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Five hundred years ago, an ancient and well respected Shaolin fighting tournament, held every 50 years, was corrupted by an evil and elderly sorcerer by the name of Shang Tsung. Shang was accompanied by Prince Goro, a warrior of the Shokan race (a four-armed half-human / half-dragon). Knowing that if ten tournaments in a row were won by the Outworld champion, the Earth Realm would be conquered by evil and fall into darkness, Shang entered Goro in the tournament and had him defeat the great Kung Lao. Goro has been reigning supreme as the undefeated fighting champion for five hundred years now. As the last tournament required draws near, Raiden, Thunder God and protector of the Earth Realm, enacts a plan to tip the scales in the humans' favor, Seven fighters step into the arena on Shang Tsung's mysterious island: Shaolin warrior Liu Kang, Special Forces operative Sonya Blade, the mercenary thug Kano, fame-seeking actor Johnny Cage, the ice-wielding Lin Kuei warrior Sub-Zero and his undead adversary Scorpion, and Raiden himself.

Mortal Kombat is a side-scrolling fighting game. Fighting is set as one-on-one combat, allowing each player to perform a variety of punches, kicks, and special moves in order to defeat their opponent. When the opponent faces their second round loss, the winner can perform a finishing move called a "Fatality" on the loser. The Fatality is a move unique to each fighter that graphically kills the loser in a blood-soaked finale.

Mortal Kombat began its life as a 2-player arcade title. It is notable for its use of digitized actors to represent the game's fighters, as well as its use of copious amounts of blood during gameplay.


Mortal Kombat Genesis Buddha is peacefully watching Kano do some nasty thing to Sonya
Mortal Kombat Genesis Rayden is pretty happy after finishing poor Sonya
Mortal Kombat Genesis The muscle-man in the background cheers Rayden
Mortal Kombat Genesis Shows your the order in which you'll have to fight your opponents

Promo Images

Mortal Kombat Magazine Advertisement
Mortal Kombat Magazine Advertisement
Mortal Kombat Magazine Advertisement
Mortal Kombat Magazine Advertisement Inner back cover

Alternate Titles

  • "真人快打" -- Chinese spelling (simplified)
  • "Mortal Kombat Complete" -- Japanese Sega CD title
  • "Mortal Kombat: Competition Edition" -- SNES title
  • "MK" -- Common abbreviation
  • "Dragon Attack" -- Working title
  • "モータルコンバット" -- Japanese spelling

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Don't Believe the Hype Liam Dowds (51) 2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars
Has the blood and gore intact, but lacks the stunning visuals and sounds of the SNES Stsung (53) 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
Definitely the best arcade to console port of Mortal Kombat. scabadoo (38) 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
A classic, but not all that good. Tomer Gabel (4634) 3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars

Critic Reviews

Ação Games Oct, 1993 4 out of 4 100
Superjuegos Sep, 1993 94 out of 100 94
Consolemania Sep, 1993 91 out of 100 91
Computer and Video Games (CVG) Aug, 1993 90 out of 100 90
Mega Fun Sep, 1993 85 out of 100 85
ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) Oct, 1993 10 out of 12 83
Megablast 1993 73 out of 100 73
Game Zero Aug, 1993 70 out of 100 70 May 09, 2005 7 out of 10 70
Gaming since 198x May 11, 2009 1 out of 5 20


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1001 Video Games

Mortal Kombat appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Character choices

The manual states that "arcade machine statistics show that Johnny Cage is the least played character, while Sonya Blade is the most frequently chosen". This is backwards; history has proven that Johnny Cage is the most frequently chosen, while Sonya is the least.


Mortal Kombat was one of the games Senator Joseph Lieberman centered his arguments on during the 1993 investigation by the United States Congress on extreme violence in video games. The investigation caused SEGA to develop the Video Game Council, which would later evolve to the Entertainment Standards Review Board (ESRB). Since then, even with the ESRB, video games have actually increased in violence.


  • Jean Claude Van Damme was originally slated to play the part of Johnny Cage, but the deal fell through due to Van Damme being busy with his movie work. Johnny Cage's clothing is almost identical to that of Van Damme's character's from the 1988 movie Bloodsport. Moreover, Cage's split punch is directly taken from a move Van Damme does in the movie. The original data files for Johnny Cage still bear the name "vandamme".

  • According to Ed Boon in statements to EGM Magazine, the original Mortal Kombat was created by four people in just eight months from start to finish.

  • The original name for the character Sub-Zero was going to be Tundra.

  • Johnny Cage's real name is John Carlton (according to the game's storyline). The name was taken from the Midway game programmer John Carlton, who worked for the NBA Jam arcade series.

  • The original name for the character Johnny Cage was going to be Michael Grimm.

  • The original name for the character Goro was going to be Gongoro. According to John Tobias, the team decided to shorten it.


On the diagnostics screen of the first arcade version of Mortal Kombat, there was a listing in the audit menu for "ERMACS". This led players to believe there was a hidden character called Ermac. ERMAC actually is short for "Error Macro", and no such character appears in Mortal Kombat. Midway put a scrambled message in the sequel Mortal Kombat II, which appears at the bottom of the screen after beating the game: "CEAMR ODSE NTO EXITS" (an anagram of "Ermac does not exist"), and the hidden character Jade randomly appeared right before a match with the message "Ermac Who?". For Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, however, a new playable character called Ermac was created.

Game Boy version

Johnny Cage is missing from the Game Boy version.

German index

On March 31, 1994, Mortal Kombat, with the exception of the Game Boy version, was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed games. In addition to the indexing, on November 11, 1994, the SEGA Mega Drive, SEGA CD, SEGA Master System, and Game Gear versions were also confiscated for violating §131 of Germany's penal code (for showing gruel violence against humans, etc.) However, due to the 10 year limitation for confiscations, those four versions are no longer confiscated since November 11, 2004.


The game Mortal Kombat spawned numerous sequels, two films, a TV series, and even a cartoon.

Nimbus Terrafaux

It was rumored that there was a secret unlockable character in Mortal Kombat, called Nimbus Terrafaux. Later it was revealed to be a creation of Electronic Gaming Monthly as part of an April Fool's Day joke, despite the fact that Ed Boon had originally mentioned the character in an interview with the magazine. After this the magazine intentionally published false information on this character, complete with doctored screenshots and even a fabricated storyline.


Pre-orders of the console versions in the UK included a limited edition "Kombat Kit" as a give-a-way bonus. The kit included a poster, character cards, tattoo and pin-badge.


As the story goes, on November 1992, while preparing an upgrade to fix several bugs, Ed Boon shut himself in his office for a weekend and added the secret character Reptile all by himself. However, no indication was ever given of his existence. It wasn't until a later revision of the game (which added Reptile popping up before matches to give clues of his existence in the game) and a July 1993 VideoGames Magazine article in which Boon and John Tobias specifically clarified how to find Reptile, that the mass public became aware of the existence of a character that was already in the game for months.

In order to fight Reptile, the player has to be in The Pit scenery when the silhouettes glide past the Moon (it happens every 6th game). The player can not use the block move during the whole match, has to win all the rounds with Flawless Victory and perform a Fatality move in the end.


  • Raiden really is the Japanese God of Thunder. His appearance in myth is quite different though: he has red skin and a demonic face, his feet have two claws on them, and he carries either a wheel or drums on his back. He also is thought to eat human navels so people are advised to lie on their stomachs during storms. (from Davis, F. Hadland. Myths and Legends of Japan. New York: Dover, 1992. 1913.)

  • According to Ed Boon, the main characters are all caricatures of some of their favorite characters from martial arts and sci-fi movies: Kano, with his infra-red eye, is based on Arnold Schwarzenegger's make-up in The Terminator. Liu Kang is, obviously, the likeness of Bruce Lee. Raiden, the electric God of thunder, is based on the lightening-wielding character from Big Trouble in Little China. Sonya was loosely based on martial arts star Cynthia Rothrock.

References to the game

  • In the movie Billy Madison starring Adam Sandler, a little first grader refers to Mortal Kombat for his Genesis as the best video game ever.
  • In the animated TV-show Megas XLR, in the episode "Rearview Mirror, Mirror (Part 1 of 2)", at some point in the beginning, Megas does Sub-Zero's "Spine Ripper" fatality on a robot.


    Because the original code was written in C, the PC port is a flawless conversion in terms of gameplay. The same bugs and tricks in the arcade coin-op are applicable in the PC version, since it was built with the same source code.

    Thrill Kill

    In 1998, Virgin Interactive was ready to release Thrill Kill, a gory four-player fighting game which was supposed to unseat Mortal Kombat as the goriest fighting game. The AO-rated game was never released.


    This game specifically is credited for making Nintendo change their no-violence policies and generally "giving some slack" in what regards their strict content control policies. The reason: the SNES port of Mortal Kombat is censored, with modifications such as making completely new finishing moves (Raiden burns his opponent to harmless ashes instead of making his head explode, Sub-Zero deep freezes his enemy and then breaks him instead of pulling out his spine, etc.). As a result of this Nintendo lost millions of dollars in what is arguably one of the best-selling videogames ever and missed out on a title that became a certified blockbuster in all its other incarnations (by way of comparison the Genesis port of the game outsold the SNES port by approximately 3 to 1).

    The Genesis port requires the player to input a code to get blood and some of the fatalities from the arcade version. The SEGA CD port skips this and has blood on from the get-go and all the fatalities from the arcade version.


    • GamePro
      • 1993 (Vol. 6, Issue 2) - Game of the Year (Editor's Choice)
    • Retro Gamer
      • September 2004 (Issue #8) – #55 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
    • VideoGames Magazine
      • March 1995 - One of the Worst Ten Games of 1994 (SEGA CD version)
    Information also contributed by Alexander Michel, Bhatara Dewa Indra I, Big John WV, Caelestis, CaptainCanuck, Kartanym, MegaMegaMan, quizzley7, Robbb, ShabbyPie, Steve ., Terrence Bosky, Tomer Gabel, Xoleras, Zack Green and Zovni.

    Related Web Sites

    • Mortal Kombat Nightmares (Covers all the games of the Mortal Kombat saga. Includes information on the upcoming Mortal Kombat games, fan fiction, and interactive q&a.)
    • Video memories of Mortal Kombat (The Angry Video Game Nerd, James Rolfe, talks about his memories of the Mortal Kombat series. Mostly the arcade versions but he also discusses the changes made to the SNES and Genesis versions of Mortal Kombat.)
    Satoshi Kunsai (2074) added Mortal Kombat (Genesis) on Jun 06, 2002
    Other platforms contributed by mars_rulez (43808), Kartanym (12706), festershinetop (9633), IJan (1990), Satoshi Kunsai (2074), The cranky hermit (2947) and quizzley7 (21706)
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