Characters and cast
- Jax Briggs: John Parrish
- Kano: Richard Divizio
- Kung Lao: Anthony Marquez
- Liu Kang: Eddie Wong
- Noob Saibot: Richard Divizio (only accessible via secret code)
- Shang Tsung: John Turk
- Smoke: Sal Divita (only accessible via secret code)
- Sonya Blade: Kerri Hoskins
- Sub-Zero: John Turk
- Cyrax: Sal Divita
- Kabal: Richard Divizio
- Nightwolf: Sal Divita
- Sektor: Sal Divita
- Sheeva: Stop motion
- Sindel: Lia Montelongo
- Kurtis Stryker: Michael O'Brien
Boss and Sub-Boss
New to the series
- MK3 introduced the "Run" button, accompanied by a "Run" meter, allowing the character to run. This was primarily to address concern from fans who thought that the previous games gave too much of an advantage to the defending player.
- MK3 introduced "Kombat Kodes" which were 6 digit codes entered at the VS screen in a two player game to modify gameplay, fight hidden characters or display certain text messages.
- MK3 also introduced the "Ultimate Kombat Kode" which was a 10 digit code that could be entered after a game was over in single player mode. If the correct code was entered, Smoke would become a permanent playable character on the character select screen. The arcade owner, however, could reset this code by accessing the game's diagnostic menu by hitting a DIP switch within the MK3 cabinet.
- MK3 also introduced "chain combos", also known as "dial-a-combos" (many other fighting games at the time had similar combo systems). These supplement the existing juggle combo system, but critics contend that dial-a-combos are redundant and needlessly add to the learning curve of the game.
- MK3 introduced the long-rumored Animality, where the character transforms into an animal in order to kill their opponent.
- MK3 also introduced "Mercy", allowing a beaten foe to recover a sliver of life and continue fighting. This was necessary to perform an Animality.
- MK3 characters had more Fatalities and special moves, and there were now three stage Fatalities: the Subway, the Bell Tower and the Pit 3.
- MK3 was the first game of the series to use distinct blood colors depending on the character; the human characters and Shao Kahn had traditional red blood, Sheeva, and Motaro had green blood, while the three robotic ninjas had black blood (or in this case, oil).
- MK3 was the first game of the series to have a playable Shokan character; Sheeva possessed unique corpse sprites (skeletons, etc.) that other player characters shared.
- Characters could be uppercutted through the ceiling of a stage to continue the battle in a different background. This could alter the game's level cycle. This feature wasn't again added until MKD/MKA.
- The arcade version of MK3 was also the first MK arcade game to feature player-selectable difficulty; previous games' difficulty settings were set by the machine operator.
- Mercy: (Hold Run) Down, Down, Down (Release Run).
- Friendship: To perform a Friendship you must not use Block in the winning round.
- Babality: Same as above.
- Animality: (Do all on the third round!) When the "Finish Him/Her!" pops up, perform a Mercy, which is done by holding Run, pressing Down three times and releasing Run, defeat your opponent again and when a second "Finish Him/Her!" pops up, perform the Animality for that character.
Shao Kahn, fed up with continuous losses in tournament battle, enacts a 10,000 year-old plan. He would have his Shadow Priests, led by Shang Tsung, revive his former Queen Sindel, who unexpectedly died at a young age. However, she wouldn't be revived in the Outworld. She would be resurrected in the Earthrealm. This would allow Shao Kahn to cross the boundary lines and reclaim his queen.
When Sindel is reincarnated in Earthrealm, Shao Kahn is able to reach across the dimensions to reclaim her. As a consequence of this action, Earthrealm becomes a part of Outworld, instantly stripping billions of their souls. Only a few are spared, as Raiden protects their souls. He tells them that Shao Kahn must be stopped, but that he cannot interfere; due to his status as protector of Earthrealm, he has no power in Outworld, and Earthrealm is now partially merged with Outworld.
Shao Kahn has unleashed extermination squads to roam throughout the Earthrealm and kill any survivors. In addition, Raiden's protection only extends to the soul, not to the body, so his chosen warriors have to fight the extermination squads and repel Shao Kahn.
There are a total of thirteen different backgrounds to fight on:
- The Subway - When an opponent is defeated on this stage, he/she can be uppercutted through the ceiling, where they will fall back through the ceiling onto subway tracks, and then run over by a subway train.
- The Street - The background music of this stage was a remixed version of the Courtyard stage from the original Mortal Kombat game.
- The Bank - Shao Kahn's building can be seen.
- Rooftop - Here Shao Kahn's building can also be seen.
- The Balcony - The player fights Motaro here. There is what looks like a well in the background (as well as in Noob's Dorfen) but it is impossible to uppercut the opponent into it. The well is most likely linked to the Soul Chamber's Soulnado.
- The Bridge
- Soul Chamber
- Shao Kahn Tower (Bell Tower) - When an opponent is defeated on this stage, he/she can be uppercutted, where they will fall through a series of wooden floors and eventually land on a bed of spikes.
- The Temple
- The Graveyard
- The Pit 3 - When an opponent is defeated on this stage, he/she can be uppercutted off the bridge where they will be sliced to pieces by giant spinning blades at the bottom. The player fights Shao Kahn here.
- Smoke's Portal (Hidden Portal) - A combination of the background from the "Choose Your Destiny" screen and the Pit 3 bridge, this stage is only accessible when the player is fighting CPU Smoke via Kombat Kode, and Smoke must not yet be unlocked via Ultimate Kombat Kode for this stage to appear.
- Noob's Dorfen - An obvious knock-off of The Balcony stage, this stage is only accessible when the player is fighting Noob Saibot via a Kombat Kode.
The following displays the Kombat Zones where a character can be uppercutted into different backgrounds.
- The Subway → The Street
- The Bank → The Rooftop
- The Soul Chamber → The Balcony
Characters Live Backgrounds
- Smoke in Smoke's Portal
- Noob Saibot in Noob's Dorfen
- Shao Kahn in The Pit 3
- Motaro in The Balcony
Character bios and endings
Bio: Cyrax is unit LK-4D4, The second of three prototype Cybernetic Ninjas built by the Lin Kuei. Like his counterparts, his last program is to find and terminate the rogue ninja Sub Zero. Without a soul, Cyrax goes undetected by Shao Kahn and remains a possible threat against his occupation of Earth.
Ending: Cyrax is captured by Sub-Zero and reprogrammed with new orders: to destroy Shao Kahn. With Kahn unable to detect this soulless assassin, Cyrax delivers a successful sneak attack.
However, after eliminating Kahn and saving Earth, Cyrax awaits for new orders from his Lin Kuei Headquarters. The orders never come and Cyrax malfunctions. He ends up stranded in the middle of the desert, blindly heading back toward his base.
Bio: In failing to convince his superiors of the coming Outworld invasion, Jax prepares covertly for the future battle with Kahn's minions. He fits both arms with indestructible bionic implants. This is a war Jax is prepared to win.
Ending: The second time Jax battles the forces of Shao Kahn, he comes prepared. Thought to be the strongest man on Earth, Jax has easily proven it. First by beating Kahn's armies, then by defeating Kahn himself.
When the world reverts back to normal, Jax and Sonya start the Outerworld Investigation Agency. Jax runs the exploratory division which learns to open portals through science rather than magic. He leads the first expedition into a mysterious new realm.
Bio: As a chosen warrior, his identity is a mystery to all. It is believed he is a survivor of an attack by Shao Kahn's extermination squads. As a result, he is viciously scarred, kept alive by artificial respirators and a rage for ending Shao Kahn's conquest.
Ending: After returning from near death, Kabal swears revenge against his attackers. He fights alongside the other Earth warriors. When he defeats Motaro and the mighty Shao Kahn, he proves he is truly the chosen one.
Before the invasion, Kabal had led a life of crime. He was once a member of the Black Dragon along with Kano. Now Kabal devotes his life to fighting injustice. He gives crimes' inner circles something to fear.
Bio: Kano was thought to have been killed in the first tournament. Instead, he is found alive in the Outworld where he again escapes capture by Sonya. Before the actual Outworld invasion, Kano convinces Kahn to spare his soul. Kahn needs someone to teach his warriors how to use Earth's weapons... Kano is the man to do it.
Ending: When Shao Kahn lets Kano live he fails to recognize the resourcefulness of the scheming human. Kano lures Kahn's armies away on a false mission: then nukes them using a stolen weapon. He fights the remaining warriors and finally defeats Kahn himself.
Kano's true intention is to take over the souls which Kahn once possessed. But Kano is unable to control the spirits as they escape and attack him. Rumored to have suffered a violent death, Kano was ignorant of the fact that he saved the world that he tried to conquer.
Bio: Kung Lao's plan to reform the White Lotus Society comes to a halt when Shao Kahn's invasion takes the earth by storm. As a chosen warrior Kung Lao must use his greatest fighting skills to bring down Shao Kahn's reign of terror.
Ending: When Shao Kahn invades Earth, Kung Lao must scrap his plans of reuniting the White Lotus Society. He instead must focus on the new tournament. He seeks Liu Kang and together they battle Kahn's forces fearlessly.
Using the knowledge he obtained as a Shaolin Monk, he fights in the name of his great ancestor- the original Kung Lao. He emerges victorious but suffers from injuries during battle with Kahn. Believed to have died, Kung Lao joins his ancestors in a new life.
Bio: After the Outworld invasion, Liu Kang finds himself the prime target of Kahn's extermination squads. He is the Shaolin Champion and has thwarted Kahn's schemes in the past. Of all the humans, Kang poses the greatest threat to Shao Kahn's rule.
Ending: After Kahn's takeover of Earth, Liu Kang finds himself the prime target of Shao Kahn's extermination squads. Kang is the reigning Mortal Kombat Champion and has proved it by easily defeating Kahn's minions.
But it is the apparent death of Shaolin brother Kung Lao that enrages Kang and enables him to find the strength to defeat Shao Kahn. Then, before the portal closes, Liu Kang is greeted by Princess Kitana and thanked for saving Earth and the Outworld.
Bio: Nightwolf works as a historian and preserver of his peoples culture. When Kahn's portal opens over North America, Nightwolf uses the magic of his Shaman to protect his tribe's sacred land. This area becomes a vital threat to Kahn's occupation of Earth.
Ending: Nightwolf helps the other Earth warriors escape to his sacred land. Once there, they regroup and plan a form of attack against Shao Kahn's invasion. Nightwolf has trained hard for this battle. Finally, he faces Shao Kahn and emerges victorious.
When the Earth returns to its normal state, Nightwolf peacefully regains his land the Native American people lost over many years. They establish their own proud nation and soon become the great leaders of Earth.
Bio: Sektor is actually the code name for unit LK-9T9. He was the first of three Prototype Cybernetic Ninjas built by the Lin Kuei. Sektor was once a human assassin trained by the Lin Kuei. He volunteered for automation because of his loyalty to the clan. Sektor survives the Outworld invasion- he has no soul for Shao Kahn to take.
Ending: After eventually terminating Sub-Zero, Sektor is attacked by Shao Kahn's army. Unfamiliar with the Outworld warriors, Sektor fights back. He targets Kahn and all Outworld beings as threats to the Lin Kuei.
Kahn's minions are no match for Sektor, who fights his way into the fortress. Once inside, Sektor initiates his self-destruct sequence. The resulting explosion is so massive that it closes the portal and returns Earth back to normal.
Bio: Tsung is Shao Kahn's lead sorcerer. He once fell out of favor with his emperor after failing to win the Earth Realm through tournament battle. But the ever scheming Shang Tsung is instrumental in Kahn's conquest of Earth. He has now been granted more power than ever.
Ending: When Shao Kahn overtakes the Earth, he needs Shang Tsung to help locate the surviving humans. Granted new powers, Tsung soon discovers his dark emperor's true plan: as soon as the remaining warriors are disposed of, Kahn will take Tsung's own soul.
After learning this, Tsung turns on his master. He catches Motaro off guard and then defeats Shao Kahn. But before the Earth can return to normal, Tsung takes all the souls as his own. He will forever rule the Earth with his own brand of evil.
Bio: Sheeva was hand picked by Shao Kahn to serve as Sindel's personal protector. She becomes suspicious of Shao Kahn's loyalty toward her race of Shokan when he places Motaro as the head of his extermination squads. On the Outworld, Motaro's race of Centurions is the natural enemy of the Shokan.
Ending: While Sheeva serves her master on Earth, her race of Shokan are being punished on the Outworld. Kahn now favors Motaro's race of centurions and aids them in defeating the Shokan. After learning of these events, Sheeva turns on her master.
She defeats Motaro and in a rage brings down Kahn. In freeing Earth, she also frees the Outworld. She then returns home and works to restore the pride and respect of her race.
Bio: Sindel once ruled the Outworld at Shao Kahn's side as queen. Now 10,000 years later after her untimely death, she is reborn on Earth with evil intentions. Sindel is the key to Kahn's occupation of Earth.
Ending: Sindel receives visions of her true past and turns against Shao Kahn. She discovered that her true husband was named Jerrod. They once had a daughter named Kitana and ruled the realm called Edenia, before Kahn took it away in their own Mortal Kombat.
He uses Sindel as a pawn in his quest for Earth and took Kitana as his own daughter. But in defeating Shao Kahn, Sindel frees the Earth. In doing so, she also liberates Edenia and assures a reunion with her 10,000 year old daughter - Kitana.
Bio: Smoke, unit LK-7T2, is the third prototype cyber-ninja built by the Lin Kuei. He tried to escape the automation process with Sub-Zero but was captured. His memories were stripped away, leaving behind an emotionless killer. However, Sub-Zero believes that within this machine is a human soul trying to escape.
Ending: Smoke was once a friend and ally of Sub-Zero when they both tried to escape from being turned into machines by their ninja clan. But Smoke is captured and transformed into a cyborg with a mission to kill his own partner.
But Smoke soon finds himself being pursued by Shao Kahn's minions. He learns he still has a soul and his true mission is the destruction of the Outworld invaders. He defeats Kahn and saves the world, but is forever trapped in his artificial body.
Bio: Sonya disappears in the first tournament, but is later rescued by Jax. After returning to Earth, she and Jax try to warn the U.S government of the looming Outworld menace. Lacking proof, they watch helplessly as Shao Kahn begins his invasion.
Ending: Sonya defeats her arch-enemy Kano high atop a skyscraper near Shao Kahn's fortress. She then comes face to face with the emperor himself. In an incredible display of courage, Sonya wins.
When the world returns to its normal state, Sonya has no trouble convincing her superiors to form the Outerworld Investigation Agency, devoted to protecting the Earth against future invasions from other realms.
Bio: When the Outworld portal opens over a large city in North America, panic and chaos rage out of control. Kurtis Stryker was the leader of the Riot Control Brigade when Shao Kahn began taking souls. He finds himself the lone survivor of a city once populated by millions.
Ending: Ignorant of why his soul was spared from the Outworld invasion, Stryker receives a vision from Raiden. He is instructed to travel west. He eventually meets the rest of Earth's warriors and learns the true meaning of his survival.
He travels back to the city he swore to protect. Kahn is unfamiliar with this new kombatant and is caught off guard. Stryker defeats the warlord and saves the entire planet. The chaos that consumed the city in the hours before the invasion are gone.
Bio: The ninja returns- unmasked. Betrayed by his own clan, the Lin Kuei, he broke sacred codes of honor by leaving his clan and is marked for death. But unlike the ninja of old, his pursuers come as machines. He must not only defend himself against the Outworld menace, but he must also elude his soulless assassins.
Ending: In vicious battle, Sub-Zero faces Cyrax and Sektor: but not alone. He finds his third Lin Kuei Assassin - the elusive Smoke. Before automation Smoke and Sub-Zero were allies. Sub-Zero helps Smoke recall his past and gains him as an ally once again.
Sub-Zero defeats his cyborg assassins with the help of Smoke and finds it takes all his own inner strengths to defeat Kahn and his Outworld Minions. The former ninja once again disappears into the shadows. His legacy known only by a select few.
Though mainly released for the Mega Drive/Genesis, Super Nintendo, and Sony Playstation upon home system release, a weaker version for the Game Boy was completed, only containing nine of the original fifteen fighters (Kano, Sonya, Sub-Zero, Cyrax, Sektor, Sheeva, Sindel, Kabal, and the robotic Smoke as both a hidden fighter and a playable character unlocked with a Kombat Kode), five stages, no button-link combos and no Motaro sub-boss, and Shao Kahn uses his moves from Mortal Kombat II. Though rated M for mature, this version does not include much of the overt gore and violence seen in its parent systems, despite keeping some of the "burning" Fatalities (immolating a defeated opponent down to just a burnt skeleton). However, the graphics are superb for a Game Boy title, with smoother animation and greater attention to detail on the fighters than the older MK titles for Game Boy. There was also a scaled down Game Gear version of MK3, but it was never released in the US. Only Europe and Japan saw a release, and it is rare to find; a complete packaged version can be seen on Internet auctions for as much as $90.
Development of the PlayStation version of Mortal Kombat 3 was largely rushed at the behest of Sony Computer Entertainment America, who had declined to release the PlayStation version of Mortal Kombat II in the US in favor of getting the newer sequel out on its system. Midway would attempt to rectify the glitches and errors in MK3 by releasing Mortal Kombat Trilogy a year later, in lieu of a PlayStation port of the earlier-released Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.
Characters in ports
|Secret selectable character|
|Secret unselectable character|
|Character||Arcade||PlayStation||SNES||Mega Drive/Genesis||Game Boy||Sega Game Gear/Master System||PC|
- In Mortal Kombat II, a secret game over screen reads: "GAME OVER ?" with a large Roman numeral for the number '3' underneath. This hidden screen confirms that the then upcoming title is indeed on its way; and is nearly impossible to access and is only possible within the arcade version.
- As opposed to the mystical, Oriental, Enter the Dragon-themed settings of the first two Mortal Kombat titles, Mortal Kombat 3 featured more of a contemporary, North American aesthetic. Ninjas, Oriental instrumentation, mysticism, and exotic locales had been replaced with robots, technology, hip hop music, and urban settings. Many longtime fans of the series were confused by these changes, leading to the addition of many Outworld and mystical-based themes and settings in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. The Western contemporary aesthetic would be scrapped altogether by the time of Mortal Kombat 4.
- The absence of iconic characters like Raiden, Johnny Cage, Baraka, Kitana, and Scorpion in Mortal Kombat 3 also proved deeply unpopular with fans. In response, Midway released an updated version of MK3 entitled Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, which brought Scorpion, Reptile, Kitana, Mileena, and Jade back as playable characters, while also introducing new characters like Ermac.
- Due to its thematic change into a more modern, real world setting, this is the only game in the series which lacked any ninja characters whatsoever (except, perhaps, for the three robot-ninjas). Sub-Zero does not count as is both his design and defection from the Lin Kuei removes his status as a ninja character.
- As a result of this, this is the only traditional Mortal Kombat game not to feature Scorpion as a playable character.
- Shao Kahn's sprites are largely unchanged from his appearance in Mortal Kombat II.
- Unlike the first two games, Mortal Kombat 3 does not feature a Shokan as the sub-boss, opting instead for the centaur-themed Motaro. MK3 does however feature the first fully playable Shokan in the form of Sheeva, although her gameplay is more resemblant of a normal character as opposed to a boss type.
- Although Goro was unlockable in the Game Boy port of Mortal Kombat, his controls do not operate the same way as the main playable characters.
- Noob Saibot is not a fully black 'ninja' palette swap, but is actually a completely black version of Kano, because there were no 'ninjas' in this game until Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. He also has no special moves but uses some of Kano's combos.
- The Graveyard stage contains gravestones with the last names of MK3's entire design team: Ed Boon, John Tobias, Dan Forden, John Vogel, Tony Goskie, and Dave Michicich (spelled Mikicic). For each round, four of these names will appear randomly on each of the four closest gravestones. Each gravestone also has each person's date of birth as well as the "alleged" date they died, which is April 1, 1995, the day the first version of MK3 was released in the arcades. A gravestone in the background can also be seen reading "Cage", making reference to Johnny Cage being deceased (at the time).
- The Subway stage has a sign in the background that reads: "BOON/TOBIAS." These are the last names of Mortal Kombat co-creators, Ed Boon and John Tobias.
- Many of the new characters weren't officially named till late in the production of the game. During production, Sektor and Cyrax's names were Ketchup and Mustard (respectively), due to their coloration, while Sindel bore the odd moniker of "Muchacha" and "The Bride". Kabal, meanwhile, was nicknamed "Sandman" possibly due to Kabal's inspiration coming from the Tusken Raiders of Star Wars fame. Sheeva was no different as well, as she went by the beta name "She-Goro".
- At some point, it has also been rumored that Sektor and Cyrax are, in fact, Scorpion and Reptile, who were forced to transplant their souls from their original physical bodies into mechanical substance and act like a supreme clade of Outworld robot warriors. When UMK3 came out, these claims were proved to be false.
- Their respective numbers "LK-9T9" and "LK-4D4", in which "LK" obviously stands for "Lin Kuei", read "nine-tee-nine" (99) and "four-dee-four" (44) respectively.
- The early names for the Graveyard and the Bell Tower stages were "The Boonyard" and "Tobias Tower," respectively, but criticism regarding the oversaturation of Boon's and Tobias' names in the game soon surfaced, resulting in both levels being quickly renamed with their generic descriptions.
- This was the first Mortal Kombat game to feature Sub-Zero as a playable character without his mask. This iteration of Sub-Zero had previously appeared unmasked in his Arcade Mode ending in Mortal Kombat II, as well as the Malibu comics.
- This is also the only Mortal Kombat game to not feature Raiden as a playable character. However, he does make a cameo in the game's intro and returns as a playable character in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, MK3's final update.
- Even though some characters had different blood color when hit, such as Sheeva and the cyborgs, when they were knocked into the Bell Tower's spikes, they'll gush out red blood instead.
- The Hidden Portal stage in MK3 is the only stage that can't be accessed through stage cycle.
- In the Sega Genesis version of MK3's instruction manual, in the Genealogies section, it gives the different backgrounds of every character in the game, also including information about some past warriors who are not present in the game itself. There is a mistake, however. It says in Scorpion's genealogy that he is a Lin Kuei when in fact his canon information depicts him as a member of the Shirai Ryu. This may have become an inspiration for the future revelation that the Shirai Ryu was formed by a former member of Lin Kuei.
- Smoke's icon is a mirrored, recolored version of Sektor's icon. Likewise, all of Smoke's sprites are recolored from Sektor's own, with the addition of a three-tipped spear that launched from his chest as opposed to missiles.
- A port of Mortal Kombat 3 was in development for the Atari Jaguar CD as a result of a deal between Atari and Williams. However it was cancelled during Atari's reverse merger with JTS. It is unknown how far into development it was.
- Like MKII, a hidden Endurance Mode was added for both the Super NES and Sega Genesis versions of MK3 which would allow both players to choose 8 characters to fight for one match.
- Like every MK game on the SNES, a hidden intro of Smoke walking into the MK3 title screen was seen if the player holds a series of button sequences. This also unlocks Smoke in the game.
- In the arcade version, Kung Lao lacked a character bio during attract mode. Midway created one for the home versions of MK3.
- Whenever secret character Noob Saibot wins a round, the announcer incorrectly says "Kano shows mercy!". This is because Noob Saibot is a palette swap of Kano turned completely black, as there were no ninjas in the game until Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.
- When Smoke was unlocked via Ultimate Kombat Kode upon beating Shao Kahn, he did not stay in the CPU's memory for the Arcade version.
- The Sega Genesis version of MK3 had a glitch trick that would allow you to skip opponents in single player mode (even bosses). This was not fixed in Ultimate MK3.
- Also in the Sega Genesis version of MK3, completing the game with Smoke results in the game being soundless, forcing the player to reset the console (sometimes, it required to turn off the console and then turn it on again) in order to restore the game's sound.
- In the Super Nintendo version of MK3, Kabal's Friendship is absent from the Supreme Demonstration.