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The Complete List of Mortal Kombat Games in Chronological & Release Order

Mortal Kombat 1

The Complete List of Mortal Kombat Games in Chronological & Release Order

Mortal Kombat has a long history in the video game world. Not only did it revolutionize an entire genre, but it also contributed to video games receiving a rating system due to its violence. It is the best-selling fighting franchise in history, and though it had ups and downs, fans have stood by this beloved series. Today we’re breaking down each game, and reviewing changes made throughout the series.     

Mortal Kombat (1992)

Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat sets the standard as the first game in the franchise for its brutal violence.

©IGDB – License

The first game in the iconic franchise, Mortal Kombat was a success right from the start. Players would fight against one another in tournament-style martial arts matches. While fighting games had been around for decades at that point, none did it like Mortal Kombat. The game was violent, showing blood and gore like no other game at the time. Players could perform game-ending movies called “Fatalities” that resulted in killing the opponent. Some fatalities depicted characters getting their heads removed with their spinal cord still attached. 

While a hit with the kids at the arcades, it quickly became controversial with parents. The outrage was so vocal that the Entertainment Software Rating Board was created to give video games a rating system similar to movies. Despite this, the game was a commercial and critical success, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in its first year. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time and spawned countless sequels and spinoffs, along with releasing on home consoles.      

Mortal Kombat II (1993)

Mortal Kombat II
Mortal Kombat II (1993)

©Mortal Kombat II artwork – License

Both fans and critics highly anticipated the release of Mortal Kombat II following the first game’s success. Expectations were high, with the developer Midway exceeding each one. Developers expanded the character roster from seven to twelve characters, including Kitana and Mileena. The controversial fatalities were improved, giving each character multiple fatalities and new finishers. Mechanics were refined and smoothed out for a better gameplay experience. And the story continued the plot from the first game.     

Controversy sparked after its release, with the game being banned in Germany and added to a list by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons. In Japan, the blood was changed from red to green and fatalities screens were black and white. Fans of the game couldn’t get enough, however, with the game exceeding expectations and sales. It became the highest-grossing arcade game in 1994 and the best-selling video game in the world, beating the original Mortal Kombat in almost every category. 

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Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

Mortal Kombat 3
Experience the peak of the trilogy with Mortal Kombat 3.

©Mortal Kombat 3 screen print showing gameplay – License

Mortal Kombat 3 follows the formula of its predecessors while adding new mechanics and gameplay elements. This is the first game to break from the tournament matches; instead, the story focuses on the return of Shao Kahn as he invades Earthrealm. New fatalities are added, and for the first time, combos are included. Combos became a standard feature in the franchise used to perform specific attacks with a series of inputs. A running mechanic was added, allowing dashes, which also served as feedback to fans who claimed defending players had an advantage. 

However, some popular characters, including Scorpion and Kitana, were omitted from the game and replaced by new characters. The game has the world record for the largest promotional campaign for a video game. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was released the same year, which fixed controversial features, added in Scorpion and Kitana, adding and modifying movesets. Despite its criticism, Mortal Kombat 3 was a massive success and was the most popular arcade game in 1995.    

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 also received a port to the Game Boy Advance. The controls, enemy AI, and hardware limitations were criticized and reviewed as a game “worse in every way.” Also, in 2007, a port for the Nintendo DS was released. The game didn’t receive much praise or criticism and was seen as an acceptable port of a classic.           

Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996)

Mortal Kombat Trilogy
Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996)

©Mortal Kombat Trilogy text art – License

Similar to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat Trilogy is an update to Mortal Kombat 3. The game plays the same as the third game but takes elements and features from all previous games and combines them. Every character that has appeared in the series was added to the game, along with two new ones. Backgrounds from every game, excluding Mortal Kombat (1992), were added and remastered with new graphics. It also added the “Agressor Bar” that fills throughout the match, allowing the character to become faster and stronger once filled.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy is regarded as one of the best games in the series, as it combines and refines elements from previous titles. However, reception and reviews differ depending on the console it was played on, as some consoles had limitations that cut content out of the game.     

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997)

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997)

©Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero screen print showing gameplay – License

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero was the first game to break away from the fighting genre. Set before the events of the original game, and follows Sub-Zero as he is hired to steal a map of elements but later battles Quan Chi to stop him from controlling an amulet. The game is divisive among fans, with a small cult following praising the game. However, it never caught on due to it differing too much from what fans know and enjoy about the series. It’s considered one of the worst games in the series today but did sell well, prompting the creation of Mortal Kombat: Special Forces.   

Mortal Kombat 4 (1997) 

Mortal Kombat 4
Experience the first 3D combat system in the franchise with Mortal Kombat 4.

©Mortal Kombat 4 gameplay – License

Releasing the same year as Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Mortal Kombat 4 was what fans expected of a fighting game. It was the first 3D game in the series but didn’t change the fighting gameplay from previous titles. The game featured the use of weapons and objects during battles and capped combo damage. If combos went on for too long, they would be automatically stopped. Upon release, it received positive reviews but was less popular than previous entries. Arcades were filled with older Mortal Kombat machines that were more popular and widely sought after by longtime fans. 

Two years after its release, Mortal Kombat Gold was developed, which was an updated version of MK4 and released exclusively on the Dreamcast. Although it was meant to fix bugs and provide a more updated experience, reviews noted it was inferior to the arcade machine. The graphics were downgraded, and more bugs and glitches were added rather than fixed, which prompted a rerelease less than a month later.  

Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (2000)

Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (2000)

©Mortal Kombat: Special Forces gameplay – License

The second spin-off in the series, MK: Special Forces, is also the first 3D spin-off. Jax Briggs is the main protagonist as he battles against the Black Dragon gang. Players explore five locations, solving puzzles and fighting enemies in hand-to-hand combat and with firearms. Each level had a boss fight at the end.

The development reportedly was rough and riddled with problems that led to the game’s downfall. After its release, reviews poured in, criticizing the gameplay, story, and mechanics. It is frequently cited as one of the wort entries in the series.    

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)

 Deadly Alliance
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)

©Deadly Alliance gameplay – License

 After the poor reception of recent titles, MK: Deadly Alliance saved the franchise from collapsing in on itself. It was the first MK game released exclusively for consoles, as arcades had been on a downfall for years. The gameplay featured new 3D environments and models in which characters could move while retaining the 2D fighting plane. Characters were given three different fighting styles that changed depending on their weapon use. These styles added unique movements and abilities to the characters, giving them their own personalities. The Run mechanic was abandoned, and characters were only given one fatality.

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MK: Deadly Alliance went on to sell over 3.5 million copies in its lifetime and received positive reviews from fans and critics. It was nominated for multiple awards and brought the series onto the new generations of consoles. 

MK: Tournament Edition was released for Game Boy Advanced a year later. Although it played identically to Deadly Alliance on the GBA, it featured the second half of characters cut from the roaster due to limitations.   

Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)

©Mortal Kombat Deception Cover Art

MK: Deception built upon the success of Deadly Alliance and refined the 3D system even more. Arenas were changed to feature weapons, deathtraps, which would instantly kill players if they activated them, and branching paths. The latter is an event that would knock a player out of the arena and continue the fight in a different arena. Players also receive three combo breakers they could use during fights, and characters now had two fatalities instead of one. And most notably, it featured an online mode, making it the first fighting game to include one.  

Minigames like Chess and Puzzle Kombat were added, which shook up the typical fighting gameplay. The release of Deception became Midway’s fastest-selling game and won “Best Fighting Game of the Year.”  

In 2006, MK: Unchained was released for the PlayStation Portable. It features the character roster from the GameCube, along with a few more. It can also be played online with wireless networks, a great achievement at the time without compromising the frame rate.  

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005)

Shaolin Monks
Shaolin Monks is considered not only one of the best spin-offs, but one of the best games in the series.

©Shaolin Monks gameplay – License

As the third spin-off in the franchise, Shaolin Monks refines the beat ’em-up style gameplay by mixing the fighting and action-adventure genres perfectly. The game was originally conceived years earlier but was scrapped after the previous spin-off titles failed to meet expectations. The story retells the events of MK II and follows Lui Kang and Kung Lao. While other spin-offs were criticized for being too different from the original formula, Shaolin Monks incorporates fatalities, combos, and other elements iconic to the series.

The game sold over a million copies at release and received positive reviews. A cult following within the MK community praises Shaolin Monks for its gameplay and story. It was the center of controversy due to an advertisement that depicts office workers fighting and killing one another.      

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)

Armageddon
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)

©Armageddon gameplay – License

MK: Armageddon largely remains the same as Deadly Alliance and Deception. Although the game adds customizable fighters and fatalities, it was built with the same engine as its predecessors and played almost identically. Almost every character in the franchise is featured in the game, along with a new minigame Motor Kombat, a spin on Mario Kart.

Reviews praised the 62 playable characters, and Konquest mode is seen as the best in the franchise. However, the lack of innovation from its predecessors made the game disappear in their shadows. 

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (2008)

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (2008)

By 2008 a new generation of consoles had been out, with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe being the first Mortal Kombat game made exclusively for them. This was also the last game developed by Midway before Warner Bros. bought the franchise. Players get to choose their side in the story mode, with the other being the antagonists for the duration of the plot. New elements such as air battles, “Test Your Might,” and Rage mode, similar to the Agressor Bar in MK Trilogy. Only 11 MK characters were added to the game as the other 11 feature superheroes from DC, including Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, and more.     

The reception was mixed at release, with contemporary gamers claiming the game aged poorly and didn’t hold up to Mortal Kombat (2011), which release a year later. However, the game sold relatively well and was the most pre-ordered MK game of all time.  

Mortal Kombat (2011)

Mortal Kombat
Experience the reboot that changed the Mortal Kombat experience forever.

Mortal Kombat, aka MK 9, worked as a reboot for the series as Warner Bros. now owned the franchise with NetherRealm Studios as the development team. While maintaining 3D graphics, the game reverted back to the original fighting style on the 2D field. No longer could players move around the arena, as they were now locked in on a 2D field. The story retells events from the first trilogy and features 28 playable characters, a significant decrease from Armageddon. 

A new feature in the form of X-Ray moves was added, which played on the game’s iconic fatality system. Once players built enough charge on their Super Meter, they could use X-Ray moves to perform a scripted series of attacks while showing players the internal damage. Players could see bones cracking and organs erupting, which added to the violence of the game.  

It went on to sell over 4 million copies in its lifetime and is often hailed as the best game in the franchise. Critics praised its gameplay and mechanics while still retaining the classic MK feel. In 2012, Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition was released, which featured the base game along with all the additional content that had been added.        

Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection (2011)

Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection

©Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection gameplay – License

Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection is a collection of the original three games in the series released for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. The game features online multiplayer and achievements, along with other quality-of-life improvements. The reviews were average and mixed, as the success of MK 9 had overshadowed its release.   

Mortal Kombat X (2015)

X
Mortal Kombat X (2015)

MKX continued the success of the 2011 reboot, but this time was made exclusively for the new generation of consoles. The game takes place 25 years after the events of the reboot and keeps features such as the Energy Meter and X-Ray moves. MKX was praised for its graphics, story, and smooth mechanics at it’s launch. It was the fastest-selling game in the franchise and sold over 12 million copies four years after its release. It won multiple awards as the Best Fighting Game and set the standard as a sequel.  

In 2016, the game was re-released under the name Mortal Kombat XL and included the base game and expansion packs. After being released on the Xbox One and PS4, it eventually made its way to PC after fans voiced their support for the title.

Mortal Kombat Mobile (2015)

Mortal Kombat X Mobile
Mortal Kombat Mobile (2015)

©Mortal Kombat X Mobile gameplay – License

Coinciding with the release of MKX, MK Mobile was a card battler/fighting hybrid that followed a freemium model. Although the graphics and mechanics were high-quality for a mobile game, it was largely forgotten about due to MKX. It received mixed reviews and was seen as subpar compared to console releases.  

Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

The final release in the series reboot, MK 11 continues the 2.5D fighting gameplay while adding Fatal and Krushing Blows. Like X-Ray moves, these deal significant damage but can only be used once. Krushing Blows are similar as they incorporate the player seeing the bones and organs break. While the gameplay, graphics, and story improved, fans criticized the grinding and microtransactions. The game sold over 15 million copies in its lifetime and was the fifth best-selling game in 2019. 

A year later, MK 11: Aftermath was released, which was the first major expansion in a Mortal Kombat game. The expansion featured a new storyline, three new characters, and three new skin packs. The same year MK 11: Ultimate was released and featured every expansion pack including Aftermath.   

Mortal Kombat: Onslaught (2023)

Onslaught
Mortal Kombat: Onslaught (2023)

©Onslaught gameplay – License

The fourth spin-off title in the MK franchise, Mortal Kombat: Onslaught released exclusively for mobile devices. The game is an idle battler featuring iconic characters in the series. While being single-player and featuring an entire cinematic storyline, there are also multiplayer functions to play against random opponents. 

Mortal Kombat 1 (2023)

Mortal Kombat 1
The new reboot to Mortal Kombat for the next generation of consoles.

©Mortal Kombat 1 artwork – License

Mortal Kombat 1 is a sequel to MK 11 while also being a franchise reboot, similar to MK 9. While the game is currently unreleased, it will feature new mechanics, including Kameo Fighters that provide support during fights and Air Kombat. Air Kombat was first featured in MK: Armageddon but has been refined and reworked for the title. It will also be the first release exclusively on the new generation of consoles, including PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. Fans are highly anticipating the release as they have teased additional fighters from pop culture like Omni-Man, Homelander, and Peacemaker.   

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