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Choose Your Destiny With This List of Mortal Kombat Games in Order of Their Release Dates

Remember when Batman fought Scorpion in kombat?

MK Scorpion

Mortal Kombat is a fighting game franchise that I’ve been a fan of since its original release. Since then, the series has become an iconic part of gaming, releasing sequels, trilogies, reboots, films, television series, cartoons, and even live stage shows that I really wanted to go to as a kid.

Believe it or not, the kontent has been ongoing from 1992 to 2020. What can I say, we’ve been finishing a lot of people throughout the decades. With the recent announcement of a second film (not to be confused with the other second film) and the fact that this year is the 30th anniversary, I thought I’d put together a list of all of the games, in order, so you can remember the time Scorpion had his own cooking show.

No, I’m not joking.

Mortal Kombat (1992)

The game that started it all, the original feels so quaint compared to where we are today. Seven fighters. Simple, but effective, fatalities. Who would’ve guessed that this would be such a major part of gaming history? I don’t just mean because of the longevity of the series, I mean the Senate hearings leading to the creation of the ESRB.

Mortal Kombat truly is a significant part of pop culture.

Mortal Kombat II (1993)

Soon came a sequel that would lead to the introduction of “palette swap: lady edition” and “final boss of your worst nightmares.” Mortal Kombat II came with a larger character roster (12 instead of just 7) and, to my delight, new female characters to play as while keeping my favorite ninja, Scorpion. This game will always hold a special place in my heart for bringing us Kitana, Mileena, and Jade (though she was a hidden character).

We also got Noob Saibot and Smoke, a welcome addition to the franchise.

Oh, and we got Friendships, which is just a hilarious thing to be added after the ESRB situation.

Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

This game loses points for not having Scorpion. Or Kitana. Or Mileena. Or Reptile. Just… a lot of missed characters here.

That being said, we do get the introduction of the cyborg characters and I would proceed to spam the hell out of Cyrax’s net. We also get Sheeva and Sindel, the return of Sonya Blade, “you killed my brother” Sub-Zero, and… sigh, Stryker.

Honestly, this isn’t a bad game, but it does pull a Street Fighter by releasing an upgraded version months later, something Mortal Kombat hadn’t done up until this point. So while this game is okay, it’s “Ultimate” that I would end up like a whole lot more.

We did get Babalities, though, so that’s something.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

They should’ve just released this from the start.

Not only did we have the Mortal Kombat 3 roster, but we got all the characters who had been taken out of the game. Just. WHO thought not having Scorpion in Mortal Kombat was a good idea? Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 righted that wrong and also had a fun hidden opponent: Rain, the purple palette swap male ninja.

We also got Brutalities for the first time.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996)

The last update to Mortal Kombat 3 that I, honestly, never got around to playing, because I didn’t see that big of a difference between “Trilogy” and “Ultimate.” The Trilogy does make up for the lack of Johnny Cage (technically, he died, but his soul is restored and he’s able to help in the battle against Shao Kahn) and we also get Raiden and Baraka. There are also new gameplay elements like the Aggressor bar.

Still, that wasn’t enough to get me interested in the game. I wanted something that felt like an actual new thing. In the year when I’d gotten a Nintendo 64, I was sucked into a brand new take on Mario and VERY into Killer Instinct.

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997)

I suppose I did say I wanted something new, huh?

Honestly? I really liked this action-adventure game! It was AWFUL! The controls were atrocious and made the game incredibly unfair, leading to deaths by “misjudging the platform jumps” and “you have to remember to hit the button to get Sub-Zero to turn around.”

It was absurd.

There were cutscenes with dressed-up character actors.

It was so beautiful.

Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)

The first attempt at bringing Mortal Kombat into the 3D gaming era was… an attempt, for sure. Definitely one that doesn’t hold up, but back then it was pretty cool punching someone’s head off to overdramatic splatters of blood and too many body parts flying about.

Also? The character endings? A cinematic masterpiece.

It did at least bring us the likes of Shinnok and Quan Chi, who are also in Mythologies, but now everyone has to deal with them and not just Sub-Zero.

Mortal Kombat Gold (1999)

An upgrade to Mortal Kombat 4 for the Dreamcast. Much like Mortal Kombat 3’s upgrades, there are more characters, more stages, more… well, everything you wanted in the fourth game, but two years later, and for the Dreamcast.

Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (2000)

The Jax game.

You know.

THE Jax game.

I’ve never, in my life, played the game, but boy oh boy do I KNOW about this game. In case you don’t, it’s an action-adventure game similar to Mythologies.

Mortal Kombat Advance (2001)

I was today years old when I found out that this even existed. As you can guess from the title, it’s a Game Boy Advance port of a Mortal Kombat game, the game in question being Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.

I suppose the release makes sense in regards to wanting something Mortal Kombat on the new handheld, but reviews weren’t too kind about this one.

Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance (2002)

The start of Mortal Kombat’s time with the PS2 which I, admittedly, am not a big fan of. I was never into switching between the fighting modes and the fact that, for some reason, each character only has one fatality and stage fatalities are gone.

I did, however, like Shang Tsung and Quan Chi working together, and it was a shock to see them kill Liu Kang and Shao Kahn.

Also? Cooking with Scorpion needed to be an entire series.

Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition (2003)

It’s Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance for the Game Boy Advance. It seems to have better reception than their first attempt at a GBA game.

Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)

Out of all of the PS2 entries, this one is my favorite even if I’m not a huge fan of this MK era. Still, I like the fact that you can do stage fatalities mid-battle (and that we even have stage fatalities), and I like the Konquest mode with Shujinko and its action RPG elements.

This game gets points for trying new things, but I still didn’t like the fighting style mechanics all that much.

Also? Zombie Liu Kang? I dare them to do that in the movies.

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005)

The third in the side game series of action-adventure games, I can’t say much about Shaolin Monks because I actually missed out on playing it. I know it has Liu Kang and Kung Lao working together, but I can’t comment on how the game actually is.

I do think it’ll never top that Special Forces into. Nothing ever will.

Mortal Kombat: Armeggedon (2006)

The last PS2 game that is overstuffed with characters from all throughout the series, the big thing I remember about this game is the batshit crazy opening followed by the extremely lackluster ending sequences where characters just quietly do their moves in an open arena while a narrator TELLS you what happened.

Beyond that, though, this game is pretty… okay. It ends the PS2 era and leads to the reboot franchise… after two more entries.

Mortal Kombat: Unchained (2006)

It’s Mortal Kombat: Deception but for the PSP, you know, that really great handheld system that Sony forgot about?

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (2008)

The crossover that no one, and I mean NO ONE, saw coming.

I’m still not sure who asked for this.

Especially since brutal fatalities were taken out of the game.

I think at this point I was getting Mortal Kombat burnout because the releases weren’t hitting the way they did in the 90s. Something needed to change, and fortunately, in 2011, something did.

Mortal Kombat (2011)

The reboot to the series felt like a return to form. A retelling of the first three games that set out to prevent Armageddon, this game has always been how I envisioned Mortal Kombat as a kid. The cinematic storytelling alongside the fighting put the lore on full display, showing that you could have a really good story in your fighting game.

The fatalities were more sadistic than ever. The characters felt like more than a palette swap of each other. We started the slow progression into “let’s invite movie icons into kombat like Freddy Krueger.” This game worked wonders on the franchise and is one of my favorites to date.

Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection (2011)

A collection (kollection) of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for next-gen consoles at the time (Xbox 360 and PS3). I never got around to playing it so I can’t really weigh in on this one.

Mortal Kombat X (2015)

The sequel to Mortal Kombat 2011 that introduces a brand new generation of fighters. We aren’t just playing with Johnny Cage, we’re playing with the entire Cage family. Fighting games adding characters who are the children of our favorites can be hit (Tekken 3) or miss (Soul Calibur V), but I like the way this game brought in the newcomers.

This game feels like closure, in a way, even if there’s still one more to go. Long-standing rivalries come to an end. Children of classic characters are entering into kombat. Characters who have been forces of good are now evil. It feels like a major moment in regards to MK lore.

Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

The last game in the series (so far) is a bit of a roller coaster, but a good way to end the series as long as you don’t mind a bit of time travel and certain characters become literal gods. Even if I predict that there will be more, I’m more than satisfied with things like “Kitana ruling Outworld as she should.”

The game plays a lot like its predecessors, right down to the way you play through story mode, and I truly did get a sense of, “Where do we go from here?”

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath (2020)

The DLC for Mortal Kombat 11 brings in Shang Tsung who, for some reason, the good guys decide to trust? If you liked the way things ended in Mortal Kombat 11 then get ready to feel things during Aftermath. I will say, it is kinda interesting to get DLC where you can play to have the bad guys win, and I’m never gonna say no to Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa playing Shang Tsung.

Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate (2020)

Just absolutely everything you can get in Mortal Kombat 11 in one nifty little package. All the DLC, guest characters, if you haven’t gotten Mortal Kombat 11 then it’s the best way to do it.

PHEW! That is EVERY SINGLE MORTAL KOMBAT GAME that has been released! Which ones have been your favorites, more importantly, where do we go from here?

(Image: NetherRealm Studios)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)