Even the Elder Gods don't know some of these
The first time I saw a tiny man pop up onscreen and yelp "Toasty!" during a brutal fight to the death, I instantly understood that the Mortal Kombat series likes to have fun with its secrets. What started out as a few easter eggs - a fleeting glimpse of Reptile here, Santa Claus flying in front of the moon there - has grown into a massive collection of clever throwbacks and cameos that'll skewer your brain's nostalgia receptors and splinter your funny bone (in a good way). And Mortal Kombat X has over two decades of franchise history to reference, so you better believe it's got tons of amusing secrets and nods to the previous games.
In fact, some are so well-hidden that most players probably won't even notice them. I've rounded up the coolest (and most obscure) tidbits I could find in MKX, and you should know that many, many fighters died to bring you this information. Revealing these to your uninformed friends is sure to recall that old-school feeling when you knew the Fatality inputs and they didn't. Read up, then pass it on to your fellow kombatants.
Cyrax and Sektor get a nod in Jax's farm
If you've played through MKX's story mode, you might remember the scene where Sonya visits Jax as one of the least violent moments in the entire game. The grizzled Special Forces veteran clearly wants a simpler life, clad in farmer's overalls, tinkering away at an old tractor. But it seems like Jax also has a soft spot for two of the most advanced pieces of technology in the Lin Kuei ninja clan, judging by the 'Uncle Cyrax Stone Ground Mustard', 'Old Sektor's Ketchup', and 'LK-4D4 Engine Oil' posters hanging on the wall of the Briggs family's barn. Who knew these cyborgs were in the condiment and car repair businesses?
This isn't the first time Tremor will be playable
MK diehards will likely know that Tremor - a forthcoming DLC character with the power to cause earthquakes - is actually a throwback to Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, a spin-off brawler starring Jax that's among the worst games of all time. But what you might not know is that Tremor was actually playable once before, in a very unlikely venue: the handheld arena. By plowing through the Challenge Tower in the PlayStation Vita version of the ninth Mortal Kombat, you'll eventually reach Challenge #100, which (very briefly) puts you in control of the brown-clad, earth-bending ninja. And of course, he's going up against Jax.
Kung Jin is the first gay Mortal Kombat character
This bit of character development is done in such a low-key way that 90% of players will probably miss it entirely. But kudos to Netherrealm Studios for debuting their first gay fighter in the Mortal Kombat franchise: Kung Jin, the smartaleck younger cousin to Kung Lao and an ace with his magical bow. During the story mode's flashback scene to Kung Jin's life as a thief, the all-knowing Raiden suggests that Kung Jin live up to his ancestry and become a Shaolin monk. Kung Jin protests that "I can't... they won't accept...", to which Raiden replies "They care about only what is in your heart; not whom your heart desires". Cinematics director Dominic Cianciolo confirms that this dialogue is indeed a bit of very subtle exposition.
Quan Chi carries the severed head of an old miniboss
Whenever this pale-skinned Netherrealm sorcerer warps onto the scene, he's usually carrying a dagger and the severed head of an ogre-like creature. Those aren't props he bought from Party City in an attempt to psyche out his opponent - that poor decapitated monster is actually Moloch, the giant Oni sub-boss from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. It's never stated why Quan Chi felt the need to behead his minion 25 in-game years after the fact, though. Maybe Quan Chi decided that Moloch was too generic an MK character to keep on living.
Erron Black's sword is a modified arm bone
Erron Black, the cowboy-looking bounty hunter loyal to Outworld's Kotal Kahn, typically relies on his trusty pistols during combat. But Erron can also switch to his Outlaw variation, where he brings a sword into battle to do a little stabbing in between all the shooting. This blade is actually formed from a Takartan's arm, the creatures (like Baraka) who can pop giant cleavers out of their forearms, Wolverine-style. Hopefully, Erron posthumously removed that Takartan's arm-blade, because otherwise... ouch. Also, the animation when Erron does his Takartan Stab command grab bears a striking resemblance to Sub-Zero's ice-sword-thrusting throw from the 2011 Mortal Kombat.
Hey, I know that voice!
The MKX cast is chock full of talent, including some actors who you probably know from their many video game voiceovers. See if your ear picked up on all of these: Shinnok is voiced by Troy Baker (Joel from The Last of Us, Booker from BioShock Infinite, pretty much anyone from any AAA game ever). Cassie Cage is played by Ashly Burch, who you probably know as Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2 or the titular sibling from Hey Ash Whatcha Playin'. Tricia Helfer, aka Number Six from Battlestar Galactica and EDI from Mass Effect 3, does an excellent Sonya Blade. And then there's Steve Blum, the Guinness World Record holder for most video game roles, doing his trademark gravelly voice for Sub-Zero (and a raspier tone for Reptile).
Johnny Cage hasn't forgotten about those crushed sunglasses
If you haven't seen the live-action Mortal Kombat flicks, you missed out on a particularly outstanding example of a cheesy video game movie one-liner. When Johnny Cage goes up against the hulking Goro, the four-armed brute snatches the shades off the Hollywood star's face and crushes them with a scoff. Johnny's retort during the ensuing fight scene is priceless: "Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole." Cut to 25 years later, and Cage is still bitter, saying "Don't you owe me some sunglasses?" before a match with Goro, or referencing the laughable way Goro meets his end in the movie.
Cassie is always listening to an MK3 MP3
Let's cap things off with a trio of easter eggs all related to Cassie Cage, daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade and the de facto leader of MKX's new generation of fighters. First up, you might've noticed that Cassie always removes some iPod-esque earbuds before a fight, which are presumably hooked up to an MP3 player tucked away in her gun holsters. And if you listen very, very closely, you can hear those earbuds blasting tunes from Mortal Kombat 3. Not a bad choice as far as prefight pump-up music goes.
Cassie's Friendships social media page is full of easter eggs
Of all the Fatalities in MKX, Cassie's 'Selfie' finisher might be the most gruesomely hilarious. Long story short, she smashes her opponent's jaw till it's hanging by a hinge, then grabs their going-into-shock body and snaps a picture posing with her kill. The camera then zooms out to show that she's shared this mortifying image on her Facebook-parodying Friendships page, which has a rainbow logo in reference to Shang Tsung's amicable finisher from MK2. If you give it 30 seconds or so, you'll notice a stream of randomized comments popping up under the post, including (but not limited to) a Stryker cameo, a message from Noobde (the Twitter handle of MK co-creator Ed Boon), and Cassie's mother asking why she's friends with Kano on social media (y'know, the Cage family's most hated rival).
Cassie kills the main character from Mortal Kombat: Deception
The Klassic tower is essentially MKX's arcade mode, and completing it rewards you with a brief slideshow ending for your chosen character. These are filled with cameos from old MK characters, like MK4's Taven in Kenshi and Takeda's epilogues. But the most interesting run-in happens in Cassie's ending, where Raiden tasks her with "hunting down a soul stealer." The intended target is implied to be Shang Tsung, but Cassie tracks down and offs an old man who, with his dying breath, identifies himself as Shujinko. If you played Mortal Kombat: Deception, you'll remember Shujinko as the protagonist in the expansive Konquest Mode single-player campaign, where he had the power to steal his opponent's moves (just not their physical form). An unfortunate case of mistaken identity, then.
Keep your eyes peeled
And of course, there's Johnny Cage's alternate Ninja Mime costume, where he reprises his most well-known Hollywood role. Have you found any other excellent secrets or references in Mortal Kombat X? Share them in the comments, and we'll be sure to update this list with your suggestions!
And if you're looking for more, check out Gaming's most secret secrets and The most ludicrously impractical fighting game weapons.