The evolution of Scorpion and Sub-Zero

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (2008)

Although we’re not the biggest fans of MK’s 10-years-overdue outing with the Justice League, it’s nonetheless an important precursor to the upcoming Mortal Kombat. Not only did it dump the last three games’ relatively clunky fighting system for something faster and more streamlined (and much more similar to the upcoming game), but it established the current appearances of a lot of the characters – including Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Apart from some obvious differences (mostly in their sashes and some of the detail on their facemasks), their designs are near-identical to the 2011 versions, with Scorpion trading in his skuill facemask for a bonier model, and Sub-Zero adopting a fiercer, slicker version of his old ninja look.

MKvsDCU also gave both of the ninjas a handful of fun new moves, like Sub-Zero’s ability to just haul off and drop huge blocks of ice on his opponents’ heads.

It also gave him a self-icing parry move – which, once again, appears to be just another stand-in for the ice-clone move. Seriously, guys,  what’s wrong with the ice clone? Why can’t you make up your minds about whether you like it or not? Is it really such a divisive thing?

Above: SIGH

Above: At least this time Sub-Zero busts out the Kori blade when the trap is sprung

Finally – and this was overdue for those of us who like symmetry between fighting-game rivals – MKvsDCU gave Sub-Zero a teleport move of his very own, in which he turns into a creepy ice mummy, falls backward to the ground…

… and then pops up right behind his opponent.


Of course, Scorpion wasn’t about to be outdone, coming back with a teleport punch that would full-on uppercut his opponent into the air.

Also, in the interest of pulling the “opposite number” card, Scorpion could immolate himself – along with anyone else who got too close.

Above: Stupid, stupid Sub-Zero

Oh, and he had his slide-takedown move from Mortal Kombat II again, or at least a strange variation on it:

Also of mild interest is that Scorpion retained his iconic harpoon for the T-rated MKvsDCU, with blood effects intact – although if you look closely, his victims tend to put their hands over the wound, probably to hide it from the view of impressionable kids.

Above: Quick, Sub-Zero! Think of the children!

MKvsDC also featured something new for the franchise: close-up beatdowns, governed by a rock-paper-scissors-style counter system, which gave players a chance to better appreciate the damage that appeared on their characters mid-fight.

Above: Scorpion can’t keep his dopey Skeletor mug hidden if you kick his facemask to pieces

As toned-down as it was, MKvsDC still retained Fatalities (or, if you were playing as a DC hero, “Heroic Brutalities”). They weren’t terribly bloody, and in some cases weren’t even all that fatal-looking. In the ninjas’ case, however, they at least recalled some of the duo’s classic finishers, which is better than nothing.

Mortal Kombat (2011)

That brings us to the final and most current entry – and full circle back to the beginnings of the franchise (story-wise, at least). As the new Mortal Kombat’s plotline covers the events of the first three games (with some alterations), we once again get two versions of Sub-Zero, this time with given names. The older brother, Bi-Han, shows up at the beginning, only to eventually get toasted by Scorpion – and, eventually, to resurface as wraith-ninja Noob Saibot, which isn’t a spoiler if you’ve paid attention to the plots of earlier games. He’s soon replaced by his younger brother, Kuai Liang, who dresses identically and carries the Sub-Zero mantle through the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, Scorpion is the same rage-filled badass he’s always been, once again out for blood after the destruction of his clan. His moves appear to be similar to what he sported in MKvsDC, complete with the teleport punch, the ability to summon hellfire and – of course – his classic harpoon, now restored to its former bloodiness.

The relationship between the two (or three) ninjas hasn’t changed much in spite of the reboot, although the second Sub-Zero doesn’t seem terribly receptive to the idea of having Scorpion as a protector, seeing as he’s now intent on avenging his older brother’s death. There is, however, one new wrinkle that promises to skew any future interplay between the two ninjas…

The tidbit we’re about to reveal was leaked a while ago, and has been floating around on the internet for some time – but if you’ve been avoiding any spoilers relating to the new MK’s story, you should probably stop reading and navigate away now. 

Because the new MK is an in-canon reboot that begins at the end of Armageddon and then rewinds to the start of the first tournament, there are a few notable differences in the new timeline. One of them is that – when the Lin Kuei begin turning their assassins into cybernetic horrors just before MK3 – Sub-Zero is captured and given a cybernetic “upgrade” instead of his ally Smoke. Finding this out unlocks Cyber Sub-Zero as a new, playable character, complete with a slightly different move set and a creepy robot body. It’s easily the most drastic evolution Sub-Zero has undergone to date, and it’ll be interesting to see how or if it alters his story down the road – and also to see how fans react to it once they’ve seen the transformation for themselves. .

At least we won’t have to wait too much longer to find out.

Apr 12, 2011

The Top 7… Most absurd Mortal Kombat offshoots
MK’s gone in some strange directions once finishing the fight


Street Fighter Week: The evolution of Ken and Ryu
Two of gaming's most iconic fighters are dissected, game by game


Mortal Kombat video: Full Access Preview
Move spamming, nut punching and head ripping video of the new MK in action



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  • ulmxn - April 15, 2011 1:15 a.m.

    I loved the hell pit level in mk3, especially super uppercutting someone up into the level above. Let's hope the new MK will have all the greatest stages from the first 4 games.
  • ulmxn - April 15, 2011 1:12 a.m.

    Did everything need to blow up in MK2? By the way, I grew up (I'm 14) playing the originals! Nostalgia ftw!
  • fakesmilesofasadclown - April 14, 2011 5:51 p.m.

    Ok um just wondering, but why was scorpions animality a penguin?? surly it shold have been ohhhh i dunno a freaking scorpion?? lol
  • Synchronatic - April 14, 2011 7:26 a.m.

    I can't believe somebody actually went this in-depth in researching and documenting Scorpion and Sub-Zero. I salute you sir. It made for a fucking fantastic read. Kombat Week is knocking my socks off! I can't get enough.
  • FETALJUICE - April 14, 2011 3:40 a.m.

    I love the MK storyline and I can't wait to play MK next week!
  • ViolentLee - April 14, 2011 2:01 a.m.

    Come mention of the "white" Sub-Zero looking like Henry Rollins? It's a dead-on match!
  • SillyPigeon - April 13, 2011 10:25 p.m.

    Never been a MK fan but found this utterly fascinating and funny. Nice one Mikel!
  • MinxRiot - April 13, 2011 7:22 p.m.

    Anyone else notice that Cyber Sub-Zero looks kinda like Predator?
  • MechaGecko - April 13, 2011 7:20 p.m.

    Wow i just thought they were just polygons with some issues but this is a revelation. Thank you Mr.Reparaz
  • jackthemenace - April 13, 2011 6:53 p.m.

    OMG, it's out next week...!? I want it so badly, but i have NO CASH...
  • FauxFurry - April 13, 2011 6:53 p.m.

    I'VE NEVER SEEN A CYBER SUB-ZERO TRANSFORMATION. I expected Cyber-Zero to look a lot more like an ice-box, to be honest. Why no 'Thermometer' transformation for Scorpion? I've always wondered why there was no mystical love-hate child of these two, Steam, simply because the hate was so potent, at least early in their relationship. Then again, a name like that might fit a female ninja from the Mortal Kombat universe. Bone-Chiller sounds more appropriate for a guy fresh out of frozen Hell. Thinking of which, it is for the best that Sub-Zero started dressing more warmly again like a proper frigid ice que...King of Kold Kombat. He should leave that kind of get-up to the real hot-blooded flame flinging pros like Mai Shiranui before he hurts himself (or at least his ego, which is bound to be brittle, considering how cold his heart supposedly is, if that one song is to be trusted).
  • Wazzle - April 13, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    Scorpion turns into a egg bomb dropping penguin... OF COURSE!
  • md1292 - April 13, 2011 3:51 p.m.

    Amazing article. I've never owned a MK game, but it was cool to find out about arguably the two most iconic characters from the franchise. I might buy the new game because of this article.
  • CitizenWolfie - April 13, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    "GET OVER HERE!!!" That and "SHORYUKEN!" always bring me back to my childhood. Seeing the beat 'em up having such a great revival warms the cockles :) On topic, I can't believe Scorpion was missing from the original MK3. My mate had it and I hated the fact he wasn't in it. Both characters seemed to go off the rails (look wise) towards the later days, but good to see them back on track.
  • AntistasMetroid - April 13, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    Damn Wikiparaz! This must have taken some serious time to create! Awesome work on this feature. I didn't think all that goofy MK lore went so deep. Loving the MK week. Excellent feature. Very comprehensive.
  • Japanaman - April 13, 2011 2:18 p.m.

    I didn't understand Sub-Zero looking old one bit. I mean, how does the original Sub-Zero's YOUNGER brother who has black hair go to mostly black hair, to silver hair, to white hair in four games? No one else aged that much! It's like they want him to look like Cable or something.
  • philipshaw - April 13, 2011 2:07 p.m.

    I love when you do features like this Mikel,great stuff
  • Outlander - April 13, 2011 1:23 p.m.

    Great article! With MK being my second favorite franchise, I'm really enjoying this "Week of Mortal Kombat."
  • TheElephantManchurianCandidate - April 13, 2011 12:14 p.m.

    Loving MK week! brilliant article I can't wait for this game
  • NightCrawler_358 - April 13, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    Awesome article. I really want to get Mortal Kombat, but I want to get Portal 2 first so I get to try Steamworks, and get the PC version. (I'd buy P2 or MK on PS3)

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