In 1996, Midway Games was working on Mortal Kombat 4. Its development required Midway to create an arcade system for it — which was codenamed Zeus — but the company wanted a way to test their new hardware to ensure it could do the Mortal Kombat name justice. Their "test" was War Gods.
In the distant past, a spaceship carrying a powerful ore with the power to create life crash lands on Earth. Chunks of the Ore are scattered across the planet; over the course of human history, ten mortals find pieces of the Ore, which transforms each of them into immortal warriors. The ten have now gathered to fight over each other's pieces of the Ore.
The game's cast is comprised of:
- Warhead ~ Super Soldier who's a former best operative.
- Kabuki Jo ~ Feared Samurai who's Drunk with Power.
- Cy-5 ~ Cyborg from the year 2096.
- Pagan ~ Mistress of The Dark Arts.
- Maximus ~ Mighty Gladiator from Ancient Rome.
- Anubis ~ Grave robber turned into the famous Egyptian God.
- Voodoo ~ Witch Doctor from the Caribbean.
- Ahau Kin ~ Evil Aztec Priest.
- Vallah ~ Viking Warrior Princess.
- Tak ~ Living Stone Idol and avenger of a lost civilization.
War Gods is basically a 3D Mortal Kombat 3 clone — complete with Fatalities — which replaced the Run button with a 3D button (allowing characters to move along the Z-axis). War Gods also suffered from bad character design and annoyingly cheap AI; the home conversions of the game fare marginally better, as Midway tried its best to fix the AI. The game's developers learned from their mistakes with this game and made sure to avoid them while developing Mortal Kombat 4.
Troper, you are chosen!
- Acrofatic: Grox, the sub-boss.
- A Winner Is You: Beating the game reveals that the plot is to actually prevent an invasion and destruction of the world by Exxor, despite it being established that are the fighters are seeking to gain more power by claiming the shards of the orb. This ending applies to every character.
- Backstory: Each of the ten characters have their own backstories, and how they become immortals in process.
- Big Bad: Exor.
- Bling of War: Grox.
- Combos: The combo system is similar to Mortal Kombat 3, complete with damage percent indicator. You can pull a sequential 10-hit combo in the process.
- Combo Breaker: You can apply combo breakers in this game too.
- Defeat Means Explosion: Defeating Exxor in the last round with him results in a satisfying explosion with an epic tune to accompany it.
- Digitized Sprites: One of the rare games to use this in combination with 3D models; they photographed their actors then "wrapped" the skins around the wireframe model. The awkward implementation of this in gameplay motion presumably helped lead to the decision to make MK4 fully polygonal.
- Excuse Plot: Very blatant as the game talks about how there are pieces of the ore shattered around the world, and all the playable characters have each piece and wants to fight each other so one can collect all the pieces and become the most powerful out of the rest of them. However, the ending says that the real objective, for all the characters, had been to stop Exor from invading the earth. What?
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: This game has two gods (one Egyptian and one Norse), two witches, an Aztec high priest, a Roman gladiator, a stone idol, a samurai, a modern soldier, and a robot all beating the crap out of each other.
- Finishing Move: Aside of the usual fatalities, all the characters can end the match with a powerful uppercut or an out-of-the-ring roundhouse kick to their opponents.
- Fixed Floor Fighting
- Go Goenslavement: Grox's manner of dress.
- Heroic Second Wind: A recognized if obscure game mechanic in the game. If a player has their health drained down to "Danger" levels without inflicting damage on their opponent, then comes back to win, the announcer will declare "Comeback Victory!" after the end of the round.
- Immortality Inducer: Each playable fighter has a piece of the ore that makes them explicitly immortal. It does not quite explain how they get super powers though...
- Monster Modesty: The only thing hiding Grox's shame is a loincloth...thong...thing.
- Large and in Charge: Grox is Exor's number two for a reason. A very LARGE reason.
- Nonindicative Name: War Gods. There is no war (more like skirmishes), and no one actually becomes a god, or is a god.
- If Fridge Brilliance is any indication, the ten characters are in an all-around war between each other, and they become immortals because of the pieces of ore. This might be a subversion.
- Flawless Victory
- Playing with Fire: Kabuki Jo.
- Finish Him!: Given that it's made by the people that gave birth to the infamous "fatality" line, this is no surprise. What IS surprising is the fact that this is done between IMMORTALS!
- Recovery Attack
- Recycled IN SPACE!: It's a 3D version of Mortal Kombat 3 with 3D movement and lame character designs!
- SNK Boss: Both Grox and Exor are very hard bosses to defeat... good luck defeating them!
- Some Dexterity Required: The Fatalites are very hard to pull in the arcade version. Thankfully, got simplified in the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation ports.
- Taken for Granite: Pagan's Fatality, where she releases Medusa's head and it turns the opponent to stone before Eye Beams blow them up. Amusingly, the first part of the move doesn't work on Tak, since he's already a statue. He taunts the head until it blasts him to pieces.
- Tech Demo Game: This was released mainly to see how the game play would perform for Mortal Kombat 4.
- The Announcer: Exor, again.
- The Dragon: Grox is this to Exor.
- There Can Be Only One: All holders of the ore fight each other so they can collect all the pieces and "become the ultimate warrior or some crap like that."
- A Winner Is You: After defeating Exor, your character claims the Ore, then... that's it. You get a single-screen text blurb which doesn't even change for anyone (outside of gender pronouns) about having saved the world, then it goes right to the credits.