Top 10 Mortal Kombat Characters that Should be Playable
With the recent release of Mortal Kombat X, it seems like all my old “MK juices” have started flowing again. After a few hours with the new MKX, I find myself wanting to do crazy stuff like play through the later levels of MK Mythologies, or go through Special Forces again, or giving over a few hours to MK Gold.
What really made me start racking my brain for NPCs from the world of Mortal Kombat was the announcement that long-time fan favorite Tremor is scheduled to be released as DLC in the near future. For that reason, I’m going to leave Tremor off this list, but were he “still unplayable” so to speak, I’m sure he’d occupy one of the top 3 spots.
The Mortal Kombat games have included an unprecedented amount of storyline material for a fighting game franchise, and it’s always been one of the aspects that fascinated me the most. Even as a child I remember seeing newer characters like Rain and Noob Saibot enter the game and wanting to know just how they fit into this multi-dimensional struggle. (If you recall, newer characters used to enter the fray with almost no backstory, often without bios and sometimes without a proper ending.) As the story has grown bigger and undoubtedly better, we’ve seen a lot of peripheral characters enter into the mix, some with fairly prominent roles while others remain but a faint whisper.
So let’s take a look at 10 such characters who I think deserve a spot on the official MK roster; when you’ve finished, also check out my Top 10 Worst Mortal Kombat Characters and Top 10 Things that MKX Did Right!
Introduced in Armageddon, Delia was the wife of Argus and the mother of Taven and Deagon, as well as Queen of Edenia at some point in the distant past before Edenia was assimilated into Outworld. (Or did Edenia remain separate? Deception and Armageddon both started to muddy these waters, though a comment in MKX seems to confirm that Edenia has become part of Outworld.) I was tempted to include Argus in this position as well, but Argus was more of an old Atlantean king, whereas Delia was some sort of mysterious sorceress.
She had the power to create Blaze himself and to fashion special armor and weapons for her sons to use millenia later in order to defeat Blaze. Although presumed dead at the hands of Daegon prior to the evens of Armageddon, we know that this isn’t necessarily enough to keep her from reappearing. The Armageddon storyline may have taken a backseat due to the series’ reboot, but with the appearance of Rain in MKX and the explicit, voiced connection to Argus, I wouldn’t say she’s totally out of the picture yet.
Having a “good guy” sorceress around from the distant, distant past, from Edenia no less, could be cool. She’d be unlike anyone else on the list and could be a source of information on Outworld and Edenian history as well.
9. Kahil Grigesh
Huh? Who’s that? Kahil is a male vampire character mentioned in Ashrah’s Armageddon ending who has history with her Kriss. While Ashrah used the Kriss to slay demons within the Netherrealm and thus purify her soul enough to escape, we learn later on that the vampire-people consider this sword a great curse and call it Datusha. Attached to the legend is Kahil Grigesh, a vampire who formerly wielded the Datusha and used it to slay many vampires, unknowingly under its influence.
We never really learn much more about the Datusha / Ashrah’s Kriss (which is fine with me), but noticeably weak in the series’ mythology is the role of vampires and their former realm Veaternus. Another vampire character would’ve been a great way to expand on this piece of the story. And as a male vampire, he needn’t be a straight up clone of Nitara. Even if you’re not 100% sold on the idea of another vampire character, admittedly it would be better than the score of boring “human” characters introduced over the years (Dairou, Darius, Kobra, Kira, Lei Mei, Kai, Jarek, etc.).
Adding just a touch of credibility to the idea of Kahil Grigesh is an unfinished piece of concept art released by Ed Boon over Twitter. It shows a male counterpart to Nitara, originally intended for Deadly Alliance. Could this be where Kahil originated? We may never know, but the MK team has been known to reuse ideas in all sorts of ways.
We don’t know much about Ruutuu except that he appeared as a mission on the Challenge Tower of MK 2011. He’s supposed to be some kind of evil spirit connected to Nightwolf’s ancestors.
I’m always anxious to see more characters explicitly connected to some of the more isolated main characters (such as Nightwolf, Reptile, Tanya, Motaro, and several others) and Ruutuu could shed more light into Nightwolf’s deeper connection with the tournament.
Ill admit he looks a lot like an updated clone of old-school Noob Saibot, though I definitely think there’s room for an actual shadow character, rather than just the black-clad ninja that Noob was revealed to be.
7. Wu Lae
During both Deception and Armageddon’s Konquest modes, we were introduced to several hitherto unknown factions and groups. None of these really made much of an impact on their own and served as little more than cannon fodder for storyline purposes, but of all these new groups and clans, Wu Lae was singled out as a somewhat unique character during the events of Armageddon.
Leader of the Tengu Clan, we don’t really know much about these guys except that they are sometimes rivals of the nearby Lin Kuei and inhospitable to outsiders. Do we really need another clan of ninjas in the MK mythos? Maybe, maybe not, but these guys had a cool enough design that I think the question deserves some consideration. With the Wolverine-esque claws worn on their hands, they tend to remind me of Vega from the Street Fighter series, with Wu Lae’s mask accentuating this aspect even further.
I think the Vega references could be carried even further – I’d love to see Wu Lae as an agile, nimble fighter constantly jumping around and incorporating gymnastics into his routine. Maybe the Tengu also have command of some aspect of nature that could make for an interesting power in juxtaposition to Sub-Zero’s abilities with ice.
6. Lin Kuei Grandmaster
Here’s a guy that was mentioned more than seen, but who obviously held quite a bit of clout in the MK world for some time. Naturally, the Lin Kuei has probably seen its share of Grandmasters. Currently, Sub-Zero occupies the throne, and for a time before that, Sektor assumed leadership. In both continuities, it’s revealed that Sektor killed his father, the then-current Grandmaster, for the position himself. This Grandmaster, Sektor’s father, is the one we hear about when no specific name is given.
Alright, so he may be dead, but he had to be a pretty powerful guy to rule the Lin Kuei. Plus, he possessed the Dragon Medallion, which “amplifies his natural abilities,” whatever they may be. He also initiated the cyberization program of the Lin Kuei, so perhaps he survived his encounter with Sektor and was turned into an awesomely powerful cybernetic warrior himself!
We don’t know much about the Grandmaster other than his cool looking uniform, but the animated series had an interesting take on the leader of the Lin Kuei. Named Oniro, he wore a white uniform and possessed the ability to shapeshift. At any rate, the Grandmaster is basically a blank slate with some already well-established plot points built in, perfect material for the creation of a “new” character. Maybe he still commands a number of cybernetic ninjas and is plotting to take the Lin Kuei back for himself…
5. No Face
No Face may not have as much of a fan following as Tremor, but they were born of the same ilk. In Special Forces, Jax squares off against the Black Dragon. At the end he faces off against Kano, and in the meantime goes up against No Face, Tasia, Tremor, and Jarek. Tasia and Jarek are easily the least interesting of the group. No Face, having no hair, no ears, and no nose, would make an interesting visual addition to the cast.
Although a mere man, he was (is?) a member of the Black Dragon, and apparently specializes in the usage of flame throwers and explosives. We’ve seen an increase in the number of modern weapons used in the series, though much of it is still dominated by martial arts and magic. No Face would be an excellent addition to shake things up a bit, not to mention a member of the Black Dragon who was actually interesting.
4. Kochal / God of Chaos
The mention of Kochal had players of Deception in an uproar for quite some time. Secret character? Super secret character? Something else!? The veiled references to Kochal fueled much speculation, especially when it was revealed that Kochal and the God of Chaos (who had unleashed “The Tempest” and made Chaosrealm what we know it as today) were one in the same.
It all culminates in the 3-headed skull altar found in the Netherrealm…and then quickly fizzles out. It turns out that “Kochal” probably means little more than koin challenge based on the sidequests of Deception. However, this doesn’t discourage me in the slightest – “real” characters have come about over far less (Ermac and Skarlet) and it seems like a fantastic concept – a freakin’ chaos god!
Unfortunately, all the business with Orderrealm and Chaosrealm seems to be left behind (for now, at least) so Kochal might not be making an appearance any time soon. And even though the concepts behind Orderrealm and Chaosrealm are a bit pedantic and I daresay even silly, I do think there is some cool potential there, especially if we were given a more developed story and less of this black-and-white nonsense about “chaos vs. order.” Seriously, I can’t be the only one dying to know more about “The Tempest” and just what things were like beforehand…and what explicit connections might be made between the Netherrealm and Chaosrealm.
Monster has developed his own little fan following, and for good reason – he looks totally awesome. What we know as Monster was originally conceived as an alternate costume for Scorpion that was later scrapped. In fact, he can actually be accessed via a third party cheat device where he “replaces” Scorpion in the game.
We don’t really know much about Monster, but what we do know is pretty heavy. In fact, we don’t even really know his name, and can only glean “Monster” from what’s displayed underneath his health bar. He’s encountered during the Konquest mode of Deception, claiming to be the “true champion” of the Elder Gods. We’ve got no clue whether or not he’s lying, but it’s entirely possible that this being is telling the truth since we find out that Shujinko is not the “true champion” and simply a pawn in Damashi / Onaga’s quest for dominance. Even Damashi doesn’t know who he is, mentioning only that he “senses great power.”
Again, this might not be a character to hold one’s breath for since Armageddon has lost a bit of its relevance, but as a previously unknown champion of the Elder Gods, surely he’ll be important in any version of the MK continuity.
2. Kia and Jataaka
What!? Two characters!? You can’t do that! Yeah ok, it’s a little bit of a cheat. But honestly, we don’t know much about them as individuals, and until we do they’ll always be a pair. To have placed one in front of (or behind) the other would’ve been totally arbitrary. And besides, the MK team did it with “Noob/Smoke” (not a move I condoned, for the record). No, I don’t think Kia and Jataaka should be treated as a tandem pair, I just thought it sort of moot to list them separately.
These girls have developed a bit of a following over the years as well. Originally, they appeared in Mythologies alongside a third member of their entourage, Sareena. All three serve as bosses during the final level in Shinnok’s fortress, and they have some rather prominent scenes in the FMV footage of the game as well. Depicted as members of the Brotherhood of Shadow, Sareena has a change of heart and begins to help the elder Sub-Zero with his mission (who would coincidentally become a member of the Brotherhood of Shadow himself following the events of the first tournament). And out of virtually nowhere she pops up exclusively in MK Tournament Edition for the GBA before appearing along with everyone else in Armageddon.
But that still leaves us the “evil” Kia and Jataaka, who we get another brief encounter with during Armageddon’s Konquest (curiously with Sareena included). We still don’t know much about them as far as how they got to where they are and what their strengths and powers may be, so there’s a considerable amount of creativity that can be exercised if we ever see them as full characters.
Fun Fact: The actress who plays Kia, Kerry Hoskins, also portrayed Sonya Blade during the MK3/UMK3/MKT period and toured as a part of Mortal Kombat Live!, also as Sonya.
What the hell kind of first pick is this? It’s my first pick is what it is! But let me explain. Lucifer is actually mentioned within the canonicity of Mortal Kombat. Shinnok is first introduced in MK Mythologies, and as Mythologies was intended to be a very story-driven game in order to explore the MK universe more deeply, the instruction manual includes several details that wouldn’t be found elsewhere.
It first documents Shinnok’s rebellion against the Elder Gods – a very Luciferian tale in and of itself – and his eventual defeat at the hands of Raiden. Shinnok is then imprisoned in the Netherrealm, but he doesn’t become its ruler overnight. Instead, he suffers millennia of torture at the hands of the Netherrealm’s then-current ruler; you got it, Lucifer! Eventually Shinnok manages to overthrow Lucifer and usurp the throne of Hell, a position which he occupies long before the events of the games are underway.
I realize that not everyone would enthusiastically embrace a Judeo-Christian concept like “Lucifer” making its way into Mortal Kombat, but I think it holds an incredible amount of potential. Hell, he doesn’t even have to be called Lucifer, the character can be retconned and given a different name if needs be. I’m not necessarily interested in seeing the biblical idea of Satan; what I do think would be cool is the introduction of another sort of “supreme evil.” Having a former ruler of the Netherrealm in play opens the door to go further and deeper into the very fabric and nature of the MK universe.
If I’m not mistaken, it’s implied (or outright mentioned) that the Netherrealm has had several rulers, most of which have originated in the Netherrealm itself. Since Shinnok has reigned supreme for millions of years already, these other rulers must have held their positions during a time before humanity appeared in the Earthrealm, thus putting other “living” realms at the center of the action (see note at the end of this section). Some of these elements probably would be and should be retconned to more fully fit the existing history of Mortal Kombat, but I can live with that.
The depictions of Hell/the Netherrealm in games like Deception and Armageddon don’t inspire much beyond the typical notion of such a world, but if you go back and look at all the wonderfully dark scenery in Mythologies, the Netherrealm looks like a far more interesting place. Instead of a barren, firey plain, it contains huge buildings and temples, some degree of industrialization (look at the Prison of Souls level and all the structural elements and spotlights in the background), and the wonderfully eerie Sea of Immortality. The Mythologies version of the Netherrealm is solemn, still, and ordered, a far cry from the wild, primal, and desolate stretches in later games. Fire and brimstone and zombies do a lot less for me than the sort of malevolent majesty that we first saw accompany Shinnok’s presence. And it’s from this vision of Hell that the idea of Lucifer infinitely intrigues me.
Note: As if Konquest Mode during Deception didn’t already screw up our perception of time enough, the backstory to Armageddon throws us another curve ball. Throughout previous games it’s implied that Shinnok has ruled the Netherrealm for a very long time, perhaps million of years, and certainly before people were around in Earthrealm. In MKA, Shao Kahn is mentioned as being a credible threat to Edenia even during the reign of Argus and Delia. Taven then makes reference to remembering Shinnok as an Elder God. If we put this information together, it means that Shao Kahn has been doing his warlording thing since before Shinnok was cast down as an Elder God. And if we’re going by established history, Shinnok didn’t immediately fall from the heavens and then rule the Netherrealm. First he engaged in thousands of years worth or wars with Raiden for control of Earthrealm, then he was imprisoned in the Netherrealm where he was tortured for thousands of years by Lucifer, and it was after that that he usurped the throne. So even if Shinnok had started his war the day after Taven “went to sleep,” this would leave Shao Kahn as ruler of Outworld for several tens of thousands of years, potentially longer. (And to think, I was already sick of Kahn’s near omnipresence.)
Thinking hard on the issue, I don’t think that this fact necessarily contradicts anything we already know, though it doesn’t seem to jive with the general tone that Shinnok has been the ruler of the Netherrealm for longer than any of our characters have been in action. What the short exchange with Taven implies is that there was a time in which the inhabitants of other realms that we’ve already been introduced to (namely Argus, Delia, Taven, and Daegon, as well as Shao Kahn and possibly some of his generals/servants that we’re already aware of) knew of a time when someone else ruled the Netherrealm. I guess I don’t necessarily see a problem with this either if we could simply ignore the part about Shao Kahn being as old as he is. Either way we’re left with a somewhat troubling dilemma; either Shao Kahn is way older than we thought (and an absolutely massive amount of time has passed between the days of Argus and Delia and the evens of MKA), or Shinnok’s stint in the Netherrealm doesn’t even come close to “millions of years.”
Oh well, with a “new” storyline we probably won’t have to worry much about this plot point. And who knows – it could’ve been a throwaway comment in line with the attempts of MKD and MKA to make boundless connections between as many characters as possible, many of which present similar chronological issues.
Hardcore fans of the series will no doubt recognize Belokk, the scrapped fighter from MK Gold. Belokk would’ve easily made the list proper, except he’s never really been introduced as a character, so he can’t truly be called an NPC. I’m a little surprised that the mention of Belokk hasn’t turned up in the form of some small reference somewhere. The world probably wouldn’t have a clue who Belokk was if MK Gold’s developers hadn’t accidentally sent out 6 screenshots of him to the press. Although the game is rumored to contain data left over from Belokk that may be accessible by a cheat device, so far, no one has discovered any such cheat.
The Elder Gods: this simple epithet is uttered countless times during the series, but we still don’t really know what the Elder Gods look like, how many there are, what their names are, where they come from, and so and so forth. Glimpses into their world such as the Elder God Armor offered in MKA’s Kreate-a-Kombatant and the weird glowing faces in the eponymous MK4 arena offer us little insight into what an Elder God might look like, though the swirling dragons and indeed the MK logo itself may be the closest we’ve yet come. With MKX’s post credits revelation that Raiden has now become “Dark Raiden” with an attitude similar to his original timeline counterpart, we may be just on the cusp of seeing a more active side of the Elder Gods.
The events of MK vs. DCU are obviously outside the realm of anything canonical in the MK universe, though the creators did stumble upon some interesting concepts while throwing these two realities at each other. One of the most interesting was Dark Kahn, a fusion of both Darkseid and Shao Kahn. I’m happy keeping my universes separate thank you very much, but Dark Kahn is one awesome looking villain.
Temple / Elemental Gods
Of the many characters introduced in Mythologies, we saw a new set of gods that assisted Earthrealm, at the time known simply as Wind God, Water God, Earth God, and Fire God. We would later on meet the Wind God as Fujin in MK4, but the rest have remained tucked away. Though I like the idea of including one or more of these guys, realistically they’ve outlived their usefulness. We got a fire-themed character in Blaze, Rain’s abilities are centered around water, and the upcoming Tremor will undoubtedly be connected to earth.
I couldn’t quite send this list off without a quick mention of Tasia. She’s not that interesting, but with the rest of the Black Dragon gang from Special Forces getting some attention, I figured she should too. She can teleport…and she wields a sword…and that’s about all there is to say. I can’t think of any great reasons to add Tasia to the roster, yet if No Face was, she’d be the only one left out from Special Forces, and for that reason alone I’d insist on seeing her as playable.
That’s all, folks!
The likelihood of seeing any of these characters become playable in main game is somewhat dubious since the series has moved in a bit of direction. However, since we don’t really know where the new story is going next, maybe one or of these will pop up in altered form. What I’d really like to see are more spin-off games in the vein of Mythologies, Special Forces, and Shaolin Monks, not to mention both the Konquest modes of Deception and Armageddon. The creators have had variable levels of success with their attempts at turning Mortal Kombat into an adventure game though, so I won’t be holding my breath for one anytime soon. I guess one thing that’s always kept the series so alive and well in my mind is how many stories there are that are left to tell, and how at any point the narrative could be taken into any direction. I do appreciate how the story in MKX is moving forward through time (instead of sideways as much of the original continuity) so maybe we’ll see a different and possibly more successful approach to adventure games in the near future.
Who are your favorite NPCs for Mortal Kombat? What characters do you think would make a great addition to the roster? Let us know!
Written by The Cubist
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