a revived Shinnok, and does not appear again even after his son leaves with the other newbies to save the world. Kenshi and his son don’t appear in Mortal Kombat 11, leaving Frost as the only MK: Deadly Alliance protagonist to carry the torch into the final reboot.

In the end, that’s a pretty complicated life for a guy whose name just means “dude with sword”.

Next time: Ice to meet a chill fighter.

MKK: Fujin & Sareena

Mortal Kombat Mythologies splits Sub-Zero’s quest into two parts. First, Subs must venture through a temple of themed elements like some common Light Warrior, and defeat a quartet of elementally themed “guardians”. In the context of MKM, it appears these creatures are little more than themed boss fights, and not “for real” antagonists. They do not speak, they do not have personalities, and they’re simply a parade of stock fiends. Earth is represented by a golem of the Castlevania variety, Fire is a really obvious palette (body?) swap of Raiden (but on fire), Water is played by Tobias Fünke, and Air is just some dude in a cape that accidentally gets shredded by his own tornados. They’re more interesting bosses than the generic monks that comprise most of Sub-Zero’s opponents, but I don’t think anyone expected “wind guy” to ever make a comeback.

God of Farts
(not Thor)

So here’s Fujin, God of Wind, and Raiden’s secret best buddy.

Fujin wasn’t even named in Mortal Kombat Mythologies, but he popped back into the universe for Mortal Kombat 4. He’s also not just a “wind guardian” hanging out in some forgotten temple, he’s the God of Wind for the whole of Earth, and one of the last surviving gods after Shinnok decided to reinvade the planet. Sorry, rock guy, you didn’t make the cut. And, while it is nice to see another god participating in Mortal Kombat (is Raiden the only deity that finds to the time to work on his abs?), Fujin basically existed in the plot of MK4 to be Raiden’s sidekick. Fujin’s vaguely kanonical ending sees Raiden getting promoted to Elder God (which definitely happened), and Fujin moving up a rank to fill Raiden’s former position as Captain Planet.

God of Farts

And then Raiden returned to his old position a whole game later, so Fujin had to stand in the divine unemployment line. Don’t worry, man, you’ll be fine. You’re a wind god! And you have experience with Excel!

Fujin finally got his gusts together three games later in Mortal Kombat Armageddon. Here, Raiden was going through his goth phase, and hanging out with new friends like Zombie Liu Kang, so Fujin decided to step in and be the good god around town with his new buddy, Only Sort of a Zombie Kung Lao. The two technically didn’t do anything, but Raiden was back to good by the end of Mortal Kombat Armageddon, so maybe Fujin’s noble actually-doing-something-for-a-change turned Raiden’s frown upside down. And then everybody died.

Mortal Kombat 10 started with a retread of MK4, so Fujin at least got to cameo during the opening cinema scenes. Once again, he’s assisting Raiden as (unconfirmed) the last surviving god against Shinnok’s invading forces. He’s not seen in the “future” of MK10, but one would assume he’s blowing Quan Chi’s farts around just off camera. There’s no reason to believe he isn’t in good health.

God of Farts

… Oh, except Frost apparently iced Fujin off-screen sometime before Mortal Kombat 11. She won’t shut up about it. So, uh, sorry, Fooj. At least you had a better run than that fire guy.

The second half of Mortal Kombat Mytholgies sees Quan Chi run off to hell with an amulet that could destroy the universe. Sub-Zero is guilted into chasing after the sorcerer by Raiden’s incessant nagging, and the rest of the game is Sub-Zero’s Inferno. Here, Sub-Zero must battle Shinnok’s personal death cult, The Brotherhood of Shadow. And, because MK can’t name its organizations correctly (a bunch of white guys are the Black Dragons? Really?), the most prominent members of The Brotherhood of Shadows are… sisters.

I remember you

And it’s here that we meet Sareena, Mortal Kombat’s most forgotten female.

After stomping the elemental guardians, Sub-Zero needed some bosses to fight before making his way to Quan Chi and Shinnok. Thus, the mook sisters were dispatched by Quan Chi, presumably because Ed Boon wasn’t going to go to all the trouble of filming a live action movie if it didn’t include real women dressed up in skimpy leather. So Sub-Zero wound up pursued by Sareena, Regina, and Purina (uh… I think those are their names). Sub-Zero killed the two most forgettable sisters, but he also read the strategy guide for his own game beforehand, so he spared Sareena. This paid off just in time for the final boss fights, as Sareena teamed up with Sub-Zero to defeat her master, Quan Chi. Unfortunately, she was vaporized moments later by Shinnok. Wow, sorry Sareena, looks like you die even when Sub-Zero spares you. Guess you’re doomed to perish before the Mortal Kombat timeline technically starts just so our hero can have enough man pain to make it over the finish line. Sorry again.

But it turns out she was fine! Sareena is technically a demon (that is merely disguised as a sexy lady), and if you kill a demon in the Netherrealm, she’ll just respawn on some other level. Hooray! Sareena didn’t make it back in time for Mortal Kombat 4, but she did return for Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance. Sorta.

Apparently the developers of Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance put together a sort of “what if” mockup of Sareena, a fighter that had never actually been playable and only existed in Mortal Kombat Mythologies. The directors really liked what was produced… but MKDA was already practically out the door. These days, she’d likely wind up as a DLC choice, but that wasn’t so much a thing in 2002. The solution? She was the only completely original kharacter added to one portable version of MKDA (Sektor and Noob Saibot were also added, but they were palette swaps). The downside? This was still back when “portable version” meant “Gameboy Advance”.

I remember you

Her premiere was… not exactly inspiring.

Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition saw a Sareena that had a whole two special moves. She could fire a skull (pretty typical demon fare) and do a cartwheel (because she’s a lady). She had one fatality that involved some random punching. Her fighting style was a grab bag from three other female fighters (Sonya, Frost, and Li Mei, three kharacters that were cut from this version of DA) She was not very memorable.

But she was there! And she wanted her revenge on Quan Chi! Which she didn’t get! Naturally!

A lot of fans speculated that now, with her model all existing an’ stuff, she’d be a shoo-in for the next Mortal Kombat title, MK: Deception. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t appear at all.

But she did return as a playable kharacter in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon! And she was, oddly enough, one of the best fighters in the game, as her projectiles (now back to throwing knives she showed off in her initial appearance) were the fastest in the game. Was this a way for the kreators of Mortal Kombat to apologize for the oft-neglected Sareena, or was it simply the result of Sareena being one of the few wholly original, not completely reused fighters on the roster, and thus was unbalanced as hell? Who knows!

I remember you

Whatever the case, most of her history and backstory is filled in during this featured adventure. She’s a big scary demon, but she needed Quan Chi to maintain human form, but then she got over that, and she joined the Lin Kuei (Sub-Zero’s clan) after MKA, but she got lost or something, and is now back to working for Quan Chi like her sisters, but she’s planning on betraying him at the earliest opportunity. Got all that? It’s pretty much exactly her MK:M story, except maybe this time she’ll survive. Which she doesn’t. But at least everybody else died, too!

Sareena hasn’t been a playable kharacter in the new MK universe, but she did pop up during the story mode of Mortal Kombat X. In this case, she was fighting some of the (formerly good) undead hordes of Quan Chi, and claiming that there was a better way, and they could escape his control like she did. For anyone that remembered her from MK:M, this was a pretty cool cameo. For the vast number of Mortal Kombat players that never heard of that game, however, she likely just came off as some kind of deranged, gothic Jehova’s Witness (Raiden’s Witness?). Other than that, we haven’t seen… Oh, wait a minute, apparently Sareena returns as part of Kabal’s ending in Mortal Kombat 11 as…

I remember you

Okay, she’s unnamed in the text, but apparently Kabal’s dream of a better life is not ever being scarred, owning a mansion with attack helicopters, and having 2.5 kids and a dog with a noted demon from Hell. This is an odd choice, but, hey, at least someone remembered Sareena existed.

Next time: It’s time for the original Mortal Kombat 4 fighters. Oh no!

MKK: Shinnok

You ever think back on old 80’s cartoons where there was some unstoppable evil force (think Cobra Commander, Megatron, Skeletor, or Ronald Reagan), but they got routinely trounced every week, so why were you afraid of them, again? Like Gargamel was a malevolent antagonist that was attempting genocide for monetary gain, but he was also routinely thwarted by a pack of brownies with names like “Happy Smurf”. Why was he at all threatening? He failed every single time! There was no stopping stopping him! He would always fail!

And here’s a villain cut from the same cloth.

BABY HANDS

Shinnok was an Elder God. The dedicated theology of Mortal Kombat is ever mutable and confusing on a good day, but we do have a general god hierarchy. There are gods of individual realms, and they seem to be based on elements and such. And then there are Elder Gods, who are gods that got promoted to the City Council of the Gods. However, what Elder Gods actually do is nebulous and unclear. We think they’re supposed to protect the realms? Probably? Well, whatever the case, Shinnok was a proud member of the God Squad, but then got demoted back in prehistory when he attempted to take the whole of Earthrealm (that’s our realm!) for himself. Raiden, (regular) god of Earth, led his own squad o’ gods against Shinnok, and eventually saved the day through a massive attack that unfortunately leveled nearly all life on Earth. In your primitive, human science, you refer to this event as the start of the Ice Age.

So, yes, it is Mortal Kombat kanon that a war between Shinnok and Raiden is what killed the dinosaurs. That’s f%#&ing metal.

Shinnok was punished for his transgression by being damned from the heavens to forever dwell in the Netherrealm, aka the Hell of the Mortal Kombat universe. Now, you might be thinking at this point that this whole mythology is kind of clever, and is arguably a retelling of the popular Christian interpretation of Lucifer/Satan, the fallen angel, waging war in Heaven and then being damned to Hell for his hubris. And that would be cool if not for the fact that “Lucifer” is already ruling in Hell. Yes, it is kanon that Shinnok was damned to Hell and then punished and tormented by the ruler of the Netherrealm, Lucifer. So, apparently, this kind of “fallen divine being” thing routinely happens in the Mortal Kombat universe.

BABY HANDS

Lucifer tortured Shinnok for a few thousand years, but eventually Shinnok made a pact with a demon-wizard, Quan Chi. Quan Chi would aid Shinnok in overthrowing Lucifer, but, in exchange, Shinnok would have to go out for ice cream with Quan Chi at least once every two weeks. Shinnok, ever the scheming god, managed to negotiate this down to once a month, but only because he convinced the vain Quan Chi that too many treats would make him “kinda paunchy”, which is not a good look for a bald guy. And so the two demon bros overthrew Lucifer, and Shinnok became the uncontested god of the underworld (and Quan Chi got Lucifer’s stash of black lipstick).

But Shinnok still wanted to rule Earthrealm, so he hatched a plan to eventually reclaim what he saw as his birthright. Back when Shinnok was still living it up as an Elder God, he transferred the bulk of his power to a magical amulet. Why did he do this? Why did he willingly concede his own power to a trinket that could be removed or stolen? Well, obviously, if we knew the answer to that, then we’d be as smart as Elder Gods, right? And do I see you ruling any mystical realms filled with multi-armed weirdos? No! So shut-up and just deal with the fact that there’s a magical amulet out there possessing all of Shinnok’s powers, and he managed to drop it on his way down to Hell. And Raiden nabbed this amulet, and, as one does, sealed its power in four elemental dungeons guarded by four elemental bosses. And, worst of all, Raiden didn’t tell Shinnok where any of those elemental temples were! Is the fire one in a volcano? But which one? Earth has so many! This left good ol’ Quan Chi to align himself with Shao Kahn and Shang Tsung, and set up a little tit-for-tat for the information Shang Tsung had gained from devouring a million or so souls over the years. Quan Chi discovered the location of the amulet, Shao Kahn gained the ability to revive his dead wife at the time and dimension of his choosing, and everybody was happy. Quan Chi eventually used this information to hire Sub-Zero, reclaim the amulet, and nearly free Shinnok from Hell… but Shinnok decided to chill and wait for a little bit when Sub-Zero fought back. Soon, my pet, soon we’ll have all the failure we can carry in our wee, skeletal baby hands…

BABY HANDS

Shinnok’s big day finally came after Mortal Kombat 3. Shao Kahn’s attempted merging of the realms was just enough to weaken everyone’s defenses, and Shinnok started his invasion with… Edenia, for some reason. In what must have been the first infernal invasion based on a Benny Hill sketch, Shinnok and his buddies disguised themselves as helpless refugees, snuck into Kitana’s home realm, and took over the place inside of an hour. Edenians are really good at being conquered. Then Shinnok turned his divine eyes on Earthrealm, and kicked off Mortal Kombat 4 with a fighting tournament (as this is how things are done). Unfortunately, things went south for Shinnok almost immediately. For one thing, Shinnok was only “empowered” during this time because of Quan Chi, who had stolen the real super amulet, and was kind of making a point of standing next to Shinnok at all times, letting the old god soak up ambient amulet rays, and hoping he wouldn’t notice the ruse. This plan fell apart when Scorpion dragged Quan Chi right back to Hell (which, come to think of it, wouldn’t it have been easier for Scorpion to get his revenge while everyone was already in Hell?), and Shinnok was left fairly defenseless against the combined might of the Earthrealm warriors. As ever, Liu Kang delivered the final jump kick to that dollar-store Shang Tsung, and Shinnok was sent right back down to where the goblins go.
BABY HANDS

Absolutely no one begged for the return of Shinnok, so he spent some quality time with his remaining infernal minions until Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Shinnok was one of the many supporting villains in that tale, and he spent a little time allying himself with the protagonist of that adventure’s (literal) evil twin. But, in the end, Shao Kahn won that battle anyway, so Shinnok was left dead on the ground… which kind of shouldn’t be possible, but I’ll allow it, because it means there is one less Shinnok in the universe.

Take 2 on this story. When the Mortal Kombat kontinuity rebooted, it rebooted at the restore point of Mortal Kombat 1, so all of Shinnok’s complicated mythology remained firmly in place. However, this universe featured a Quan Chi that, thanks to a coin flip that went a different way, got two scoops of Scorpion Flamin’ Hot Crunch, and not Stryker’s Sundae Best. As a result, Quan Chi was in a much better mood in time for Mortal Kombat 4, and decided to give Shinnok the real amulet for this go round. Well, either that, or since Quan Chi had gained an entire army of superpowered undead karate wizards, he decided he didn’t need the stupid amulet anyway. Whatever the case, Shinnok kicked off nu-MK4 completely flush with power, and forsook his whole “Edenian refugees plan” for just flying in on an army of winged demons. Less evil masterminding, more shock and awe. But! Bad news for ol’ Shinnok again, just when the big bad was going to conquer the planet, Johnny Cage stepped up to the plate and magic-kicked Shinnok into next week. And next week is precisely when Raiden figured he could seal Shinnok within his own stupid amulet. So rebooted MK4 is over before it begins thanks to Raiden having not ever once played a JRPG featuring an ancient, evil god sealed into mystical jewelry (which, come to think of it, is every JRPG).

BABY HANDS

So the proper story of Mortal Kombat 10 is that, about twenty years after MK4*, most of the planet seems to be in a mad scramble to either release or permanently seal Shinnok from/to his amulet. As must inevitably happen in such a narrative, Shinnok escapes his bonds again, and… is immediately defeated by a teenage girl. Before Shinnok is Kim Possible’d into defeat, though, he does manage to obtain some kind of “devil form” by welding that amulet onto his tummy. Makes for a dude that at least looks like a decent final boss (finally!). But then Raiden chops off the former Elder God’s head. Shinnok is thus theoretically alive for the rest of eternity, but left as little more than a sputtering skull.

Shinnok isn’t technically consciously involved in Mortal Kombat 11 (some of his old zombie pals use his head as a mystical set of AAs), but his mom does show up, who turns out to be the Goddess/Titan of Time. And it’s revealed that Shinnok’s sister is also the Goddess of Good & Life, recontextualizing Shinnok as distinctly her opposite number, the God of Evil & Death. This really makes you wonder how Shinnok got a seat in the pantheon before his fall… but I guess it’s all about who you know, even when you’re a god of repeated failures.

NO MORE BABY HANDS

Next time: Some more gods and demons.