Its one of the goriest fighting game series of all time and its a game series that I grew up with, lets take a look at the evolution of the Mortal Kombat video games.
Before we begin here is a brief explanation of the series, you battle your many opponents in one on one battles and the victor of the fight can perform a finishing move which can be either comical, brutal or fatal, these games are not shy on blood and gore and for a lot of people its the gory finishing moves that make the games as enjoyable as they are.
Mortal Kombat takes place on the island of Shang Tsung, the Island has hosted the Mortal Kombat tournament for hundred of generations, in the tournament warriors battle for the chance to take on the warrior Goro who has never been defeated. You are one of the latest challengers to take on the tournament.
Mortal Kombat introduced players to seven characters.
Johnny Cage – A martial artist and famous movie star
Kano – A mercenary who is devoted to a life of crime
Liu Kang – A Shaolin Monk who hopes to bring peace to the realm.
Raiden – A god of thunder
Scorpion – A ninja that dresses in yellow colours and uses fire as an element of attack
Sonia Blade – A member of the special forces
and Sub Zero – A ninja that dresses in blue colours and uses ice as an element of attack
Apart from fighting, players are able to try their luck at the extremely hard and blister enducing test your might game, in this mini-game you have to raise the might bar and destroy various strong materials.
The Original Mortal Kombat was quite basic but it was good enough for a first entry in the series.
A memorable moment from the game for me is the pit where you can throw an opponent onto a bed of spikes after defeating them in one of the levels. The Pit is also where players are able to trigger a secret fight with the green ninja called Reptile and major points are available if he is defeated.
The game was released on various home consoles after its debut in the arcades, I owned the game on the Sega Mega-drive which is the superior home console version as blood could be turned on using a special code however in the Super Nintendo release blood was completely removed.
As a side note I thought it might be fun to talk about the original arcade machines for some of these games starting with Mortal Kombat 1. I think the art is really cool on this machine, it has Johnny on the side and it looks like he is kicking a dragon in the head. Good art but not sure if it really shows that its a fighting game I feel like it would be more appropriate to a beat em up such as double dragon.
There is a lot more information about this cabinet on arcade-museum, I will put a link below.
After being defeated by Liu Kang in the first game , Shang Tsung begs ruler of Outworld Shao Khan to spare his life and also host the next Mortal Kombat Tournament in Outworld, Shao Khan agrees and restores both life and youth to Shang Tsung.
It should be noted that because of the plot of this game Liu Kang winning the tournament in Mortal Kombat 1 was the canon ending.
Seven new playable characters were introduced in Mortal Kombat 2
Baraka – A mutant that works for Shao Khan
Jax – A special forces officer
Kitana – A female ninja and assassin
Kung Lao – A Shaolin monk and friend of Liu Kang
Mileena – Kitana’s sister and who is an assassin working for Shao Khan.
Reptile – The mysterious ninja from the first game
and Shang Tsung – The sorcerer and final boss from the first game although much younger
It should be noted Sonia Blade and Kano did not make a comeback as a playable characters in Mortal Kombat 2.
The game had three hidden fights that you could access if you hit certain criteria during your play-through.
Jade – A strange female ninja who fights with a fan
Smoke – A Ninja dressed in grey that uses smoke to help him fight
and Noob Saibot – A very mysterious character that who’s features are completely hidden by its dark colour palette, this fight is the hardest of the secret battles in my personal opinion.
As well as fatalities there were two more finishing moves you could do in this game, the first was babalities where you could turn your opponent into a baby and the other was friendship which had you do something kind for an opponent after defeating them, hilariously this was made as a mocking response to critics who deemed the first Mortal Kombat too violent.
Mortal Kombat 2 was a massive improvement over the first game, it added loads of new characters, new stages that were better animated, it gave players babalaties and new fatalities along side three brand new stage fatalities, overall a fantastic game.
I much prefer the arcade machine design here, I love Raiden being on the side of the cabinet, to me he is a much more recognisable character than Johnny Cage is and to be honest in my opinion he is a lot cooler as well.
For more information on this arcade cabinet follow the link below
After being defeated by Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 2, Shao Khan uses Shang Tsung to revive his long lost love Sindel, he does this as part of a plan to combine both Earthrealm and Outworld causing billions to lose their lives because of this Raiden sends warriors out to fight Shao Khan and put a stop to him once and for all.
Mortal Kombat 3 is my least favourite out of the original arcade games, as a child I really did not like a lot of the changes they made and I still do not to this day. Biggest change was removing scorpion from the game which makes no sense because he is the most popular character in the series and nothing happened to him in the last game to explain his absence here. Sub Zero has a new character design and it sucks, I prefer the iconic blue mask and he just does not look right.
The game introduced a good number of new playable characters
Cyrax – A cyber assassin that dresses in yellow
Kabal – A former black dragon warrior
Nightwolf – A native american shaman
Sektor – A cyber assassin that dresses in red
Sindel – Shao Khan’s resurrected queen
Sheeva – A female shoken who is also the protector of Sindel
Stryker – A riot control officer
and Smoke – A cyber assassin that uses smoke as a means of attack
Both Kano and Sonia Blade return as playable characters in Mortal Kombat 3 however Baraka, Mileena, Reptile, Scorpion, Raiden and Kitana did not make a return as playable characters.
The stages here take place in world settings that are more familiar to players such as subways, cities and streets which to be honest I much prefer to the stages in the first two games.
A new finishing move called an aqnimality was added which allows character to turn into animals before killing their defeated opponent.
Other things that should be noted are the new stage fatalities which take advantage of the new settings, the ability to change stages during a battle if you manage knock your opponent to higher level, secret fights with a robotic version of smoke as well as returning fighter Noob Saibot and a new sub boss Montaro who is a centaur that is ridiculously hard to beat.
Overall Mortal Kombat 3 is a really good game, and the reason I dont like it is because of the character selection which may seem a little unfair for me to judge it on that but with the changes they made to some of the characters it just didnt feel right and took away from the experience for me.
Really great artwork on this arcade cabinet, the character choices make sense due to the games plot and the amount of detail is fantastic, I still prefer the artwork for the Mortal Kombat 2 cabinet but this one is a close second for me.
For more information on this arcade cabinet please use the link below
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was released the same year as the original game it made a few updates that improved the overall experience the first was returning characters Scorpion, Kitana, Jade and Reptile, it added two new modes and added new hidden fighters Human Smoke, Classic Sub Zero, Mileena, Ermac, Noob Saibot and Rain.
The art here is a little dissapointing as they copied the Mortal Kombat 2 art work instead of Mortal Kombat 3 which does not make a lot more sense as Raiden is not a playable character in this game.
Mortal Kombat trilogy was compilation of the original Kombat trilogy crammed into one game, every playable character was back along side Goro, Kintaro, Motaro and Shao Khan.
The game introduced another finishing move called a brutality where players will beat the utter crap out of their defeated opponents before making them explode.
A new secret fighter called chameleon can be taken on, he uses the combined abilities of all ninja characters and is really tough
Mortal Kombat Trilogy was the first game to not be introduced in arcades.
Mortal Kombat Mythologies – Sub Zero was the first spin off game in the series
Taking place before the events of the original Mortal Kombat, Sub-Zero has been tasked by Quan Chi to steal a map of elements from the Shaolin temple.
The game was very disappointing, not only was it not like the other Mortal Kombat games but it was also really badly designed and extremely un-fair.
It was a 2D platforming action-adventure game where players needed to gain experience points and unlock special moves by defeating enemies.
The problem was that the game had confusing controls and was very cryptic on how you need to survive, a lot of the time you would not be able to see below the character so if you had to jump onto a platform below you would not know how to time or position your jump, a lot of enemy sprites were very similar to each other so the game lacked in variety.
If you play the Play-station 1 version of the game it has full FMV cut scenes and they are actually really cool and worth checking out on Youtube.
Overall a bad game and I am pleased that they never made a sequel
With the help of Quan Chi an elder god named Shinnok has escaped from the Netherealm after being defeated by the thunder god Raiden thousands of years ago. Shinnok seeks revenge on Raiden and the other gods who helped to trap him in the Netherealm, Raiden requests help from Mortal Kombat warriors to help defeat the elder god once again.
Five new playable characters were introduced to Mortal Kombat 4
Fujjin – A wind god and an ally of Raiden
Jarek – The final member of the black dragon
Kai – A Shaolin monk and a friend of Liu Kang
Meat – A gory skeleton and one of the hidden characters in the game.
Reiko – The general to Shinnok
Tanya – A traitor to Edenia
Noob Saibot – Finally playable as a hidden character in the game.
Scorpion and Raiden have been re-added to the game after being absent in Mortal Kombat 3
The game came with 3D graphics, full CGI cut-scenes, hilariously bad voice acting and a kick ass soundtrack.
Silly finishing moves such as babalaties and friendships were removed to make the game focus more on violence and to be taken more seriously however a new move that allows you to break your opponents bones during a fight was added which was really awesome.
Players can now also use weapons and stage hazards to hurt their opponents, adding a lot of new ways to fight which is really great.
Mortal Kombat 4 is a fantastic game and while its not my favourite 3D Mortal Kombat game it was a great first attempt.
Mortal Kombat 4 was the last game to be released in Arcades and its art does not disappoint, I love Quan Chi being next to a wall of flames, it reminds me of the art from the Mortal Kombat 2 cabinet which had Raiden using a thunder attack.
For more information on this arcade cabinet follow the link below
Mortal Kombat Gold was a dreamcast exclusive release of Mortal Kombat 4, it added Mileena, Cyrax, Kung Lao, Baraka and a secret character called Sektor to the game. It even added a few new cut-scenes for me personally this is the definitive version of Mortal Kombat 4 but a lot of people would disagree as the game was hit with mediocre reviews when it first hit store shelves.
I could not find a commercial for this game so we will make due with the opening sequence.
Taking place before Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub-Zero, Special forces follows the character Jax who seeks revenge after his comrades were murdered by the Black Dragon Clan, Jax takes on a mission to obtain a mystical artifact called the Eye of Chitian which can open portals.
The game is a third person beat-em up and shooter, I found it to be quite simple to get used too and at first it was really fun but it became boring very quickly. The game is repetitive, the levels are all very similar and it lacks challenge in both its combat and its boss fights, overall its not great.
I couldn’t find any commercials or videos for this one so I am afraid we will have to make due with the box art.
The game was a bad port of Ulitmate Mortal Kombat 3, the limitations of the gameboy advance button layout made it very difficult to play and took a lot away from the experience. At times the game was also really unfair on its difficulties making it near impossible to finish on any difficulty above normal. This is one port you will want to skip.
In the canon ending of Mortal Kombat 4 (Scorpions Ending) Scorpion gets sent back to the Netherrealm by Quan Chi but Quan Chi is grabbed by Scorpion taking him to the Netherealm with him. Quan Chi escapes the Netherealm using a magical amulet which sent him to a tomb of dead bodies, he learns that the dead can be brought back to life and plans to build an army so he teams up with Shang Tsung who then murder Shao Khan and Liu Kang. This causes Raiden to give up his status as a god after realising that if the alliance is victorious Earthrealm will be doomed leading into the events of the game.
New characters in this game include
Blaze – A secret character and a fire elemental
Bo Rai Cho – Former trainer for Liu Kang
Drahmin – An Oni who seeks revenge against Quan Chi
Frost – Sub-Zero’s Trainee
Hsu Hao – A red dragon operative
Kenshi -A blind swordsman who was stranded in Outworld
Li Mei – An outworld native who wants to win the freedom of her native people.
Mavado – A red dragon mastermind
Mokap – A Joke character added in by the developers
Nitara – A vampire who wants to separate her home from Outworld
Liu Kang and Shao Khan are absent from the game due to their deaths.
The game looks great and its visuals are a huge improvement over Mortal Kombat 4, the combat remains practically the same although stage fatalities have been completely removed which really sucks.
Mini games came back in Deadly alliance in the form of Test your Might and Test your Sight, both of these games are very difficult but both are rewarding.
The crypt made its first appearance here, it was an area that allowed players to spend coins to purchase unlock-able content in the game.
A new mode was added called konquest, this was essentially a long tutorial mode for the fighters but it gave insight to their back stories.
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance was an outstanding game and one of my personal favourites.
Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition was a GBA port of Deadly Alliance
While controlling a lot better than the previous GBA game in the series nothing about this really stands out enough for me to say its a good game, if anything its a lacking version of Deadly Alliance and overall it can be skipped.
After the events of Deadly Alliance Raiden attempts to fight Shang Tsung and and Quan Chi but is quickly defeated. Not long after this the dragon king Onaga comes to gain the power of the amulet, Raiden sends a powerful blast to try and stop the monster, this blast kills Raiden, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi but hardly touches the dragon king leaving only a few warriors feeling brave enough to try and stop the new threat.
The game came with a new konquest mode and I recommend playing this off the bat because it helps explain more information on the games antagonist.
The game is a full RPG with side-quests, rewards and really fun combat, this is what I wish the Mortal Kombat spin off games were like.
Two additional side games were added the first was Puzzle Kombat which was a tetris clone with a mortal Kombat spin to it and the other was Chess Kombat which was a game of chess in the style of Mortal Kombat, I recommend checking both of these modes out.
New characters this time are
Ashrah – A Netherrealm demon
Dairou – A Seidan guardman
Darrius – A Seidan leader
Havik – Archrival of Hotaru
Kira – A former weapons dealer
and Kobra – A deadly martial artist
Surprisingly Liu Kang and Raiden are playable but with re-designs, Liu Kang is now a zombie and Raiden seems to have a new colour palette.
The Crypt returns but this time is much smaller and easier to collect everything.
A new finisher called Hara – Kiri was added, its a controversial move which causes the other player to die by suicide.
Stage hazards and fatalities were brought back in this instalment making the experience even better.
Overall an excellent Mortal Kombat game.
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks was the third attempt at a spin off for the series and this time it was actually good.
The game takes place during the events between Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat 2, In this game Shang Tsung plans to take over Earthrealm after his defeat by Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat.
The game is an action packed beat-em up which stars Liu Kang a Lao Kung, players need to slaughter hundreds of enemies and occasional bosses to reach victory, players could perform fatalities in succession as well as a new finishing move called mutuality which kills multiple enemies at once.
The game is a lot of fun but for the best experience I recommend playing the campaign with another player, I feel not enough games these days allow co-op game-play on story mode so its inclusion here is a blessing.
The game is packed with secrets including a hidden battle with the ninja Ermac as a well as other characters such as Kano and Mileena. A full working version of Mortal Kombat 2 could be unlocked if you helped the Ninja Smoke on your quest. A hidden mode called survival could be discovered as well unlocking the ability to play the campaign as Scorpion and Sub-Zero after finishing story mode.
The game even had a traditional versus mode available with unlock-able characters hidden throughout the campaign.
Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks is a fantastic game and one the best Mortal Kombat games, it shows good spin offs are possible with the correct team behind them and I really hope that one day we either get re-release or a sequel.
Following the events of Mortal Kombat: Deception, fighters from all realms battle to survive in the battle of Armageddon, this battle sets everyone out to survive by doing anything necessary. The deadly warrior Blaze is awoken and must be defeated in order to save the realms from certain death and destruction.
The character roster in Armageddon is absolutely massive, for the first time ever in a Mortal Kombat game every character was back and playable including previous boss characters and characters who were deceased.
Fatalities were completely changed in this game and not many people liked this, instead of each character having set finishing moves, players had to brutishly destroy their opponents by combining multiple gory attacks together creating their own finishing moves, this was really cool but it took away a lot of character personality and the fun of learning to pull off tricky fatalities
Another disappointment was that the game had no end cut-scenes or art for players, its still had narration explaining each characters ending but the lack of the imagery to go with this made it really boring and not as interesting as it was in previous games.
On the bright side the game did have an excellent Konquest mode which introduced two new characters Taven and Daegon who have just been released from suspended animation to defeat the warrior Blaze.
The game-mode is really fun and takes a lot of inspiration from Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks making it one of the best parts of Mortal Kombat Armageddon.
Another new mode allows you create a fighter using a lot of fun tools and designs, more stuff for this mode could be bought in the krypt.
My favourite mode in the game is Motor Kombat which is a really silly Mario Kart knock off with Mortal Kombat characters, themed tracks and items as well as plenty of blood and guts.
Mortal Kombat Armageddon brought a lot of new ideas and modes to the table making up for the elements that were lost but overall the game for me a was a little disappointing due to its losses however it was still fin and better than some of its predecessors.
A PSP version of Mortal Kombat Armageddon was released titled Mortal Kombat Unchained, the game was very similar to the console versions however unchained did have an exclusive endurance mode which allowed players to fight constant waves of fighters until they fall in battle.
A port of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was brought to the Nintendo DS titled Ultimate Mortal Kombat, the game was an exact copy of the arcade game.
This version came with a Puzzle Kombat Mode as a bonus that was not available in the original game.
Mortal Kombat vs the DC Universe was an odd choice for the next Mortal Kombat game as it would include regular Mortal Kombat characters battling characters from another universe.
The story has players choosing which side to fight for but both campaigns show that Shao Khan and DC villain Darkside both get sent into new realms however due to both of these event happening at once both worlds collide and a new villain named Dark Khan is born.
I always found the character roster for this game very lacking, yes both sides have the obvious choices but I feel that a few fan favourites such as Smoke, Harley Quinn, Reptile, Killer Croc as well as many others could have made the cut or at least came later on as DLC.
A new ability was added to stages allowing players to throw characters down to lower platforms beating the snot out them while they are doing this, this could also be done in a similar new feature called close kombat.
Test your might returns here although its now implemented into ground based stages, this means that in some stages you can trigger test your might by ramming your opponents through walls and other obstacles.
Due to an agreement with DC and its use of characters, violence had to be toned down in this game meaning that a lot of gore was removed from Fatalities and DC Heroes could only perform Brutalities that did not kill the opponent.
Over all not the best Mortal Kombat game but its one of my favourite crossovers, I wish they kept the gore but I understand why DC did not want Super Man brutally murdering someone or having Batman be sliced in half.
2011 brought us Mortal Kombat 9 (AKA Mortal Kombat) a retelling of the plot from the first three games however this one has a twist, it begins at the end of Mortal Kombat Armageddon with Raiden sending a message to his past self “He must Win” referring to Liu Kang needing to win the Mortal Kombat tournament.
While this does technically continue from the end of Armageddon in reality it was the beginning of a reboot of the series while keeping the events of the previous on going story canon. Throughout the campaign Raiden receives visions from the future encouraging him to make drastic changes to past events but with these changes came some serious consequences.
Playable Characters in the game included
Cyber Sub-Zero – a robotic-ally altered version of the popular blue ninja
Kratos from the God of War Series (PlayStation Version Only)
and Regular Sub Zero
DLC character were added to the game in the form of
Freddy Kruger – From the Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise
Kenshi – From Mortal Kombat Deadly Allaince
Rain – A Purple Ninja who was first playable in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
and Skarlet – A red female ninja
These characters were free in the the Komplete Edition of Mortal Kombat that was released in 2012
This game is gory and the fatalities were finally fatal again, DC universe left a lot of people disappointed that the series would never go back to being R rated and Mortal Kombat 9 proved us all wrong.
Stage fatalaties such as the pit returned as well, which was very nostalgic for fans of the series.
A major new addition to the series introduced in Mortal Kombat 9 was the X-ray moves, these are specifically timed grab moves that break the bones of your opponent causing serious damage to the health bar, broken bones or not the damage you take does not affect how you fight in the game after you are hit with an X-Ray.
Apart from the amazing story mode of the game, new modes included a training mode which allowed you to practice pulling off moves and fatalities
Challenge tower was a new mode to the series it offered 300 challenges for players to tackle and if they are successful they would earn currency to spend in the games Krypt Mode.
Other modes included Test your Might, Test your Sight, Test your Strike, Test your Luck, Tag Team and online play.
A great reboot of the series, it held the Nostalgia of the original games while also bringing a new feel and new ideas to the table, Mortal Kombat 9 is one of the best Mortal Kombat Games yet.
A re-release of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2 and Ulitmate Mortal Kombat 3 for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
This version added online multiplayer and achievements.
Two years after the events of Mortal Kombat 9 Johnny Cage and Sonia Blade are fighting to imprison the Elder God Shinnok and Quan Chi. They are successful and Raiden traps Shinnok in an Amulet but unfortunately Quan Chi escapes, the main meat of the campaign then takes place 20 years later and shows Johnny Cage with a group of warriors that he wants to use to retrieve the amulet from Mileena who wants to release Shinnok. The campaign of this game helps to give a lot of sympathy to the characters we all know, the problems that they deal with in the game help to make them feel more like real people than video game characters, I wont spoil the whole campaign story as it gets really good and you should really check it out for yourselves.
New comers to the roster included
Cassie Cage – The daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonia Blade
D’vorah – A member of a race of insects called the Kytinn
Erron Black – A gunslinger from Earthrealm
Ferra and Torr – A young girl who rides a giant masked monster
Jacqui Briggs – The Daughter of Jax and his wife
Kotal Kahn – An Aztec Warrior from the realm of Osh Tekk
Kung Jin – A master thief and the cousin of Kung Lao
and Takeda Takahashi – The son of Kenshi
Paid DLC characters were
Tremor – A bronze ninja and a member of the Black Dragon Clan
Jason Voorhees – From the Friday the 13th franchise
The Predator – From the Predator franchise
Tanya – A woman from Edenia and a worshipper of Shinnok
Xenomorph – From the Alien franchise
BO’Rai Cho – Former trainer of Liu Kang
Goro – A tough four armed warrior who debuted in the original game
Leather Face – From the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise
and Triborg a ninja that is a combination of Smoke, Cyrax and Sector
All DLC was included with Mortal Kombat XL which was released in 2016
Apart from characters there really was not much new content in this one but the two main differences really affected the game-play negatively in my opinion. Instead of just choosing a fighter in quick matches now we had to also choose a fighting, style and all of these needed to be learned separately and it just made the whole thing much more confusing than it needed to be, I hated this I just wanted to play normal Mortal Kombat not this new diverse version of Mortal Kombat.
Anyone who has been reading this website for a while knows that I hate quick time events in cut-scenes. In my opinion they make the story less enjoyable and are lazy attempts to advance a game, they don’t take much skill and are usually boring, these are no exception in Mortal Kombat X they don’t fit well into this series and it distracts players from what was originally a fantastic story mode plot.
With these complaints aside, I actually really like this entry to the series, it still is a lot of fun to play and minus the quick time events had the best plot in a Mortal Kombat game yet.
After Shinnoks defeat in Mortal Kombat X Raiden is left corrupted and dark, he wants to protect Earthrealm by destroying its enemies immediately. Shinnoks mother Kronika rewrites history to remove Raidens interfere by bringing the past and the present together which causes new Mortal Kombat characters to meet the original versions of themselves.
New comers here are
Cetrion – An Elder Goddess and Shinnoks Sister
Geras -Kronikas main underling
and Kollector – A debt collector for Shao Kahn
The games DLC characters are
The Joker from Batman
Fatal Blows are a new move that can deal serious damage to your opponent they are very similar to the X-Ray and do not show the bones breaking making them slightly less cool.
X-Ray has been replaced with Krushing Blows a shorter X-Ray move that does less damage but is executed much faster.
Mercy is a move that allows you to revive an opponent by giving them a small amount of health.
Character customisation was added to the game, this allows players to add new skins, weapons, abilities and more to the characters in the game.
There really was not many new modes or ideas added to Mortal Kombat 11 but that has not stopped the game from being an excellent entry into the series, I still prefer Mortal Komat 9 overall but this is a close second for me.
That leaves us up to date with the Mortal Kombat video game franchise so far, I grew up playing the original games and I have fallen in love with its reboots, this series has had a lot of good moments and bad moments but all of it is nostalgic and brings back a lot of gaming memories for me.
I learned a lot of history and information about the series from a very well put together YouTube documentary series, this series is much more in-depth than the information I have provided and I recommend checking it out if you want to learn more about Mortal Kombat and the impact it has had on gamers for over 20 years.
Join me when the next game is released as we continue to explore this ever expanding game series.
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