Mortal Kombat is an American video game franchise created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. The first four renditions and their updates were developed by Midway Games and initially released on arcade machines, and later to home console and computer systems. The arcade titles were later picked up by Acclaim Entertainment for the home console conversions. Beginning with Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Midway Games exclusively created home versions of Mortal Kombat up until Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Following Midway’s bankruptcy, the franchise was picked up by Warner Bros. in July 2009 and became a part of the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
The development of the first game was originally based on an idea of making a video game starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, but that idea fell through and a science fantasy-themed fighting game titled Mortal Kombat was created instead and released in 1993. The original game has spawned many sequels and has been spun off into several action-adventure games, films (animated and live-action with its own sequel), and television series (animated and live-action). Other spin-offs include various comic book series, a card game and a live-action tour. Along with Capcom’s Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat has become one of the most successful and influential fighting franchises in the history of video games.
The series takes place in a fictional universe consisting of eighteen surviving realms which, according to in-game backstories, were created by the Elder Gods. The Mortal Kombat: Deception manual described the six realms as: “Earthrealm, home to such legendary heroes as Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, and Jax, and also under the protection of the Thunder God Raiden; Netherrealm, the fiery depths of which are inhospitable to all but the most vile, a realm of demons and shadowy warriors; Outworld, a realm of constant strife which Emperor Shao Kahn claims as his own; Seido, The Realm of Order, whose inhabitants prize structure and order above all else; The Realm of Chaos, whose inhabitants do not abide by any rules whatsoever, and where constant turmoil and change are worshipped; and Edenia, which is known for its beauty, artistic expression, and the longevity of its inhabitants.” The Elder Gods decreed that the denizens of one realm could only conquer another realm by defeating the defending realm’s greatest warriors in ten consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments.
The first Mortal Kombat game takes place in Earthrealm (Earth) where seven different warriors with their own reasons for entering participated in the tournament with the eventual prize being the continued freedom of their realm, threatened with a takeover by Outworld. Among the established warriors were Liu Kang, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade. With the help of the Thunder God Raiden, the Earthrealm warriors were victorious and Liu Kang became the new champion of Mortal Kombat. In Mortal Kombat II, unable to deal with his minion Shang Tsung’s failure, Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn lures the Earthrealm warriors to the Outworld where the Earthrealm warriors eventually defeat Shao Kahn. By the time of Mortal Kombat 3, Shao Kahn revives Edenia’s (now a part of his Outworld domain) former queen Sindel in Earthrealm, combining it with Outworld as well. He then attempts to invade Earthrealm but is ultimately defeated by the Earthrealm warriors again. After Kahn’s defeat, Edenia was freed from Kahn’s grasp and returned to a peaceful realm, ruled by Princess Kitana. The following game, Mortal Kombat 4, features the former elder god Shinnok attempting to conquer the realms and attempting to kill the thunder god Raiden. However, he is also defeated by the Earthrealm warriors.
In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, the evil sorcerers Quan Chi and Shang Tsung join forces to conquer the realms and subsequently become the main antagonists. By Mortal Kombat: Deception, after several fights, the sorcerers emerge victorious having killed most of Earthrealms’ warriors until Raiden steps forth to oppose them. The Dragon King Onaga, who had been freed by Reptile at the end of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, had deceived Shujinko, the protagonist of Mortal Kombat: Deception, into searching for six pieces of Kamidogu, the source of Onaga’s power. Onaga then confronted the alliance of Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi and thus obtained Quan Chi’s amulet, the final piece of his power, becoming the antagonist. Only a few warriors remained to combat against the Dragon King and his forces. Shujinko eventually triumphed over the Dragon King and removed his threat to the Mortal Kombat universe.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon the catastrophe known as Armageddon starts. Centuries before the first Mortal Kombat, Queen Delia foretold the realms would be destroyed in an event known as Armageddon. King Argus had his sons, Taven, the protagonist of the game, and Daegon, put into incubation who would one day be awakened to save the realms from Armageddon. In the end, however, because Blaze’s design has been corrupted by Onaga’s holy men, Taven’s victory over Blaze does not destroy the combatants or strip them of their powers, instead increasing the powers of the fighters, potentially exacerbating the onset of Armageddon. As a result, Taven will make it his duty as a new god to delay Armageddon until a solution can be found.
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