Mortal Kombat (AKA Mortal Kombat 9/Mortal Kombat 2011) breathed new life into a 2D fighting game franchise that had seen less than stellar days. In fact, many say that it’s the best Mortal Kombat game since the classic Mortal Kombat II (or Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks if you’re willing to count beat ‘em ups.)
The game’s arrival, naturally, has re-opened fan discussions regarding the greatest Kombatants in the series’ history. We all have our favorites, but these are the 5 best Mortal Kombat characters of all time according to yours truly. What are yours?
Half Bruce Lee, half Lance Armstrong, Liu Kang is to Mortal Kombat as Ryu is to Street Fighter. This is backed by the fact that in every Mortal Kombat game in which Liu Kang appears, he’s the character that the player select cursor falls on first. Besides being the series lead, the headbanded one is known for his almost memetic Bicycle Kick and its well-known kiai, “Watatatata!” Liu Kang is also fondly remembered for his ability to transform into a dragon and annihilate his opponents via a fiery inferno or a quick bite when it’s time to Finish Him/Her. Liu Kang is so popular and so beloved that one fellow reviewer described his death at the beginning of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance as being traumatic enough to make his heart leap inside his chest. A grown man said all that, mind you.
If Liu Kang is the main character/Red Ranger of Mortal Kombat, then Raiden can be considered the mentor/Zordon of the series, except, y’know, badass. Unlike Zordon, Raiden isn’t a floating head who dispenses weak advice and/or weak jokes. Instead, Raiden is a physical god who is famous for electrocuting fools, and even occasionally taking himself out to do it–just like his fatality in Mortal Kombat Deception. Even when he’s about to die, Raiden is even powerful enough to communicate with his younger self in an attempt to avert the victory of MK‘s Big Bad, Shao Khan. That might make Raiden a bit of a sore loser, but it still makes him one of the most influential and memorable fighters in the franchise.
Sub Zero is the series’ mascot and is probably the most popular with both die-hard MK fans and even the casual crowd thanks to his ability to freeze and shatter opponents — one of the most unique combos in fighting game history. To give you an idea how of Sub Zero’s popularity, he was once mentioned on Malcolm In The Middle, albeit somewhat erroneously as he was described to be the final boss.
With so many great characters proceeding him on this list, you’re probably wondering why/how the hell Johnny Cage got this far. Simply put, Johnny Cage is a great Mortal Kombat character solely because he’s the best punching bag in the entire series. If Liu Kang’s death makes other people sad, and Raiden, Scorpion and Sub Zero are too bad ass to bite it, then who the hell are you supposed to kill over and over and over in training mode? This douchebag. With his dumb coif, his “five hundred dollar sunglasses, asshole,” and his little JCVD stance, how could you not want to shank, shiv, burn, stab, impale and decapitate this tool? Johnny Cage is the best punching bag a gamer could ask for and that’s worth a lot.
The rest of the names mentioned are all tough guys in their own right, but only Baraka has swords coming out of his hands and a mouth that resembles a cannibalistic ghoul. Baraka doesn’t need a harpoon, elemental powers, or the ability to transform into a dragon–he just needs arm’s length to begin a slice and dice session. Seriously, how the hell are any of the other Kombatants supposed to fight against….that?! If that isn’t bad enough, keep in mind that Baraka is the leader of a whole horde of beings just like him, the Tarkata, and I doubt he’s going to command them to make a delicious Asian stir fry. Out of all the Kombatants on the list, Baraka is definitely the baddest ass and my personal favorite, especially if he’ll be carving up Johnny Cage like a roast turkey. Mmm, turkey…..
Honorable Mention: The Mortal Kombat Announcers
Would you enjoy MK half as much if there weren’t baritone prompts to Finish off your opponent? Would cooking your hated rival be as enjoyable without a high pitched “TOASTY~!” accompanying it? Would a Flawless Victory feel as flawless without that guttural growl to announce it? Probably, but the accompanying commentary turns the enjoy-ability factor up to 11 and is a crucial part of the MK experience. The announcers deserve their due, too.