Mortal Kombat 4 released 20 years ago this month and brought a bunch of innovations to the series, including CRAZY CGI ENDINGS! John Herrington ranks them all in this countdown!
Mortal Kombat 4 stumbled into arcades in October 1997 and was almost fatal to the famously gruesome fighting game series. It is easily the most unique entry in the series, introducing elements of 3D to fights, adding weapons for the first time, and most notably, ditching the digitized actors of the first three games in favor of polygonal models. The characters were no longer human, but rather action figures brought to life. You can literally see the breaks in their bodies where their arms, legs, head and torso could become separated from one another, and fatalities became even more cartoonishly absurd than before.
One other advantage of the polygons was the ability to render cutscenes in the game’s engine, and the series received its first, and to date, only, set of fully voiced and acted endings. Endings from Mortal Kombat 1 through 3 were basically a portrait and a coda, and I bet that no one can remember one. Mortal Kombat 4’s endings are wackily voiced, possibly written by a 5th grader (almost half contain a very dramatic “NEVERRRRR”), feature a several deaths and numerous double-crossings, and mostly feature the characters in their in-battle idle animation, so stilted dialogue is delivered while dancing or floating politely. The series would never bother with this type of thing again, so let’s rank these relics!
15. Reiko leaves the tournament politely.
Seriously, who the hell was this guy? Aww who cares, he only showed up in one more game anyway. This ending would be touched up in the Playstation version of the game, revealing that Reiko likes to cosplay…as Shao Kahn? Dun dun don’t care.
14. Sonya politely completes her mission.
Sonya gets trapped on a cliff by not Kano, not Chris Antista, but Jarek. Jarek, being an idiot, runs head first off the mountain and Sonya radios Jax with a sitrep. This is not the true ending, so it gets bottom-billing here.
13. Kai deals with absolutely nothing.
This has to be the last ending the team recorded once they realized they had only recorded 14 endings.
Kai: “I’m not interested in becoming a Shaolin warrior anymore. I’ve got too many of my own problems to deal with.”
Raiden: “What will you do next?”
Kai: “I don’t know, wander the Earth…search for my soul. That kind of thing.”
That is the literally the opposite of dealing with your problems, Kai.
12. Liu Kang deals with his inability to kneel.
These polygon characters are supposed to be less rigid! Less! Oh and Liu Kang turns down Kitana’s offer of being King of Blisstonia forever. Not a wise choice for our bland protagonist.
11. Fujin moves into the corner office!
No, actually he just gets Raiden’s old job, which he gladly accepts from the HR department of giant god faces. Based on the ponytail and slim waist, I’m guessing that Fujin replaced Sindel in this game’s roster and I would be much more interested in seeing her become protector of Earth.
10. Shinnok demonstrates his new power: .
Shinnok is a less-awesome Shang-Tsung, and demonstrates that to full effect by giving a monologue and then blowing Raiden to smithereens. This is the first ending on this list that features a character being exploded, but somehow, it doesn’t make much of an impact. Shinnok says “piteous” when he probably meant “pitiful” which makes it clear that Midway’s writer was thumbing through a thesaurus for all of these assignments. He also belts out a very long laugh that could’ve been a killer one-liner instead, so this ending just feels like it’s missing something. It does, however, demonstrate that the programmers still hadn’t learned how many ribcages belong in a human body.
9. Raiden moves on up!
His mission complete, Raiden flies straight to heaven, stopping to talk to the Mortal Kombat version of the Monty Python & The Holy Grail God. This ending is terrible, mainly serving as a setup to Fujin’s even less interesting ending, but it earns several bonus points for ending with the bizarrely whispered “Arrright”.
8. Jarek isn’t a complete idiot after all?
Remember earlier when Jarek boldly rushed Sonya but ended up hurtling himself off of a mountain? Turns out he caught a Looney Tunes tree branch or something and gets to throw Sonya to her death instead. Jax pulls a Colonel Campbell before Jarek crushes the radio and laughs…with his mouth closed? What was with the sounds in this game? They recorded dialogue but still used in-game exclamations for Jarek. Oh well, whatever, this still is not the true end of this story…
An awards show and Mortal Kombat 4’s most famous ending await you on the next page!