Motaro made his first appearance in Mortal Kombat 3. He is a Centaurian, meaning that he has the body of a stallion and the torso of a man. He also has a pair of capricorn-like horns and a long, metallic rat-like tail he can use as both an energy channeling point and a limb. He is nearly 9 feet tall. Centaurians are known for their hunting skills and their mystical powers.
Motaro, along with his entire race, harbors a deep-seated hatred for the Shokan, whom he sees as inferior. The two races constantly struggle against each other in order to prove their value to Shao Kahn and to finally define which one is superior.
Powers and abilities
Being a member of the Centaurian race, Motaro possessed incredible strength, so strong that he could knock human opponents several feet away with a single punch. His four-legged lower torso gave him the speed of a horse, allowing him to travel vast distances with ease and possibly unleash powerful charge attacks. He possesses a razor-sharp tail that fires energy blasts from its tip. Perhaps Motaro's most notorious ability is his absolute immunity to projectile attacks. Motaro's skin appears to have some sort of reflective surface that automatically repels long range attacks to the point of sending them right back at opponents (Nightwolf uses this as a special move). He also possesses the power of teleportation so he can easily smash his foes from behind. In Armageddon, a mysterious Shokan curse had removed two of his legs, relieving him of his most powerful abilities, his skin no longer possessing reflective properties.
- Tail Projectile: Motaro fires an energy blast from his tail at the opponent. In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, this move can only be performed in Mount Stance. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:A)
- Grab and Punch: Motaro lifts his opponent up by the throat with one hand and then smashes his fist into their face, sending them sailing across the arena. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
- Teleport: Motaro vaporizes in a wavy fashion and reappears behind his opponent in the same manner (or, in Armageddon, in a wavy puff of green smoke). In Armageddon, Motaro can be knocked out of the teleport, up to the point where he begins to reappear. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:A)
- Tail Sweep: Motaro trips his opponent using his tail. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
- Mount Stance: Motaro lowers himself, standing on both arms and legs. This stance allows him three other moves.
- Bull Charge: Motaro charges at his opponent, knocking him/her down. (MK:A)
- Propel: Motaro charges at his opponent, flying toward his/her legs, knocking him/her down. This move can only be performed in Mount Stance. (MK:A)
- Donkey Kick: Motaro kicks his opponent with his two legs, like a horse, sending him/her upwards. (MK:A)
- Head Rip: Motaro rips off his opponent's head and raises it in victory. (MKT) (N64 version only)
Appearances in other media
Motaro appears in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, portrayed by former American Gladiators star Deron McBee. His rivalry with Sheeva is briefly hinted at, and in his last battle sequence, he is defeated by Jax.
Motaro appeared twice in Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm. He and his Centaurian warriors were present at the castle in which Rain held Kitana hostage. He was later seen during the plot to overthrow Shao Kahn. After being warned by Raiden, Motaro appeared to fight the treacherous Shang Tsung and the Shokans led by Sheeva.
He appears as a cameo in the form of a painted vase in Sonya's photo evidence wall, taking his MK3 victory pose, in the 2021 remake of the Mortal Kombat movie. The vase seems to be inspired by Roman or Greek mythology in design, much like actual stories of the myth of the Centaur. Other references on this wall include Kotal Kahn and Nightwolf.
Motaro was seen as one of the most difficult bosses in the Mortal Kombat series. This is because projectiles, which were effective on his predecessors, are useless against him, most of them bouncing back at the player and often resulting in an accidental free hit, while other projectiles simply went through him, leaving the player extremely vulnerable. He is vulnerable to projectiles in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, but only if hit above the belt.
He was also known to teleport frequently, often grabbing his opponents, whether from behind or after blocking their jump kicks. It was also dangerous for a player to block his attacks, since he or she will be put off-balance. He could also shoot up to three fireballs at a time, and if all linked together in a combo, could reduce the opponent's energy to as much as 57%. In Mortal Kombat Trilogy, his ability to reflect projectiles was greatly lessened; at close range, they would now work properly. Scorpion could spear him and Sub-Zero could freeze him. However, it is only in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon when he loses his immunity altogether and can now be attacked with projectiles like most other characters.
Both Motaro and Shao Kahn are playable in the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis versions of Mortal Kombat 3 and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 via a secret code menu, though they remain unselectable in single player mode. He is also playable in Mortal Kombat Trilogy.
Motaro's single unique Fatality, only seen in the Nintendo 64 version of Mortal Kombat Trilogy, is often seen as cheap, since the animation is simply Motaro's grab and punch pose with the opponent's head being ripped off in the process. His sprite also fades to darkness with the background when this Fatality is performed, unlike other normal fighters who remain fully lit.
As described in his Armageddon Bio Kard, the developers were faced with the decision (prompted by fan demand to include him, as revealed in a 2006 Fight Night interview from fan site Mortal Kombat Online) of not including Motaro in the game or removing his back legs due to the difficulty of compensating for his unique half-horse body shape. They decided to remove his back legs with the explanation that a curse was placed on his race. Reportedly, Motaro's Centaur body structure was the main problem, as the MK team would need much more extensive programming and testing to successfully integrate Motaro's Centaur frame into interacting properly with knock-downs, throws, and Fatalities and death traps that required limbs to be torn or cut off or Motaro to be impaled. They did admit, however, that such a feat would be possible in later games, hinting at the possibility of Motaro returning in his normal Centaur form. Despite this, Motaro was not playable, nor could he be fought in his next appearance in Mortal Kombat (2011), where he is seen in cutscenes only.
In Armageddon, unlike most other boss characters, Motaro takes much more damage when hit, can be thrown and attacked with normal and special moves as though he was a non-boss character, and cannot throw boss characters. He also shares the same set of Kreate-A-Fatality moves as the non-boss characters.
- Like Kintaro, Motaro's name seems to have a connection to Japanese myth. It is a slight resemblance to Momotaro, a hero in Japanese folktale. However, also like Kintaro, everything else about Motaro has nothing to do with the tale.
- John Tobias said during an interview (MK3 Official Kollectors book was published by EGM Masters series in 1995) that Motaro was actually influenced by a toy he had when he was a kid. The toy line was called "The Micronauts," and the figure in question was the line's antagonist, Baron Karza, who was paired with a horse named Andromeda. The upper body of Baron Karza could connect to the body of Andromeda once Andromeda's head and neck were removed. The end result looks like a black, metallic, robotic version of Motaro, and accounts for Motaro's segmented, seemingly metallic, tail.
- Motaro is the only sub-boss character from MK3 that is not fought in MK 2011. However, he still appears as a background character for The Street stage and Story Mode.
- In a Top 10 list hosted by Screwattack.com, Motaro's MKT fatality was placed at #3 of the worst fatalities in the Mortal Kombat series.
- In another Top 10 list hosted by Screwattack.com, Motaro (as a minotaur) was placed at #1 of the worst characters in the Mortal Kombat series.
- Similar to Sheeva, he bleeds green blood in MK3. In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, this is changed to red blood.
- Unlike the first two MK 2D games, Motaro was the first sub-boss to not share a battle stage with the final boss. Whereas Goro shared Goro's Lair with Shang Tsung in the first MK game and Kintaro shared Kahn's Arena with Shao Kahn in MKII, Motaro would always be fought in The Balcony before the victor could fight Shao Kahn at the Pit III in the arcade, Nintendo 64, PlayStation and Saturn versions of MK3, Ultimate MK3 and MKT. Motaro was also the first sub-boss that could be fought in other stages aside from his own (The Balcony), as in UMK3 for SNES he could only be fought at the Rooftop due to the fact that The Balcony is not in that version of the game, while on the Sega Genesis and GBA ports of UMK3 (MK Advance on GBA), he could be fought on any stage.
- In MKD's Konquest mode, he can be found in Earthrealm at the same place where the player can scare the boy's uncle. On the left of the first hut he will appear each day at 10:00 a.m. When the player speaks to him, he will give Shujinko 1,000 ruby koins and will not appear there again.
- He is one of the characters seen trapped in a cage in the Dark Prison stage. (MK:D)
- In MKA's Konquest mode, he can be fought in an Obelisk mission along with Moloch.
- Randomly, in The Street stage in MK (2011), Motaro can be seen fighting Johnny Cage, while in the story mode, he is seen in Shao Kahn's coliseum while Liu Kang is rescuing Kitana. Later, Raiden blasts Motaro hoping to save Johnny Cage and torpedoes Motaro into the river, possibly drowning the Centaur.
- Like Goro, Kintaro and Sheeva, Motaro was portrayed by a stop motion puppet.
- Motaro, Rain, Stryker, Sheeva and Kintaro did not appear in the series for 9 years (starting with MK4 to MKD). This is the largest period of time during which the character does not appear in the games of the series.