For over 25 years, Mortal Kombat has given us a great alternative to the genre of fighting games other than Street Fighter. It stayed with the times on it’s shock factor with high intense violence and brutally satisfying fatalities. With 25 years of experience and a recent release of Mortal Kombat 11, it’s time I do a countdown from the worst to the best of Mortal Kombat games. Now my countdown is going to be very different as I am going to countdown all 11 fighting games, so I won’t be counting spin off games such as Shaolin Monks or Special Forces. Also, Injustice will not be included, despite having Mortal Kombat characters. With that said, there are the top 11 Mortal Kombat games, ranging from worst to best.
11 - Mortal Kombat Armageddon.
Midway was in it’s dying days and there speculating the Mortal Kombat was coming to an end. Had this been the very last game for Mortal Kombat, it would have been a shame. Was once a fantastic change that no one have ever seen that soon gain popularity and publicity unlike any other would soon pop like cheap firecrackers from a black market discount store. First off let’s talk about the good about MK Armageddon. By far it has the best roster in all of Mortal Kombat games, with characters ranging from the first Mortal Kombat games all the way to Mortal Kombat Deception. Even characters who has never made it into the new Mortal Kombat games from the PS2 and Xbox era finally gotten a chance to make their return including Fujin, Jarek, Stryker, and Sereena, a character who is best known in Mortal Kombat: Mythologies. The story was very interesting as it is the epic final battle, a race to the top of the pyramid where the winner would possess infinite power, power that is beyond the elder gods’ control. And lastly the create a character is the best by far, allowing players to create popular characters from other franchises and pit them into a battle to the death. Alas, the good ends there. As the game suffers from lack of features and content. The Konquest mode feels like a rip off their Mortal Kombat Shoalin games without the use of combos or flows. Kart Racing was interesting but was the only game created in Armageddon compare to the predecessor features. And while the combat is okay, the fatalities were replaced with create a fatality, having players press button combination to perform attacks until it reaches the highest number or the player is unsuccessful to input the command. Plus the endings, which was one of the best part of Mortal Kombat 4 and so on, were replaced with a dialogue and the character’s kata. No images, no movies. Nothing. Clearly this game didn’t do well before being bought out by Warner Brothers. We will get to that.
10 Mortal Kombat 1
Let's relax everyone. Before you grab your pitchforks and torches, my best question to you is this, did this game aged well? While the game hasn't gotten better over the years, and a series of sequels will prove that, it is however the stepping stone towards Mortal Kombat's success. The characters were digitized which makes the game looks real and the addition of blood, or sweet if you are on the SNES console, makes it feel real. The story was great if you cared about it, and the characters are down right iconic, having a look at Lui Kang, Raiden, and of course the two main stars Sub-Zero and Scorpion. It also brought in a secret fight against Reptile who uses both Sub-Zero and Scorpion moveset. And last but not least it introduce a new way to humiliate your opponent with a fatality. It not only separate the boys from the men, but also help created the ESRB rating system, a system that we all still use today.
9 Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
After Midway file for bankruptcy, Warner Bros. studio purchase some of Midway’s library including Mortal Kombat, keeping the legacy alive to this point. They then proceed to an unlikely crossover that thrilled fans right off the bat with an exciting trailer leading to a chilling ending where fans of the DC comics and Mortal Kombat games would soon realize, the chance to mangal and murder DC iconic heroes such as Superman and Batman. But the game was hit with a teen rating meaning that the violence was severely tone down. This along with poor looks and design that felt ripped off from order consoles, and the clunky input and controls which included some of the most ridiculous combo challenges any man have seen, and Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe became a big dud. It did, however, had some good in it such as an excellent roster set, one of the best since years later the rosters in MK vs DCU would appear in MK 9 and Injustice games respectively. The interactive portion of the game, both in combat and on the title screen were fantastic. And this gave birth to the cinematic story mode that would soon be used in future MK and Injustice games. The story was cheesy of course but this is coming straight from a comic book universe as well so nothing can really be taken seriously in the story mode, but you can play both sides on a vaualble replay, just same results.
8 Mortal Kombat 4
When Midway decide to gamble in the 3D universe, it was either sink or swim for the Mortal Kombat series as games that would transport from 2D to 3D generally fail and kill of their franchise, just look at Earthworm Jim 3D. However, MK4 was able to survive the trial and help boost up interest in the 3D universe for Mortal Kombat. The roster stay the same but the new characters were a bit interesting. This does mark the debut of Shinnok and Quan Chi as the major baddies of the game instead of regular villain Shao Khan, and the 3D effects made it into an interesting aspect into the game. The game did also introduce the use of weapons that can be pulled out during a fight and deliver maximum damage to your opponent. The fatalities weren’t that great as it feels like a rehashed of classic fatalities but it does give one of the best Game Over screens we can ever have in a fighting game, falling in the pit when you fail to continue the game after losing the match. Fantastic. The controls were simple of course if you play it on a PS1 controller, maybe said the same for the N64, and also introduce cinematic endings that were new the Mortal Kombat franchise. Just go take a look at some of them, they are really good. Most of them.
7 Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance was the first of the three games release during the PS2 and Xbox era. It dare to change by killing off two of the most well known characters in Mortal Kombat, Liu Kang and Shao Khan, and brought us new features that help revitalize the Mortal Kombat franchise for a good 4 years. New characters were introduced which brought us fan favorite Kenshi, and hated characters Hsu Hao and Mokap, that’s hated as why were in you in game in the first place, and not “OH! He’s so awesome but I hate his guts for what he did!!” The gameplay were changed, focusing on actual Martial Arts rather than everyone having to kick and punch until there was a winner, and a weapon style compare to just inputting a button command to unsheath a weapon. The game also features a Konquest mode, which is generally a challenge mode for each character you use, but more importantly, it brought us the krypt mode, a mode were we spend our good hard earn Koins, Yes that’s Koins with a K, to unlock new artwork, videos, costumes, and characters. By now you wonder if the fatalities are worth the game, and it is safe to say that just do fatalities, don’t worry about how it looks, because you need those koins to unlock Scorpions sick new alternative outfit and the same goes with Sub-Zero. Oh and Test your Might returns alongside Test your Sight. Neat.
6 Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Most people would remember this game than the original game and it’s for a good reason, the ultimate edition olds a large list of characters, especially those that were missing from the initial release. What makes UMK3 a great game to play is how chaotic the game feels with massive amount of combos dealt by each characters. This is the start of the combo system that later Mortal Kombat insulation would have. UMK3 also have a run button to close in on opponents running away or start off a massive combo attack. It feels new and great since gameplay is just generally spamming the punch button or uppercuts to win the fight. As far as characters would go, it’s actually pretty good, about 3rd or 4th best within the series. We do get characters returning from the second Mortal Kombat game, with the exception of Baraka, Johnny Cage, and Raiden. Characters who should have been in the game from the start such as Scorpion, Kitana, and Mileena. And characters who make their debut and become a stable of the Mortal Kombat franchise to this day, such as Kabal, Nightwolf, Sindel, Cyrax, Jade, Noob Saibot, Smoke, and many more. Yes, including Stryker. Such a terrible design. This also include two of the most frustrating bosses in any fighting game I can think of, Motaro and Shao Khan. The fatalities are very very goofy. Some make sense such as Smoke, Cyrax, and Sektor, and some are head scratching like Kabal and Jax. It’s a mixed review so go ahead and take a look to judge yourself. Overall, the game feels good yet seems pretty average at best. Few characters are worth using, hidden features on the SNES and Genesis makes the game worth while, and the look of over 2 dozen rib bones make the game thrilling.
5 Mortal Kombat X
I find it hilarious that the Netherrealm theme state that MK X is a spinoff and not a canon story at one point. Says the large list of comics and DLC characters. But overall, the game is pretty good as it push the boundary of blood, gore, and shock factor. The story mode is very interesting, taking several years after the 9th installment of Mortal Kombat and allow us to use new characters against classic characters. Speaking of new characters, characters such as Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, Takeda, Erron Black, and D’vorah fit very well in the Mortal Kombat series either by design, personality, gameplay, or a combination of all 3. This of course is due to the character interaction two characters would have before starting their fight. It can be either serious, to depressing, to down right hilarious. Mortal Kombat X brought in some great features to keep players on their feet which includes special towers that players partake in either a realm invasion tower, or amazing holiday towers depending on the holiday. The krypt no longer serves as an unlockable quest but rather feels more like an adventure with some spooky elements added to it. Lastely, the gameplay and various ways of killing your opponent has changed as well. With new characters involve and almost lets characters in MK X than MK 9, MK X introduce the variation system, where characters would have three different fight style after being selected. It’s something interesting because you can do a variety of combos depending on which variation you selected and the character would feel different but it is also a bad thing since of course certain special moves will be locked from said variation. Imagine Scorpion without his trademark spear or Raiden without his superman attack. Plus the game is just painfully brutal in a good way. MK X push the boundary of gruesome with their fatalities. Each fatality perform is more goreror and bloody as the last, you barely can tell which ones might be the most brutal of them all, and speaking of brutal, a feature I omitted from the last entry, Brutality, makes its return on MK X. Instead of during a 50 hit combo to your opponent and blast them in a million bones, you end the fight abruptly with a special attack that decapitate, slice, burn, or explode your opponents if requirements are met. Lastely, MKX even gone as far as not only bringing classic characters in the DLC, Tanya, Bo Rai Cho, and the debut of Tremor as a playable character, but guest movie characters, Jason, Leatherface, Predator, and the Xenomorph Alien. We waited in anticipation for what Mortal Kombat can bring as a special guest character, or in that case, what Netherrealm studios can bring to their games when it comes to special guest characters.
4 Mortal Kombat Deception
Sequels to a game generally makes it better especially when you look at which era the game was released. After Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat Deception ups the ante with better gameplay features, better screen features, and better Konquest features….that’s too many use of the word features. Let’s talk about the gameplay itself, it does use the same gameplay as MK Deadly Alliance but improved on it. Now there is a combo breaker feature which allow players to stop a combo from happening but is only given three breakers to use in the either game. Neutral weapons is available for both players to use, dealing massive amount of damage when getting hit by it. Every character now has two fatalities instead of one, and they also have a Hara-kiri finish which prevents opponents from doing their fatality finish. Fights can also end in a sort of ring out feature which is call stage fatality, which was missing in Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance. That awkward moment where you knock them to the edge of a pit only to find out there is an invisible barrier preventing them from falling in. Mortal Kombat Konquest is a huge overall compare to it’s predecessor, having players take control of Shujinko, the protagonist of Mortal Kombat Deception, and go on an epic journey quest through all the realms in order to collect the kamidogu. While the Konquest doesn’t seem all that today, gameplay wise, it’s still an outstanding mode that allow us to travel through all the realms, including the two new realms added in, Seido and Chaos realm. The Kyrpt is also a great improvement, making sure that all the money spent is worth it instead of having some krypts with nothing in it. The game also have an online mode, which I never played it, and two best mini games of all, puzzle combat and chess combat. By far, this is the best 3D game that Mortal Kombat have developed, and while the characters in the game aren’t that memorable at all; characters like Kobra or Darius. The game instead of fun in all of its features and gameplay.
3 Mortal Kombat 2
Mortal Kombat 2 is by far the greatest 2D fighting game in the Mortal Kombat series. After the success of the first Mortal Kombat game, the Mortal Kombat team gather together in many ways to improve on the sequel. First of course is the roster of the game, adding in new characters Kung Lao, Reptile, Kitana, Mileena, Jax, and Baraka, while bringing back fan favorites such as Sub-Zero and Scorpion. This gave way to one of the toughest bosses name Shao Khan, and brought in not just one but three secret characters to go up against. The environment is a strong change as well, going from an eerie island with pits and dungeons, to a dangerous setting, forcing fighters to battle on a plank surrounded by acid, armories filled with spikes, and being forced to battle in front of Shao Khan with Kano and Sonya Blade kept as captive prisoners. The game was also brutal, a huge improvement than the Mortal Kombat prequel, being more bloodier than the first game, and more violent of moves sets as well. Speaking about being more bloodier, thanks to the ESRB rating system, Mortal Kombat 2 have gotten more gruesome in the fatality department, with two characters having 2 different fatalities, and two more special fatalities, babality and friendship. Both are a joke thanks to the outcry of Mortal Kombat being too violent. Overall, the game is very memorable and well liked. It pushed Mortal Kombat to go further and became one of MK’s best games not just in the arcades but at home too thanks again to the ESRB rating system
2 Mortal Kombat 11
It maybe too recent but MK11 definitely in terms of shock and awe factor in various ways. The story is amazing, having the past battle against the present to save the future. It’s interesting to see how characters would interact with their own selves and have given us some twist and turns that, if we don’t pay much attention, would shock us. Several characters had impressive revision, such as Frost and Kabal, and unlikely partnership with some characters who rivaled one another for years. The gameplay is a great change, but feels mixed. On one hand, the game change it’s special meter into a 2 bar offense and 2 bar defense bar, having players use them wisely while it regenerates over time. There’s also a fatal blow command, which is essentially an X-Ray move you can only use one in a fight. Character roster is good, with returning characters such as Jade, Baraka, and Kabal after a one game hiatus, while characters such as Cassie Cage, Kotal Kahn, and Erron Black were popular enough to return along with classic MK characters as well. You can customize characters off three elements, and build your character the way you like them to look, along with intro, win pose, and battle victory. You can also set a variety of special attacks to make your gameplay style on various characters, note this will disable certain other special attacks, the game will give you and idea of what is disabled. There is a lot to do in Mortal Kombat 11 in the towers of time, which you can tackle alone, or team up with a friend to take down a single powerful foe. Online feels laxed, but can make some improvements. And by far, the fatalities and brutalities are the most spectacular visuals in all of MK installments. Because of how violent MK11 is with their fatalities, it lead to video service channels such as YouTube to put a parental control feature for just the blood. The Krypt is once again an adventure unlockable hybrid, having players travel through Shang Tsung’s island and use three different currency to unlock skins, artworks, outfits, fatalities, and brutalities. The only downside is of course the Krypt, which feels more like a chore rather than something to enjoy. The game needs unlockables in order to use certain clothing or have certain finishers, which is sadly the downside to MK11. Still, it doesn’t hinder how fun MK11 is and with the DLC characters coming out very soon, it’s still talked about today.
1 Mortal Kombat 9
When Mortal Kombat has announced a reboot to the series, there were some hope to Mortal Kombat. After a series of poor games, MK really needed something new to keep themselves relevant especially after creating their own studio, Netherrealm Studios, under the Warner Brother brand. Alas, Mortal Kombat 9, strangely called Mortal Kombat, was released and has been a critical success both from fans and critics. This game serves as a fan service yet everything about the game feels right. The game shows how sick and detail the fatalities before the PS4 and XboxOne arrived. Characters from the first three Mortal Kombat games were included in the roster, with Quan Chi involved at the end of the story mode. And speaking of Story Mode, it’s one of the best stories Mortal Kombat has ever created, and used the impressive cinematic feature that MK vs DCU done, but made it 100% better. The gameplay is a nice mixed compare to past Mortal Kombat releases. While combos are included, the game now introduce a meter bar, which allow players to break a combo, performance enhancements of their special attacks, or save a full bar meter for the ever mighty, the destructive X-Ray move. Online had an outstanding king of the hill feature that is still being used today, where players would rank the winner based on their performance. Features from the Krypt and the 300 tower challenge tower have players continue to game for hours and hours. MK 9 has also help bring in Special Guest characters from outside the video game realm thanks to the inclusion of Freddy Kruger and a new realm, the dream realm. It’s one of the games that you must try out to know how revolutionary Mortal Kombat been after a falling with their last two games.