Every Mortal Kombat Game In Chronological Order

Highlights

  • Mortal Kombat is a gory and violent fighting game that has become an incredibly successful force in media, known for pushing the envelope on depictions of gore.
  • The series has a rich history, starting with its controversial first title in 1992, which introduced the concept of secret characters and iconic rivalries like Sub-Zero and Scorpion.
  • Updates and rereleases of Mortal Kombat games have been a trend, but they always bring enough additions to keep the games feeling fresh and not just repackaged versions of old games.

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Mortal Kombat is one of video games’ most well-known series among gamers and non-gamers. Earning a reputation as a violent fighting game not afraid to push the envelope on depictions of gore, it’s become an incredible and successful force in media.

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From its controversial opening title in 1992 to its more recent launches, Mortal Kombat has produced many, many games. Here are all of the titles, showing a brief history of the series.

Updated October 25, 2023, by Rebecca Timberlake: Every few years (if not more frequently), NetherRealm launches new Mortal Kombat content — whether it’s a completely new game in the series, or a rerelease with new characters. As a result, it can be difficult to keep track of the series in its full gory glory since 1992, so you might just find one or two games you’ve missed.

29 Mortal Kombat (1992)

Mortal Kombat 1

The first title in the series certainly made a splash when it launched. It was a game so gory at the time it led to congressional hearings and the creation of the ESRB governmental organization. It was a groundbreaking game that set the standard for future fighting games, introduced the concept of secret characters, and showed some violent finishing moves.

With the smallest roster of all the Mortal Kombat games, it introduced us to the core characters that would go on to represent the fighting genre to gamers and non-gamers alike; not to mention iconic rivalries like Sub-Zero and Scorpion.

28 Mortal Kombat 2 (1993)

Raiden about to duel with Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat 2.

Launched a year after the first, Mortal Kombat 2 expanded upon what made the first successful with better moves, a deeper story, and more iconic characters. In fact, this game is the first to introduce characters like Kitana, Kung Lao, Mileena, Noob Saibot, and others.

After the highly public debate about the goriness and violence of the first game, the sequel is remembered by elder millennial fans for its green blood — a somehow more attention-grabbing tactic meant to mask the violence of the characters.

27 Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

Mortal Kombat 3

Mortal Kombat 3 introduced a number of new features such as Kombat Kode where you could enter secret codes to modify the game and reveal hidden characters such as Smoke, thus embracing the legacy of Reptile from the first game and encouraging players to make the game feel more unique.

RELATED: Best Secret Characters In Gaming

This time around, characters had the ability to uppercut their opponents through the ceiling to different levels allowing for more variation in arena and violence. There was also a new fatality called Animality, performing this caused characters to morph into animal form before brutally killing their opponents.

26 Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was originally an update to the previous game for arcades before seeing a launch on home consoles. It introduced two-on-two team fighting and an eight-player tournament mode. This was also the game that introduced the characters Ermac and Rain.

This game also started the trend of updates and rereleases of Mortal Kombat games in years there weren’t going to be all-new games in the series. Thankfully, the developers always made enough additions that these games never felt like old games merely repackaged.

25 Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996)

Liu Kang and Raiden fighting in front of a river in a city

Mortal Kombat Trilogy was a second update to the third game following Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. This title brought back many stages and characters from the first and second games in the series. It also had a new gameplay mechanic called the Aggressor Bar that’s filled as you fight and gives faster movement speed and stronger attack damage when filled.

A new fatality feature called Brutality was introduced in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, which would result in the enemy exploding. Brutalities became a staple in the MK series.

24 Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997)

Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub Zero

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero was the first spin-off and is a prequel to the entire series. You take control of the original Sub-Zero Bi-Han to find an amulet for the sorcerer Quan Chi. This side-scrolling action-adventure game was the first to introduce cinematic cutscenes to tell the story.

Unfortunately, this game wasn’t well-received and is often overlooked, despite being referenced in later games like Mortal Kombat 11. The plan was to make other Mythologies games centered around other major characters so that you could play through an adventure-style game as each, but that never came to fruition.

23 Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)

Mortal Kombat 4

Mortal Kombat 4 is known by long-time fans as the last game to appear in arcades before the series became home console only. This game was different from others in that it included weapons and objects that characters could use in fights, adding more possible moves to each fighter, as well as more kinds of violence.

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Shinnok, the final boss in the previous game, made his appearance as a playable boss in this title along with new characters like Jarek and Meat, both of which are underrated fighters.

22 Mortal Kombat Gold (1999)

Mortal Kombat Gold

Mortal Kombat Gold was an update to MK4, and the first Mortal Kombat game to never appear in arcades. It introduced new stages and brought back characters that were in previous games like Kitana, Baraka, and Mileena. It was widely panned when compared to Soulcalibur, which launched that same year.

Although this game featured only established characters — whether from Mortal Kombat 4 or before — it did have a secret character that was a fan favorite: Sektor. The only new character that was planned for Gold was Belokk, but he was never finished and therefore never brought into the series, and exists only in MK lore.

21 Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (2000)

Mortal Kombat Special Forces

This was the second spin-off in the series and followed the character Jax. It served as a prequel to the entire series including Sub-Zero’s story. Jax seeks revenge against Kano and the Black Dragon Clan for killing his comrades. While doing this, he also wants to prevent them from obtaining the Eye of Chitian, an artifact that can open portals to other realms.

Special Forces is the first time we’re introduced to Tremor, a little-known but well-loved character. Any time he appears in the series, dedicated fans are equally excited and critical of his changes.

20 Mortal Kombat Advance (2001)

Mortal Kombat Advance

This was a port of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for the Game Boy Advance. The port resulted in a simpler control scheme and the gore and violence were toned down for a potentially younger audience while still maintaining a Mature rating.

Ironically, by making the game less offensive for a broader audience, the game lost all of its charm and wasn’t popular. Mortal Kombat Advance did have secret characters like Human Smoke and Shao Khan, but nothing new was added to make this a memorable title.

19 Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)

Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance

The fifth game in the main story, Deadly Alliance completely changed the fighting mechanics by introducing fighting styles unique to each character. This made similar characters feel less alike.

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It also introduced Konquest mode, which functioned as a tutorial for each character and expanded the story. Secrets and unlockables were also obtained in the Krypt, giving you the incentive to save up Koins, as well as a new place to explore. New characters like Frost, Blaze, and others were introduced.

18 Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition (2003)

Mortal Kombat Tournament Edition

This was a port of Deadly Alliance for the Game Boy Advance. It added three new modes: Survival, Tag Team, and Practice. It also introduced weapon fatalities. It was the first Mortal Kombat title for the GBA to feature 3D-style gameplay.

All of this made this installment more popular than MK Advance, as it made it feel like a ‘real’ Mortal Kombat game. On top of adding modes and mechanics, Tournament brought in a few older characters like Noob and Sareena, adding their story to the plot of Deadly Alliance.

17 Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)

Mortal Kombat Deception

Deception was the first game to introduce open-world exploration during Konquest Mode, making it feel like two games in one. It’s also the first to have the Combo Breaker mechanic during fights.

Featured minigames included Chess Kombat and Puzzle Kombat, which gave even more variety to play, especially when playing two-player. Character additions like The Dragon King Onaga, Shujinko, and Havik made the roster feel more extensive after quite a few games with limited introductions.

16 Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005)

Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks

Shaolin Monks is so far the last spin-off ever made for the series. It follows Liu Kang and Kung Lao as they work together to stop Shang Tsung from conquering Earthrealm. It featured a co-op campaign and a versus mode for two players to fight together or against each other, a unique feature that hasn’t been fully put to use before or since Shaolin Monks.

Unlike the previous spin-offs, this game didn’t attempt to tell anyone’s prior events or to elaborate on backstory. Instead, this retold Mortal Kombat 2’s events from the perspective of Liu Kang and Kung Lao.

15 Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)

Mortal Kombat Armageddon

The seventh game in the story featured practically every character from the previous games, including a create-your-own hero mechanic called Kreate A Fighter. You could also create your own Fatalities. Both of these features opened Mortal Kombat up to be customizable in a way it never had been before, and attracted new fans while keeping established fans happy.

RELATED: Mortal Kombat: Best Minigames In The Series

Armeggedon also featured a new minigame called Motor Kombat, which played similarly to Mario Kart, though it marked the last attempt at minigames not of the Test Your Might style. It was also the first MK game to feature a plot designed around rewriting history.

14 Mortal Kombat: Unchained (2006)

Mortal Kombat Unchained

Unchained was a port of Armageddon for the PlayStation Portable. It featured four characters not seen in Armageddon; Frost, Blaze, Jax, and Kitana. It also had Endurance Mode where you fight endless waves of enemies similar to the Arcade Towers mode where you play until you’re beaten.

Like with MK Advance and Tournament Edition on Game Boy, Unchained was meant to make the Mortal Kombat world a hand-held portable game. Unlike the Game Boy attempts, however, the PSP allowed for the graphics and game modes needed to make it worthwhile to go wireless.

13 Ultimate Mortal Kombat (2007)

Ultimate Mortal Kombat

Ultimate Mortal Kombat was a port of Mortal Kombat 3 for the Nintendo DS. It featured the ability to permanently unlock Ermac, Mileena, and Classic Sub-Zero — all of which made this desirable as a port. It also had the Puzzle Kombat minigame from Deception to give you more reason to snag it for your DS.

In terms of ports, especially of older arcade games, this is considered one of the most well-done ports both of the Mortal Kombat series, and arguably of games in general. It brought MK3 out of the ’90s and into the naughts.

12 Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe (2008)

Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe

This was the first crossover game and takes place between the second and third games in the main series. The universes of DC and Mortal Kombat have fused together along with Shao Kahn and Apokoliptian forming into Dark Kahn. Though the roster had to be limited thanks to the merging of two worlds, gaming is all the better for knowing Kitana can fight Wonder Woman.

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It was the last game made by Midway before it went bankrupt and sold the series to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and left fans wondering about the fate of their favorite series for some years.

11 Mortal Kombat (2011)

Mortal Kombat (2011)

This was the first game made by the new NetherRealm Studios owned by Warner Bros. and is a reboot in place of Armageddon, though it retconned many plot elements over the series. The changes divided fans, with Sindel receiving the biggest changes to her story arch and character.

Mortal Kombat 2011 also introduced the X-ray move, which allows you to see the internal impact of brutal blows against the enemy. Regardless of where you stand on the retconning of the story, this feature took the brutality of Mortal Kombat to the next level in an impressive way.

10 Mortal Kombat: Arcade Kollection (2011)

Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection

Kollection is a compiled remake of the first three games in the series. A few tweaks were made to online features, achievements, and permanently unlocking characters, but by and large, the games were left as-is. After the mixed reception of MK 2011, playing it safe with a launch of the original trilogy collected was smart as it reminded long-time fans why they were fans from the beginning.

Bringing the Arcade Kollection to newer consoles and online gaming also allowed for younger fans who weren’t around in the ’90s to experience the gameplay that brings nostalgia to older fans.

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