Baraka (Mortal Kombat)

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Baraka
Mortal Kombat character
BarakaMK9render.png
Baraka in Mortal Kombat (2011)
First game Mortal Kombat II (1993)
Created by John Tobias (with brainstorming input from Ed Boon)
Designed by John Tobias (early games)
Herman Sanchez (MK:D, MK:A)
Mark Lappin (MK:SM)[1]
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)[2]
Jennifer L. Parsons (Annihilation)
Christine Cover-Ferro &
Christien Tinsley (Rebirth)
Allisa Swanson &
Christien Tinsley (Legacy)
Voiced by Dan Washington (MKvDC)
Bob Carter (MK2011)
Motion capture Sean Okerberg (MKvDC)
Portrayed by Richard Divizio (MKII, MKT)
Ryan Watson, Allen Sandoval, Percy Brown (Live Tour)
Dennis Keiffer (Annihilation)
Lateef Crowder (Rebirth)
Fraser Aitcheson (Legacy)
Fictional profile
Origin Outworld
Fighting styles Silat (MK:D, MK:A)
Hung Gar (MK:D)

Baraka is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. Baraka was introduced in Mortal Kombat II in 1993 as an unpredictable warrior in service of Outworld emperor Shao Kahn. He belongs to a race of nomadic mutants called Tarkatan, later revealed in Mortal Kombat: Deception to be a crossbreed between Netherealm demons and denizens of Outworld, apparently populating the vast wastelands of Outworld. Baraka, like most other members of his race, possesses long retractable blades extending from his forearms.

Appearances[edit]

In video games[edit]

Baraka is first introduced in Mortal Kombat II as being a member of a lowly Outworld race called the Nomads, known for unpredictable behavior and possessing a frequent violent streak. He spearheads the attack on Liu Kang's Shaolin temple in Earthrealm following the conclusion of the first tournament, which in turn lures Liu Kang into Outworld to seek vengeance, as planned by emperor Shao Kahn.[3] After Kahn's defeat, he disappeared back into Outworld's wastelands, reemerging in the Mortal Kombat Trilogy storyline as again being recruited into Kahn's forces after successfully fighting an "uprising renegade race in Outworld's lower regions," then taking part in the ensuing invasion of Earthrealm.[4][5] However, after Kahn is again defeated and his takeover plans go for naught a second time, Baraka sets back out on his own as a drifter once more.

While passing through the Outworld realm of Edenia prior to the events of Mortal Kombat Gold (1999), Baraka encounters the sorcerer Quan Chi, who offers him a chance to rule the realm at his side if he agrees to join the army of the fallen Elder God Shinnok; Baraka, always in the mood for battle, readily accepts, but all along he secretly planned to betray his new masters, which fails to come to fruition after Shinnok's defeat. Baraka attempts to warn Quan Chi about Shinnok's demise, but Quan Chi pretends to have masterminded the events, and after Baraka openly balks at the prospect of sharing the rule of Outworld with Quan Chi, the sorcerer appears to kill him right after thwarting a sudden attempt on his life.[6]

At the time of Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004), Baraka formed an alliance to the risen Dragon King, Onaga, in whose strength he had great faith. When Baraka agreed to follow Onaga, the remainder of his Tarkatan race[note 1] did so too. Baraka freed Mileena from her prison and recruited her to Onaga's ranks to pose as Princess Kitana. Mileena used this position to misdirect the Edenian forces into combat against the Tarkatan raiding parties well away from Onaga to give the Dragon King the time he needed to complete his schemes.

Design[edit]

Baraka was first conceived by MK co-creator John Tobias as a "savage barbarian demon warrior" named Rokuro, as part of the early development process of the first Mortal Kombat, but the concept never made it off the drawing board.[7] While brainstorming possible character ideas for Mortal Kombat II, several designers visited a local costume shop and found a Nosferatu mask, which they painted in order to enhance its horrifying appearance while attaching silver-painted false fingernails to serve as teeth. This mask was worn by Richard Divizio, the actor who portrayed Baraka in the game. Divizio stated that the mask was a "skin-tight" fit, and throughout his motion capture filming he was sweating profusely.[8] Divizio said to Electronic Gaming Monthly: "He was a pretty cool character, but I didn't like him too much."[citation needed]

Early Baraka concept art by character designer John Tobias portrayed him as a masked, bald human ninja armed with hookswords.[9] The swords were later used by Kabal - also played by Divizio - in Mortal Kombat 3. Another Baraka concept portrayed him as a creature with extra-long, metal talon-studded, muscular arms, but it was thought this might create an unfair reach advantage and so was re-sketched with blades inspired by the Marvel Comics character Wolverine, whose claws extend from his hands.[9] The third and final attempt at a Baraka design included a full head of black hair tied up in a bun, and a large red dot on his belt to go along with his familiar red-and-white tunic and black pants. The red dot, added simply as a decoration, got axed because it was misinterpreted as symbolizing the red dot on the Japanese flag, and the hair was gone shortly thereafter, finalizing Baraka's bald look used throughout the Mortal Kombat series.[9] In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, he is seen with a row of spikes projecting off the very back of his head.

By the time Mortal Kombat: Deception had released, it was shown that Baraka's race of Tarkatan were all exact duplicates of one another without any significant features to differentiate them. This was slightly fixed in the 2011 installment of Mortal Kombat, as other Tarkatan appear during the game's story and challenge modes that have different, distinguishing features from each other, most notably in the fact that only Baraka uses his bladed arms while other Tarkatans have visible blades.

Gameplay[edit]

Baraka's special moves and Fatalities tend to involve his blades. His blade became a weapon style in Deception and Armageddon and could also be pulled out for standard attacks in MK vs. DCU. In MKII, Baraka was originally going to be given a move where he spins his blades at the opponent, but were removed from the game before completion, since they were deemed too powerful.[10] He would later have a blade spin move added in Mortal Kombat Trilogy.

In other media[edit]

Baraka made several appearances in Malibu's' Mortal Kombat comic book series, making his first appearance on the first issue of Goro's miniseries Prince of Pain. Baraka was portrayed as the classic brawn-over-brains type, and had the distinction of speaking in pidgin English; in the 1993 Midway-created Mortal Kombat II comic book, his only line being "Baraka show [Johnny] Cage pain!" Baraka was also featured in an eponymous one-shot issue by Malibu Comics in 1995.[11] He was also one of numerous characters who habitually referred to themselves in the third person throughout Malibu's entire Mortal Kombat series. Baraka's background is mostly kept in the comic, having him as the leader of the mutants that form part of Shao Kahn's armies. On the following Battlewave series though, he changes sides when Shao Kahn starts replacing his mutants with Scorpion's army of undead soldiers. He ends up joining with Kitana, Kung Lao, and Sub-Zero in a rebel force set to defeat the emperor. Despite this, his violent nature often put him at odds with his former comrades.

Lateef Crowder as Baraka in the 2010 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth

Though the character was not in the first Mortal Kombat film, Shang Tsung's masked footsoldiers therein were referred to as "Barakas" in the script. Baraka himself was included in the 1997 sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and was played by stuntman Dennis Keiffer, but he was never identified by name save for the closing credits, and had no dialogue aside from growling sounds. He attempts to stop Liu Kang from rescuing Kitana, who is imprisoned inside a cage in Shao Kahn's war room; this leads into a brief fight scene that ends with Baraka being kicked off the top of the cage by Liu Kang and sent plummeting to his death into a fire pit. In a continuity violation, an outtake of Rain falling into the pit earlier in the film was used at the end of this scene. Baraka had a greatly expanded role in the script and novelization, in which he partakes in the opening invasion of Earth in place of Rain alongside Kahn's other generals (Sheeva, Ermac, and Motaro), and has an inconclusive fight with Sonya that sees him gain the upper hand before all fighting is halted by Kahn. In an additional scene that was not filmed, he also oversees prisoners slaving away in an Outworld cobalt mine, where Kitana is held captive. The fight scene with Liu Kang is longer and more detailed, and Baraka is killed when he is crushed by Kitana's cage (a fate instead suffered by Sheeva in the film). He spoke his dialogue therein in complete sentences, in contrast to his speech pattern in the comics.[12]

Baraka appeared in director Kevin Tancharoen's 2010 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, and in compliance with the film's grittier contemporary setting, his backstory from the games was jettisoned as his origin was changed into his being a former plastic surgeon named Alan Zane. After accidentally killing a patient, Zane goes psychotic and murders over two dozen more, then proceeds to mutilate his face with numerous piercings, file down his teeth, and surgically attach a pair of long metal blades to his forearms, in addition to sporting long dreadlocks. He was played by martial artist Lateef Crowder. Both the design and storyline for the character were not carried over into Tancharoen's Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series, in which Baraka was reverted to his original Outworld origins. Canadian actor and stuntman Fraser Aitcheson replaced Crowder for a one-episode appearance in the 2011 first season, and the first image of his take on the character was published online by the New York Times.[13]

Reception[edit]

Baraka ranked third on GameDaily's ugliest game characters list[14] and as 12th on their list of "top baldies".[15] GamePlayBook listed Baraka as the fourth best Mortal Kombat character, citing his devastating arms and Fatalities.[16] Cheat Code Central ranked Baraka as the tenth best Mortal Kombat character, commenting "I'm sorry, but there's just nothing not cool about that" when talking about the blade protruding from his arms.[17] Game Rant placed Baraka as the eighth best character in the series, adding "what the mutant lacked in good looks, he easily made up for with satisfying moves" and considered him to be the weirdest character in MKII.[18] In UGO Networks' 2012 list of the top 50 Mortal Kombat characters, Baraka placed as seventh, praised for his blades and Fatalities.[19] Sega Visions said of the character in 1994, "For pure ugliness and a bad attitude, Baraka can't be beat."[20]

Baraka's "Lift'em-up" Fatality in Mortal Kombat Trilogy was given the 3rd place "That's Gotta Hurt" Award in Nintendo Power Awards '96.[21] Game Informer listed Baraka as one of the character they wanted to see in MK 2011 as "people love Baraka" but he has been absent from many MK titles ever since his debut.[22]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Officially renamed as such in the series canon from "Nomads" in MKII to MK Gold.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks - Credits". Allgame.com. November 3, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Mortal Kombat Characters & Concept Artwork". CreativeUncut.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Mortal Kombat Warehouse: Mortal Kombat II: Baraka". Mortal Kombat Warehouse. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Mortal Kombat Trilogy: Baraka". Mortal Kombat Online. 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ Jeff Greeson and Cliff O'Neill (October 21, 2007). "The History of Mortal Kombat: The Beginning of the End". GameSpot. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ Mortal Kombat Gold | Baraka's Ending - Kamidogu via YouTube, June 20, 2008. Retrieved February 8, 2004.
  7. ^ John Tobias (@therealsaibot) on Twitter, September 14, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  8. ^ A video interview on the bonus DVD included with the special edition of Mortal Kombat: Deception
  9. ^ a b c GamePro 58 (May 1994), p.29, 31.
  10. ^ "GameSpot:Video Games PC Xbox 360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2 PlayStation 2 GameCube GBA PlayStation 3". Web.archive.org. 2007-10-21. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  11. ^ Malibu Comics' Baraka cover
  12. ^ Preisler, Jerome (1997). Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Tor Books. ISBN 0-812-53933-8. 
  13. ^ Schiesel, Seth (April 15, 2011). "Mortal Kombat Is Back In a Fight for the Future". NYTimes.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Top 10 Ugliest Game Characters - Page 8". GameDaily. Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  15. ^ "Top 25 Baldies Gallery and Images - GameDaily". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  16. ^ "The Best Mortal Kombat Characters of All Time - GamePlayBook". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  17. ^ "Top 10 Mortal Kombatants - Cheat Code Central". Cheatcc.com. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  18. ^ "10 Most Awesome Mortal Kombat Characters". Game Rant. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  19. ^ UGO Team (2012-02-28). "Top 50 Mortal Kombat Characters - Mortal Kombat". UGO.com. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  20. ^ Sega Visions August/September 1994, p. 25
  21. ^ Nintendo Power #96 (May 1997)
  22. ^ Whiting, Brandon (2010-06-21). "Who We Want (And Don’t Want) In The New Mortal Kombat - Features". www.GameInformer.com. Retrieved 2012-01-07.