The evolution of Shang Tsung and Reptile

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005)

Shaolin Monks was probably the most pleasant surprise the MK series has given us to date. After the previous offshoots, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, we expected this to make a trifecta of awful. Instead, it turned out to be a surprisingly great brawler along the lines of God of War. And as a somewhat retconned retelling of the first two games’ stories, it features both Shang Tsung and Reptile in prominent roles.

Tsung first appeared as an old man in the game’s intro, which recasts the first Mortal Kombat as some kind of crazy battle royale, with everyone brawling at once for Tsung’s amusement.

Above: Apparently they don’t have TV on his island

Later in the game, he disguised himself as Raiden and tricked heroes Liu Kang and Kung Lao into gradually weakening Earth’s defenses. It wasn’t until after the damage had been done that he was revealed as an impostor, and after assuming his true form (in his costume from Mortal Kombat II), he spent most of the ensuing fight morphing into other characters.

This turned out to be a bad strategy. When the heroes won, they killed Shang Tsung in the exact same way he killed Liu Kang at the beginning of Deadly Alliance.

While Shang’s appearances stayed largely true to the arcade games, Reptile got a complete revamp, sporting a reptilian appearance and a dark face-wrap from the very beginning.

Able turn invisible and project force balls (and acid spit) once again, Reptile was a formidable enemy – but if found his hidden Koin in the Living Forest stage, you could unlock him for Shaolin Monks’ versus mode, which played a little like Power Stone with hazard filled arenas.

Having access to Reptile also meant being able to use his Fatalities, which this time around consisted of his venerable long-distance head-eating...

... as well as a slightly retooled version of his “cloak and bisect” Fatality from Mortal Kombat II. Here, Reptile turns invisible, confusing his opponent…

… whose upper body then simply explodes.

Above: As you do

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)

After years apart, Shang Tsung and Reptile were finally together in a fighting game again. Actually, it’d be pretty weird if they weren’t both in Armageddon, seeing as the whole purpose of the game was to throw everyone into one last knock-down, drag-out brawl to purge the MK universe of their silliness.

While Tsung’s appearance was more or less the same as it had been in Deadly Alliance, Reptile got a complete overhaul to match his appearance in Shaolin Monks – apparently the only returning character from Deadly Alliance or Deception to receive such extravagant treatment.

Above: With 62-plus characters to worry about, though, we can’t really fault them for not giving everyone else a makeover

He also got a couple of his old moves back, including the dashing suckerpunch from Ultimate MK3…

… and his familiar invisibility cloak, now accompanied by a puff of green smoke.

Again, like most of the other returning characters, Shang Tsung wasn’t overhauled for Armageddon, although he did come upgraded with a couple of new moves this time. While retaining his fireballs from Deadly Alliance (in both straightforward and 3D varieties), he now had a body stomp that let him run up his opponent’s body, and then stomp down on his or her head with his full weight from above.

He also had a soul-assisted dash called Mysterious Magic, which – like Reptile’s dashing punch – enabled him to get behind his opponent and knock them over with a slide kick.

Sadly, there isn’t much more to Shang and Reptile’s appearance in Armageddon than that, other than to say that Reptile’s ending finally saw him reunited with a female of his species, and that Tsung’s gave him the ability to change the forms of others, giving him absolute power at last.

With the advent of the Kreate-a-Fatality feature, Fatalities became gruesome combos rather than character-specific executions, so there’s not a lot there that’s appropriate for a character-specific article. The pair didn’t even appear in Motor Kombat, Armageddon’s bizarrely adorable take on Mario Kart. If, however, you really hated Reptile’s new appearance for some reason, you could revert to his lizardman form, tail and all.

Above: Shang had his old alternate outfit, too, in case you were missing it


  • 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. :/

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