The evolution of Shang Tsung and Reptile

19 years of shapeshifting and face-changing from Mortal Kombat's resident wizard and lizard

Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)

Weirdly, when Mortal Kombat finally went 3D, it did so without Shang Tsung. Instead, MK’s sketchy rebirth gave us the aforementioned dark god/stupid-hat wearer Shinnok, who took up the character-that-transforms-into-every-other-character role.


Above: Seriously, nice hat

On his own for the first time in the series after the apparent defeat of Shao Kahn, Reptile allied himself with Shinnok and sorcerer Quan Chi in another bid to resurrect his dying species. He also finally ditched his human guise, opting instead for a distinctly more reptilian appearance.


Above: He actually looked pretty good in the “kommercial" at the beginning of MK4 on PSOne

In combat, he retained his invisibility and acid spit (which now appeared as a spray of green globules), and gained an unspectacular dash punch. However, he lost his abilities to project force balls and to dash behind his opponents, opting instead to combine them into one extra-creepy move that saw him scuttle rapidly forward like a spider, bowling over his opponent as he went.

Also, like every other kombatant in MK4, Reptile had a weapon that he could whip out of nowhere and lay into his opponent with. Making out better than some, he had a fairly versatile (if not terribly reptilian) battleaxe.

As the first 3D Mortal Kombat, MK4 also introduced the idea of full-on alternate costumes for its kombatants, meaning those who were more comfortable with Reptile’s old ninja suit (which, let’s face it, had way more pizzazz than his MK4 ensemble) could select it with a simple code.


Above: Actually that’s just Scorpion’s outfit, with a scaly skin texture added

Trapped in a world without his buddy Shang, Reptile had to come up with creative new ways to kill. Because MK4 was supposed to be a more “serious” game than MK3, the list of outrageous finishers was toned down considerably, although Reptile’s two Fatalities still managed to be memorable. In the first, he pounced on his opponent’s chest and tore at his or her face with his teeth, causing an explosion of huge, almond-shaped blood droplets and turning the enemy’s mug into a bloody, exposed skull.

For his second fatality, meanwhile, Reptile suddenly gained the ability to float in midair…

… which he apparently needed to do to unleash a storm of acid vomit, which gradually stripped away his opponent’s body parts at a dramatic angle until they were left a bloody skeleton.


Above: Actually kind of an improvement

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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