The Hidden (and Not So Hidden) Secrets of Mortal Kombat

It’s official: NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat reboot has become one of the most beloved entries in the series. You could drive yourself mad trying to figure out why both critics (the 2011 game has the highest MetaCritic score out of any game in the franchise) and gamers (according to The NPD Group, it sold over a million copies in April) have re-embraced the blood-soaked bruatality that is Mortal Kombat. But the one thing all the reviews keep coming back to is how the game returns to the classic gameplay of what made Mortal Kombat great. And that means secrets… lots and lots of secrets.

While few of these secrets are actually “hidden,” most are very easy to miss. So get over here and take a look at Mortal Kombat’s hidden allusions, jokes and just plain fun stuff. Needless to say, SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Taking a Cannon to Canon
Way back when Ed Boon first announced the Mortal Kombat reboot, he hinted that several things we thought we knew about the lore of the series would change. Initially, the timeline split in several small, inconsequential ways like Sektor and Cyrax being present at the first tournament. But as the Story Mode continued, more and more differences to the timeline began to change everything:

  • Jax doesn’t voluntarily obtain his metal arms. Instead, Ermac rips his flesh and blood arms from his body and he needs the cybernetic replacements.
  • Speaking of cybernetics, Sub-Zero is turned into a cyborg instead of Smoke.
  • This leads to Kung Lao being killed in a fight with Shao Kahn.
  • And in the end… well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

Shaolin Monks Redux
The Story Mode also connects with the Challenge Tower and brings the underrated Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks into canon. During the Mortal Kombat II section of the Story Mode, Liu Kang and Kung Lao disappear (causing Johnny Cage to quip “And why arent the Kung Fu Twins here helping us?”). By playing through the Challenge Tower, you come to find out they were reliving the Shang Tsung-pretends-to-be-Raiden storyline of Shaolin Monks. This also explains Liu Kang’s growing distrust of Raiden throughout the rest of the Story Mode.

Motaro’s Blink-and-You’ll-Miss-it Cameo
While a ton of kombatants get a chance to shine in the Story Mode, one character from the original Mortal Kombat trilogy is practically invisibile: Motaro. The only character from MK1-MK3 to be cut from the game, Motaro’s exclusion from the storyline was practically greeted with cheers by fans of the franchise. Even better is how he was written out. The four-legged Centaur was thrown through a bridge by Raiden during the initial Earthrealm invasion! And all of this happened in the background!

Shao Kahn’s Slave Girls
Motaro’s absence was more than made up for by Shao Kahn. The Outworld leader’s expanded role in the Story Mode made him finally feel like the true “boss” instead of the shadowy, unseen figure he was in the 90s. He even gets a chance to flex his badass muscles by parading a bevy of slave girls across the screen after a victory. Kahn’s captured slaves include Kira, Li Mei, Tanya, Kitana and Skarlet (who’s actually a future DLC character).

If that wasn’t badass enough, another slave girl sits at his feet after he beats the player in the Arcade Ladder. This slave girl shows the others how to dress by slinking across the screen in Princess Leia’s gold bikini from Return of the Jedi. Jabba the Hutt’s got nothing on Shao Kahn!

Dude, Where’s My Alternate Costume?
Dressing to impress has always been a key component of the Mortal Kombat experience as each character has at least one alternate costume. But did you know that the game disc contains dozens of other alternate looks that aren’t accessible from the Character Select screen – for all of the characters? Many of the costumes are hidden away in the Challenge Tower, including “Klassic” Scorpion, “Klassic” Sub-Zero, Mileena’s “Best… Alternate… Ever!” (yes, she’s nearly naked), “MK3” Jade, “Hell’s Fury” Scorpion and zombie versions of nearly every character.

Come on Ed Boon! They’re on the disc! Let us use them!

The Most Sadistic Achievement/Trophy Ever
Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if Boon and company never unlock those costumes, as one look at the Achievments/Trophies is all the proof you need to know that the Mortal Kombat creator is one sadistic bastard. “My Kung Fu is Stronger” asks players to gain mastery over every fighter in the game. The problem is that the only way to gain mastery over a fighter is play as the character for 24 hours. A little quick math (27 characters multiplied by 24 hours) confirms that that this would require 648 hours of playtime. That is insane. Who would subject themselves to such a grueling ordeal?

I love the Mortal Kombat reboot, but completing “My Kung Fu is Stronger” would likely perform a Fatality on my fingers (not to mention my marriage).

I See Dead Kombatants
However, my fingers would be in good company as, by the end of the Story Mode, almost every character in the game has been killed off. It’s actually quicker to list the ones still alive: Raiden, Sonya and Johnny Cage. That’s it. Every other Earthrealm defender (and some Outworlders like Shang Tsung and Sindel) has gone to that big Dead Pool in the sky. No… wait… actually their souls are in Hell under the control of Quan Chi.

I really want to know where NetherRealm plans to take the story from here. I’m picturing another big reset button in the franchise’s future.

“Throw that on your… barby… shrimp…”
The on-screen deaths of almost every character is a huge, huge change to the MK storyline, but the greatest secret found in the rebooted Mortal Kombat isn’t actually a secret at all. After completing the Arcade Ladder with Sheeva, the player is treated to an ending that brings her Shokan race to Earthrealm… and the planet’s leaders decide to give them Australia!

Aside from imagining Russell Crowe and Paul Hogan fleeing in terror from a four-armed woman sporting a mohawk, this is extra funny due to Australia’s outright banning of Mortal Kombat. The game was denied classification by the Australian government, meaning it’s legally not available in the land down under.

So I guess if Ed Boon couldn’t bring Mortal Kombat to Australia, he brought Australia to Mortal Kombat!

This entry was posted in Features, PS3, Top Story, Xbox 360 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.
John Scalzo is Warp Zoned's Editor-In-Chief and resident retro gaming expert. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at john AT warpzoned DOT com.

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