Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero is a game from the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. It is a platform game, first released in 1997, that came out for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. It featured the original Sub-Zero in an adventure to defeat Quan Chi and prevent him from retrieving an amulet that would free the fallen Elder God Shinnok.
Although released five years after the first Mortal Kombat game, the storyline in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero dates back furthest chronologically, even before the first game. This was done to further expand and retcon elements on the existing storyline, especially concerning Quan Chi, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Shinnok, and the Lin Kuei.
Thousands of years ago, Shinnok held a place amongst the Elder Gods. As the true rulers of all realms, the Elder Gods watch as worlds are created and destroyed and govern the realms with untold eons of wisdom. Shinnok, however, gave in to greed and illusions of absolute power through the new realm of Earth. If he could have that realm to himself, he would have power unmatched. To accomplish his goal, he first would have to face the god of thunder known as Raiden, who was appointed as Earth's guardian by the Elder Gods themselves. Their battle for the realm of Earth was fierce; causing the planet's near destruction and plunging it into centuries of darkness.
Raiden soon discovered that Shinnok had gained access to the realm through the powers of a mystical amulet, which permitted the user to enter without challenge and keep the other Elder Gods from intervening. The amulet could only be created once, and Raiden relieved it from the fallen deity's possession. With the aid of the Elder Gods, he banished Shinnok into a dark place known as the Netherrealm. The thunder god buried the amulet deep within the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal, and created a massive temple within the mountain to house the amulet, appointing four guardians as its protectors. Each guardian represented one of the four elements that made up the realm: wind, earth, water, and fire. As long as the amulet remained on Earth, Shinnok would be trapped and remain dormant for eternity.
Over the millennia, the Netherrealm had many rulers. Most of them were forged within its fiery pits, eventually ripping their masters mercilessly from their thrones. One, however, came not from the bowels of the Netherrealm, but from the heavens of reality. He was the fallen Elder God known as Shinnok. Upon entering the realm, Shinnok found himself immediately under attack by its soon-to-be dethroned ruler Lucifer. He would exist tortured and tormented for thousands of years, until he met Quan Chi.
Quan Chi is a free roaming sorcerer, having the ability to travel the various planes of reality without detection from their gods. It also meant that over the years, he had obtained great power. Aware of Shinnok's dilemma, Quan Chi traveled to the Netherrealm and made the fallen god an offer. He would free him from his confines and assist him in defeating Lucifer and his minions, in exchange for power and the ability to rule at his side if and when he escaped the Netherrealm entirely. Shinnok agreed, and the two waged a war in the Netherrealm that lasted for centuries, but the ex-Elder God eventually won as he viciously slew his tormentor. Then he took his seat as the new ruler with supreme control of the dead realm. Shinnok, however, found he had nothing to rule. The realm was a desolate wasteland of fire and brimstone inhabited by grotesque demons. So, he decided to create a physical world, trying his best to emulate the realm he wanted so badly, Earth. He took the demons of his realm and transformed them into as human as possible. But unlike the Outworld, which became a wasteland after Shao Kahn sapped its energies, the Netherrealm never was a living planet. It always had existed as a dead realm, infinite in size. Its true form would now be hidden by its ruler.
It was through the Mortal Kombat tournament that the Outworld's soul-stealing sorcerer Shang Tsung discovered the location of the sacred Map of Elements, which could bring him to the sacred amulet. After Goro, the reigning Outworld champion, defeated the first Kung Lao over 400 years ago, Shang Tsung stole the human's soul. He retained his thoughts and memories, thus discovering the secrets of the sacred map, which has been hidden within the Shaolin Temple for centuries. These events enabled Shang Tsung to strike a bargain with Quan Chi.
In exchange for Shinnok's assistance in a plot to reincarnate the Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn's dead queen, Sindel, Shang Tsung would reveal to Quan Chi the location of the map that would lead to Shinnok's sacred amulet. However, Shang Tsung failed to inform Quan Chi of the elemental guardians that protected the amulet. Their mere existence made it impossible for Quan Chi to enter the temple where the amulet rested. But, if he could get a human to enter, the right human, one who could perhaps defeat the elements, then he could achieve his goal.
Search for Shinnok's amulet
One of the most prolific rivalries in the Mortal Kombat series is that of Sub-Zero and Scorpion. The two ninja warriors were enemies in the first Mortal Kombat tournament in 1992, and Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero further explains the hatred between these two characters.
In order to obtain the Amulet of Shinnok, Quan Chi required the services of a warrior who was capable of defeating the temple's guardians. To this end, he hires the Lin Kuei warrior known as Bi-Han, dubbed the title "Sub-Zero" for his power to manipulate ice, for retrieval of the map which details the amulet's location. Unbeknownst to Sub-Zero, however, was the fact that the sorceror had also hired a Japanese ninja from the rival Shirai Ryu clan named Hanzo Hasashi, who bore the code-name Scorpion, for the same task in case Sub-Zero should fail. Hasashi and Sub-Zero encounter each other, and Sub-Zero kills him in cold blood. After Sub-Zero delivers the map, Quan Chi makes good on a promise to the Lin Kuei; the rival clan, the Shirai Ryu, was wiped out by Quan Chi himself; every remnant of the clan destroyed. This results in Scorpion's everlasting hatred of Sub-Zero, as later on, he would come to believe that Sub-Zero is directly responsible for the destruction of the Shirai Ryu, as well as his family.
After Sub-Zero retrieves the map, he is again hired by Quan Chi, this time for the mission of following it to the Temple of Elements, wherein Shinnok's amulet is kept and safeguarded, located in the Himalayas of Nepal. After encountering and defeating each of the temple's four elemental god-guardians, Sub-Zero procures access to the amulet. Quan Chi then claims it and reveals that the amulet belongs to Shinnok and, is not only capable of liberating him from the ghastly Netherrealm, but would also grant him the power to usurp rule of all the realms. Raiden, who had initially placed the amulet in the temple to protect it from the likes of Quan Chi, appears and demands that Sub-Zero rectify his mistake, to which the ninja warrior reluctantly agrees. Sub-Zero is then transported to the Netherrealm and, while there, is captured by the Brotherhood of the Shadow and locked in the Prison of Souls, where he realizes that he's not alone in his cell. He sees his rival Scorpion once more, who confronts him about destroying his clan and killing his family, and attempts to have his revenge. Though his attempt to kill Sub-Zero is unsuccessful, it sets up his return in the first Mortal Kombat game.
Sub-Zero escapes from the Prison of Souls, and crosses the Bridge of Immortality to reach Quan Chi's fortress, where he fights against Quan Chi's personal guards, Kia, Jataaka, and Sareena. Once he defeats them all, he tracks down Quan Chi, and, surprisingly, with the aid of Sareena, whose life he had spared, defeats him. She reveals that she wants to go to Earthrealm with him, but she is suddenly blasted by Shinnok himself, and her essence is sent back to the 5th plane of the Netherrealm. Sub-Zero manages to steal the amulet back from Shinnok and then escapes to Earth via Raiden's portal. It is later revealed that Quan Chi had never given the amulet to Shinnok; instead, he had crafted a fake and kept the original for himself. This is crucial to the events of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance in the years to come.
At one point Quan Chi tells Sub-Zero that only evil beings can enter the Netherrealm, meaning Sub-Zero must be evil to even be there; Raiden confirms this, and says that only Sub-Zero himself can change this. Upon return to the Lin Kuei, the grandmaster introduces him to the sorcerer Shang Tsung, who invites Sub-Zero to participate in a tournament called Mortal Kombat...
Characters and cast
- Sub-Zero - John Turk
- Quan Chi - Richard Divizio
- Raiden - Michael Garvey
- Sareena - Lia Montelongo
- Kia - Kerri Hoskins
- Jataaka - Erica Grace (FMV) / Rachel Hebert (Gameplay)
- Shinnok - Gary Wingert
- Wind God (Fujin) - Tony Marquez
- Water God - Brian Glynn
- Lin Kuei Grandmaster - Michael Garvey
- Scorpion - Sal Divita (FMV) / John Turk (Gameplay, uncredited)
- Earth God - 3D Generated
- Fire God - Unknown
- Shang Tsung - Richard Divizio
- Monk - Tony Marquez
- Meditating Monk - Tony Marquez
- Fast Monk - Tony Marquez
- Hulk Monk - Brian Glynn
- Prison Guard
- Prison Keepers - 3D generated
MKM: SZ was not well-received by both critics and gamers. The graphics, although fluid in their own right, were considered outdated; it was released only a few months before the polygon-filled Mortal Kombat 4 hit arcades (The PlayStation version included a teaser trailer of MK4 as well). The story was seen as very complicated and difficult to follow in comparison with the previous games, and also suffered from sluggish gameplay, inadequate for a platform game. It would be Midway's only attempt to create a Mortal Kombat platform game until Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks eight years later. This game is generally regarded as one of the least favorite games in the series, though it was not as poorly received as Mortal Kombat: Special Forces.
Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero was featured on episode #138 of the Angry Video Game Nerd web series. The nerd criticized Mythologies for its controls, confusing level design, and unfair death traps.
- This is the first Mortal Kombat game to be based on platform adventure instead of one on one fighting.
- This is the first Mortal Kombat game to canonically feature the elder Sub-Zero (prior to the revelation of his transformation into Noob Saibot in Mortal Kombat Deception) since the first Mortal Kombat title. The costume Sub-Zero wore in this game would be carried over into Mortal Kombat 4, being worn by the younger Sub-Zero to honor his brother's role in fighting Shinnok years earlier.
- This was the final Mortal Kombat title to feature full digitized sprites made from photographing actors, although the game itself is a mix of 3D models and 2D sprites.
- Scorpion is represented by two different sprite sets in this game. In his initial, human appearance, he is a yellow palette-swap of Sub-Zero's sprites, and has no special moves. Should the player perform Sub-Zero's Spine Rip Fatality on Scorpion in this fight, he will later be encountered again in the Netherrealm in his Undead form. In this fight, Scorpion re-uses his sprites and moves from Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, where he is portrayed by John Turk (Uncredited in this case). In cut scenes, Scorpion is portrayed by Sal Divita, best known for portraying Nightwolf and the Lin Kuei Cyborgs.
- In the Nintendo 64 version of the game, static-frame images are used to replace the FMV cutscenes featured in the Playstation version. Additionally, the game's graphics have smoother and better textures with anti-aliasing in contrast to the Playstation's pixelated graphics. Additionally, in the N64 version, there are a few differences in the characters' dialogue.
- If the player sets the game's difficulty to Easy or lower, they will not be allowed to progress past the Fire Temple.
- The events of Mythologies: Sub-Zero were referenced a few times in Mortal Kombat (2011), Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11, indicating that Mythologies story went the same way as it had in the previous timeline. This was further confirmed in the MK11’s Aftermath storyline expansion during a rematch between Fujin and Bi-Han (as Noob Saibot).