The Arcade Ladder (also called Arcade Mode) is a single player game mode in the form of a ladder of kombatants where the player must face up to reach the final boss. It gives the player a quick preview of who they will be fighting against, starting at the top where the boss is located and descending down at the bottom where the very first opponent is faced. As the player wins matches, they rise to the top before reaching the apex, climaxing with the final boss. It has appeared in all Mortal Kombat games, except for Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and Mortal Kombat: Special Forces.
Arcade Ladders in the MK series
The Arcade ladder (called "Battle Plan") features all 7 playable characters, with the 7th character always a Mirror Match (the same character that you are using). Following are three Endurance Matches, each against two characters, and the bosses - Goro and Shang Tsung.
The first time Goro is fought (after Endurance Match 3), he jumps down and the fight starts immediately, without the ladder animation. For this reason, Endurance Match 3, like the boss battles, is always fought in Goro's Lair. However, if the player loses to Goro, subsequent fights will start with the normal ladder animation.
The Arcade ladder has the shape of a mountain and Shao Kahn is at the top with his fist raised into the air. It features all 12 playable characters. Shang Tsung is always the 12th character, functioning as a playable sub-boss. Before Shang Tsung, a "?" marker appears, indicating the possibility to fight a secret character. The bosses, Kintaro and Shao Kahn, are always fought in Kahn's Arena.
The Arcade ladder offers several sizes, allowing players to pick a shorter ladder for an easier game. Sometimes picking the smaller ladders prompts Shao Kahn to laugh and heckle the player. In the Master ladder in UMK3 and MKT, there are 2 Endurance Matches (the former has 2 characters and the latter has 3 characters). Also, in the N64 version of MKT - with the use of a code - the Secret Endurance Ladders could be unlocked. Motaro and Shao Kahn are the bosses in all the ladders.
In UMK3 and MKT, completing the ladder presents the player with The Lost Treasures of Shao Kahn, where the number of treasures to choose from increases with the difficulty of the ladder.
The ladders are similar to MK3, UMK3 and MKT, but can be rotated to feature a different set of opponents. Shinnok is the main boss (and also a playable character). In the home versions only, Goro makes a return as the sub-boss. He is also playable via a secret. Like Shao Kahn before him, Quan Chi (the announcer) will sometimes laugh when the player picks the smaller ladders.
The Arcade Ladder is not tiered and does not have different sizes, but moves to various locations on a globe, picturing the arena the battle takes place in.
In the Arcade Ladder, the player moves by climbing a mountain and the character is displayed as a low-res model with the Val Tudo style, ready to fight. When defeated, the characters lay sprawled on the ground, but still moving whether or not a finisher was performed on them.
The ladder returns to being a single, straightforward ladder and, after beating the sub-boss, the final boss Blaze is seen roaring in the background.
The player chooses between fighting the MK Universe, the DC Universe or Mixed. In all cases, the ladder consists of 8 normal characters, a sub-boss (Shao Kahn or Darkseid, varying in Mixed Mode), and the final boss - Dark Kahn. The character's background in the ladder animation shows the arena where the fight takes place.
Similarly to MKvs.DCU, the Arcade Ladder consists of 10 characters. Shang Tsung is always the 8th character you fight. However, he has a number of buffs that the playable version of him does not have, which makes him much harder. Goro or Kintaro are always the 9th characters you fight. Which one you have to fight is randomly chosen. Shao Kahn is always the 10th and final character you fight, making him the main boss in the Arcade Ladder.
The arena hosting the fight is displayed along the ladder during the transition animation. Shang Tsung is always fought in Shang Tsung's Throne Room. Goro/Kintaro are always fought in Goro's Lair and Shao Kahn in Kahn's Colosseum.
The Arcade Ladder is now a sub-section of the "Towers" mode and can be found with these directions - One Player/Towers/Traditional Towers/Klassic. Similar to MKvs.DCU and MK2011, the Arcade Ladder consists of 10 characters, with the 9th character always being the sub-boss Goro and the 10th character always being the final boss, Shinnok/Corrupted Shinnok. The rungs feature the opponent with lit torches on both sides, which light up as soon as the player selects the ladder and are doused once the opponent is defeated. The transition to the match always features the opponent with animated smoke behind them.
The Arcade Ladder is still a sub-section of the "Towers" mode, now the "Klassic Towers". There is 3 variations, one with 5 opponents, one with 8 and the last with 10. The rewards increase the more opponents there are. The final boss is always Kronika, and instead of interacting with the character she has her own, unique intro.
- The Arcade Ladders from MK3/UMK3/MKT had a cameo in Mortal Kombat: Deception.