Mortal Monday #2: Rumor Has It

While the Mortal Kombat series isn’t necessarily surrounded by a larger swirl of rumors than any other video game franchise, what makes it unique is the way the developers stay tuned into the whispers and speculation of its fans and sometimes make those rumors a reality in later games in the series. Here are a few of the more noteworthy examples of this.

The Ninjas In Red
While Reptile himself was the source of much gossip in the original MK, fueled by his unexplained appearance, the inability to play as him, and the very obtuse requirements that had to be met in order to face him, it was a coloring glitch that sometimes occurred when players faced him that eventually spawned a whole new character. Occasionally, Reptile would appear red instead of his usual green color. The developers discovered the source of the glitch, and it was given the error message “Error Macro”. As a result, in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 another color-clad ninja was created, this time in a red outfit, and by combining the two words of MK1‘s Reptile error code the character was named “Ermac”. In Mortal Kombat II, a similar glitch that sometimes turned Kitana’s outfit from blue to red – which many fans began to refer to as a separate character named “Scarlett” – eventually led to the creation of the character Skarlet, who made her debut in MK9.

Skarlet (not Scarlett)

Feed the Trees
After the popularity of MK1‘s Pit level, which allowed players to uppercut a foe off of a walkway and down onto a bed of spikes, the developers decided to up the ante for MK2 by introducing three new stage-specific finishing moves – a spiked ceiling, a pool of acid, and a long drop onto a hard concrete floor below. However, players began to talk of a fourth stage fatality, this one in the Living Forest stage. The stage gets its title due to the spooky faces on the trees that open and close ominously as characters fight in front of them. The rumor went that you could knock your opponent into the mouth of one of the trees, where he would be eaten alive. This was, of course, completely false. As a nod to that particular MK legend, though, the developers of the excellent action/adventure spin-off game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks decided to include that very option in its own Living Forest level, allowing players to knock enemies into the hungry mouths on the faces of the trees.

Blaze Like A Boss
MK2‘s backgrounds had a lot more going on besides tree-people, all of which led to their own rumors. Though Sonya and Kano didn’t make it into MK2 after it was determined they were the least popular MK1 fighters, they are seen chained up in the background of Khan’s Arena (most likely to get the rumor mill churning about their inclusion as secret characters in the game – which they were not). In the way-way background of the Pit II, a fighter’s torso is ablaze (could his competitor be Scorpion?), which led fans to nicknaming him “Blaze” and – you guessed it – speculating that he was a hidden character. In fact, he wouldn’t come to life as a real fighter until Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, and later the final boss in Mortal Kombat: Armaggedon. Not a bad career arc for a character who began life as a (false) rumor.