- This article is about the original 1992 arcade game. For other uses of the word "Mortal Kombat", see the disambiguation page named "Mortal Kombat".
Mortal Kombat is the first game in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series by Midway. It was released in arcades in 1992. It centers on the 10th Mortal Kombat tournament and the ultimate defeat of the evil Shang Tsung by the shaolin monk Liu Kang.
The game was a response by Midway to Capcom's highly successful fighting game Street Fighter II, which spawned a number of sequels and related games. However, it used a fighting system different from the Street Fighter formula, which was used in all sequels until Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. The controls consisted of five buttons arranged in an "X" pattern: a high punch, a high kick, a low punch, a low kick, and a block button, as well as an eight-way joystick. Unlike Street Fighter, characters did not block while retreating or crouching, but required pushing the block button to low block. Even then, characters would take chip damage from any hit while blocking - Sub-Zero's ice projectile is the unique exception. If the two fighters were close to each other, hitting any of the attack buttons would result in a different strike: a low punch turned into an unblockable throw, a high punch turned into a heavy elbow or backhand, and either kick turned into a knee strike. Crouching and hitting either punch resulted in an uppercut, which was the heaviest strike of the game. Jump kicking and crouch-kicking were executed in a similar fashion to Street Fighter.
The game retained a similar scoring system (based on 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 in favor of counting wins but then be brought back in the current timeline games.
Another 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, Sub-Zero would grasp a defeated opponent by the head, then rip off their 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 kombat, and essentially served as a memorable and gruesome sort of victory dance.
Mortal Kombat also introduced the concept of juggling, an idea so popular it has spread to later installments of the series and even other fighting games and genres. Juggling takes advantage of the fact that when a character is knocked into the air, the player is unable to control his or her 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.
Characters and cast
- Johnny Cage - Daniel Pesina
- Kano - Richard Divizio
- Liu Kang - Ho Sung Pak
- Raiden - Carlos Pesina (voiced by Jon Hey)
- Scorpion - Daniel Pesina (voiced by Ed Boon)
- Sonya - Elizabeth Malecki (voiced by Peg Burr)
- Sub-Zero - Daniel Pesina
- Shang Tsung (boss) - Ho Sung Pak
- Goro (sub-boss) - Stop motion
- Reptile (hidden character) - Daniel Pesina
There are a total of seven different backgrounds to fight on:
- Palace Gates
- Warrior Shrine
- Pit I - When an opponent is defeated on this stage, he/she can be uppercutted off the bridge where they will land on a bed of spikes. Although the announcer doesn't acknowledge it, this would be the series' first stage fatality.
- Throne Room
- Goro's Lair
- Pit Bottom - This stage is only accessible when the player is fighting the hidden opponent Reptile.
Characters' live backgrounds
- Reptile in The Pit Bottom
- Shang Tsung in Throne Room and Courtyard
- Goro in Goro's Lair (Liu Kang and Goro -- battleground)
500 years ago, the annual Shaolin Tournament, long the most prestigious fighting tournament in the world, was interrupted by the appearance of an old sorcerer and a strange four-armed creature, who entered the tournament and defeated the Great Kung Lao. This Shokan warrior was the half-human, half-dragon fighter named Goro, and he became the ultimate fighting champion for the next five hundred years. This was all part of Shang Tsung's plan to tip the balance into chaos and help Outworld conquer the Earth Realm.
A worthy shaolin monk named Liu Kang would go to the tournament with the intent to restore balance alongside the Hollywood martial artist Johnny Cage who also entered the tournament and befriended Kang when a fight broke out between himself and Kano.
Lin Kuei warrior Sub-Zero was invited to join the tournament by Shang Tsung himself, two years after his ordeal with Shinnok's Amulet. According to his MK Ending, his reason for joining the tournament was to assassinate Shang Tsung, by the request of a wealthy enemy of Tsung's. This, however, was never mentioned again. The undead Shirai Ryu ninja Scorpion entered the tournament intending to kill Sub-Zero, believing Sub-Zero to be responsible for killing him (in Mythologies, it was also stated that Scorpion thought that Sub-Zero had murdered his family and clan as well).
Raiden, the God of Thunder, was also asked personally by Shang Tsung, and Raiden himself boasted that "all those who would oppose Raiden would be crushed." He took the form of a mortal in order to participate in the tournament.
Kano, the Black Dragon's most diabolical thug, was being chased by a U.S. Special Forces Unit, led by Lt. Sonya Blade, when he managed to get onto the boat leading to the tournament; his goal in the tournament was to loot Shang Tsung's Palace (where the walls are rumored to be made of gold). Once Sonya and her men arrived, Shang Tsung had his personal army ambush them. 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. Thus the tournament was set.
With Outworld already having won 9 tournaments in a row, our heroes would have to avoid handing Earth Realm the 10th loss, or all of humanity would crumble into the darkness of the Outworld (the "10 tournaments in a row" detail was first mentioned in-game in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, although it had first been mentioned in John Tobias' Mortal Kombat II comic and had also been a key plot point in the film adaptation of the original Mortal Kombat).
Character bios and endings
Bio: A martial arts superstar trained by great masters from around the world, Cage uses his talents on the big screen. He is the current box-office champ and star of such movies as Dragon Fist and Dragon Fist II as well as the award-winning Sudden Violence.
Ending: Through the battles and life-or-death situations faced during the tournament, Johnny Cage learns the true importance of his fighting skills. He also realizes the full potential of the tournament.
He returns to Hollywood after defending his new title as Grand Champion. Cage goes on to film Mortal Kombat: The Movie and its many successful sequels.
Bio: Mercenary, thug, extortionist, and thief - Kano lives a life of crime and injustice. He is a devoted member of the Black Dragon, a dangerous group of cut-throat madmen feared and respected throughout all of crime's inner circles.
Ending: With the defeat of Goro and Shang Tsung, Kano will bring his own brand of treachery to the Tournament. His Black Dragon organization forms a monopoly over the contest that brings shame and torment to all those involved.
Their reign will end in anarchy and death. It will result in the final dismantling of the Tournament and the Battle of the Sans.
Bio: Once a member of the super-secret White Lotus Society, Liu Kang left the organization in order to represent the Shaolin temples in the Tournament. Kang is strong in his beliefs and despises Shang Tsung.
Ending: After defeating mighty Goro, and putting an end to Shang Tsung's rule over the tournament, Kang is able to return the contest to its rightful hosts - the Shaolin Temples.
Kang's heroics will always be remembered. He will continue the traditions of the Shaolin Temples and restore the true pride and respect of this once great tournament....
Bio: The name Raiden is actually that of a deity known as The Thunder God. It is rumored he received a personal invitation by Shang Tsung himself and took the form of a human to compete in the Tournament.
Ending: Raiden's victory comes as no surprise to him. He was never impressed by Shang Tsung's inferior sorcery, Goro's brute force, or the challenge of the other contestants. He quickly becomes bored with his mortal competition and soon invites other Gods to participate in the contest.
The ensuing battles rage on for years. And the wars result in our world's final destruction. Have a nice day.
Bio: Like Sub-Zero, Scorpion's true name and origin are not known. He has shown from time to time distrust and hatred towards Sub-Zero. Between Ninjas, this is usually a sign of opposing clans.
Ending: Marked for death years ago by the Lin Kuei, Scorpion was murdered by Sub-Zero. He left behind a wife and child in his former life but was allowed to return and avenge his death.
Even with Scorpion's triumph in the Tournament and new title as Grand Champion, the price he paid was high. He can never again know his family and must exist forever with his secret curse.
Lt. Sonya Blade
Bio: Sonya is a member of a top U.S. Special Forces unit and paramilitary police force. Her team was hot on the trail of Kano's Black Dragon organization. They followed them to an uncharted island where they were ambushed by Shang Tsung's personal army.
Ending: Captured by Shang Tsung, Sonya's Special Forces unit was taken hostage - their only hope was the tournament. Shang Tsung promised to release the entire team...only if Sonya could win the contest.
Her victory not only released her unit, but also put an end to the Black Dragon and Shang Tsung's powerful grip on the tournament.
Bio: The actual name or identity of this warrior is unknown. However, based on the markings of his uniform, it is believed he belongs to the Lin Kuei, a legendary clan of Chinese ninjas.
Ending: After receiving the title of Grand Champion, Sub-Zero disappears back in to the shadows from which he came.
His only goal in the tournament was the assassination of Shang Tsung. He was paid a large sum* of money by one of Tsung's wealthy enemies. With his mission accomplished, Sub-Zero will collect his fortune and retire from his dangerous profession.
* -- incorrectly spelled as "some" in the actual arcade game ending.
Mortal Kombat featured two bosses. One was a sub-boss (whom you'd have to face before challenging the main boss of the game). The sub-boss of the game was a four-armed Shokan warrior named Goro, a half-human, half-dragon beast. Upon Goro's defeat, the player would then face the game's main boss, Shang Tsung. Despite the sorcerer's old age, he moved with incredible speed and summoned skull fireballs at will. Shang Tsung's darkest magic empowered him to steal the souls of fallen adversaries. Due to this sorcery, he also had the ability to morph into any character in the game, including Goro, and assume their appearance and their special abilities. Upon defeat, the many warrior souls that Shang Tsung used during battle would leave his body and then he would be engulfed in flames.
From a marketing perspective, the 1993 launch of Mortal Kombat for video game consoles by Acclaim was probably the largest launch of a video game up until that time. A "Mortal Monday" TV campaign featured a flood of TV advertisements, which were unusual for video games at that time, and all four home versions of the game (Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy and Sega Game Gear) were made available for sale on the same date. Other ports were eventually released.
Versions of the original Mortal Kombat game appeared on several different formats, most notably the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Nintendo's SNES. When the first game in the series was released for the SNES in North America, Nintendo of America had a strict "Family Friendly" policy towards the content of the games released on their systems which required the removal of graphic violence, religious imagery and themes, mentions of death, sexual themes, and other sensitive subjects. Hence, the first Mortal Kombat game on the SNES had the blood recolored gray in an attempt to pass it off as sweat, and the various Fatality moves were graphically changed to be less gruesome. The SNES version was graphically superior to the Mega Drive/Genesis port, but all violence was censored.
- Game Boy (1993) - This version is really popular for being the only game port where players can actually play as Goro (via a secret code). Like its parent system (SNES) this port also didn't include any blood/gore. Due to memory space of the cartridge, this port omitted Johnny Cage; additionally, the frame rate of the game is lower, making it difficult to execute the special moves and Fatalities.
- Sega Game Gear (1993) - Much like its parent system (Mega Drive/Genesis), this version is censored unless a cheat code has been entered. Also, because of the 8-bit nature of the Game Gear, the game is missing certain elements: it features fewer characters (Kano isn't present), it has only 2 backgrounds, and the frame rate of the game is lower. Similarly to the GB version, this makes it rather hard to do any kind of special move or Fatality, due to its delay, which sometimes lasted almost a second.
- Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis (1993) - The Mega Drive/Genesis version is censored, but entering a secret cheat code restores the full gore and Fatalities from the arcade version. This version was given an MA-13 rating by the Videogame Rating Council. The game's soundtrack also contains the music from the arcade, but rearranged and remixed in a different way. While graphically inferior to the SNES version, its gameplay is more faithful to the arcade original.
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1993) - This version contains censored greyish blood, as well as different, new Fatalities for Raiden, Sub-Zero and Johnny Cage — Fatalities for Scorpion, Liu Kang, Kano and Sonya remain pretty much unchanged. This port's graphics and sound are far superior to any other home console version. However, the game plays far differently from the original arcade version; for example, the uppercut counter to air attacks is missing from this port, and the combo system barely resembles the one from the arcade.
- Amiga (1993) - This version is famous for the player being able to perform all moves in the game using just one button on a joystick. This was required because most Amiga joysticks at that time only had one button.
- IBM PC (1993) - The IBM PC (DOS) version is probably the most faithful port of the original arcade. The original floppy version plays very similar to the arcade, but has some sound effects missing and the digital background music is replaced with Adlib MIDI-like music. A CD version was released later, which is a near-perfect Arcade port, complete with sounds and digital music.
- Sega Master System (1993) - Pretty much the exact same game as the Sega Game Gear edition, the only difference really being that the characters, along with any other graphics, are much smaller than on the Game Gear.
- Sega Mega-CD/Sega CD (1994) - This version features a video intro of the "Mortal Monday" commercial (grainy due to compression), along with loading times. This port did not require a code to be entered to access the uncensored content and thus was given an MA-17 rating. It also features a soundtrack taken right from the arcade version, but some of the tracks play on the incorrect arenas. Several remixes of the Mortal Kombat theme music were included as bonus, including the remix used later for the film adaptation. The gore could be disabled by entering a code at the main menu. While this port is technologically inferior to the better-looking SNES port, it resembles the arcade version more faithfully in actual gameplay.
- Tiger Electronics released a handheld LCD version of the game in 1993. In this version, the player gets to Shang Tsung after defeating only 4 opponents (or rounds). All 7 characters from the original game are present, but only with one special move per character. Bosses are included, but Reptile is nowhere to be seen. Due to the nature of LCD games, it contains only one arena, called Hall of Champions.
- A Tiger Barcodzz version was later released in 1994. It features 5 characters and 1 boss, Goro. Missing characters are Johnny Cage, Kano, Sonya, Reptile and Shang Tsung. There is again only one arena, the Courtyard. The Barcodzz cards give additional background on characters related to the game as well as provide the player with secret techniques that can change the game every time it is played, such as intensify the characters' strength and abilities. Some cards can strengthen the player's opponents, while others can weaken them. There are also cards that can force an immediate outcome, like an automatic win for each side.
- With the release of Mortal Kombat: Deception "Premium Pack" in 2004, both the Xbox and PlayStation 2 received ports of the game as bonus content.
- Also in 2004, Jakks Pacific release the game as one of its Plug It in & Play TV Games. This version of the game is similar to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version but with different music and the original arcade voices.
- The game is included in the compilation Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play, released in 2005. This port features the same controls, graphics and gore that the original arcade game contained, but like the version in Mortal Kombat: Deception "Premium Pack", it suffers from sound issues and has no bios of the characters.
- Mortal Kombat has also been ported to the PS3, XBOX 360 and PC as part of Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection.
- This game has been ported illegally to the Famicom in Asia. It has appeared in several multicarts in China and Latin America.
Characters in ports
|Secret unselectable character|
|Selectable thanks to game glitch|
|Selectable using a game-altering device|
|Character||Arcade||SNES||Mega Drive/Genesis||GameBoy||Game Gear/Master System||PC||Sega CD||Tiger
- Blood Code: "a-b-a-c-a-b-b" (only on SEGA Genesis version)
- DULLARD Code:
- D: Down
- U: Up
- L: Left
- L: Left
- A: A
- R: Right
- D: Down
- Shang Tsung's Courtyard, arena, is based a courtyard from Enter the Dragon (1973).
- Goro's Lair, arena, is based a cave from Big Trouble in Little China (1986).
- Throne Room, arena, is based a throne from Big Trouble in Little China (1986).
- The name was originally supposed to be "Mortal Combat" until an unknown employee wrote a "K" over the C in Combat, thus creating the name.
- In the audits section of the arcade version of Mortal Kombat, an item named "ERMACs" (short for "error macros") was listed next to the "Reptile battles" counter. This started a rumour about the existence of a second palette-swapped ninja: a red one called Ermac. The rumour spread like wild-fire when a magazine published "actual images" of the fictitious fighter, even though it was stated later on that it was a hoax. Due to the rumors surrounding the glitch, Midway did eventually include a red ninja character named Ermac as an official character in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and he has subsequently appeared in other Mortal Kombat games, such as Deception.
- Another false rumor that spread among many players was the existence of a code that would make Sonya appear naked in the game. Various reports told of its existence only appearing in the Sega version, only in the arcade version, and so on.
- In the SNES version of Mortal Kombat, a glitch could be done using Sub-Zero. It involves doing three uppercuts, two sweeps, and a freeze as the final move before the fatality. When this is accomplished, the opponent is seen being shattered as part of the fatality, but instead of disappearing as they should, the opponent is seen standing in the spot where their body was frozen.
- A real cheat code that could be used on the Genesis and Sega CD versions would unlock an entire menu in the main screen called "Cheat Enabled". In the menu, a player could turn on and off certain aspects of the game, such as having shadows always crossing the moon during The Pit stage, infinite lives, or being able to choose the material for the Test Your Might stage. The code was "down - up - left - left - A - right - down", an acronym for DULLARD. It could only be performed at the main title screen.
- Reptile could be fought by executing a Fatality after fighting on The Pit stage, assuming a shadow flew over the moon in the background, without taking any damage or pressing the block button in the winning round. Initially, this meant that Sonya could not fight him at all, as her fatality required the block button to be pressed, but this was fixed in later versions. Reptile, a merge between Sub-Zero and Scorpion, is fought on the Pit Bottom. Later, in Mortal Kombat II, Reptile was developed into a full character with his own special moves and would be available from the outset. The SNES port, however, omitted the no-block rule, allowing any player to confront Reptile.
- The disembodied heads of various Midway employees like MK creators Ed Boon and John Tobias can be seen impaled on the bottom of The Pit stage.
- A carving of Pac-Man eating a pill, along with a ghost from Pac-Man, can be seen on the right wall of the Palace Gates stage.
- Instead of Johnny Cage, the designers intended to have martial arts star Jean Claude Van-Damme in the first game. However, he was involved in a Genesis game and declined. Ironically, that game never came to be.
- Another rampant rumor spread with the Genesis version of an African American kickboxer named Nimbus Terrafaux. It was simply just a magazine hoax.
- The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive ports of Mortal Kombat's soundtrack featured most of the music from the original arcade game, but were all remixed rhythmically and melodically.
- During discussions on porting the game to home game consoles, there were talks with TTI the US branch of NEC behind the Turbo Grafx 16 for an exclusive. However NEC, out of touch with its customer base, declined stating gamers were tired of fighting games.
- Daniel Pesina, Richard Divizio and Ho Sung Pak appear in the movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze".
- Mortal Kombat is also notorious for being the rival of Street Fighter II during its launch. This led to an advertising campaign on Capcom's behalf where they attempted to show that SFII was the superior fighting title. Commercial
- Before fights, Reptile will appear and give you hints on how to find him. These hints are as followed:
- I am Reptile, find me!
- You must find me to beat me.
- Alone is how to find me.
- Perfection is the key.
- Fatality is the key.
- 10,000,000 points if you destroy me.
- Look to la luna(the moon).
- You cannot match my speed.
- Tip eht fo mottob(reverse it)
- Blocking will get you nowhere.
- On the SEGA Genesis console version of the game, there is a code to enable almost all of the blood, the fatalities, and gore that was in the arcade version. In order to enable, one must load up the game and wait for the code talking about cheats, when this screen appears enter the code "a-b-a-c-a-b-b" (this code is also located on the Genesis album titled Abacab). If you are successful the letters will turn from white to red and you will hear Scorpion say his signature "Get Over Here" catchphrase, and then you will be able to preform almost all of the gore from the Arcade version.
- This information became available in future Mortal Kombat games, it was not mentioned in the original.
- Test Your Might