Mortal Kombat Games In Order

Want to brush up on your fighting game history? Follow along as we organize all Mortal Kombat games in order of release.

Few fighting game franchises are as iconic and long-running as Mortal Kombat, which dates back over 30 years to the early 1990s arcade scene.

These days, the franchise is primarily handled by NetherRealm Studios and its leader, Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon.

In this list, we’ll discuss the franchise’s history at length while compiling a list of all Mortal Kombat games in order of release.

We hope you enjoy the ride!

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The original Mortal Kombat was released in arcades in 1992 by Midway Games and would be ported to home consoles a year later.

In it, fighters from around the world as well as other realms gather to compete in a high-stakes martial arts tournament on Shang Tsung’s Island for control of the Earthrealm.

The game features a roster of seven playable fighters, each with a unique moveset and Fatality that sees them ruthlessly destroying their opponent.

Following its release, Mortal Kombat would go on to become the most popular arcade cabinet of 1992 and propel the series into popular culture.

A year later, Midway returned with a sequel, Mortal Kombat II, which sought to improve the gameplay and mythos surrounding the original.

This included expanding the roster of fighters with now-iconic characters like Kitana, Mileena, Kung Lao, Noob Saibot, and recurring villain Shao Kahn.

The story carries on from the first Mortal Kombat, with participants gathering to compete in a new tournament set in the realm of Outworld.

Upon release, Mortal Kombat II was met with universal acclaim and commercial success despite sparking a major controversy due to its depiction of graphic violence.

It would be two years before the third game in the series, Mortal Kombat 3, was released in arcades before making its way to home consoles.

The game features 14 playable fighters, one secret fighter, a new combo system, and a host of new Fatality finishing moves that included Animalities.

Ditching the tournament storyline of its predecessors, Mortal Kombat 3 sees characters joining forces to defeat Shao Kahn after he returns with his resurrected bride Sindel to invade Earthrealm.

Yet again, the formula proved to be a smash hit as the game was met with both positive reviews and commercial success.

Positioned as a standalone update to MK3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 introduces new gameplay systems, features, and playable characters.

The most notable were returning favorites Kitana and Scorpion, who were previously missing from MK3’s roster and had their movesets altered to keep gameplay balanced.

Additionally, two new modes were added: a 2-on-2 versus mode and a new 8-player tournament mode with an extra Master difficulty option.

These upgrades resulted in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 being well-received and considered a high point for the series, still to this day.

The second and final update to MK3 came a year later in the form of the Mortal Kombat Trilogy, released exclusively for PC and home consoles.

Bridging the game between previous games, it took the gameplay and story of Ultimate MK3 and combined it with the characters and stages from MK and MKII.

Additional new features such as the Aggressor bar and Brutality mechanic from the console version of Ultimate MK3 were incorporated as well.

Upon release, Mortal Kombat Trilogy was met with positive to mixed reviews depending on the version, with critics favoring the N64 version over the PS1.

Next up on our list of all Mortal Kombat games in order is Mortal Kombat 4, the first entry to feature 3D graphics as well as the last in the series to receive an arcade release.

Building off of the bold and bloody combat of previous games, it adds new interactive weapons and objects for players to use during fights as one of 17 playable characters.

Plot-wise, MK4 chronicles the conflict between Elder God Shinnok and his former comrades who trapped him in the Netherealm prior to the events of the series’ story.

The game’s release was met with favorable reviews as critics were left impressed by Midway’s ability to incorporate 3D graphics into the franchise’s traditional 2D fighting format.

Billed as both a spin-off and prequel to the series, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero is the first non-traditional fighting game in the franchise.

Set before the events of the original, it sees players controlling Bi-Han, the elder Sub-Zero, while on a quest to find Shinnok’s amulet.

While best described as an action-adventure title, Mythologies does leverage some of MK’s controls and 2D fighting mechanics throughout its gameplay.

Regardless of its classification, the game was ultimately met with mixed to negative reviews, with some critics even citing it as one of the worst games in the franchise.

The next game in the series would be Mortal Kombat Gold, an updated version of MK4 developed by Eurocom exclusively for Dreamcast’s launch lineup.

As such, gameplay was largely unchanged but did include several new characters and stages not originally present in MK4.

Additionally, MK Gold introduces a new weapon selection mechanism for quick access and expanded combo potential during battles.

Unfortunately, these quality-of-life improvements weren’t enough to make up for the game’s inferior graphics compared to arcade releases, as well as a host of game-breaking bugs.

Following the turn of the 21st Century, Midway released their second MK spin-off with Mortal Kombat: Special Forces for the original PlayStation.

Best described as a beat ‘em up prequel to the franchise, it sees players controlling Jax as he pursues criminal leader Kano and his gang.

The game underwent an especially tricky development cycle as series co-creator John Tobias and various other staff members left Midway before it could be completed.

This no doubt played a role in Special Forces’ lack of content, poor level design, and tedious gameplay which resulted in it being panned by critics.

Mortal Kombat’s transition to handheld was just as rocky as the Game Boy Advance’s hardware placed severe limitations on the fighter’s controls and gameplay.

While based on the SNES port of the first game, Mortal Kombat Advance features altered special move inputs to account for the handheld’s reduced number of buttons.

Additionally, the decision was made to tone down the amount of violence and blood due to the GBA’s relatively younger install base.

These changes were not met favorably as many critics issued extremely low scores and dubbed the game a massive failure.

Taking all of its criticism in stride, Midway would make a comeback a year later with the release of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, the first home console exclusive in the series.

Positioned as a direct sequel to MK4, the game’s story sees Quan Chi and Shang Tsung attempting to revive an ancient army to conquer both Outworld and Earthrealm.

Despite featuring an expansive 21-character roster with two bonus secret fighters, Deadly Alliance is the first entry to include series protagonist Liu Kang as a playable character.

With that said, the game was still well-received by critics and fans, with many considering it a return to form for the beloved franchise.

Still hot off the success of Deadly Alliance, Midway took another crack at developing a GBA version along with a second, enhanced game titled Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition.

The main purpose of this was to add characters such as Sektor, Noob Saibot, and Sareena, that had previously been omitted or otherwise didn’t appear in other versions.

In addition, Tournament Edition features three new moves: Survival, Tag Team, and Practice, alongside new weapon-based Fatalities and 3D-style gameplay.

These innovations led to an overall much better handheld adaptation of the series’ gameplay that garnered more favorable reviews compared to other handheld entries.

Continuing the storyline set forth by Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception sees the Dragon King Onaga returning to conquer all realms after defeating Quan Chi, Shang Tsung, and Raiden.

Standing in his way are a host of surviving warriors who band together to confront Onaga before he can carry out his villainous plans.

Arguably one of the most ambitious entries in the series, Deception features a 26-character roster with 9 new fighters in addition to new gameplay systems, mini-games, and online multiplayer.

As such, it’s considered one of the best Mortal Kombat games of all time and has received several awards since its release.

Yet another spin-off to the main series, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is a beat ’em up-inspired action game set in an alternate timeline between MK1 and MKII.

In it, players assume control of Liu Kang and Kung Lao as they set out to defend Earthrealm from the forces of Outworld.

Hoping to appeal to existing fans, Shaolin Monks incorporates several elements from the fighting games, including Fatalities, combos, and a dedicated versus mode.

As such, it’s without a doubt the most well-received MK spin-off to date and has gone on to sell over one million copies.

Serving as a sequel to Deception and the final chapter in the original MK storyline, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon features nearly every character that appeared in the series up until that point.

As such, players are tasked with choosing a fighter to battle their way through a selection of other combatants to determine the fate of the universe.

Gameplay carries over the tried-and-true MK formula while introducing new character and Fatality customization along with a new Konquest story and Motor Kombat racing mini-game.

Armageddon was well-received following its release, with critics praising its expansive character roster and new Konquest narrative.

Our next stop on this list of all Mortal Kombat games in order is Mortal Kombat: Unchained, an enhanced version of Deception developed exclusively for the PlayStation Portable.

It features all the characters present in the GameCube version in addition to four new exclusive ones: Blaze, Frost, Jax, and Kitana.

On top of that, Unchained includes an exclusive Endurance mode where players compete against back-to-back waves of enemies while also supporting wireless multiplayer.

Unfortunately, Unchained didn’t fare as well as its console counterpart, receiving average to mixed reviews upon release.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is notable for being the last entry released before Midway went bankrupt and sold the franchise to Warner Bros.

Additionally, it’s the first full-on crossover game in the franchise, pitting MK’s roster of warriors against DC Universe heroes and villains.

In it, simultaneous attacks from both Raiden and Superman cause villains Shao Kahn and Darkseid to merge, in turn overlapping the two universes and strengthening or weakening each character.

As far-fetched of a premise as it was, the game went over relatively well with critics and fans, netting mixed to positive reviews from various outlets.

Considered a reboot of the franchise, 2011’s Mortal Kombat sought to retcon the series’ timeline by having Raiden alter the outcome of Armageddon by contacting his past self.

Having been enlightened by this premonition, past Raiden manages to change the course of events as they appear throughout MK1-3.

Harkening back to the series’ 2D roots, Mortal Kombat employs a two-dimensional playing field while maintaining the 3D graphical style of later entries.

While bold by design, this fresh approach to the franchise’s now-decades-old legacy would garner critical acclaim and worldwide commercial success.

Picking up the remnants of a previously canceled HD remake project, Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection compiles three classic entries in the series: MK1, MK2, and Ultimate MK3.

In contrast to the original project’s ambitious scope, the collection features very minor changes to each included game.

The most notable additions were online multiplayer support, pause menus, in-game achievements, and the ability to use unlockable characters online by default.

There’s not much else to say about this compilation other than it received generally mixed or average reviews.

Mortal Kombat X is the sequel to 2011’s MK reboot and takes place 25 years in the future across 12 chapters, each focusing on a different character’s role in Outworld’s civil war.

Gameplay borrows elements from other games, such as the X-Ray energy meter from MK (2011) and interactive environments based on Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Additionally, each character has three variations to pick from that introduce unique movesets or weapon fighting styles.

While the console versions of MKX were met with critical acclaim, the PC version didn’t fare as well, with several reviewers citing an overwhelming number of technical issues.

Released as a tie-in for Mortal Kombat X, Mortal Kombat Mobile is a mobile-exclusive fighter developed by NetherRealm Studios.

Unlike most spin-offs in the franchise’s history, it sticks close to the MK formula, employing many of the same mechanics and graphical elements as MKX.

This includes the Energy Meter, X-Ray special moves, and a star-studded roster of new and familiar MK fighters.

Despite its efforts to mirror the main series, Mortal Kombat Mobile ended up having a mixed reception among gaming critics.

Building off of more recent entries in the series, Mortal Kombat 11 throws new Fatal Blows and Krushing Blows in the mix of death-dealing tools at players’ disposal.

This is further complemented by a plot that sees Shinnok’s mother and keeper of time Kronika rewriting history to undo Raiden’s interference in the series’ timeline.

Drawing inspiration from Injustice 2’s gear system, MK11 features expanded character customization in which players can equip new skins, gear, and moves to their favorite fighters.

Following its release, the game was met with favorable reviews regarding its gameplay, story, and graphics while criticized for its microtransactions and grindy progression.

In order to bring MK11 to the next generation of consoles, NetherRealm released Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate, an updated version with 4K support and all previously released DLC included.

The main highlight here is the Aftermath Expansion, which continues MK11’s storyline while adding three new characters, stages, stage Fatalities, and friendship finishing moves.

There are two endings to Aftermath’s storyline, one “good” and one “bad,” depending on whether players choose to fight as Liu Kang or Shang Tsung during the final battle.

While this version is considered a notable improvement over the original in terms of content, many of the monetization issues that were called out in MK11 persist.

Due out sometime in 2023, Mortal Kombat: Onslaught is another mobile game spin-off with beat ‘em up-inspired gameplay.

Set in an alternate timeline between MKX and M11, it sees players embarking on a new cinematic adventure with fully realized combat in line with the main series.

It’s reported that Onslaught will be free-to-play and support online multiplayer battling following its release.

In addition to a new mobile game, an upcoming sequel to MK11 is currently in development at NetherRealm Studios.

While not officially announced by the developer, studio head Ed Boon confirmed that MK12’s reveal will “likely,” happen in the next six months back in December 2022.

If that ends up being the case, we can expect an official MK12 announcement by June 2023 at the latest.

Make sure to check back in the future for new developments regarding Mortal Kombat 12’s release date.

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Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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