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The battle raged at the end of the first tournament. The forces of Earthrealm were facing their greatest challenge...
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is an action game released in 2005. Based on the events that occurred at the end of Mortal Kombat leading into Mortal Kombat II and its final confrontation with Shao Kahn, players take on the role of Liu Kang and Kung Lao as they fight to defend Earthrealm.
The story begins with Earthrealm's warriors battling for their lives against Outworld's forces on Shang Tsung's island fortress. Liu Kang eventually confronts the sorcerer and gains the upper hand against only for Goro to enter the fray. Distracted by the new threat Shang Tsung is able to open a portal to outworld and retreats with his evil allies as the fortress begins to crumble around them. Eventually escaping Liu Kang and Kung Lao eventually find the Wu Shu Academy under attack from Baraka and his Tarkata. Defeating them the duo eventually decide to meet the threat head on, despite the odds, and battle through Outworld itself to face Shao Kahn in person.
The game was welcomed by fans and critics alike for being an enjoyable fatality-filled action beat 'em up; no doubt in part to the last two Spin-Off games, Mythlogies and Special Forces, being less than stellar.
Whilst the gameplay and bloodshed was greeted with joy, many story elements were not. Kung Lao's character was now arrogant and Hot Blooded, jealous of Liu Kang becoming champion and no longer the reluctant warrior of his original introduction. Many established canon story elements and characters were now changed or completely altered, i.e, a certain character (Jade) is killed off by the heroes even when, in normal canon, they join the good guys and turn out to be kinda important in other games. Whether the game was intended as a Broad Strokes approach to the story, a Retcon, an Alternate Continuity or simply a case of Midway Games not knowing their own continuity is up for debate. Needless to say the fans have their own opinions on the matter.
Tropes found in this game:
- Bonus Boss: The player has the option of fighting Kano before leaving to fight Shang Tsung, Kintaro and Shao Kahn. Doing so and winning the upcoming fight results in Kano's Cruel and Unusual Death (by being dismembered offscreen, presumably by Kintaro) and Jax first joining the fight itself as an allied NPC, then taking Sonya back to Earthrealm. Otherwise, Sonya and Kano will be seen in the background of the arena during the last fights, like in the original MKII.
- Ermac can also be challenged in the Warrior Shrine, and a return trip to the Living Forest can net the player a second fight with Mileena.
- Chekhov's Skill: Shang Tsung's shapeshifting abilities are useful not only in fights, but to impersonate Raiden (and Liu Kang, albeit only once) through a good part of the game. Liu Kang and Kung Lao are fooled until Jax shows up and tells them that Raiden has been with him all along, guiding him through Outworld so he can rescue Sonya.
- Dragged Off to Hell: The ultimate fate of Scorpion.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Kung Lao disguises himself as a guard at first, but drops it at the start of the game to save Liu Kang. when he's overwhelmed by the enemy.
- Shang Tsung turns out to have done this, via disguising himself as Raiden. (And at least once as Liu Kang himself.)
- Eye Scream: After disabling Kitana with a punch to the face, Liu Kang kills Jade by stabbing her in the eyes with Mileena's sai. Yes, it was both completely unnecessary and completely hilarious.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Ermac is crushed by the same boulder he planned to use to crush the heroes. In fact his psychic concentration is broken when another boulder her threw at them is kicked right back at him.
- Hypnotize the Princess: Literally, as Kitana gets brainwashed by Shao Kahn and sent as an enemy with Jade and Mileena. The best way to deal with her is to immobilize and keep her in a specific trap, where two chained dragons will focus their powers in debrainwashing her. Mileena and Jade won't make it easy, however.
- Load-Bearing Boss: In the opening cutscene, Shang Tsung's defeat brings his entire fortress crumbling down around the Earthrealm warriors.
- Killer Rabbit : Kung Lao can literally pull one from his Nice Hat , and either use it to beat the enemy to death... or give it to the enemy and then watch the bun-bun bite the other to death. In the second case, the Fatality will end with the rival's head exploding and the bunny staring at the corpse in the most hilariously creepy way .
- I Know You Are in There Somewhere Fight: Subverted towards the end. At some point Raiden appears and attacks the heroes, and Liu Kang tries to speak to him... But it's not Raiden to begin with, but Shang Tsung in disguise.
- Metroidvania A hybrid of this, Beat-em-ups, and Mortal Kombat's over-the-top gore.
- No Kill Like Overkill: This being Mortal Kombat, there are several candidates and all but Kintaro's death is gloriously over the top. All four arms torn off, then his head for good measure. The player can then throw the victim's head at Shao Kahn afterwards when they fight him, and in fact it does a decent damage.
- Nostalgia Level: Many of the levels are based on the classic stages from the first two games. Justified since it's a retelling of MKII.
- Obvious Trap: Shang Tsung is blatantly trying to goad Liu Kang and his allies into entering Outworld, where they will be vulnerable and likely fail to save the kidnapped Sonya. So of course they take the bait and decide to fight against the odds. To be fair, it's not like they can do anything else.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Kung Lao makes his personal mission to tease the Hell outta Liu Kang due to his hilariously obvious Love at First Sight for Kitana. Liu Kang is not impressed.
- Ship Tease: Liu Kang and Kitana, as said above. Kung Lao lampshades it eagerly whenever he can. He confronts her about the matter at the end of the game, then she plays dumb about it but it's pretty clear that she likes him back. The fact that Johnny immediately starts complaing about her choosing Liu Kang doesn't help.
- Shout-Out: This way.
- The Starscream: Shang Tsung disguised as Raiden manipulates Liu Kang and Kung Lao into going into Outworld and killing many so that he can take their souls, giving him enough power to betray Shao Kahn and become ruler of Outworld. Unfortunately for him, Shao Kahn is fully aware of Shang Tsung's attempt at treachery. However, the emperor lets the Sorcerer proceed with the plans anyway, then watches as the heroes defeat the sorcerer, ending his plans of betrayal. As Shao Kahn would say "All in this realm serve my will, even those who would betray me."
- X Meets Y: Mortal Kombat meets God of War.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: How Kung Lao and Liu Kang are depicted here. Mostly from Kung Lao's part, but Liu Kang gets pretty peeved at him too. Shang Tsung tries to take advantage of the sour parts of the trope by, disguised as Raiden, making each guy believe that the other has either gone crazy or is about to betray him...
- What the Hell, Hero?: Kitana's reaction to Liu Kang killing Jade. Once he and Kung Lao explain what actually happened, she decides to redirect her rage towards Shao Kahn.
- When Trees Attack: The Living Forest is here, and this time, the player actually can feed their enemies to the trees. It's actually required to do in order to progress, but it can be done as much as the player likes. However, if the character runs out of health in the area, THEY will be fed to the trees.