A fighting game's plot can only go so far until someone hits the reset button. Let's take a look at this recent phenomenon in Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and other series.
Fighting game stories are an interesting piece of the genre’s puzzle. While some players might think they’re unnecessary, story campaigns actually give these games their distinct personalities. Plot links the characters and adds interesting layers to their relationships besides just punching each other, it gives the player a reason to finish the game with every character, and it leads to interesting pieces of lore, many of which have inspired movies and comics.
But many of these series have been out for decades. What happens when their stories and continuities get too unruly? Especially when it comes to fighting games, the stories and retcons to those stories become so convoluted that developers decide to just go back to square one. Yet, even those timeline reboots aren’t so simple.
As fighting games head onto a new generation of platforms, here are some ways in which the biggest franchises have hit restart on their continuities over the years:
After a popular opening trilogy, and an unpopular initial attempt to transfer its style to 3D, Mortal Kombat reinvented itself. The PS2 era of games tried a different engine, an expansion of the mythos, and the introduction of many new characters who weren’t nearly as popular as those from the original trilogy. While Kenshi and Frost caught on, most others have simply fallen into obscurity.
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By the time we got to Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, which featured the series’ entire playable cast up to that point, the series had gone a little too off-course. The next canon game in the series, Mortal Kombat (otherwise known as Mortal Kombat 9 or Mortal Kombat 2011 for simplicity’s sake), was all about bringing the series back to its roots. Armageddon featured the entire roster fighting it out for ultimate power, and the winner turned out to be the villainous Shao Kahn. In a last-ditch effort to save reality from Kahn’s wrath, Raiden sent a mysterious message back to his younger self: “He must win!”
From there, Mortal Kombat 9 became a more detailed retelling of the original three games, but with a few alterations due to Raiden’s attempts to prevent the dark future. Lots of characters died and the repercussions were felt in its sequel, Mortal Kombat X. That game jumped forward about 20 years and established new characters and relationships that were far more popular than the PS2 games.
Then Mortal Kombat 11 happened and things got nuts. The titan Kronika could control the flow of time and used her abilities to throw a bunch of characters from Mortal Kombat II into the present. Lots of fun interactions happened between warriors and their time-displaced counterparts, but by the end of the story, it led to yet ANOTHER reboot of the timeline.
While the bad ending of Mortal Kombat 11 has Shang Tsung conquering the multiverse, the good version has Liu Kang (now a god) controlling the timeline and going back 500 years to prevent Goro from becoming Mortal Kombat champion. Kind of puts a damper on everyone’s character development, but okay.
Samurai Shodown continuity is weird because it’s just a bunch of extremely skilled people with dangerous weapons trying to kill each other, but barely anyone ever dies. In fact, these characters go through the motions of fighting each other to the not-quite-death over and over while the actual threats build up off-screen. For instance, you’ll be racking up wins as Haohmaru, and every now and then a cutscene will introduce some demonic entity powering up elsewhere. Then said entity will eventually cross paths with Haohmaru, lose, and Haohmaru will move on with his life.
The chronology of these games are all over the place though, even though many of the games feel so similar. After SNK made the first two entries, the studio decided that the third and fourth should take place BEFORE the second. And Samurai Shodown V is the first chronological chapter in the story for some reason.
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SNK brought the series back in 2019, presenting it as a new beginning for the franchise, a fresh start. But no, instead it just takes place in between Samurai Shodown V and the original Samurai Shodown. Did I mention that the 2019 game is also just called Samurai Shodown?
And now there’s blood coming out of my ears.
Maybe it doesn’t truly count as a reboot, but SNK really loves saying, “Wait, no! That’s not the first time these warriors have tried and failed to kill each other!”
Killer Instinct was a pretty big deal when it came out in 1994, which is why it’s so surprising the original only got one sequel. The game was so impressive it was billed as a big fighting game title for the upcoming Nintendo “Ultra 64” console but that never ended up happening. The arcade game was eventually ported to the SNES, while Killer Instinct 2 eventually made it onto the N64 in 1996.
The original game revolved around a fighting tournament run by Ultratech, the stupidest fictional evil corporation ever. I mean, we’ve seen movies like Aliens, RoboCop 2, Jurassic World, etc. where greedy corporations accidentally unleash some horror beyond their control. Ultratech is like all of them put together, with each division specializing in a different apocalyptic ticking timebomb. They created killer robots, genetically-engineered the return of dinosaurs, resurrected the dead, turned a convict into a fire elemental, kidnapped an alien and antagonized the hell out of him, and unsealed an ancient evil that had been magically locked away.
Thankfully, a special agent and her long-lost ninja brother saved the world. Then they all went back in time and fought barbarians and a gargoyle god. Man, time machines, too? Ultratech really is the worst when it comes to meddling in God’s domain.
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After developer Rare split from Nintendo, fans went a long, long time without another installment of Killer Instinct. That is, until 2013, when Rare brought back the series, with a new free-to-play installment on the Xbox One. Jago was free, but everything else would cost you money.
With new takes on older character designs and a setup where fighters would trickle onto the roster over time, it made sense to just start the story over from square one. The first season brought back seven of the classic characters from the first game with a fresh, modernized coat of paint over them, along with one new character.
Over the next few seasons, the updated nostalgia acted as the carrot on the stick. As time marched on, every single character from the first two Killer Instinct games would get reintroduced, alongside new fighters and even a few guest characters.
The Soul Calibur games have what I call “The Freddy Krueger Problem.” Each installment follows characters who want to destroy a supernatural threat. The problem is that the threat is the bread and butter of the series. You can’t fully destroy Freddy Krueger if you plan to make more Nightmare on Elm Street movies. You can’t fully destroy the Soul Edge if you plan to make more Soul Calibur games.
After Soul Edge and four installments of Soul Calibur, Bandai Namco decided to liven things up by jumping forward about 15 years with Soul Calibur V. This attempt at introducing a new generation of heroes and villains flopped hard. For a while, it looked like the game’s failure had killed the series.
Then we got to Soul Calibur VI, which included a story mode called Chronicle of Souls. It was a really cool take on a fighting game story mode, spanning all of the games up to Soul Calibur IV. While there was a streamlined retelling of the first Soul Calibur’s plot centered around Kilik, Xianghua, and Maxi, various characters had their own detailed side stories that stretched through the whole saga or just a short segment of it.
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In addition, there were parts that connected with Soul Calibur V’s near future, but in the sense that various characters were trying to warn their younger selves about how much that game’s storyline sucks. It’s up to DLC addition Cassandra to prevent its existence and hope for a better outcome.
Street Fighter’s chronology is all over the place. After Street Fighter II ran its course, they released Street Fighter Alpha and its sequels, coming out roughly parallel to Street Fighter III and its sequels. Alpha was supposed to take place between the first two games while Street Fighter III was, naturally, set after. But to this day, Capcom is a little weird about Street Fighter III’s place in the series.
While the trilogy of Street Fighter III titles were damn good, they weren’t as successful as Street Fighter II by a long shot. This is due to many things, including the pricey Sega Dreamcast hardware it released on, as well as the roster of primarily new characters.
In the years since its release, Capcom has solidified Street Fighter III as the chronological end of the Street Fighter saga, using Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V as a bridge from II to III. That led to Street Fighter V emphasizing not only M. Bison’s absolute death but various fighters transitioning into more normal lives (Sakura considering motherhood, Cody becoming a mayor, Blanka trying to provide for his mother, Guile getting his closure, etc.).
Mortal Kombat Timeline: Story Explained
Street Fighter: Timeline and Story Explained
But then Capcom added Rose as a DLC character and things got a bit more interesting. Disturbed by the mysterious arrival of the self-proclaimed “President of Earth” G, Rose received visions of an apocalyptic future: reality itself will end, and while G is somehow responsible, it’s too late to stop what’s in motion. Rose figures that she can send a psychic message to her younger self (seemingly from the Alpha era) and warn her, thereby completely ripping off Raiden’s plan in Mortal Kombat 9 to reboot the timeline before it’s too late.
After all this time, Capcom has no real interest in following up on the events of Street Fighter III. Instead, it seems like the developer is going back in time and starting over, showing more appreciation for the Alpha roster along the way. It’ll be interesting to see how Street Fighter VI picks up these threads.
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Fighting EX Layer
Speaking of Street Fighter, there’s also Capcom’s oft forgotten side-series. Back when gamers wanted all the classic video games to transition 3D, whether it was a good idea or not (*cough* Earthworm Jim *cough* Bubsy), developer Arika got to make a 3D version of Street Fighter called Street Fighter EX. Half the roster was made up of classic Street Fighter characters while the other half were a bunch of Arika originals. They were hit-or-miss, but really, all anyone ever cared about was Skullomania, the sentai superhero dressed like a skeleton.
In addition to the Street Fighter EX trilogy, Blair Dame and Allen Snider appeared in the obscure arcade game Fighting Layer, developed by Arika and published by Namco. And Arika really wanted to do a follow-up to Street Fighter EX for a while but Capcom never showed any interest.
In 2018, Arika instead released Fighting EX Layer. Capcom doesn’t want to play ball? Fine! How about a game that’s just the Arika characters from the Street Fighter EX games?! Who’s laughing now?!
Funny enough, Capcom did reconnect with Arika to help promote the game. For a little while, Fighting EX Layer characters were available in Street Fighter V in the form of character skins. Cammy could become Blair, Akuma could become Garuda, and if you thought G wasn’t weird enough, he could dress up as Skullomania!
Also, Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury was thrown in as a guest character. In return, a gender-flipped Skullomania appeared in SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. Video games can be weird, man…
King of Fighters
SNK’s trio-based crossover series has always been fairly strict about its continuity. The original villain Rugal Bernstein died in the second installment and he stayed dead, only returning in non-canon “dream match” installments and crossovers. The same can be said for the beloved New Faces team from King of Fighters ’97, who committed ritual suicide prior to the game’s boss fight.
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But King of Fighters’ long-running storyline recently started to hiccup. At the end of King of Fighters XIII, the antihero Ash Crimson saved the world by sealing his evil, time-traveling ancestor Saiki away in limbo. That meant Ash ceased to exist and reality rewrote itself. Yeah, Saiki was thwarted, but that created a time paradox. This also resulted in the creation of demon Verse, who crashed the party at King of Fighters XIV. Interestingly enough, Verse’s win quotes were taken from various dead characters like Rugal, Krizalid, and even Ash.
Yes, Ash Crimson’s heroics broke the timeline, but after Verse’s defeat, we saw names from the past begin to appear agin. One ending had the trio of Kyo, Iori, and Chizuru reuniting in order to reseal away the King of Fighters ’97 boss Orochi and nip that problem in the bud. Another ending had Ash’s friend Elisabeth discover Ash’s unconscious body, revealing that even with the paradox, she couldn’t forget their connection.
Now the New Faces are playable again in King of Fighters XV. There’s also a hint that we might get Terry Bogard’s murdered father Jeff Bogard as a playable fighter for the first time ever. It doesn’t matter how dead a character is anymore. Everything’s broken and everything goes.
Was Mortal Kombat inspired by Street Fighter? ›
Street Fighter II really invigorated things, and that was a big inspiration for us in doing Mortal Kombat; we wanted to make a more gritty, bad-boy version of Street Fighter. And before that was Karate Champ, but that was a number of years before that. To me, the fighting game genre wasn't even a genre, really.How are Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter different? ›
The Mortal Kombat Roster is full of ninjas, gods, and even monsters that have unique abilities and awesome designs. Street Fighter characters are cool as well but their mostly humans with superpowers (in the recent years, we've gotten some other characters as well). Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, M. Bison, Guile, etc.What came first Mortal Kombat or streetfighter? ›
There were fighting games before the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat franchises, but ever since their releases in 1991 (for Street Fighter 2) and 1992 (for Mortal Kombat) they have dominated the fighting game scene.Which fighting games use netcode rollback? ›
- 1 Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Fighting.
- 2 MultiVersus: Zoinks, Scoob! ...
- 3 Super Smash Bros. ...
- 4 Street Fighter 5: The Answer Lies In The Heart Of Battle. ...
- 5 The King Of Fighters 15: SNK's Hottest Tournament Is (Roll)Back! ...
Although as the Ryu character is based on the real life events of Yoshiji Soeno, who was a practitioner of Kyokushinkai karate under Mas Oyama, the traditional Kyokushinkai techniques can be clearly seen in the character's fighting style. In Japan, the martial art style of Ryu and Ken is never given a name.Does God exist in Mortal Kombat? ›
The four guardian gods: Fire God, Earth God, Water God and Fujin in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. The Gods are deities like the Elder Gods, however, they are less powerful and only have power over one realm instead of all realms.Why was Kano and Sonya not in mk2? ›
Mortal Kombat 2's creators decided to make room for newcomers, so seemingly unpopular characters Sonya and Kano were put on the chopping block. Modern fans likely think of Sonya Blade and Kano as irreplaceable in the Mortal Kombat canon.Can Ryu beat Scorpion? ›
In fact, Ryu had a perfect way to permanently end Scorpion: the soul-killing Raging Demon. But he could avoid the instant murder move, thanks to his awesome ninja skills and teleportation.Is Street Fighter in the Marvel Universe? ›
Street Fighter is the fourth Marvel Comics-licensed fighting game produced by Capcom and the second installment in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. It is a sequel to X-Men vs. Street Fighter which replaces most of the X-Men characters with characters from Marvel Super Heroes.What is the #1 fighting game? ›
|1||Street Fighter V||965,694|
|2||Super Smash Bros. Ultimate||711,858|
Who is the best fighter in Mortal Kombat history? ›
- 1 Baraka. Baraka maintains the highest win percentage at the most competitive levels largely due to his lightning-quick counters.
- 2 Erron Black. ...
- 3 Frost. ...
- 4 Liu Kang. ...
- 5 Sonya Blade. ...
- 6 Jacqui Briggs. ...
- 7 Raiden. ...
- 8 Skarlet. ...
Shang Tsung (Chinese: 尚宗 pinyin: Shàng Zōng; Wade–Giles: Shang4 Tsung1) is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise by Midway Games and NetherRealm Studios. He debuted as the final boss of the original 1992 game and has remained one of the franchise's primary villains.Why rollback netcode is better? ›
Rollback is a type of communication system used for online play which effectively reduces the perceived latency in the game, resulting in a much more responsive online multiplayer experience, even for players competing together from opposite sides of the world.Why is rollback netcode so good? ›
To put it simply, rollback netcode helps make online fighting game matches as smooth as possible, regardless of each competing player's internet connection, making it just as seamless as it would be if the players were playing on the same machine.Which fighting game has the best netcode? ›
- Mortal Kombat 11. PS4 – XB1 – Switch – PC. Mortal Kombat is a klassic fighter that turns the brutality and violence up to 11. ...
- Street Fighter V: Champion Edition. PS4 (Digital) – PC. Street Fighter hardly needs any introduction to most gamers. ...
- Killer Instinct. XB1 (Digital) – PC.
Funamizu wanted the character, Akuma, to be based on Ryu's design. While still being an evil character, Yasuda still wanted to create a major contrast between the regular boss, M. Bison and Akuma.What race is Chun-Li? ›
|Fighting style||Chinese Kempo (中國拳法, Chūgoku Kenpō, "Chinese martial arts/kung-fu")|
|First appearance||Street Fighter Alpha 2 (1996)|
|Created by||Akira 'Akiman' Yasuda|
Liu Kang is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series by Midway Games and NetherRealm Studios. Depicted as Earthrealm's greatest warrior and champion, he is generally the main hero of the series.Does Earth exist in Mortal Kombat? ›
In the Mortal Kombat series, Earthrealm is the name that is most frequently used for what humans normally call Earth, which is a rocky planet orbiting the Sun.
Is Kratos god or mortal? ›
Kratos is technically mortal, despite being a demigod; it can be assumed that a demigod represents the strongest kind of mortal, as many different examples are given of demigods performing superhuman tasks (e.g. Hercules, Theseus, etc.)Who is Sonya love interest? ›
The series' rebooted timeline also depicts her as the love interest to martial arts actor Johnny Cage and the mother of their daughter Cassie. A mainstay of the franchise, Sonya has also appeared in various media outside of the games.Who kills Kano? ›
Amidst a stand-off, Sonya kills the younger Kano, erasing the present version from existence.Why does Kano have a metal eye? ›
It is the result of facial damage which Kano had sustained at the hands of Jax prior to the events of the Mortal Kombat series. It first appeared along with him in the first Mortal Kombat game and has been shown throughout the entire series.Who is Ryu's rival? ›
Ken Masters (ケン・マスターズ, Ken Masutāzu), originally spelled in kanji as Ken (拳, Fist) with his original full name being unknown, is a fictional character in Capcom's Street Fighter series. Ken is the best friend and rival of Ryu, who has also appeared in all Street Fighter games.Who is Ryu's mother? ›
Maria Bamford: Ryu's Mom.Who is Scorpion's arch enemy? ›
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, he allied with the Forces of Darkness to come closer to his enemy, Quan Chi due to having a grudge against the Elder Gods for "restoring" the Shirai Ryu members as undead monsters and not fully humans.Is there a Filipino superhero in Marvel? ›
In July, a panel at San Diego Comic-Con confirmed that Marvel Comics' Filipino superheroine Pearl Pangan, aka Wave, will make her onscreen debut via Spider-Man: Freshman Year in 2024. Filipinos have been buzzing about her since she was unveiled in 2019, created by Leinil Yu, a Filipino, and Greg Pak.What UFC fighter was in Avengers? ›
The Montreal-born fighter turned actor portrays Georges Batroc, or Batroc the Leaper, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—a character that dates back to 1966.Is Spider Gwen in Marvel? ›
Ghost-Spider (Gwendolyne Maxine Stacy; colloquially: Spider-Gwen), formerly Spider-Woman, is a superheroine appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. She was created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez.
What is the most sold fighting game? ›
Mortal Kombat is a series of fighting games created in 1992 by Ed Boon and John Tobias, primarily having a reputation for high levels of violent content. The original game spawned over ten sequels with several action-adventure spin-offs. It is currently the best-selling fighting game franchise.Which fighting game has the best graphics? ›
- 1 Guilty Gear Strive.
- 2 Skullgirls. ...
- 3 Granblue Fantasy: Versus. ...
- 4 Dragon Ball FighterZ. ...
- 5 Mortal Kombat 11. ...
- 6 Soul Calibur 6. ...
- 7 Punch Planet. ...
- 8 Tekken 7. ...
|1.||Super Smash Bros. Ultimate||Nintendo Switch|
|2.||Street Fighter VI||PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox X/S, Arcade|
|3.||Tekken 7||Arcade, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, BL6|
|4.||MultiVersus||PS4, PS5, Xbox One, X/S, PC|
Meat is an unlockable character in several Mortal Kombat games, starting in Mortal Kombat 4, he's usually a secret character, and he makes cameos in many others. Meat, though, is bar-none the weakest character in Mortal Kombat lore.Who is the god of chaos in Mortal Kombat? ›
Zaggot, God of Chaos. Zaggot was a God that represented the forces of chaos, and was the brother of Abacus, who instead represented the forces of order. Due to the two opposing concepts, Zaggot was always in an antagonistic position against Abacus and sought nothing but to feed his hunger for more chaos.Who is the evil god in Mortal Kombat? ›
Shinnok, also known as The Fallen Elder God, is a character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. A vengeful, powerful Elder God of Death, he seeks death and destruction across all the realms. He serves as a primary antagonist of the franchise alongside Shao Kahn.Can a rollback fail? ›
It's usually assumed that ROLLBACK can't fail, although such a thing is conceivable (for example, an encompassing transaction might reject an attempt to ROLLBACK because it's lining up for a COMMIT ). ROLLBACK cancels all effects of a transaction.What happens when a rollback fails? ›
If a rollback fails, then you would have a serious problem. The reliability of the database cannot be guaranteed. In other words; you probably have some sort of corruption in your transaction log and will end up with an inconsistent database.Does Street Fighter use rollback? ›
Street Fighter 6 does have rollback netcode in its online multiplayer modes, as confirmed by multiple content creators and journalists at Summer Game Fest Play Days.What was Mortal Kombat inspired by? ›
Inspired by films like Enter the Dragon (1973), Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983), and Bloodsport (1988), Mortal Kombat gave unique backstories to each character competing in a mysterious, fight-to-the-death tournament with potentially world-ending stakes.
What is Mortal Kombat game based on? ›
The original Mortal Kombat was developed as a reaction to the popular Capcom fighting game Street Fighter II, with simpler controls and digitized graphics. The original idea of Mortal Kombat was thought up in 1989 along with storyline and game content, but not put to arcades until 1992 (and game systems).What are the Mortal Kombat characters based off of? ›
- Johnny Cage – Jean-Claude Van Damme. ...
- Sonya Blade – Cynthia Rothrock. ...
- Liu Kang – Bruce Lee. ...
- Jax – Steve James. ...
- Stryker – Bruce Willis. ...
- Cassie Cage – Felice Herrig.
Mortal Kombat was originally based around Jean-Claude Van Damme. According to Tobias, the game started when the producers of Universal Soldier came and asked Midway Games to create a game based on the movie.Who is the god in Mortal Kombat? ›
Raiden (Japanese: 雷電) is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series by Midway Games and NetherRealm Studios. Based on the Japanese deity Raijin, he is depicted as the god of thunder who possesses control over lightning.Who is Johnny Cage based off of? ›
He is inspired by martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme, particularly Van Damme's character in the 1988 film Bloodsport. A staple of the franchise, Cage has appeared in various media outside of the games.Why is Mortal Kombat spelled with AK? ›
The title Mortal Kombat was the idea of pinball designer Steve Ritchie, following difficulties trademarking the original title of Mortal Combat. Since then, the series often intentionally misspells various words with the letter "K" in place of "C" for the hard C sound.What country is Mortal Kombat based on? ›
Mortal Kombat is an American media franchise centered on a series of video games, originally developed by Midway Games in 1992.Is Batman in Mortal Kombat? ›
In Mortal Kombat
Batman is one of the many DC characters chosen to appear in the crossover video game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. With Batman's reputation for nearly superhuman resourcefulness and combat prowess, his counterpart in the crossover game Mortal Kombat vs.