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Choose Your Destiny
It's official: You Suck!—Shao Kahn
The Mortal Kombat series was at the height of its of popularity in The Nineties; with the huge success of the first two games, another sequel was pretty much inevitable -- and in 1995, Mortal Kombat 3 was launched. The game premiered in arcades before being ported to the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Sega Game Gear, Sony Playstation, and PC. Roughly half of the second game's cast returned (Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Sub-Zero, Shang Tsung, and Jax), Sonya and Kano returned, and several new characters -- including cyberninjas Smoke, Cyrax, and Sektor, as well as Kabal, Sheeva, Nightwolf, Kurtis Stryker, and Kitana's resurrected mother Sindel -- were introduced. Sindel's presence is the key to this game's storyline: resurrected by Shang Tsung's Shadow Priests on Earth, Sindel's presence allowed Outworld -- and Shao Kahn -- to enter Earthrealm and begin its invasion. Raiden, unable to take an active role in Earth's defense due to his status as a god, gathered Earthrealm's best remaining fighters together in order to fight back Kahn's forces and prevent a complete apocalypse.
On the gameplay side of things, Mortal Kombat 3 introduced the "Run" button (along with a "Run" meter), Kombat Kodes (which allowed the player to access secret fights and several other bonuses), chain combos (referred to as Dial-A-Combos), and debuted both Animalities and character-dependent blood.
The reception to this game was underwhelming, due in part to the new combo system and Run button, as well as the removal of fan-favorite characters Scorpion and Reptile in lieu of new characters who failed to measure up to MK2's memorable newcomers.
MK3 received two Updated Rereleases. The first -- Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (or Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate) -- brought back all the masked ninjas from the previous games (Scorpion, Reptile, Kitana, Jade, et al) and introduced Ermac. The second -- the home-console-exclusive Mortal Kombat Trilogy -- added the remainder of the missing roster, turned Goro and Kintaro into playable characters, and introduced yet another masked ninja in Khameleon. It also spawned a Spin-Off game called Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub Zero, a Beat'Em Up that would lead to two more spinoff games before the focus returned to MK's fighting game roots.
Followed by Mortal Kombat 4.
The game has examples of the following tropes:
- After the End: In 3, humanity is all but wiped out by the Outworld warriors. It's implied by the supplementary comic for 4 that it has managed to rebuild a great deal, and very quickly.
- Alien Blood: Sheeva (and Reptile, in Ultimate) bleeds green blood, while the Lin Kuei cyborgs bleed oil. Averted with Khameleon and Chameleon, although Armageddon later retconned both to have green blood a well.
- An Axe to Grind: All of the Palette Swap male ninjas use an axe in some of their combos.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Cyrax, Smoke and Sektor don't have the hair but they do have the color scheme.
- The Chooser of the One: Raiden.
- Composite Character: Due to memory limitations, the N64 version of Trilogy only features one Sub-Zero -- the masked "Classic" version with his moves, fatalities and ending, but who can also use Unmasked Sub-Zero's Ice Shower and Ice Clone moves.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Probably one of the most infamous examples is MK3 and its updates, due to the CPU reading the player's controls and countering every move. And then there are moves that simply can't be done by a human player that are done effortlessly by the CPU, such as performing Jade's projectile invulnerability on reaction or Liu Kang's Bicycle Kick twice in a row.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: The Cyberninjas. Smoke's case includes also Brainwashed and Crazy.
- Darker and Edgier: MK3 came along and was even darker than the first two games combined.
- Defeat Means Friendship... Friendship again?
- Demoted to Extra
- Raiden, who appears only in the attract sequence. He did returned for a playable appearance in Trilogy.
- Kitana shows up in Liu Kang's ending before she was made into a playable character in Ultimate.
- Dream Match Game: Trilogy is a rare American example. It follows the same basic story as Mortal Kombat 3, but includes a few characters from the first two who were missing from the Ultimate roster (namely Johnny Cage, Baraka and Raiden, plus Goro and Kintaro in the PS1 version), in addition to alternate versions of other characters. Since Johnny Cage was killed off in Mortal Kombat 3, they try to explain his presence in Trilogy by claiming that he was temporarily brought back to life so he could assist in the efforts against Shao Kahn.
- Dummied Out: Sheeva in the Super NES and Genesis versions of Ultimate, because of memory constraints that came with the cast expansion. To compensate, they added Noob Saibot and Rain (the purple ninja who only appeared in the game's attract mode) as playable characters, and eliminated the need for Ultimate Kombat Kodes to play with Ermac, Mileena and Classic Sub-Zero. However, all of Sheeva's in-game data was kept (only her sprites were removed) and they're still accessible via hacking, allowing players to control an invisible Sheeva.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Babalities in general.
- Fictional City: The unnamed Earthrealm City where the Bank, Streets, Rooftop, Subway, Waterfront, and Bridge stages are set seems to be none other than the Big Apple itself. What appears to be the Chrysler Building can be clearly seen in the background of the Bank/Rooftop stage. The backstory of Stryker and his partner Kabal in Mortal Kombat 9 confirms that this is indeed New York City.
- Late Arrival Spoiler: In Ultimate, a new stage set in a desert was added. Cyrax can be seen in the background, trapped in the sand; this is a reference to his ending.
- Lighter and Softer: Friendships and Babalities again.
- La Résistance: Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Nightwolf, Kabal, Jax, Kung Lao, and later Kitana and possibly Jade.
- The Other Darrin: None of the actors from the previous two games returned except for Richard Divizio (Kano and Baraka), John Parrish (Jax), Tony Marquez (Kung Lao) and Brian Glynn (Shao Kahn). This led to half of the returning characters being played by new actors (Kerri Hoskins, Eddie Wong, John Turk) and is partly the reason why none of the masked ninjas were in the original MK3 (since they were originally played by Dan Pesina).
- John Turk, who played the unmasked Sub-Zero and Shang Tsung, eventually got to play all the masked ninjas in Ultimate alongside Becky Gable, who replaced Katalin Zamiar as Kitana and the other female ninjas.
- Johnny Cage was the final character whose actor was replaced. Rumor has it that Midway was going to leave out Cage in Mortal Kombat Trilogy due to Creator Backlash over Dan Pesina posing in character as Cage in an ad for BloodStorm. Apparently they realized they were one character short from having the entire roster, so Chris Alexander was brought in to replace Dan Pesina.
- The Power of Friendship: Lampshaded. In response to parents complaining about the grotesque violence of the Fatality finishing moves, the second and third installments added a finishing move called Friendship, which would allow you to win the match without killing the opponent, along with showing an animation of your character doing something sickeningly friendly. Although one has to consider that Scorpion, Classic Sub-Zero, Reptile's and Ermac's UMK3 Friendships weren't very nice, since the opponent runs off scared by the jack-in-the-box and in Ermac's case, turns the poor guy into a bunny wabbit.
"Friendship! ... Friendship? AGAIN?"
- Shout-Out: Check the page.
- You Suck: Shao Kahn's taunt to the player. The iPhone version made this an achievement for losing to him 3 times in a row, as well as one called "No, You Suck!" for beating him.