Category Archives: Mortal Kombat Komplete

SBC #08 Incineroar & Mortal Kombat 1

It is worrying that Mortal Kombat 1 has forgotten one simple fact: Mortal Kombat is and always has been about hype.

The latest Mortal Kombat game calls itself Mortal Kombat 1? Fine! You want to draw a comparison? Let’s go back to the beginning. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the best part of Mortal Kombat parenthesis one.

It's not an uppercut

Videogame historians have intermittently observed that the innovation of the Mortal Kombat franchise from the start was the emphasis on “stun” situations. The explanation goes that this key moment in any match is what separated MK from the army of contemporary fighting games that wanted a piece of the Street Fighter 2 pie. However, this is only half the story. Stun is an integral part of the Mortal Kombat formula, but not because this was something that impacted the mechanics of a fighting game. No, stun was integral because it generated hype. Stunning an opponent with Scorpion’s spear, Sub-Zero’s ice blast, or even Cage’s ball breaker offered an advantage to the attacker, but it also generated anticipation in the player, opponent, and audience. Liu Kang is helpless! That skeleton ninja could do anything to him! And, even if it was a pause that lasted less than a second, a stun generated hype that was unprecedented in fighting games. The continual push and pull of fighters being stunned created an incessant atmosphere of “anything can happen”. And that was before you got to the reason even your mom heard about Mortal Kombat…


This is the ultimate hype machine. A fighter is defeated! They stand there futilely, dizzied and helpless. What is the victor going to do? Will they spare their opponent? Will they simply punch air until their rival falls over? Roundhouse kick them across the screen? Or will they perform the supreme finisher: the fatality? It takes skill and knowledge to perform a fatality. A player must know the “secret code” that initiates the fatality, the proper distance between themselves and the opponent (which is never easy to negotiate in the limited fatality time window), and the appropriate sequence must be performed quickly and accurately. In situations where the victor fails to accurately enter the command, or accidentally punches the opponent mid input, the “winner” looks like a loser. But when they pull it off? It is the flawless finish to an ended encounter. The failure is missing key body parts! There is no coming back from that!

Welcome to the futureLater games within the initial Mortal Kombat Trilogy would offer alternatives to the basic fatality. Friendships and Babalities were widely derided as Mortal Kombat getting “too cartoon-y”, but they served the purpose of finishing an opponent in a unique way. They were not violent, but they were a way of embarrassing a defeated foe all the same. They even had particular use conditions that proved the player was superior, as a “silly” Babality could only be performed if the winner was expert enough to eke out a victory only using the kick buttons. That is extremely difficult when your color-coded ninja only uses punch-based special moves! Mortal Kombat imitator Killer Instinct ignored all pretense and called its similarly embarrassing finishing moves “Humiliations”, because subtly was not allowed in a game where a werewolf could fight a dinosaur. But that was the point: Fatalities, Friendships, Babalities, Animalities, and even the combo-based Brutalities were never just about gore or humor, they were all about one thing: humiliating the loser. One last stab of superiority before some other poor fool has to insert fifty cents.

And if you, an educated reader experiencing this article in the year of our Argus 2023, recognize this all as bullshit? Well… yeah. It is all bullshit. In Mortal Kombat, after Scorpion harpoons an opponent, there is a best move to use, because MK has extremely limited offensive options. An experienced Scorpion player is going to stun their opponent, and then use an uppercut every time, because that does the most damage. Similarly, once Scorpion wins, he is going to back up to sweep distance, hold block, and press up-up. Scorpion has one (1) fatality, and it is the only reasonable choice for finishing a match. Later games expand the repertoire, but even five different finishing options are going to be spent before a player clears the smallest of battle towers (left alone an arcade full of challengers). It’s fake! The idea that there is a choice, that there even could be hype involved here? It’s all fake!

And, yeah, buddy, but so is Pro Wrestling.

There's a centaur!If Street Fighter is the Olympic sport of fighting games. Mortal Kombat is Pro Wrestling. Not to imply that anyone playing MK11 or MK1 in a tournament is somehow “faking” their victories, but Mortal Kombat as a franchise has never been about exact technical execution. It takes skill to be a victor in Mortal Kombat! It takes a measured understanding of the game! But it also takes skill and understanding to properly piledrive an opponent in such a manner that no one is permanently hurt. Pro Wrestling is an amazing showing of physical prowess for everyone involved. It is a big, sweaty ballet (not to imply that ballet dancers do not sweat, it is simply less emphasized). But, in the same way that no one starts throwing cans on stage when the ending of Swan Lake is revealed (I think the swans win?), Pro Wrestling is not actually about “who is going to win”. Victories are “fake” insomuch as they are predetermined, but that does not mean that everyone involved is just a robot (except Business Robot, the robot businessman that can only communicate through bodyslams). It is a practiced art from toe to tip.

And Pro Wrestling lives and dies by hype. You cheer when the face wins, because you are excited about their possible victory. You boo the heel, because he did… uh… something? Pushed a grandma down some stairs? Conquered Earthrealm? Whatever. The point is that these stories, rivalries, and arcs are created whole cloth for the purpose of promoting matches. Fights are the only way to settle scores and win arguments, and you can buy a front row seat to it all. You are excited, because here are your favorites duking it out. That sassy thief with the robot eye is going to get a face full of sledgehammer because he’s been a bad little boy, and you are going to revel in his comeuppance.

Unless you are playing Mortal Kombat 1, where you are just going to watch the heel inexplicably run around like an idiot.

They have fun togetherTraditional caveat/mantra: Mortal Kombat 1 is not a bad game. It is a fun fighting game, and its story mode is still presented better than 95% of fighting games out there. There is significant single player content, and the online battles feel generally “right”. The usual NetherRealm Mortal Kombat checklist is properly completed: the cast is a good mix of important players and random mooks, and they all feel distinctive enough to warrant a slot on the roster. You are not going to get the exact same experience from Nitara the vampire as Havik the chaos priest. Mortal Kombat 1 is a good fighting game if you are looking for something to keep your thumbs twitching through the season (pass).

And part of the reason I am “emergency” slotting this into the review schedule is because I want to get these words to pixels while I still remember the hype leading up to Mortal Kombat 1. There were continual trailers showcasing the new-old characters. The old Mortal Kombat universe is dead! A new one stands in its place! And it’s coocoo crazygonuts! Scorpion and Sub-Zero are brothers! “Blind” Kenshi has perfectly working eyes. Baraka and Mileena are not a separate race/genetic freak (respectively), but afflicted with a strange new disease. The curators of Mortal Kombat knew damn well that this information would be exciting for the fanbase, and everyone was anxious to get hyped for the latest Mortal Kombat adventure.

And then Mortal Kombat 1 was released, and… Well, somebody forgot to tell the people in charge of the actual game that hype was important.

They work togetherThe new Mortal Kombat Universe is hype. No questions there: it is exciting to see vaguely familiar characters filling new and exciting roles (or at least seeing Kuai-Liang wearing yellow). That said, Mortal Kombat already did this whole thing once or twice with other games (Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks and Mortal Kombat 9), and you know damn well that an unmarred Havik is going to have his face half-melted off somewhere amid this plot (I mean, if you remember Havik at all). It is how storytelling works! Similarly, without delving into entirely unwarranted spoilers, the main plot of Story Mode eventually reaches a point where it kind of gets bored with the “new” Mortal Kombat Universe, and drifts back to including more than a few luminaries from the “old” Mortal Kombat Universe. And, while that could be hype as heck (“That’s right, kombat fans, your Kitana is back, and she’s stronger than ever!”), it is more or less an excuse to have a Super Friends/Avengers-style “all the good guys and all the bad guys run into each other” melee. Exciting for three seconds… and then confusing and chaotic. And, special bonus, it entirely drops any of the plot threads for the new Mortal Kombateers so the old guard can steal the spotlight back. Kind of a weird choice after spending six hours with the new class! Your heroes for 80% of the game have about as much impact on the finale as ants. And nobody ever gets hyped about ants.

But whatever, right? That’s the story mode. You play it once, you internalize your feelings for Kung Lao (he’s so dreamy), and then you move on to the real reason you play a fighting game. Time to fight all those people! Like in some kind of game!

BloodyUnfortunately, things are quickly undercut by practically every aspect of the presentation. Pre-match taunts are limited, and we are left with generic chest puffing and alike. Fighters that have legitimate, centuries-long beefs (Edenians are really old!) vaguely gesture toward something about winning, and otherwise act like they do not recognize their opponent. Matches are zippy and fun, but when it comes time to perform a fatality, everyone involved seems… bored. And, heck, there is the option of your fighter stepping back and letting someone else exact vengeance. In fact, those Kameos are a huge problem for hype…

The Kameo system of Mortal Kombat 1 sounds brilliant. The franchise has a deep bench of memorable kharacters, and it would be nigh impossible to do another “Mortal Kombat Trilogy” where everyone got to participate. But the Kameo system not only allows a greater range of MK luminaries, it also comes with the justification that any given Kameo fighter can be from any given Mortal Kombat timeline/universe. MK1 has playable Scorpion and Kameo Scorpion, and they are two totally different people with totally different backstories (one of the Scorpions is dead! But otherwise okay!). This opens the floodgates for all sorts of peculiar shenanigans, as fighters like Smoke have approximately seven different versions immediately available (for the record: ninja, robot ninja, nanomachine demon robot ninja, “recovering” robot ninja, demon ninja, undead demon ninja, new universe ninja). The Kameo system could be the greatest thing that ever happened to the thirty-year-old franchise.

In practice, though, it is so underwhelming, it sucks the air out of the room (and, unfortunately, Smoke is not directly involved). While some of the kameo kharacters do perform in the story mode in a deliberate (or at least present) capacity, it appears that they do not have voice actors that are providing anything but grunts. Given some of these Kameos are some of the most iconic members of the Mortal Kombat kast (Kano! Sonya! Goro lives!), their hushed existences are noticeable. And then when they actually participate in matches, they are… gofers. Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs was an accomplished soldier before Mortal Kombat ever started, and then he experienced one of the most varied histories across two different timelines. He is a warrior, cyborg, father, and champion of Earthrealm. In Mortal Kombat 1, his kameo is… running around and smacking the ground randomly. He does not say anything. His fatality is his klassic “big boot” move from Mortal Kombat 3, which is performed without comment or explanation. Jax, one of the most I love stomppivotal kharacters in the whole of Mortal Kombat (he even had his own [terrible] spinoff!) is… just kind of there. It is hard to get excited about Jax’s appearance, because he is little more than a skin and five extra moves.

This is the biggest problem with Mortal Kombat 1. Mortal Kombat is a franchise about hype, and Mortal Kombat 1 is best described as a game where “it is hard to get excited”. All the pieces are there. All the potential is there. However, it falls short on that je ne sais quoi responsible for the most memorable moments of the last three decades of kombat. It is Pro Wrestling without the drama. It is steak without the sizzle. It is Mortal Kombat without some random dude shouting “Mortal Kombat!”

And if anyone does find the hype for Mortal Kombat 1, tell it to get over here.

SBC #08 Incineroar & Mortal Kombat 1

Incineroar in Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Look at that guy

Look at that guy
I couldn’t decide between these two shots, so you get both

  • They any Good? Super strong! Super grappling! Super hype! … Absolutely terrible recovery and agility. As someone that enjoys the heavies, I would like Incineroar a lot more if I wasn’t convinced I’d be dead the absolute minute I made the wrong move. And, for what it is worth, this is the Pokémon in the playable cast that feels the most like a human. Reskin him as Randy Savage, and you wouldn’t even notice (Macho Man could independently generate fire, right?).
  • That final smash work? Max Malicious Moonsault is the most Pro Wrestling ability in Smash, but is otherwise unimpressive in a game frequently involving space lasers. It is obvious that more moves should end with an atomic explosion, but this one feels like an afterthought.
  • The background work? We are going to assign Incineroar to Prism Tower, as a proper Pokémon Hawaii never surfaced. This is the proto New Donk City, though slightly more survivable if you wind up on the wrong platform at the wrong time. It is pretty straightforward for a switching terrain stage. And, hey, you get legendary birds randomly appearing… even if Yveltal is a bird edge case.
  • Classic Mode: Burning Pro Wrestling Spirit! means fighting heavy characters in the squared circle. Donkey Kong is a king of the ring, which is probably a Punch-Out reference for the Punch-Out stage. It is nice that Incineroar gets a simple flat stage to survive with that hideous agility, but it doesn’t prepare you for the final battle against the hands…
  • Smash Trivia: Incineroar has the slowest movement speed in the game. This is why, when you attempt the obstacle course as part of Classic Mode, it feels like the poor feline is chugging through molasses.
  • Look at that guy

  • Amiibo Corner: You can feel the heat of that flaming belt, and it looks like they are grabbing someone. Can this kitty easily palm Kirby? Probably!
  • Does Smash Bros Remember Today’s Game? Look, I know I am exploiting the flimsiest of excuses to relate the hype-based cat to the hype-based fighting game franchise. But! Incineroar’s Classic Mode ends in a Mirror Match. That’s a Mortal Kombat staple! So these games are totally related!

Incineroar (in spirit) in Mortal Kombat 1

  • He's back, babySystem: Currently available for Windows, Playstation 5, Xbox X/S, and the delightfully compromised Nintendo Switch. Everyone and everything in this game is ugly, but you do have the choice of picking a version where it is ugly and goofy.
  • Number of players: Until they make Kameos playable in the background like in Marvel vs. Capcom (1), we are going to stick to two simultaneous players.
  • What’s in a name? We have the original, 1992 Mortal Kombat. We have the 2011 Mortal Kombat that was the first official reboot of the franchise, and is often referred to as Mortal Kombat 9. And now we have Mortal Kombat 1, which 100% requires the backstory of knowing what the heck happened in Mortal Kombat 11. I’m not certain who NetherRealm is trying to fool here, but something like New Mortal Kombat or Mortal Kombat: ReMurdered might work better.
  • Favorite Fighter: Reptile has long been beloved (hey, my favorite color is green), and his current potential to randomly morph into a full or partial lizard is distinctive. He pairs well with Kameo Sareena, who similarly morphs into her demonic form. Those two crazy kids should get together.
  • Favorite Fatality: I prefer goofy to outright violent, so my current pick is Frost’s “freeze a dude’s abdomen, and then shatter that while leaving the rest of the body (marginally) intact”. That fatality probably has a better name… Regardless! It is a suitable mix of comical and violent that I prefer to a skull getting bisected.
  • This is a jokeUnlockable: Your reward for clearing Story Mode is obtaining a playable Havik. This is an odd choice, as Havik is D-Tier in the grand scheme of Mortal Kombat kharacters, and having to work for him is anomalous. He was originally designed as a possible skin for Noob Saibot! And is mostly just an angry zombie! Whatever! Shujinko being one of the hardest to obtain kameos feels slightly more earned. At least that guy damned the world once!
  • Plot Holes: So Liu Kang created his own universe with a generally more optimistic slant. Sindel is an independent, benevolent ruler. Mortal Kombat tournaments do not lead to dead participants. The villains of the world are generally less powerful. But good ol’ Liu also created a universe where an entire race has been demoted from “culture” to “fatal disease”. This feels… less than noble.
  • Did you know? Somehow, the weird relationship between Ermac and Kenshi continues. Straight from Kenshi’s introduction in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Kenshi and Ermac have always been telekinetic buddies despite having literally nothing else in common. Maybe they both just like the color green? Whatever. They are working together again in this new universe, though, so their bromance continues.
  • Would I play again: I find Mortal Kombat 1 disappointing, but I am not going to pretend that I will do anything but play it again for a week every time DLC drops. And the single player board game kontent has seasons and stories! I am all about that!

What’s next? Okay, so now we are going to get back to Pichu and his pals! Normal service resumes, so please look forward to it!

GIFs you can hear…

FGC #500 Mortal Kombat 11

Let’s learn about Mortal Kombat!

Or was that just some super violence? Who knows!

FGC #500 Mortal Kombat 11

  • System: Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC initially. It also migrated over to the Nintendo Switch and… what’s this? A Google Stadia? That thing plays video games?
  • Number of players: Two very unfriendly combatants.
  • Hey, haven’t you written enough about Mortal Kombat? Consider this a vaguely final chapter. The original Komplete Guide to Mortal Kombat Kharacters started as a simple “review” of Mortal Kombat 11, and then spiraled out of control almost immediately. It seems only appropriate to call this bookend the FGC’s MK11 feature. And, hey, it’s an excuse to play MK11 DLC.
  • How is MK11 Aftermath? It’s entirely pointless! Spoilers, the entire plot ends up exactly where it began, and the greatest tension in the story is “when is Shang Tsung going to betray us all?” And the simple answer to that is “immediately and constantly”. It’s a fun little tale, but it doesn’t add anything to our understanding of the characters or the larger mythos. Nightwolf is noble, Shang Tsung ain’t. The end.
  • But what about that Sindel retcon? Meh, I’ll probably write about that more later, as I feel like I have more to say there. Dammit! Mortal Kombat never ends.
  • Get 'emMaybe actually talk about the game for a second: It’s good! I still prefer Mortal Kombat X(L) for general gameplay, but this is certainly a step up from the overall stiffness of Mortal Kombat 9. And the endless challenge towers offer an interesting…. uh… challenge, too. Somebody remind me to pick up a thesaurus before I finish another 500 articles.
  • Sexual Dimorphism is a Scourge: Interviews regarding Mortal Kombat 11 include creators claiming that the emphasis on “sexy” had gone too far in previous games, and it had to be dialed back for Mortal Kombat 11. That’s why the women of MK now wear more modest clothing, and have more than one body type. Like, there’s a skinny ninja lady, a skinny bug lady, a skinny blonde lady, skinny titan lady, skinny black lady, and another skinny blonde lady that is actually two skinny blonde ladies from different time periods. All the skinny ladies are represented!
  • Favorite Fighter (MK11): My old favorites, Noob Saibot and Kabal, seem more than a little… annoying in this iteration of MK. As a result, I’ve gradually drifted over to Robot Ninja Frost, who is like Sub-Zero, but more likely to hurl her own spine at an opponent. I can respect that.
  • Would I play again: This might be another Street Fighter 5 that has DLC until the end of time. And I’m here for it! Bring on the kombat!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Alundra for the Playstation! I’ll see you in my dreams, Alundra. Please look forward to it!

MKK: Kronika & Cetrion & Geras

Netherrealm’s own Injustice (1) does not get enough credit for having the best damn concept for a fighting game Story Mode ever. Fighting games are wonderful for story telling in videogames because they don’t really have “mooks”, and your hero du jour can reach a heroic finale without having to incidentally kill millions of anonymous randos. Cloud Strife is a moral paragon that has saved the world in multiple ways… but he still slaughtered a healthy 90% of Shinra’s security staff across the planet. Most of those guys were just making minimum wage, saving up gil to buy some Cura material for their sick grandma! Guile, meanwhile, saved us all from the tyranny of M. Bison, and he’s only marginally morally compromised because he once had to punch a green, electrified orphan. Basically, fighting games, almost as a matter of course, follow much more cinematic through lines, and incidentally don’t have to waste time with Big Bad Sol Badguy grinding rats for experience.

This is kanon!

Unfortunately, this is terrible when your roster doesn’t meet the demands of a complete story experience. Skullgirls launched with a cast of like 1.7 playable fighters, so, in order to integrate actual gameplay into its story, every skullgirl had to fight every other skullgirl like 16 times. And, given you saw the same fights with generally the same excuses over and over again, it gave the initial impression that the whole of the Skullgirl Universe was a city street measuring about five feet wide. Similarly, anyone that read the Mortal Kombat comic adaptations could tell you that the MK universe had this problem for a while, as a host of incidental fighters had to be introduced just so Liu Kang didn’t win every last tournament in a single issue. Later Mortal Kombat games/stories filled these holes with larger rosters of various Order Realm denizens, but their necessity to the plot was… dubious.

But Injustice! Now there was a clever story! In short, it featured the roster of Earth 1 fighting their intermittently murderous duplicates from Earth 2 (not actual designations, shut up, nerds). And that’s amazing! It immediately doubles the “roster”, and all you have to do is get Batman a slightly different suit (and that man loves to have a complete wardrobe). Now you can have Flash fight Green Lantern all you want, and it makes perfect story sense, because this is the evil version of the Green Lantern. And you can have the good Green Lantern fight the other Flash, and it doesn’t seem redundant, because this Flash prefers Shadow the Hedgehog to Sonic. He’s a totally different character! You can even make the final battle a fight between Superman and Superman, and it works! Street Fighter can never come up with a decent reason for a bad guy to fight a boss character (Vega got bored? Is that his whole ending?), but Injustice can use its narrative conceit to justify a canonical mirror match! It’s a thing of beauty!

Theoretically identifying their own greatest trick, Netherrealm dabbled in this concept for Mortal Kombat X. In arcade mode, there were a number of “alternate” fighters that seemed to exist in a separate kanon where the likes of Liu Kang or Kung Lao grew old and became the creepy uncles to the next generation. In story mode, meanwhile, there were the undead revenant versions of these same fighters, and here Cassie identified the zombies with unusual blades (“does that lady have a lethal fan?”) as threats. So, while it was completely outside of the usual kanon, you technically could play as a pair of different Scorpions in Mortal Kombat X. Hooray for variety!

She seems nice

But Mortal Kombat 11 decided to take it all a step further. The basic plot of Mortal Kombat 11? Kronika, Titan of Time, has decided that Raiden has overstepped his authority, and now Kronika is going to mess with all of time in order to put the lesser god in his place. But who cares about that? It means we get two kanon Kitanas! Hooray!

Though I suppose we should talk about Kronika, Mortal Kombat’s first female final boss. Give or take the duo of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, she’s also the first final boss in the franchise that is…. How to put this… Quietly all powerful? She can control all of time, she can “rewind” your movements, and she can even perform a fatality that is essentially an eternity of suffering, but… but she’s not very swole. MK final bosses are traditionally hulking monstrosities, and even when they’re on the smaller side, they have a tendency to command all the powers of the roster’s souls or some other such thing. Kronika mostly just floats there, and doesn’t really knock around your fighter with anything but sand(s of time) magic. Her greatest attack is tossing a t-rex at ya, which, yes, that’s pretty rad, but it’s more on the dinosaur than the titan to do the damage. Basically, the point here is that, as a final boss and the theoretical source of all despair in the Mortal Kombat universe, she comes off as a little lacking compared to the likes of unstoppable foes like Shao Kahn or that immortal dragon dude. She’s a mage in barbarian world, and Skeletor is definitely more fondly remembered than Evil-Lyn.

And it doesn’t help that her dastardly plan alternately portrays her as all-powerful and marginally brain dead. It’s always a problem when you have an immortal that has clearly not learned even basic lessons about evil plan caretaking, but here we have a woman that theoretically lived through multiple iterations of the universe, and she still doesn’t have a friggen clue how to stop one karate man. Here’s how this all goes down:

1. Raiden kills Shinnok at the end of Mortal Kombat X. … Okay, he doesn’t kill him, because he can’t be killed, but he does leave the former elder god a sputtering, decapitated head.

2. Unfortunately, Shinnok’s removal from the board goes against Kronika’s grand scheme for the universe, so Raiden must be stopped.

3. Kronika summons various Mortal Kombat stars through time from the era of roughly Mortal Kombat 2. This includes bad guys (that she will recruit for future plans) as well as good guys (that she will assume are going to hang out at Denny’s and not interrupt any evil plans).

4. MK2 Raiden is among the summoned good guys. As part of a “rule” that has never come up before and will never be explained, there can only be one Raiden at a time, so “present” Raiden (MK10 Raiden) is blinked out of existence. This leaves us with only MK2 Raiden, who has all the powers of MK10 Raiden, but does not have all the plot baggage of having spent the last two games occasionally crossing into Dark Raiden territory.

She seems nice

5. But eliminating one Raiden is not enough, Kronika wants to reboot the entirety of the universe to revive Shinnok. In pursuit of her goals, she has her team of time displaced baddies (and Jax) generally mess with the good guys.

6. This is because Kronika needs to tap into some raw power reserves to reset the universe. For instance, Shang Tsung had a well of souls that would help, and she has to collect the power from there. The good guys try to stop her, but fail. No one stops to consider the fact that Shang Tsung apparently had enough power on tap to obliterate all of time.

7. Eventually, it is revealed that Kronika only fears one thing: the combined power of Liu Kang and Raiden. Thus, Kronika has pitted Liu Kang and Raiden against each other in every iteration of the universe. This has happened dozens of times before, if not hundreds. Raiden already killed Liu Kang once in this universe, so it shouldn’t be a problem, but, wait… did Kronika just bring another Liu Kang from MK2 back with the other time-displaced losers? Oh crap! She did!

8. Okay, okay, don’t worry about it. This shouldn’t be a problem. MK2 Liu Kang was killed by MK2 Raiden a few years back during that version of MK3, so Kronika can probably just nudge Raiden into doing that again. Raiden, just let the rage take over and…

9. Dammit! MK11, Undead Liu Kang just kidnapped and absorbed all the powers of MK2 Liu Kang. Now he’s Liu Kang². Okay… okay… we can still deal with this. Liu Kang² doesn’t like Raiden, so unless “good” Liu Kang overtakes “bad” Liu Kang…

10. Fudge! Liu Kang² and Raiden have literally fused into one being. That was the one thing Kronika didn’t want to see happen! I’m sure she can handle…

11. Liu Kang-Raiden (Liuden?) defeats Kronika, and is now the God of the Universe.

So, yeah, Kronika basically ushered in her own destruction. But at least her time travel powers effectively doubled the roster, making the story mode a lot more interesting! Good job, stupid!

But why did Kronika care so much about Shinnok and his “grand place” in her various schemes? Well, because she was Shinnok’s mama. And you know who else is Kronika’s brood? Cetrion, the Elder Goddess of Virtue and Nature.

Pretty butterfly

Cetrion is another character that has theoretically been bumping around the universe since the first Mortal Kombat. She’s the Elder Goddess of Virtue and Nature, and, given how much punching takes place in this universe, she’s essentially the combo god of war and peace like the Grecian Athena. Also like Athena, she can actually handle herself in a fight, and has an interesting fighting style that involves a whole lot of elemental magic. Fireball, tree branch, rocks, strong gust, fireball again, repeat until the other guy falls down. So, yeah, she might be literally the most benevolent deity to ever grace Mortal Kombat, but she’s still going to kick your ass.

Unfortunately, Cetrion doesn’t kick much ass in the actual story of Mortal Kombat 11. She’s literally a god-level threat, and she’s at least generally annoyed by the death of her brother/mortal enemy, but she mostly spends her time being Kronika’s lapdog. What’s worse, her whole “deal” appears to be being a goddess of “good” that is continually committing heinous acts, and the best she can do for pathos is occasionally note “oh, maybe eating the souls of all those innocent monks was… morally gray?” She does wholesale murder the entirety of the rest of the Elder God Pantheon (off-screen), though, so she takes the stage with a healthy body count, at least.

For a divine being that is meant to be the opposite number to a main villain from the franchise, Cetrion seems almost entirely like an afterthought that could be dropped from the story without losing a single beat. And you know what? She probably is an afterthought. Kronika, Titan of Time, is currently the only fighter in all of Mortal Kombat that is a boss that is in no way playable. Granted, that’s likely just an accident of being the last boss currently in MK kanon, as many other bosses started as unplayable before being selectable in later titles. But that quirk of design was likely noticed during MK11, so Kronika’s finer points were split among two selectable fighters. Cetrion is the “all powerful” goddess that can use divine attacks with a predominantly haughty demeanor, and Kronika’s time abilities drifted over to our final MK character, Geras.

Nice gauntlet

Geras is Kronika’s Goro. However, rather than being a hulking monster, Geras is meant to be “unbeatable” in a completely different way. Geras’s defining ability is that he exists “at a fixed moment in time”. What does that mean? Basically, he’s unkillable. Chop off his head, gouge out his eyes, or even just inflict a particularly nasty papercut, and he’ll revert to an earlier point in time when it never happened. And, taking a page from Injustice again, he has Doomsday’s signature ability to remember and react to whatever killed him the first time. So, basically, Geras is a dude that has been killed hundreds of thousands of times over the course of multiple timelines, and now he’s here staring down a 20-something with a pointy hat. Who do you think is going to win?

And, since the whole regeneration thing is a completely boring power for arcade mode (Sonya Blade is a generic human that is still fighting after surviving 6,732,601 fatalities and counting), Geras also seems to possess a baby version of Kronika’s time powers. He can freeze his opponents in place, create a time clone, or just manipulate literal sands of time because why not. He can even screw with the fight timer, because, ya know, time. Honestly, it’s a pretty innovative way of incorporating “time attacks” into a franchise entry that is all about time travel. Double points to Geras because we’re dealing with a fighting game where the entire plot is about fighters being plucked from across the time stream, and the best anyone could come up with is “what if the guys from Mortal Kombat 2 came back?” You can do better, MK! You could have Abraham Lincoln battling Socrates as guest fighters, and it would make total kanon sense! Follow the excellent and creative example of Geras!

Regardless, Geras’s contribution to the overall story is right there with that lack-of-Abraham-Lincoln boring thinking. He’s Kronika’s Goro, and, rather than using that level of intimidation to actually do anything memorable, he’s mostly just a go-fer. It’s established that he is effectively invincible and scary, but he doesn’t actually kill a single fighter. No kills! In Mortal Kombat! Hotaru at least messed up Sub-Zero, and the best Geras can manage is threatening Cassie Cage. And when he finally comes to blows with Raiden, he is instantly and effectively neutralized by the thunder god dropping him into a mystically bottomless ocean. Geras is supposed to be an unstoppable monster, but two separate versions of Johnny Cage manage to outlast him.

They're friends!

But it’s not like that matters, as the universe at large doesn’t last much past Geras’s defeat. Kronika is defeated by Fire God Liu Kang, and, given Kronika messed the universe up but good in her misbegotten attempts to reboot existence for the hundredth time, Raikang is left with the job of recreating the Mortal Kombat universe. What shape will it take? What fighters will we see in the inevitable Mortal Kombat 12? Who knows! But there is one thing I know. This is the end of this iteration of the Mortal Kombat universe, so, having covered every last kombatant, I can safely say that this has been a komplete guide to Mortal Kombat kharacters.

… At least until the next DLC.

Thanks for reading.

MKK: Kollector & Kut Kontent

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

Nice chain

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

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

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

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

Mortal Kombat Kut Kontent

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

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

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


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.


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)!


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.


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.


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.