Tag Archives: mortal kombat

FGC #562 Q*Bert

No colorLet’s look at the evolution of gaming/Q*Bert over the years.

In 1982, gaming was just taking its first, tentative steps towards Gaming as we know it. Pac-Man and Pong had blazed the trail with their joystick/wheely thing controls, but now we were seeing new and innovative ways to play. Kangaroo, for instance, was a game that was very similar to the likes of Donkey Kong, but added an all-important offensive action to its heroine’s repertoire. Kangaroo could punch out monkeys and apples alike, and one could argue this simple act was the start of “videogame violence” for years to come (sorry, dead monkeys, you gotta start somewhere). And speaking of offensive options, Dig Dug first started digging in ’82, and he had the ability to “pump up” his opponents until they popped. This had the dual purpose of inspiring a generation of bizarre fetishes and featuring a hero that always had the ability to turn the tables on his opponents. Unlike Pac-Man or Mario that had to rely on sporadically distributed powerups, Taizo the Digger was hunted and hunter all in one. This would become the norm for practically all of gaming to come.

But if one game presciently granted a glimpse of gaming of the future, it was Pitfall. Nearly four decades ago, Pitfall Harry explored a large world of tricks, traps, and treasure. Harry had much to do in his (certainly not Mayan) adventure, and, while his moveset was limited, it was contextually sensitive to all sorts of challenges. Harry didn’t simply jump over opponents, he leapt to swing across vines, or hopped over the heads of gators. Pitfall was a revelation for everything its protagonist (and by extension, the player) could do, even if this was still the era of extremely blocky dudes puttering around monochrome backgrounds.

Lookin' GoodAnd 1982 also saw the release of Q*Bert. Q*Bert only need move from block to block in a generally diagonal manner. He changes block colors simply by touching blocks, and his only “offensive option” is baiting a malevolent snake into a bottomless pit. Q*Bert does not have a bonus jump, “punch”, or other abilities. Q*Bert simply hops.

Ten years later, in 1992, the face of gaming had irrevocably changed. The arcade gave way to the domination of the console, and now Sega and Nintendo were battling it out. But there was the Personal Computer, too! Wolfenstein 3D had just been released, and the whole of the FPS genre was just starting to congeal into Doom (to be released the next year). For some, the “3-D” nature of first person shooters promised to be what “the future of gaming” was always expected to be: fully immersive fighting (through the legions of Hell/nazis, apparently).

But away from the monitor and back at the television, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was pushing the boundaries of the genre that had become known as platforming. Sonic could run, jump, and dash; but he did it at speeds that could not have even been imagined ten years prior. And this latest Sonic allowed for two player simultaneous play! Just like in those competitive fighting games that had been making the scene! And Mortal Kombat was the most prominent “new fighter” of ’92. Now there was a radical shift in gaming! Kangaroo might have punched out a monkey, but, for better or worse, she never tore the head off of an opponent. And look at all those buttons! “Punch” is a thing of the past: Sub-Zero had a variety of punches, kicks, and fireballs (well, snowballs) at his disposal. You didn’t just need an instruction manual for your average fighting game, you needed a strategy guide (thanks, Nintendo Power!).

Good bless QBertBut while we’re considering strategy, let us also consider Super Mario Kart. Mario had cameoed in a sports title here or there over the years (he got really good at Golf, apparently), but he mostly just starred in his own adventures that involved running and jumping. Super Mario Kart was a great success as a fun racing game, but it also showcased how a videogame mascot could shift all their normal “verbs”, but still be unmistakably that familiar mascot. Mushrooms can make you super tall, or they can give you a speed boost. Turtle shells can become projectiles divorced from their turtles. And anyone that has ever played any Mario Kart knows the difference between a Starman that allows you to mow down goombas and one that allows you to speed to the finish line. Mario Kart showed that even the most rigidly defined mascot could be anything, and paved the way for the Sonic Racing or unprecedented crossovers of today.

And then there was Q*Bert for Gameboy, and Q*Bert 3 for Super Nintendo, both released in 1992. Q*Bert only need move from block to block in a generally diagonal manner. He changes block colors simply by touching blocks, and his only “offensive option” is baiting a malevolent snake into a bottomless pit. Q*Bert does not have a bonus jump, six punch buttons, or other abilities. Q*Bert simply hops. Sometimes there are a variety of new colors and backgrounds, though. You know, at least on the system that has color.

Let’s hop forward seven years. By the time 1999 rolled around, the “mascot wars” of the previous console generation had concluded, and newcomer Sony was riding high with the Playstation and the serious, cinematic Final Fantasy franchise. This was the year we were finally going to see the sequel to Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy: Whatever, and it pushed the boundaries for what was expected of the JRPG genre. Have you ever heard of Triple Triad? Guardian Forces? Dog Missiles? If you haven’t, don’t worry about it, it was all only around for one game, but it did establish that you could have complicated battle systems that were only relevant for one title. Fight, magic, item wasn’t the only fish in the sea, anymore, let’s get ready to get some gambits up in here!

Go QBert!This was also a time when gaming was getting more serious… but “serious” as more of a teenager’s definition. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater allowed a “real human” avatar to perform intricate skateboarding tricks in a universe that apparently had unlimited and instant healthcare. Silent Hill allowed a player to explore the depths of the human psyche in a world that was going to be complete in a few years with the introduction of a certain pyramid headed fellow that really knew how to swing around half a pair of scissors. Or maybe you just wanted to be the Driver, and cruise around realistic (enough) cities? In a way, these games were just as big on the fantasy as Mario (no, you cannot drive a car into a building in reality and continue to have a good time), but they were a lot more “real” than anything Pitfall Harry ever did.

And if you wanted some fantasy, don’t worry, you still had the likes of Ape Escape or Donkey Kong 64 to hold you over. DK64 saw the collectathon at its most… collecty, and showcased all the different ways Kongs can run, jump, and shoot on their way to an ultimate goal of wringing out 12,000,000 (monotonous) hours of gameplay. And Ape Escape was no simple monkey game, it was a sneak and capture event closer to Metal Gear than Donkey Kong. Even visually “childish” games in 1999 weren’t so simple.

And then there was Q*Bert for Playstation. Q*Bert only need move from block to block in a generally diagonal manner. He changes block colors simply by touching blocks, and his only “offensive option” is baiting a malevolent snake into a bottomless pit. Q*Bert does not have a bonus jump, “punch”, or other abilities. Q*Bert simply hops. This time there was an adventure mode, but that was just an excuse to stick cinema scenes on either side of a world. Everything else was just Q*Bert hops.

BERT!The following five years allowed for a number of innovations in gaming. In 2004 we saw Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was the first Grand Theft Auto to feature extensive customization to its grand, open world. It also had planes, bazookas, and the opportunity for your C.J. to cosplay as The Notorious B.I.G. for the entire adventure. It is arguable that this Grand Theft Auto went too far into the whacky territory after its sequels eventually tried to rein everything back in with sad Russians in GTA4 and sad dads in GTA5, but the Saints Row franchise carried that whacky football straight to the end zone. Gaming had started goofy, become serious, and then migrated back to goofy all over again.

And speaking of marginally goofy, this was the year we saw Fable, which touted a rich morality system and a story that was different every time you played it. Did that actually happen? Well, not really, but it did seemingly start the trend of games that bet their whole asses on save baby/eat baby morality. It was no longer enough to run, jump, and punch; now you had to determine whether or not you were doing all those things while simultaneously becoming Mecha Hitler. Or Mecha Mother Theresa? You’ve got choices!

But on the simpler side of things, there was Katamari Damacy. This straightforward little game featured a protagonist that could only roll around a ball, but that ball could grow from the size of a paperclip to roughly the girth of a galaxy. And, more importantly than the gameplay, it was released for a whole $20, kickstarting the (now standard) belief that not every videogame had to be a AAA, 40 hour feature. Before internet connections fully graduated from 56K, Katamari Damacy showed us a glimpse of the future of downloadable titles.

Eat it!And speaking of downloadable, this year also saw an official Flash (RIP) version of Q*Bert. In a game that would be ported to “real” Windows a year later, Q*Bert only need move from block to block in a generally diagonal manner. He changes block colors simply by touching blocks, and his only “offensive option” is baiting a malevolent snake into a bottomless pit. Q*Bert does not have a bonus jump, “punch”, or other abilities. Q*Bert simply hops. At least this Q*venture was free.

Now we fast-forward a decade to 2014. What innovations did this year hold for gaming? Well, we wound up skipping the exact year for a lot of big’uns from this epoch, so we’re left with staring straight at Dark Souls 2. Did you ever hear about Dark Souls? It’s the Dark Souls of Bloodborne games. Love it or hate it, Dark Souls impacted gaming in more ways than we will ever admit, arguably revitalizing the general gameplay of the rogue-like and encouraging increasing your own personal gaming skills while marginally leveling up your chosen hero. In a similar manner, this was the year we saw Bayonetta 2, a shining example of the likewise “hardcore” stylish action genre. Gaming could be slow and methodical or fast and elegant, but, in both cases, it was a little more complicated than guiding a puck through a maze.

And if you still wanted the mascots of yore, don’t worry, they were represented, too. If you wanted to see everybody fight everybody, Super Smash Bros 4 WiiU/3DS was released in 2014. Smash Bros was always a shining example of videogame protagonists leaving their usual genre and sailing into something completely different (Star Fox left his ship!), but Smash 4 would eventually grow and mutate to be a veritable yearbook of every character that had ever mattered in gaming (sorry, Geno, you don’t matter). And if you wanted something new from “cartoony” characters, this was also the year that Shovel Knight proved Kickstarting retro platformers was wholly viable, and could have amazing, enduring results. Come to think of it, Shovel Knight was partially inspired by Dark Souls, too…

CHOOSE YOUR FIGHTERBut there was one game released that year that was not inspired by Dark Souls. Q*Bert Rebooted, seemingly rebooted to promote an Adam Sandler vehicle, was a game where Q*Bert only need move from block to block in a generally diagonal manner. He changes block colors simply by touching blocks, and his only “offensive option” is baiting a malevolent snake into a bottomless pit. Q*Bert does not have a bonus jump, shovel, or other abilities. Q*Bert simply hops. He also hopped to nearly every platform available, so this one is still downloadable on modern consoles.

And Q*Bert returned for the most recent time in 2019 for iOS. Do we need to review the gaming breakthroughs of such a recent year? Fire Emblem: Three Houses and its perfect blend of chess and dating simulation? Super Mario Maker 2 and its ability to grant the player full creative control over familiar gameplay? Untitled Goose Game and its goose? Whatever the hell happens in Sekiro? (I gather it is a photography simulator.) 2019 was an amazing year for gaming where we not only had all this, but also Q*Bert. And what did Q*Bert do? He moved from block to block in a generally diagonal manner. He changed blocks colors. He baited a snake into a pit. Q*Bert only knows hops.

He was Q*Bert. He is Q*Bert. The face of gaming may irrevocably change, but Q*Bert is Q*Bert forever.

@!#?

FGC #562 Q*Bert

  • Go lil buddySystem: I’m pretty sure the lil’ Bert appeared on nearly every console system, give or take a few outliers. Playstation 2? Sega Genesis? And I’m pretty sure he wasn’t on Atari Lynx, either. Other than that, there’s probably some Q*Bert in some form on your preferred console.
  • Number of players: One Q*Bert, but two people can take turns if they are so inclined.
  • Don’t make a sound: Q*Bert’s claim to fame has always been the bizarre recordings that approximate the sound an orange monster man might make when brained with a purple marble. Unfortunately, playing Q*Bert in the year 2021 just reminds me that I never want to hear from a belligerent orange creature ever again.
  • Hey, what about Q*Bert’s Qubes: The only Q*Bert to truly mix up traditional Q*Bert gameplay was… not all that different. It basically just added the idea of “rotating” cubes according to the direction Q*Bert hops (as opposed to one simple, all-purpose tap), and added a handful of new enemies (there may have been a crab). Other than that, the way it “separated” the blocks made the game a lot more difficult to visually parse, and there’s probably a reason this Q*title is generally forgotten and ignored.
  • Did you know? Q*Bert for Playstation started with a cinema scene based in Q*Bert’s blocky little world. Weird thing? His weirdass universe looks a lot like modern Minecraft. Did Steve colonize Q*World? Is that the secret origin of the franchise?
  • Would I play again: Q*Bert is great for a whole five minutes before you remember it’s just goddamned Q*Bert. I will probably waste those five minutes again in the future.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Wallachia Reign of Dracula! Or did ROB actually choose Bloodstained: Classic Mode? Actually, it’s both! We’re going to have a double header next! Please look forward to it!

GO FOR IT!

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.

Kanon!
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.

FAKE
VERY FAKE

Here’s EGM’s Issue 56 touting the legend of Nimbus. Note that what was later called an “April Fool’s Day” prank was published in their March 1994 issue.

ERROR

Also, for giggles, here’s “Ermac” back in Issue 51. October of 1993 was clearly not April, either.

Speaking of that particular hoax, Ermac and Skarlet, the red ninja of various genders, were originally rumor kharacters that graduated to full personhood, but the likes of Emerald (a green female ninja with white skin from MK2) or Red Robin (basically Ermac again) weren’t so lucky. We’ve also got Pedro from Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, who is seriously just Stryker with a super racist mustache (and super racist moves!) from Computer and Video Games Issue #173. That one was at least published in April (’96, for the record)!

Racist!

And these are just the fake characters that were featured in various magazines, it is impossible to quantify the sheer volume of playground rumors associated with Mortal Kombat.

And it all traces back to some random jokes from “reputable sources”. Thanks for fanning the flames, guys!

Though I’m probably being hasty in blaming magazine editors here, as the fans were as bad as anyone.

Look out!

That is clearly a mini version of Liu Kang in the background of MK2, and he’s clearly just watching another Liu Kang clone catch fire, presumably as part of some kind of fatality. But that didn’t stop the fanbase from speculating that these were two unique characters, so fire dude got named Torch, and the inflammable one (editor’s note: that doesn’t say what you think) was dubbed Hornbuckle. Hornbuckle (so named for a nonsense statement from hidden kharacter Jade) never materialized as anything other than a background element, but “Torch” was eventually repurposed to be the hidden kharacter Blaze in MK5, and then returned as the final boss of MK7. So maybe the fans are helping? Who the hell knows.

What in blazes

But let’s move on to monsters that almost made it. On the demonic side of things, we have Belokk who was supposed to appear in Mortal Kombat Gold. He was part of a batch of screenshots that were published by Game Informer, but he was apparently always intended to be cut content. Or the pictures were leaked to see if anyone cared enough to see a new demon fighter in the franchise? It’s pretty clear from the images that Belokk is at least a partial body swap of the MK4 Goro model, so it’s possible he was some half-hearted attempt at a new mini-boss for that title. Approximately 110% of Mortal Kombat 4 was slapdash, so it would only make sense that its potential mini boss and his “reveal” would be equally lousy. There’s an “unclaimed” question mark block in the MK4 Gold roster (it’s behind Tanya), so maybe he was supposed to be there? If he’s supposed to be somewhere, at least Belokk ain’t talkin’ about it.

Demonic

And while we’re looking at devils, there’s Baphomet, a kharacter that was kut early in the development of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. He would have been an Elder Demon to contrast with the Elder Gods that had been established in Mortal Kombat kanon for years. This could have been cool, and certainly would have had an impact on later storylines that feature the Elder Gods getting up to various less than holy hijinks, but Baphomet and his whole race was cut well before MK: DA hit modeling. It’s presumed that he was cut because MK didn’t want to garner any further demonic connotations after its last gigantic, won’t-someone-please-think-of-the-children controversy, but this is a franchise that already has a murder skeleton that lives in Hell, so what would be the harm? Regardless, Baphomet’s head greatly resembles what would become the symbol of the Netherrealm in Mortal Kombat: Deception, so presumably someone misses the guy.

Drag on

Also cut from MK: Deadly Alliance was Tiamat, a lizard dragon man. It’s pretty clear that whatever technology was going to keep Tiamat going was incorporated into Reptile’s extreme lizard makeover in Deadly Alliance, and a big, bad reptile, Onaga the Dragon King, did wind up as the final boss of Mortal Kombat: Deception.

Just Reptile

So, in this case, pretty much everything remarkable about Tiamat wound up with two pretty memorable characters, so no great loss there. Not like this Tiamat had enough heads anyway…

Zebron, on the other hand, never had a chance.

Black and white and red all over

None of his distinctive traits were incorporated into other fighters. Which is a shame. That looks like the face of a man that would kill his own mother for a free churro.

But there is hope for everyone. It might be because he has the dumbest, most obvious name on this list, but let’s take a moment to discuss Hydro.

Damp
Hydro


Like Sub-Zero, Hydro was a Lin Kuei assassin, but he had fire water powers. In the Malibu comics of 1994, Scorpion swore to kill everyone Sub-Zero ever loved… and that was kind of difficult, as Sub-Zero didn’t have any actual friends in Mortal Kombat kanon. Does Smoke count? He’s more of a coworker, though… Regardless! Mortal Kombat: Blood and Thunder needed at least one friendly for Sub-Zero to babble at, so a blue clad ninja named Hydro made the scene. And then he got killed. Sorry, Subs, but Scorpion can fight through a refreshing shower.

But! Hydro technically resurfaced in the franchise in 2011 as part of the Mortal Kombat: Legacy series. MK:L was a live-action webseries that told the origin stories of a number of Mortal Kombat kharacters while looking cool, and that was absolutely all it ever had to do. The whole series started thanks to the director’s own “fan made” Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, a short film that dropped the mystical from Mortal Kombat and reimagined its characters as “real” murderous malcontents in a marginally down-to-earth setting. Baraka was a human surgeon who stitched blades to his arms, and Reptile had a skin condition. It was weird. Naturally, Warner Bros identified the audience interested in this “real” Mortal Kombat, and decided to serve them the same magical stories MK had been telling from the beginning. C’est la vie.

Wet robot
Hydro-Electric. Damn.


But what’s important is that the ninth episode focused on the cyborgs Cyrax and Sektor, and their opponent was an “earlier model” of cyber Lin Kuei, Hydro! Hydro is established as an old man (well, 50, but that’s pretty old for a ninja assassin) that was one of the first Lin Kuei to undergo the cyberization process. Unfortunately, they were still working out the bugs there in the beginning, so by the time Cyrax and Sektor were “built”… uh… just going to come out and say this: Sektor beats Hydro. Sektor kills Hydro. It’s a fatality. Sorry, buddy, you’ve appeared in two different mediums now, and you’ve suffered death by ninja in both.

But! There’s still hope! In Mortal Kombat 11, you can now use the Water God’s Artifact, and it “summons” Hydro (off screen) to help in a fight by launching your opponent with a tidal wave. So see! Hydro is in there! He’s a real boy! Other luminaries like Reptile (throwing an energy ball) and Bo Rai Cho (throwing a fart) get the same treatment, so Hydro is in good company.

There’s no kut kontent in Mortal Kombat, just ideas resting and waiting for their turn. We’ll see Nimbus again some day.

… He can have Kollector’s spot.

Next time: The end of everything. And it’s about time.