Here at Overmental, we enjoy numerology. The power of numbers is a fascinating thing. You know what else is fascinating? Mortal Kombat! In honor of the impending April release of Mortal Kombat X, here are 10 things you (probably) didn’t know about the MK franchise.
1. Johnny Cage Was Originally Supposed To Be Jean Claude Van-Damme
It turns out that everyone’s favorite Hollywood ball-buster wasn’t always in the cards. Originally, the role filled by Cage was intended for real-life Hollywood ball-buster Jean Claude Van-Damme.
While Van-Damme was approached about being in Mortal Kombat, he turned down the role since he was already involved in the creation of a Sega Genesis game. In an ironic twist of fate, that game never actually saw the light of day.
Of course, folks who really want to see Jean Claude Van-Damme in a fighting game just need to play Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game. But that’s a whole different conversation.
Additional Fun Fact: The right wall of the Palace Gates stage of the original 1992 Mortal Kombat game contains a carving of Pac-Man eating a pill, along with a ghost from Atari’s Pac-Man franchise.
2. Mortal Kombat II Needed Extra Security Measures For The Arcade
Mortal Kombat II didn’t just vastly improve on everything that made the original so good, it redefined what it meant to play an arcade fighting game. In fact, MKII was so ridiculously popular that the arcade cabinets required extra security measures.
To prevent thieves from ripping the game’s motherboards straight out of the cabinet and taking them home, the arcade machines had to be fitted with deadlock security panels.
Additional Fun Fact: Mortal Kombat II is the only game in the series, along with the Sega Mega Drive’s version of the original MK, to be released in Japan, where it’s known as Mortal Kombat II: Kyuukyoku Shinken. There is also an exceptionally rare Playstation version of the game that can occasionally be found on eBay for upwards of $100.
3. Noob Saibot Wasn’t A Traditional Ninja Pallete Swap
In addition to being named after series creators Ed Boon and John Tobias, Noob Saibot also holds the distinction of breaking an MK tradition by not being a differently colored version of Scorpion or Sub-Zero, the way Reptile and Smoke were in Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II.
Because the original Mortal Kombat 3 was the first, and only, game in the series to not feature any ninjas (unmasked Sub-Zero officially does not count as a ninja), Midway instead made Noob Saibot a completely black version of Kano.
Noob has no special moves but utilizes some of Kano’s combos and, humorously, the announcer will say “Kano shows mercy!” when he wins a round. This is likely due to a programming oversight.
Additional Fun Fact: The Graveyard and Bell Tower stages were originally named “Boonyard” and “Tobias Tower” but Boon and Tobias were both called out for overusing the “last names in the game” gag and the stages were quickly renamed.
4. Some MK4 Characters Will Comment On Their Own Moves. In Spanish.
If you use any of the male fighters in Mortal Kombat 4, you may notice them utter gibberish phrases when performing throws or special moves. The garbled phrase that occurs during a throw allegedly sounds something like “Hey! I’m gonna throw you over there!”. Still, it gets weirder.
Sub-Zero will say “toca el hielo”, which translates to “touch the ice” when using his Ice Clone move, and Scorpion will say “mira que yo tengo”, when pulling out his sword, which translates to “look at what I have”.
Despite the characters being voiced by English or Asian voice actors, the phrases in question are in Spanish for some reason (with the exception of Liu Kang and Shinnok).
Additional Fun Fact: Outworld Princess Kitana was originally supposed to be in Mortal Kombat 4, but was left out due to Midway wanting more new characters on the roster. Instead, we got Tanya who, you guessed it, is just a palette-swapped version of Kitana. Kitana’s base code was left in the N64 version of the game and players could access her via GameShark.
5. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance Was The Revitalization Of The MK Franchise
Despite enjoying critical acclaim throughout the ’90’s, not everything has been peachy for the MK franchise.
Aside from Mortal Kombat 4, the franchise experienced a period of stinging mediocrity that nearly spelled the end of the series. The short-lived Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm animated series only lasted four months and Mortal Kombat Annihilation, the exceptionally unexceptional sequel to the first Mortal Kombat movie flopped hard.
Combined with the limited interest in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, the mediocre release of MK Gold and the total bombing of Mortal Kombat Advance and Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, Midway finally put their foot down and the end result was the resignation of MK co-creator John Tobias in 2000.
Following a two-year hiatus, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was released and essentially saved the franchise.
Additional Fun Fact: Deadly Alliance was originally supposed to debut on arcades way back in 2000, but a variety of things prevented that from coming to fruition. In the end, Midway elected to release Deadly Alliance direct to consoles.