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Video Game / Mortal Kombat 4

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Spoilers Off for MK1, MK2, MK3 and MKM:SZ. You Have Been Warned.

"Thousands of years ago, in a battle with the fallen Elder God known as Shinnok, I was responsible for the death of an entire civilization. To rid all realms of Shinnok's menace, I waged a war that plunged the Earth into centuries of darkness and banished Shinnok to a place called the Netherrealm. Now after Shao Kahn's defeat at the hands of the Earth warriors, Shinnok has managed to escape his confines of the Netherrealm. The war is now being fought once again...only this can be won by mortals."
These are the words of Raiden.

After Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Midway decided it would venture into 3D — which gave rise to Mortal Kombat 4, released in 1997 for the Arcade, Game Boy Color, PC, PlayStation, and Nintendo 64.

Thousands of years ago, Raiden waged war against former Elder God Shinnok; this war ended an entire civilization, and Shinnok was later condemned to the Netherrealm. Bi-Han, the original Sub-Zero was deceived to free him, and years later, Shinnok allies himself with the villainous Quan Chi. With the help of Edenian traitor Tanya, the evil duo ascended to the Heavens and killed most of the Elder Gods. Raiden and the Wind God Fujin escaped, then gathered Raiden's most trustworthy allies in order to defeat Shinnok and his allies.

In order to test its "virgin" 3D engine, Midway released a "test game", War Gods, which was panned by critics and allowed Midway to learn from its mistakes before finalizing MK4. Midway changed the engine to allow only two slow movements on the z-axis (the side steps, which only worked to dodge beam-attacks), which made MK4 similar to previous games (and thus helped it to avoid hitting the Polygon Ceiling). MK4 also introduced the weapon fighting system to the franchise.


MK4 was updated with the release of Mortal Kombat Gold for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, which brought back six older characters.

The game performed well in arcades and was deemed a success, although it reached nowhere near the levels of success of its predecessors and it was clear that the glory days of Mortal Kombat were over: people were starting to lose interest in the series due to overexposure and the series' "cool-factor" having worn off. In hindsight it tends to be seen as the weakest entry in the series, and has gotten a (not quite deserved) reputation as the series' Franchise Killer.

Followed by Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.

    Character roster 
  • Returning from Mortal Kombat:
    • 4: Raiden, Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Reptile, Scorpion, Sonya Blade and Goro.
  • Returning from Mortal Kombat II:
    • 4: Sub-Zero (Kuai Liang), Jax and Noob Saibot.
    • Gold: Baraka, Kitana, Mileena and Kung Lao.
  • Returning from Mortal Kombat 3:
    • Gold: Cyrax and Sektor.
  • Debuting from Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero:
    • 4: Shinnok, Quan Chi and Fujin.
  • Newcomers:
    • 4: Tanya, Jarek, Kai, Reiko and Meat.

See also:

The game has the following trope examples:

  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Surprisingly for a 3D game with models, they would do this at changing sides.
  • Big "NEVER!": Four of the endings (actually six, but Jarek's is used in three different endings which start in the same situationnote , also Kitana's in Gold).
  • Camera Abuse: Several fatalities hurled the remains of the defeated player at the camera, bouncing off it and splattering the screen in blood.
  • Cap: Introduced to prevent players from being locked in endless combos. It could be turned off in the home versions though.
  • Captain Obvious: Baraka's ending is rife with it.
    Quan Chi: The Elder Gods are dead, Raiden is dead, and thanks to you, Shinnok is dead.
    Baraka: Everyone is dead!
    Quan Chi: Yes, everyone in this forsaken realm... is DEAD!!!
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Kitana, Jade, and Sindel don't appear in this game, even though it's set in their homeworld of Edenia (Gold somewhat rectified this by including Kitana and Mileena). Also, Noob Saibot is only a secret character, despite his presence in UMK3 foreshadowing Shinnok's return in this game.
  • Ditto Fighter: Shinnok is a Tsungxpert variety, except he doesn't transform like ol' Shang.
  • Dummied Out: Quite a few things.
    • In the original game old characters were last-minute changed for new ones. Kitana (returning in Gold) in favor of Tanya, Noob Saibot (although he's still playable via a code) in favor of Reiko and Kano in favor of Jarek. This explains why these new characters have moves/fatalities similar to the older ones, particularly noticeable in the case of Jarek, whose second fatality is shooting an eye-beam when he doesn't have a robotic eye like Kano does (and he shoots it from both eyes).
      • Kitana is playable in the Nintendo 64 version via Game Shark code; even then, she's clearly a recolor of Tanya with a different face model. Also, Noob Saibot was completed for the home releases and made into a secret character.
    • There was also a stage called Skull.
    • Gold had an unreleased character called Belokk.
    • In Gold, via Kombat Kode, it's possible to play in the Stage Selection arena, which is called "Ladder?".
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The arcade version suffered from two deadly bugs:
    • In the very first arcade release, it is possible to bring a match to an abrupt standstill if one fighter used a special ability to lift an opponent to the top of the screen, as this would put him or her too high out of reach for either to attack each other. The only way a match affected by this bug would end is via a time-over, so this bug basically softlocks the game if no time limit was imposed.
    • Performing Reptile's Acid Spit fatality against Scorpion would crash the game on Revision 3.0.
  • Have a Nice Death: Have fun with the Game Over sequence.
  • Mondegreen: The jury's still out on what Liu Kang says to Kitana at one point during his ending, but it sounds for all the world like, "But I thought you were going to lick my--".
  • Nostalgia Level: The Living Forest and Goro's Lair return, complete with rearrangements of the old BGM. Also returning are the Shaolin Temple and Wind World. The Gold release adds the Church, Soul Chamber, and a combination of Scorpion's Lair and Kahn's Kave.
  • Obvious Beta: The initial arcade release wasn't technically supposed to get out to the public because it lacked among other things, endings, the Kombo Limiter system, as well as certain characters and Fatalities.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Delivered to Jarek in Jax's ending, as Jax is holding Jarek by the neck over a cliff.
    Jarek: "You have to uphold the law! You have to arrest me! Wait! Wait! This is brutality! You can't do it!"
    Jax: "Wrong Jarek, this is not a Brutality, this is a Fatality." (The "Finish Him" music plays as Jax drops him.)
  • Revisiting the Roots: MK4 brought back most of the cast from the first two games (until some were reskinned near the end as "new" characters), the mythological Asian look after MK3 focused on Earthrealm locations and Western-oriented characters, two Nostalgia Level selections, and a bulk of the fatalities were 3D updates of classic fatalities from the first two games.
  • Self-Plagiarism: War Gods, another bloody fighting game by Midway which was pretty much a beta-test for Mortal Kombat 4.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": Characters have weapons now, mostly daggers and swords. Swords are inflicting much less damage than one would expect: for non-human characters, this is somewhat justified, but Sonya for example is a regular human, so a full contact swing of a sword should do much heavier damage to her body than it does in the game - if not outright incapacitate/kill her. Also, the bone breaker moves have no effect on the characters apart from doing some damage, as the fighters can use their (supposedly) broken limbs normally. The most extreme example is Liu Kang's, as his bonebreaker has him breaking the opponent's spine... of course the other fighter jumps back into the action after a few recovery frames.
  • Un Evil Laugh: Jarek has an odd, muffled laugh in his and Jax's endings.
  • Updated Re-release: MK Gold.

Alternative Title(s): Mortal Kombat Gold


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