The evolution of Shang Tsung and Reptile

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 


  • Meleedragon27 - April 18, 2011 4:12 a.m.

    Am I the only person who really liked Reptile's lizard-man design from Deadly Alliance? Yeah, I thought the head a bit small for his body, but I thought it was a cool design for him. Though I guess his current incarnation is cool, too... Really loved this special and the Sub-Zero/Scorpion one. Shame Kombat Week is pretty much over, these specials got me all excited in the game again, and I'm not even a fighting game fan.
  • AntistasMetroid - April 17, 2011 11:07 p.m.

    WIKI! YOU DID ANOTHER ONE!? Clearly your beard has given you the endurance of a god! Love these things man. Got me all pumped for Tuesday. Thank you for this awesome week of kontent! You are no mere mortal my friend. These two evolution features must have taken a while and i appreciate all of it. Fantastic work.
  • Siion - April 17, 2011 4:17 p.m.

    Mortal Kombat was a franchise i skipped but i am finding myself reading these articles none the less, its interesting to hear the history. Keep up the good work.
  • TheElephantManchurianCandidate - April 16, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    Awesome article! For some reason these two have been my favorite characters for like ever. Can't wait to play them as a tag team together in the new MK
  • SilentTee - April 16, 2011 11:52 a.m.

    @MikelReparaz I do hope you guys find the time to do more these. I think I would like it for any of the characters honestly.
  • marioman50 - April 16, 2011 5:01 a.m.

    I'm really liking these "evolution" features, Mikel. I didn't even know about Reptile's secretive origins, or the boss battle with Shang Tsung in MK1, as I've honestly only played MK3 and Deadly Alliance.
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - April 15, 2011 11:40 p.m.

    @SilentTee: Cool, glad you're liking them so far. Kung Lao was one I strongly considered, along with Raiden, since they've been through a lot of changes as well. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time this week to do a third evolution feature. Johnny Cage, though... apart from his moves and the actors playing him, I think that would just be me going, "Uh, in this one, he wore these pants and sunglasses... and in the next game, he had slightly DIFFERENT pants and sunglasses, and also bigger hair."
  • philipshaw - April 15, 2011 2:18 p.m.

    Another great retrospective Mikel
  • NightCrawler_358 - April 15, 2011 12:18 p.m.

    Reptile looks cool in the new MK, but I liked Shang Tsung's PS2 era look. not the alternate outfit one though... Hope to see profiles for the rest of the characters. *cough*Baraka*cough*
  • jmcgrotty - April 15, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    "Sort of like Han from Enter the Dragon" Dumbasses! Han was in the Star Wars movies. (Relax, folks. I'm kidding.) Seeing all of these iterations of Reptile, I am torn. I like his original ninja appearance but absolutely hate when they acknowledged that he was a real reptile species by making him look like a reptile. I guess the latest version works for me, where it is apparent that he is still sort of a reptile (but not over the top), but that it's hidden behind significant ninja properties. I know I am in the minority with this, but I actually loved it when they kept adding more and more finishing moves. Except for babalities. Didn't like that one. Of course, Mortal Kombat doesn't hold a candle to Tattoo Assassins, which has 2,196 fatalities. Seriously. SilentTee: "I thought it was Henry Rollins not Hank... but I could be wrong". You're kinda both right and wrong. Most people call him Henry Rollins, but Hank is a shortened form of Henry. Isn't used often, though, and is more of a nickname. So, Henry Rollins = Hank Rollins. Much like how John F. Kennedy = Jack Kennedy.
  • cyclone306 - April 15, 2011 9:25 a.m.

    so awesome! Fuck recaptcha.
  • SilentTee - April 15, 2011 9:07 a.m.

    I'm loving all this Kombat week content! It's great! 1. I thought it was Henry Rollins not Hank... but I could be wrong. 2. Hoping for another one of these evolution features on maybe Johnny Cage or Kung Lao.
  • paganpoet - April 15, 2011 5:16 a.m.

    @rottenpiggypie, err, they did an article on Scorpion and Sub-Zero yesterday.
  • rottenpiggypie - April 15, 2011 4:30 a.m.

    I understand that Shang Tsung and Reptile have had a very strange history of evolution, but seriously GR....You couldn't have picked two more...uh...recognized characters for this subject matter??? *Cough-Scorpion & Sub-zero-Cough*
  • MrSuitMan - April 15, 2011 4:29 a.m.

    Lovin these retrospective guys. Reptiles was always one of my favorite MK kharacters.
  • XLGirthMan - April 15, 2011 3:58 a.m.

    I'm pretty excited because I preordered from Amazon, so I get Reptile's original appearance and fatality
  • TheWebSwinger - April 15, 2011 3:28 a.m.

    1st: These two characters are AWESOME for another "Evolution of" Feature. Especially reptile. 2nd: "Wizard and Lizard". Nice. 3rd: I much much preferred Reptile when he was just a pallette swapped Sub Zero. I hate the more lizard-y costumes.
  • Synchronatic - April 15, 2011 3:16 a.m.

    I've gotta say, I preferred Reptile when his reptilian nature was more hidden. The mysterious green ninja kicked ass! Anywho, great article! I can't wait to see more! Kombat Week!!!!!
  • FETALJUICE - April 15, 2011 3 a.m.

    Reptile has always been a complete badass in my book.
  • thedonut - April 15, 2011 12:38 a.m.

    I want to play as old guy Tsung from the first. He looks more awesome. :/

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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