The annual Shaolin Tournament promised to be a good one. The best of the
best would gather from far and wide to put their skills to the ultimate test. It seemed like it would be a wonderful day of
When everyone least expected it, an old sorcerer and a strange four-armed
creature appeared and corrupted the tournament. This Shokan warrior was the half-human, half-dragon fighter named Goro, who
became the ultimate fighting champion by defeating the Great Kung Lao. Because this 2,000 year-old monster had been the undefeated
champion for the past 500 years, he made short work of all participating fighters. This was all part of Shang Tsung's plan
to tip the balance into chaos and help the Outworld conquer the Earth Realm.
Raiden, the thunder god, saw this and decided to take care of Shang Tsung.
However, despite having the powers of a god, he would still need Earth Realm fighters to help him out. Of course, Liu Kang
would help, since it was his country's tournament. Other fighters also took part in the melee for their own reasons. They
included martial artist/movie star Johnny Cage, Lin Kuei warrior Sub-Zero, and Shirai Ryu ninja Scorpion.
Kano, the Black Dragon's most diabolical
thug, was getting chased by a U.S. Special Forces Unit, led by Lt. Sonya Blade, when he received a vision from Shang Tsung
to lure them towards his tournament. Once Kano arrived, Tsung had his personal army ambush them. Kano
managed to get away and into the tournament, while most of the Special Forces Unit got caught in the surprise attack. So,
Sonya had no choice but to take part in the tournament, in order to save her team.
Raiden would also participate in the tournament, but he would have to
take the form of a human in order to do so. So, the tournament was set. With Outworld already having won 9 tournaments in
a row, our heroes must avoid handing Earth Realm the 10th loss, or all of humanity would crumble into the darkness of the
Mortal Kombat was developed as a reaction to the popular Capcom game Street
Fighter II, with simpler controls and digitized graphics. Some say the game's graphic violence was gratuitous, and was only
included in order to generate a public outcry and controversy that would garner publicity for the game.
Although highly controversial, the mix of realism and violence propelled
Mortal Kombat to widespread renown. The game included many innovations over earlier fighting games such as Street Fighter
II. However, the game retained a similar scoring system (based off successful hits, the Test Your Might minigame and other
bonuses) to those games; this would be dropped in later entries to the Mortal Kombat series.
An example of the game's innovations was the Fatality, a special finishing
move executed against a beaten opponent to kill them in a gruesome fashion. For example, one character would grasp a defeated
opponent by the head, then rip off head and spine while the body crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood. Fatalities could
only be executed after you had defeated your opponent in combat, and essentially served as a memorable and gruesome sort of
Mortal Kombat also introduced the concept of juggling, an idea so popular
it has spread to many games and even other genres. Juggling takes advantage of the fact when a character is knocked into the
air, that player is unable to control their character until he or she lands and gets up again. The idea behind juggling is
to knock the enemy into the air and then follow up with other combat moves to keep them there. Theoretically, one could juggle
one's opponent to death without ever taking damage, though this was difficult to accomplish in practice.
Finally, Mortal Kombat also changed the way special moves were performed.
Street Fighter (and many other fighting games) performed most special moves in fractions of circles (usually full, half or
one-quarter) on the joystick followed by a button press (such as a quarter-circle forward, plus punch). Mortal Kombat was
the first to introduce moves that did not require a button press (such as tap back, tap back, then forward), and only a few
of the special moves required circular joystick movement.
Midway created five sequels for the arcade and home systems, each one bloodier,
more brutal, and stranger than the last. Mortal Kombat 4 brought the series into 3D, replacing the digitized fighters of the
previous games with polygon models, while Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was the first in the series to skip arcades altogether
and go directly to consoles, a symptom of U.S. arcade market's dramatic
decline. The second-to-last installment in the series, Mortal Kombat: Deception, was released for the Xbox and PlayStation
2 platforms in October 2004 (with a Nintendo GameCube version released in February 2005). A PSP version has also been announced.
Following a gameplay style very similar to the one found on Deadly Alliance, Deception also features several new gaming modes,
such as a Puzzle Fighter-like puzzle game, an Archon-like chess game, and an RPG-style quest mode, as well as a suicidal finishing
move for each character, usually performed to prevent the opponent from doing a fatality.
Finishing moves in later games included the Animality (turning into animal
to violently finish off the opponent), the Brutality (decimating an opponent into pieces with a long combination of hits or
combo), the Friendship (offering one's opponent a token of friendship), and the Babality (transforming the opponent into a
baby). The Babality and Friendship moves were created as a jokey non-violent finishing move, a swipe at the US Congressional
Investigation for Violence in Videogames who came down harshly on the Mortal Kombat games. Purists, fonder of the earlier
style, were upset by the introduction of such finishing moves, yet Mortal Kombat's "purely violent" and dark gameplay was
once again implemented after the release of Mortal Kombat 4.
Throughout the series, the game was noted for its simplicity of controls
and the exotic special moves it featured, as well as a tendency to replace a hard c sound in its lexicon with a k - hence
the name Mortal Kombat.
Mortal Kombat was among the first titles in the fighting game genre to
include secret characters, secret games, and other Easter eggs. Mortal Kombat 3, for example, included a hidden game of Galaxian.
Many extras in the series have only been accessible through very challenging, demanding, and sometimes coincidental requirements.
In the 1992 original, by executing a Fatality when fighting on The Pit stage (the bridge) without taking any damage or pressing
the block button in the winning round, the player could fight Reptile, a merge between the Sub-Zero and Scorpion characters...
providing certain figures (one being a headshot of President of Probe Software Fergus McGovern, only in the Sega Genesis version,
though) happened to be flying by the moon in the background. In Mortal Kombat II, Reptile would be developed into a full character
with his own special moves and would be available from the outset. It was pioneering ideas like these that has made Mortal
Kombat one of the most memorable of the genre. Also, playing as Raiden on the Portal stage, you could perform a Fergality
by pressing Back, Back, Back, Block during a fatality (once again, only on the Sega Genesis version).
Another Easter egg actually came about from a rumored glitch. In the original
arcade version of the first Mortal Kombat, a rumor stated that the game would sometimes present problems due to a bug and
mix two characters together. This would usually be two of the ninja characters, resulting in a ninja in a semi-red suit. The
computer would display his name as "ERMAC", short for "error macro." As word spread, people thought they had found a secret
character. In the game audits, ERMACS will appear on one of the pages, possibly being a stat to either show how many times
a player encountered a secret character or a glitch. That wasn't the case, yet in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, it was decided
to make an actual Ermac character. Also, glitch characters occurred should the player accomplish the very difficult feat of
reaching Reptile in Endurance mode. Once Reptile was defeated, the second character would jump down. As Reptile used a special
green colour palette, the following fighter (a normal fighter) would be a jumble of the character's original colors plus Reptile's
However, one of the most fascinating elements of Mortal Kombat was completely
unplanned and out of the programmers' hands. Following the release of Mortal Kombat II, a myth culture was created around
the game. The most famous one is the Goro myth. In the first game, Goro was a four-armed monster that acted as a miniboss
to the game's main boss, Shang Tsung. Many fans were convinced that Goro was hidden somewhere in Mortal Kombat II and many
were obsessed with finding him. The UK's GamesMaster magazine (also a popular TV Show on Channel 4) received numerous
letters asking about where to find Goro. Much searching was done, both by fans and the computer game press, until in 1995
GamesMaster concluded, "We are positive Goro isn't to be found in Mortal Kombat II, we are positive he would have been found
Some Easter eggs originated from private jokes between members of the
Mortal Kombat development team. The best-known example is "Toasty," which began in Mortal Kombat II. Developers fell into
the habit of yelling the victory cry "Toasted!" (and later, "Toasty!") during the testing phase of development. This joke
found its way into the game in the form of a small image of sound designer Dan Forden, who would appear in the corner of the
screen during gameplay and sing the word "toasty." Later games included other jokes that originated in similar fashion; Mortal
Kombat IV had characters uttering strange battle cries such as "That's nacho cheese!" and "I'm gonna throw you over there!"
"Toasty" is also found in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks after pulling of a chain of hits and will appear randomly, but the
picture of Dan Forden will not appear.