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"You have been chosen to represent Earth in Mortal Kombat. Be warned. Although your souls are protected against Shao Kahn's evil; your lives are not. I cannot interfere any longer as your Earth is now ruled by the Outworld Gods."
The Mortal Kombat series was at the height of its of popularity in the mid-90s; 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 spinoff 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.
It's implied that Earthrealm's victory over Shao Kahn undid all the massive soul-snatching, thus bringing the humans back to their due places (especially considering that basically 99.9999% of them were not kombatants).
A.I. Breaker: In the CD versions of Trilogy the AI, even on the hardest difficulty, is hilariously susceptible to Rain's Mind Control Orb into Lightning Bolt combo (Or Mind Control Orb into high kick for the bosses.)
Alien Blood: Sheeva (and Reptile, in Ultimate) both bleed green blood, while the Lin Kuei cyborgs bleed oil. Averted with Khameleon and Chameleon, although Armageddon later retconned both to have green blood as well.
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.
Raiden, who appears only in the attract sequence. He returned as a playable character in Trilogy.
Kitana shows up in Liu Kang's ending before she was made into a playable character in Ultimate.
Divergent Character Evolution: Played straight with the unmasked Sub-Zero and robot version of Smoke in the original MK3 and then subverted with the addition of their masked variants in Ultimate (as far as their character designs are concerned).
Double Unlock: One Kombat Kode simply prints "Hold Flipper Buttons During Casino Run" on the screen. Any normal player would be baffled as to what "Casino Run" is, but some people would figure out that it means "play the almost completely unrelated pinball game Jack*Bot and hold the flippers at the start of "Casino Run"... sometimes".
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.
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.
Though, in the original game's case, it could also have been Chicago, where Midway was based.
Gory Discretion Shot: Scorpion and Classic Sub-Zero both have a fatality that cuts to black. Scorpion summons about 20 clones to brutally do god knows what to an opponent, while Sub-Zero's spine rip is not shown for a more practical reason; the game didn't have an existing spine rip animation in MK3, so this was a way around it when it came to UMK3.
La Résistance: Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Nightwolf, Kabal, Jax, Kung Lao, and later Kitana and possibly Jade.
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.
Mercy Rewarded: Show mercy on your opponent with a specific button combination and you can use an Animality on them instead.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Brutalities, the new finishers in the 16-bit versions of Ultimate and in Trilogy: they consist of the winner assaulting the loser with a 20-something hit combo before finishing with an uppercut that explodes the enemy into the trademark Ludicrous Gibs.
No Ontological Inertia: Defeating Shao Kahn is implied to reverse the damage, deaths and resurrections caused by the invasion.
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?"
Same Character, but Different: In vanilla MK3, Noob Saibot can be fought, but in a far cry from his original incarnation, he was an all-black palette swap of Kano. He used Kano's combos and could move very quickly, but had no special moves at all. Ultimate returned him to being a proper ninja, though still with no specials.
Tournament Arc: Averted. This time, Shao Kahn is simply invading Earthrealm without a Mortal Kombat tournament.