Raiden (properly pronounced RAY-den) has always been a key figure in Mortal Kombat lore. It appears that with the upcoming Mortal Kombat X, the trend will continue with Raiden once again playing a featured role in the game’s story. So I figured that it might be a good time to revisit the story of the thunder god himself.
Raiden is the god of thunder and the protector of Earthrealm. He is part of the pantheon of Elder Gods; incredibly powerful beings who monitor the state of the universe. As protector of Earthrealm he oversees and mentors the Earthrealm fighters as they prepare for each mortal kombat tournament. Of course, Raiden himself also participates in these tournaments on behalf of Earthrealm, usually with his immortality or soul on the line. While Liu Kang is usually viewed as the primary protagonist in the Mortal Kombat universe, it’s typically Raiden’s guidance that helps him achieve ultimate victory.
During the first three installments of the Mortal Kombat franchise, Raiden is positioned as the chief mentor of all the forces of good on the Earthrealm side of the fighting. By Mortal Kombat III, Raiden’s story begins to heavily involve the pantheon of Elder Gods. During the third installment of the game he begs for help from his Elder God brethren in defeating Shao Kahn, only to be ignored. It’s then that Raiden begins to grow weary of the pantheon.
During Mortal Kombat IV, and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Raiden continues to protect Earthrealm by participating in the tournament and assisting the Earthrealm forces in their training. During Mortal Kombat: Deception however, Raiden is tricked into sacrificing himself to save Earthrealm. It is discovered that Shujinko, a warrior from Earthrealm, had been at fault for the disaster that forced Raiden to sacrifice himself. Raiden would return, filled with anger and hate for the mortals of Earthrealm who pushed the world so close to annihilation.
This new dark Raiden sets about protecting Earthrealm much more fiercely and violently than before. He uses dark magics to resurrect Liu Kang and fill him with power. Liu Kang is given the task of annihilating any mortal who would threaten Earthrealm’s safety.
Mortal Kombat 9 uses a plot device wherein a version of Raiden who had yet to participate in the events of Mortal Kombat I, was able to see future events. In this sense, Mortal Kombat 9 acts as a reboot of the series and of Raiden. He begins the game as Raiden, Elder God, god of thunder, and protector of Earthrealm. He is able to see glimpses of the events that take place in previous games so that he may correct the path of things in his current timeline. In this way Raiden is freed of his dark Raiden persona and is returned to his natural state. Mortal Kombat 9 takes Raiden through a retelling of the events of Mortal Kombat I, Mortal Kombat II, and Mortal Kombat III.
As we get ready for the release of Mortal Kombat X, we see Raiden in a moment of peace. Shao Kahn has been defeated, timelines have been corrected, and Earthrealm is safe. Things are not as peaceful as they seem though, with an ancient evil lurking in the shadows.
As a quick aside, if you’re excited about Mortal Kombat X I’d highly recommend playing through Mortal Kombat 9 as I can only assume that the story in the latest installment of the game will tie directly into the events of the previous one. Also, Mortal Kombat 9 is just a great game anyway.