Ermac

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This article is about the Mortal Kombat character. For the Energy Risk Management Association of Canada, see Ermac association.
Ermac
Mortal Kombat character
ErmacMK9render.png
First game Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
Created by Ed Boon and John Tobias
Designed by John Tobias (UMK3/MKT)
Luis Mangubat (MK:D, MK:A)
Mark Lappin (MK:SM)[1]
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)[2]
Lynell Forestall (MK:DotR)
Jennifer L. Parsons (Annihilation)
Lisa Tomczeszyn &
Christien Tinsley (Legacy)
Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson (MK:DotR)
Michael McConnohie (MK2011)
Motion capture Carlos Pesina (MK:D, MK:A)
Chris Mathews (MK2011)
Portrayed by John Turk (UMK3/MKT)
John Medlen (Annihilation)
Kim Do Nguyen (Legacy)
Fictional profile
Origin Outworld
Fighting styles Choy Lay Fut (MK:D, MK:A)
Hua Chuan (MK:D)
Weapon Axe (MK:D, MK:A)

Ermac[note 1] is a fictional character from the Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise, created for Midway Games by Ed Boon and John Tobias. Originating as a fan-fabricated nonexistent character borne of rampant player rumormongering that itself was rooted in both an audit-menu listing and an alleged glitch in the first game—a false pretense that was never explicitly debunked by Midway and was further perpetrated and publicized by Electronic Gaming Monthly—Ermac transformed from the most notorious urban legend in Mortal Kombat history into a full-fledged player character.

A mysterious psychokinetic enforcer of Outworld emperor Shao Kahn, composed of multiple warrior souls, Ermac was a red palette swap of Scorpion added by Midway as a playable into Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 as fan service, then rose to prominence in Mortal Kombat: Deception, in which he had his own distinct identity while playing a significant role in the storyline as a tale of redemption, breaking free of Kahn's control and becoming an ally to the series' main protagonist, Liu Kang, leading to one of the game's few canon endings. A majority of subsequent fan and critical reception to the character has been positive. Ermac has also featured in other Mortal Kombat-related media such as the live-action film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, as well as some official merchandise.

History and conception[edit]

The name "Ermac" alone has been a controversial subject that dates back to the beginning of the Mortal Kombat series. In the audits menu on the diagnostics screen of the 1992 original game was a macro written by series co-creator and programmer Ed Boon in order to catch coding errors,[7][note 2] a practice previously employed by Midway starting with the 1990 release Smash TV. It was spelled as ERMACS—a pluralized contraction of error macro—as in the number of times the program would execute. Originally listed below a counter titled "Shang Tsung Beaten" (in reference to the game's final boss fight) in early revisions, it went unnoticed until Boon added the hidden character Reptile in the third chip upgrade. ERMACS was now underneath "Reptile Appearances" and "Reptile Battles" on the audits menu,[8] therefore provoking many players into searching for what they erroneously believed was a second secret character in the game named Ermac.

By the fifth and final revision, dated March 1993, Midway had removed the ERMACS altogether,[8][note 3] but it failed to quell growing speculation about the mystery character, which intensified seven months later after Electronic Gaming Monthly—notorious for pranks such as the Sheng Long hoax from Street Fighter II—published a doctored screenshot from the newly-released Super Nintendo version of Mortal Kombat in the "Tricks of the Trade" column of their October 1993 issue (#51), accompanied by a fictitious letter from "Tony Casey" that claimed he had actually played against Ermac with a low-quality Polaroid of the screen as evidence.[11] The photo was a shot of Scorpion on the Warrior Shrine stage that had been tinted a dark red, with "Ermac Wins" superimposed overhead. EGM printed several fake reader responses two issues later (#53, December 1993) that contained overly complex instructions for accessing the character, such as finding Reptile beforehand, achieving a double flawless victory with only punches, then performing a Fatality in a specific area of the Warrior Shrine.[12][13][14] With the physical image of a red ninja now attached to the character, new claims soon arose from players of a glitch that would cause Scorpion's (or Reptile's) sprite to briefly flash red during gameplay with either "Error Macro" or "Ermac" appearing in the energy bar, but such occurrences were not possible as the macro counter could not increase in the event of a genuine glitch, while no actual red palette for the character ever existed.[15]

Midway denied the character's existence in Mortal Kombat II (1993) by way of a scrambled message that appeared at the bottom of the screen after beating the game (CEAMR ODSE NTO EXITS; "Ermac does not exist"), and a random pre-match appearance of hidden character Jade accompanied by the message "Ermac Who?"[16] But when Boon was asked directly about the character by GamePro, he was coy about the issue. "I can't tell you if it's in MKII. ... I can't say it's a bug, but it's an event that happens in the game that shouldn't happen." Midway marketing director Roger Sharpe took a similar route: "If you're one of the fortunate few to ever encounter [Ermac], fine. Savor the moment, because it could never happen again."[17]

The audits menu of the original Mortal Kombat, with the ERMACS listing (bottom) that led players to believe Ermac was a hidden character in the game. Series creator Ed Boon explained that the listing did not represent a character but "a macro I wrote for catching code errors/traps."[18]

Ermac finally became playable in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995; an upgrade of Mortal Kombat 3), and Boon's reasoning for integrating him into the series was because the character "became this urban legend thing, and, a few games later, we [Midway] just decided to make it real."[10] In January 2011, Boon finally dispelled the rumor publicly on Twitter,[18][19] and when interviewed the next year by GameTrailers during the Evolution Championship Series, he admitted that he had intentionally kept the meaning of the ERMACS listing secret in hopes of stirring up fan speculation about the character.[15]

Legacy[edit]

Midway (now NetherRealm Studios) has frequently paid tribute to the fan rumors as well as the EGM hoax, starting with the Mortal Kombat II comic book that was written and illustrated by MK co-creator John Tobias. A panel within showed Sub-Zero's Lin Kuei hoverjet being piloted by Smoke and an unidentified red ninja; in 2011, seventeen years after the comic was published, Tobias revealed on Twitter that the ninja was indeed Ermac.[20][21] Tobias drew from the rumors also in crafting Ermac's UMK3 backstory. A reversed message in Deception's Konquest Mode read, "It is a little-known fact that 'Ermac' is short for 'Error Macro.' "[22] In the 2005 beat 'em up title Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, a retelling of the events leading up to Mortal Kombat II, he appeared as an Easter egg boss at the Warrior Shrine.[23] Ermac was included with Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Reptile in a bundle of classic costumes from the first Mortal Kombat that was released as downloadable content for the 2011 reboot,[24] in addition to inspiring the game's inclusion of debut character Skarlet, a false rumor from MKII described by Boon as "an urban legend like Animalities and Ermac ... that we eventually wanted to make true."[25] Tobias, who left Midway in 2000, said in a 2012 interview with Mortal Kombat Online, "I really like the revisiting of our old palette-swapped characters like Ermac and Noob Saibot. It's great to see them get proper treatment."[26]

Though the "Error Macro" glitch was false, it nonetheless topped South African gaming site G3AR's list of the top ten glitches, which included a doctored screenshot from the first arcade game.[27] While acknowledging its nonexistence, 1UP.com also heralded its staying power: "By sheer strength of will and rumor, Ermac turned from a lowly line of misplaced code to a ninja borne of multiple souls."[28] GameFAQs considered the glitch "iconic,"[29] and WatchMojo ranked it sixth on their 2014 list of the top ten video gaming myths.[30] GamesRadar executive editor Eric Bratcher credited the impact of the Ermac hoax with the character becoming a reality, calling it "the ultimate testament to EGM's clout,"[31] while Topless Robot said that the magazine's fabricated screenshot "basically made him into the video game equivalent of Bigfoot."[32] GameTrailers filmed an edition of their PopFiction web series in which they discussed the history of the myth and then unsuccessfully attempted to hunt down Ermac themselves in the first game. The episode debuted at the GT Film Festival Panel during PAX Prime 2012.[15]

Appearances[edit]

In video games[edit]

The enigmatic Ermac is a conglomerate of the souls of deceased Outworld warriors, constructed with the sole purpose of serving as an enforcer to Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn.[33] The imposing concentration of these souls within gives him considerable telekinetic powers and results in Ermac addressing himself in the plural form. Little else is known about his mysterious past, as he is initially unrecognized by Earthrealmers and Outworlders alike upon his sudden emergence during Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm after having been in hiding since the first Mortal Kombat tournament. In UMK3, Ermac participates in both the invasion and the third tournament in the name of showing off his abilities and proving his existence.[33][34] However, Kahn's plans are thwarted by the Earthrealm heroes and Ermac subsequently disappears from the storyline until Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002), following the deaths of Kahn and Liu Kang by the eponymous pairing of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi. Ermac remains under Kahn's control even after the emperor's demise, and, as such, wanders Outworld aimlessly without instructions until a chance encounter with the blind swordsman Kenshi, who breaks him free of Kahn's spell out of pity. As a token of gratitude, Ermac teaches Kenshi the Telekinetic Slam.[35]

In Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004), Ermac, finally free from Kahn's control and now in charge of his own destiny, opts to become a force for good out of contrition for the past crimes he had committed in Kahn's name.[36] He therefore joins forces with the spirit of Liu Kang, who needs assistance in freeing the souls of his friends—Johnny Cage, Jax, Sonya Blade, Kitana, and Kung Lao—who had been killed in combat by the Deadly Alliance and then resurrected by the Dragon King, Onaga, for use as his slaves. Ermac handily battles all five warriors in Onaga's throne room on his own, not to defeat them but to keep them at bay while Liu Kang successfully liberates their souls.[37] Long before these events, as shown in the game's Konquest mode, Ermac is still in Kahn's employ and is dispatched to the Netherealm to defeat the demon Ashrah, as she has slain many of Kahn's warriors in attempt to purify her soul and therefore escape the realm. However, since Ermac is bound by magic, the Netherealm drains his powers. He soon crosses paths with the Earthrealmer Shujinko, who assists him in locating the monolithic Soul Stone that will restore his strength, and he trains Shujinko as compensation. Ermac then faces off against Ashrah, who wrongly believes he also is a demon and seeks to kill him but is ultimately defeated.

During the massive free-for-all battle in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006), Ermac attempts to double-team Sheeva with Nightwolf on the steps of the Pyramid of Argus, but they are quickly overpowered before Kenshi intervenes. After Quan Chi cuts Kenshi down, Ermac reemerges to hurl Quan Chi off the pyramid and then stomp on Kenshi before revealing himself as Shang Tsung.[38] An unofficial test biography created by Midway showed Ermac performing a kata routine in a forest setting with the first half of his Deception bio recited in voiceover, backed by a sample of George S. Clinton's score from the first Mortal Kombat film.[39] Midway ultimately went with traditional still-image bios (of which only seventeen total out of 63 were created), but Ermac never received an official bio of his own and therefore played no part in the storyline.[40][note 4] The concept biography was hidden in the Krypt in the game's Konquest Mode.

In Mortal Kombat (2011), the alternate-timeline reboot of the first three games, Ermac is introduced during the Shaolin Tournament,[42] and has returned to his original role of Kahn's personal enforcer. The souls comprising his being are now exclusively those of warriors who had died trying to protect the otherworldly realm of Edenia from Kahn's takeover; Kahn then tore the souls from their bodies and used them to form Ermac, then programmed him to do his bidding.[43] He plays a minor role in the game's story mode by eliminating Cage from the second tournament and using his telekinesis to obliterate Jax's arms and throw Stryker down a stairwell onto a subway platform.[44][45] Ermac's semicanonical ending, illustrated by Anna Christenson and animated by Daanish Syed,[46][47] reveals that one of the souls trapped inside him is actually that of King Jerrod, Queen Sindel's husband and Kitana's father.[48]

Design[edit]

Debuting in UMK3 as a palette swap of Scorpion,[49] Ermac received his own unique redesign for Mortal Kombat: Deception following an eight-year absence from the series

Played by John Turk in UMK3, Ermac was a normal human ninja whose outfit consisted of the standard black balaclava and sleeveless bodysuit worn underneath a scarlet vest, a fauld and loincloth, gauntlets, shin guards, and hard-shell face mask, as worn by the game's other male ninja characters. He was one of ten palette swaps overall in the game, including Human Smoke and unplayables Rain and Noob Saibot.[49] Ermac also shared the same bronze skin tone as Jade,[49] which was changed to white like the other male ninjas (save for the wraith Noob Saibot) in the 1996 followup Mortal Kombat Trilogy.[50]

Along with the other ninja swaps from the two-dimensional games, Ermac was given a new, distinct look for Deception, which marked his first appearance as a player character since Trilogy. The ninja costume was replaced with a long-sleeved and looser-fitting outfit that left no skin exposed, and the mask now consisted of a series of haphazardly-wrapped black straps,[51] which was accompanied by a black tabard with red trim and gold fasteners while the loincloth extended downward from above the knee (in UMK3 and Trilogy) to ankle-length.[52] The character's red and black palette was also enhanced with touches of green,[52] and his appearance in Shaolin Monks borrowed liberally from this design with gold trimming added.

The original Deception template was maintained for the 2011 reboot with some minor changes. Ermac's costume was more form-fitting with the mask neater in presentation and conformed more to the shape of his head, but more emphasis was placed on black, with the red palette now a darker carmine and reduced to trimming on the tabard and on the underarm and outer thigh sections of the suit. A new cosmetic addition was two long straps, similar to the ones that extended from the back of his mask, that dangled from his forearms,[53] but the green gems and their placement remained unchanged with the forehead mount smaller in size.[54]

Gameplay[edit]

In UMK3, Ermac is one of three secret characters unlockable via an Ultimate Kombat Kode, alongside series incumbents Mileena and Classic Sub-Zero.[55] In UMK3 and MK Trilogy, as a palette swap, he had a standard projectile and shared Scorpion's teleport punch, while he and Human Smoke had the same uppercut decapitation Fatality. The only original animation for Ermac in the game was extending his arm upward for the Telekinetic Slam (later used for Rain's lightning strike in MK Trilogy). Ed Boon considered Ermac one of the strongest characters in UMK3 based on this attack alone, which sent opponents rebounding off the ground upon impact and, according to Sega Saturn Magazine, was "perfect for setting up juggle combos," making him "one character to be very worried about."[56] It also served as Ermac's main Fatality and has become his signature move throughout his series appearances. Boon additionally described the Slam as one of his favorite special moves in the series overall.[57][note 5] His Animality in both games saw him turn into a small green frog that ate his opponent. Ermac is not playable in Shaolin Monks, instead featuring as a secret boss whom players battled after interacting with his statue in the Warrior Shrine in order to unlock him,[23] and he was given a Fatality that was exclusive to the PAL release of the game. He was one of only three post-MKII characters included in the game, along with Kabal and Quan Chi.

If you're a fan of combos with special moves, Ermac is your man. Though his special moves aren't terribly effective [on] their own, they do work excellently in combos. It'll take some work to master them, but combos with Ermac's telekinesis are his most damaging and impressive looking.[58]

Mark Ryan Sallee, GameSpy, 2004

For Deception and Armageddon, the Teleport Punch was dropped but Ermac's green fireball projectile was retained. He also became the second character in the series after Sindel with the ability of levitation, which itself led into additional maneuvers such as shooting an airborne projectile, striking with a diving kick, or slamming backfirst onto the ground to harm an opponent. While GameSpy described his combo abilities in Deception as "strong," they countered that the character "isn't very versatile otherwise" in regards to his special attacks, which by themselves were "only somewhat useful."[58] His main fighting style in both titles is Choy Lay Fut, a martial art that specializes, as depicted in his Deception ending, in warding off multiple attackers.[59] The Telekinetic Slam again doubled as his main Fatality in both games, and for his Hara-Kiri in Deception, he repeatedly bangs his head face-first into the ground until it explodes into a bloody mess; series art director Steve Beran labeled it one of his favorites from the game due to its gruesomeness.[60] A super-deformed version of the character also appeared in the minigames Puzzle Kombat and Chess Kombat. Alex Vo of GameSpy considered his specials in Armageddon as "add[ing] an interesting quirk into the gameplay."[61]

GameFront's Mitchell Saltzman described Ermac in MK2011 as "a great all-around character" that is "not too difficult" for beginners to play, while "having enough potential" for expert gamers in terms of causing heavy damage to opponents.[62] The reboot title saw the return of the Teleport Punch and the inclusion of his lifting an opponent and then either telekinetically shoving them away ("Force Push") or piledriving them headfirst into the ground ("Telepush"); Robert Frac of GamePressure called the Force Push "a very good attack for finishing a combo" due to its "considerable damage."[63] The Telekinetic Slam (renamed "Force Lift") was enhanced to include a reverse slam in addition to the regular front slam, all at an increased speed.

In other media[edit]

In the 1996 animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Ermac appeared in the final two episodes, again as a servant to Shao Kahn. In the twelfth episode ("Abandoned"), he and his army of red ninjas work with an original character named Ruby (serving as a stand-in for Jade)[note 6] in attempt to capture Jax and trap the Earthrealm defenders in Outworld.[65] Ermac was voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson in this episode, but had no dialogue in the series finale ("Overthrown"), where he participates in the effort to stop Kitana's (unsuccessful) removal of Kahn from the Outworld throne but is quickly defeated by Liu Kang.[66] Ermac was shown unmasked in both episodes, revealing a normal human appearance with a goatee, receding hairline, and small silver hoop earrings; his only inhuman feature was his solid white eyes.[67]

John Medlen as Ermac in the film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Ermac appeared in the 1997 film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and was played by assistant stunt coordinator John Medlen (also the second unit director for Mortal Kombat: Konquest). He was never identified by name, save for the closing credits, and his backstory was ignored as he sporadically featured in a generic role of one of Shao Kahn's subordinates alongside Sheeva, Rain and Motaro. Ermac has only one line of dialogue, when he pitches himself as the new general of Kahn's extermination squads (ultimately awarded to Sindel) following the emperor's abrupt killing of Rain. He also does not have a fight scene until he battles Sonya in the movie's climax, during which Noob Saibot spawns from his chest and they double-team Sonya with repeated kicks and punches until Jax's intervention enables her to defeat Ermac with a headscissors takedown before snapping his neck. Though the script and print media publications such as SciFi Entertainment and Black Belt made mention of his telekinetic powers, they were never used in the film nor the novelization.[68][69][70]

In the Annihilation novelization, written by Jerome Preisler and based off the shooting script, Ermac is described as "perfectly still and unblinking" and "without any discernible reaction" when Kahn grandiosely introduces his charges during the opening scene of his invasion of Earth. He then has an inconclusive fight scene with Kitana that he instigates by hitting her from behind while she is distracted by Sindel's unexpected appearance, but is unmentioned during the selection of Kahn's new general. His only dialogue therein consists of him snickering at Sindel's predicament later in the story when she is threatened with death by Kahn for her failure to lure the Earth warriors into an ambush.[71] His outfit differs from that in the film in that it is fully red and identical to that of a traditional ninja.[note 7] The costume worn by Medlen during shooting was auctioned off on movie-memorabilia site ScreenUsed in May 2010.[72][note 8]

His association with Kenshi from Deadly Alliance is revisited, with substantial changes, in the 2013 second season of the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series, played out over the third and fourth episodes.[4][73] In director Kevin Tancharoen's version of the storyline, set in feudal Japan, Ermac (described as a "demon" with a "heart of stone") dwells in a dank cave where he guards a mystical weapon called the sword of Sento under Shao Kahn's orders, and has accumulated the souls of thousands of warriors who had tried over time to acquire the sword. When Kenshi attempts to do likewise, Ermac strikes him blind on the spot. The story then transitions to present day at the Mortal Kombat tournament and Kenshi now possesses the sword; Ermac reappears to reclaim it and the two engage in combat. Ermac is shown using his powers for the first time in any of his alternate-media appearances when he flips Kenshi from a distance onto his back before binding him with a pair of diaphanous snake-like tentacles he shoots from his hands, but Kenshi uses the sword to cut himself free and then flings it directly into Ermac's chest, killing him. Ermac was played by stuntman Kim Do Nguyen, who additionally doubled for Ian Anthony Dale (Scorpion) and Brian Tee (Liu Kang) in Season 2.[74][75] Legacy fight choreographer Larnell Stovall called the Ermac/Kenshi fight a personal "geek-out moment," because "who would have thought we would see those two fight in a web series?"[76] However, Ermac's physical appearance was a complete departure from the games as he was outfitted in a ragged black robe and a hood that framed his unmasked decaying visage, which included a black oil-like substance staining the lower half of his face.[77] He was the only character in the second season who required extensive makeup, which was created by Academy Award-winning makeup artist Christien Tinsley, who had previously worked on Tancharoen's 2010 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth. In November 2013, concept artist Jarad Marantz posted on his blog makeup designs for the character that had been rejected due to Legacy's budget constraints.[78]

Promotion and merchandise[edit]

Ermac's official design from the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot debuted front and center on the title page of PlayStation: The Official Magazine's "2011's Hugest Games" feature, in addition to appearing in two screenshots in a section about the game.[79][80][81] For his May 2011 review of the game, Angry Joe Show host Joe Vargas dressed up as the character for a skit titled "Cooking with Ermac" (a parody of the 2002 "Cooking with Scorpion" short from Deadly Alliance),[82] in which he mocked his Puerto Rican heritage and "telekinetically" prepared a plate of tostones.[83] He reprised the role in August 2011 for his review of the Kinect version of Fruit Ninja, which was introduced as "Ermac's Dojo."[84] Vargas spoke in a loud voice and exaggerated Hispanic accent while in character on both occasions.

Despite being in the Mortal Kombat series since the 1990s, Ermac was first featured on official merchandise after the 2011 reboot's release. He was part of a "Klassic Ninja" six-pack of 4" action figures released that year by Jazwares, in addition to being sold separately.[85][86] Ermac was one of thirteen MK2011 characters depicted on life-sized standing cardboard cutouts from Advanced Graphics,[87] and one of twenty featured on 2.5" x 3.5" collectible magnets by Ata-Boy Wholesale in 2011.[88] Syco Collectibles released an 18" polystone statue in 2012, complete with glow-in-the-dark eyes and gemstones, plus "green energy" accessories that detached from his hands.[89][90]

Cultural impact[edit]

In the 2006 metaphysical novel If You Don't Give Me Heaven, by Noel Rogers, the main character reads a fictitious self-help book that discusses historical hoaxes such as the Donation of Constantine and the Rosicrucian Manifestos, then he checks the book's index to see if the author makes any reference to Ermac.[91] Alex Langley's 2013 book Geek Lust mentions the character in a section titled "Ten Video Game Urban Legends that, While Not Creepy, Still Plagued the Heck Outta Gamers."[92] In a feature on the series published online by Cracked in 2010, images of Street Fighter character Ken Masters and a Dexter-like figure were juxtaposed in a mock mathematical equation that ended with a UMK3 screenshot of Ermac performing the Telekinetic Slam Fatality and was captioned with, "Mortal Kombat. Creating serial killers before GTA was swimming in Rockstar's nutsack."[93] Ermac was one of five series characters featured in an animated Mortal Kombat parody produced by Comedy Central in 2014, in which he was renamed "Blood Ninja" and was briefly seen rejecting a request over the phone from "Yao Zhang" (Shang Tsung) to compete in his tournament.[94]

Reception[edit]

Ermac cosplayer Dave Todd plays MK2011 with NetherRealm Studios games marketing manager Brian Goodman at PAX East 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.[95][96]

Though not on the level of exposure as the likes of Scorpion, Sub-Zero or Kitana—while the Guardian Liberty Voice considered him among the series' "staples," CBS News labeled him "obscure"[97][98]—Ermac's profile has steadily increased since his breakout in Deception, combined with the enduring legacy of the EGM hoax and his special moves from the later games. He finished just short of the top ten in UGO's 2012 list of the top 50 Mortal Kombat characters, placing eleventh; UGO opined that his powers made him "a very lethal foe" and compared his plural speech pattern to that of Marvel Comics character Venom.[99] In 2013, Complex named Ermac as the fifteenth-most brutal character in the series due to his Fatalities and destruction of Jax's arms in MK2011.[100] Anthony Severino of GameRevolution ranked him eighth in his 2011 list of "Top 10 Old School Mortal Kombat Characters," saying that his origins "alone make him a legend."[101] ScrewAttack oddly included him in a list of the top twenty orange video game characters, rating him seventh while adding that he was "one of the better characters in the Mortal Kombat series. Not bad for a palette swap of Scorpion."[102] Ermac was ranked as the fifteenth-best MK character in a 2013 online fan vote hosted by Dorkly,[103] while fans placed him second behind only Sub-Zero as the series' top character in a poll held by Mortal Kombat Online in 2012; he finished fourth in the same poll behind Smoke, Raiden and Scorpion the following year.[104][105] He joined the series' other male ninjas in being ranked third on GamePro's 2009 list of the best palette-swapped video game characters,[106] but Game Informer was not high on seeing these same characters, aside from Scorpion and Sub-Zero, in any future series installments.[107] A similar sentiment was echoed by WhatCulture, who criticized the series' inclusion of "various different colorized versions of Scorpion," such as Ermac, as "a trend [that] got out of hand."[108] However, Robert Naytor of Hardcore Gaming 101 considered Ermac "a better fit" than Scorpion for appearing in the 2004 Midway release Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, "given how much telekinesis is used throughout the game."[109]

His "Pest Control" Fatality from MK2011, in which he magically shrinks his opponent and then crushes them underfoot, has been singled out for praise. Complex ranked it second in their list of the twenty best MK finishing moves, hailing it as "brutal, funny and effective" and being "all about the detail—the way he ground[s] his heel into the ground before wiping his feet clean."[110] Paste rated it the third-best Fatality from MK2011,[111] while FHM included it among the game's top brutal finishers.[112] We Got This Covered deemed it the game's "most imaginative" Fatality, adding that the shrunken opponents' "pint-sized screams make it even more worthwhile."[113] Geek-culture site Earth-2.net alluded to the move in a criticism of Jax's "Giant Stomp" finisher from MK3: "The only way this Fatality works is by inverting it like ... in the new game."[114] The finisher was ranked 46th by Robert Workman of Prima Games in his 2014 list of the series' top fifty Fatalities, in addition to Ermac's "Mind over Splatter" Fatality, also from MK2011, placing sixth in the same list.[115][116]

Response to Ermac's alternate-media incarnations, however, has been mostly negative. Due to his lack of development in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, he was dismissed as "useless" by Newsarama[117] and as "some random ninja guy" by 411mania.com,[118] while Theodore Bond of Letterboxd faulted the similarity of his and Rain's onscreen costumes: "I only had a slight idea of who they were and by no means could I tell them apart."[119] Ermac was named by iGoGaming.net in 2011 as a character wanted for the next season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy[120] and Jake Morris of We The Nerdy considered his fight with Kenshi "the best" of the second season,[121] but his character design was widely panned. Carl Lyon of Fearnet wrote that Ermac looked "like some sort of black metal leper, a flailing mass of rags and corpse paint" with "little development outside of an opponent ... that gets quickly dispatched."[122] He was additionally described as "a goofy cave-dweller befit an episode of Goosebumps" by Kevin Pape of gaming site The Red Herb[123] and, by ScrewAttack, an "orc-like beast" with a "just flat-out strange" design.[124]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The name has been pronounced as both "AIR-mac" (UMK3/Trilogy and MK: Defenders of the Realm[3]) and /ˈər.mæk/ (MK: Deception—present, and MK: Legacy[4]), with stress placed on the first syllable in either instance. The former elocution is derived from the first syllable of "error," in reference to Ermac's namesake of "error macro," and the latter is simply the standard "ur" pronunciation of the syllable. In no relation to the character's origins, "Ermac" is also a common Filipino surname.[5][6]
  2. ^ Reference is unrelated to the article subject in general but explains error-trapping in macros.
  3. ^ In the game's operations manual, dated February 1993, an illustrated mockup of the audit screen instead showed the entire character roster and counters representing the number of times they were chosen by players—which was also on the diagnostics menu but on a separate screen—followed by the macro that was written as "Error Traps," all with zero mention of Reptile.[9] Boon explained in a 2012 interview, "[The] diagnostics menu when you go into the game ... would count, how many times was Kano picked, how many times was Liu Kang, and Johnny Cage—and at the end, I put 'Ermac,' and it wasn’t referring to a character. It was referring to how many times this error macro, or 'ermac,' would execute."[10]
  4. ^ Ermac's uncanonical Armageddon ending sees his physical form shattered from the energy of the defeated Blaze and the souls within Ermac forming new, individual bodies of their own (simply called "the Ermacs") that are all linked together psychically in a collective conscience, making him no longer a single being but an entire army.[41]
  5. ^ Boon uses a malapropism in discussing the move; he refers to it as the "Teleport Slam."
  6. ^ A guide was produced for DotR's writers by Threshold Entertainment that contained, among its contents, brief biographies of characters shortlisted for inclusion in the show. Jade's role therein was as "a childhood friend of Kitana's but also works for Kahn at times. She is alluring, mysterious and exotic, yet she cannot be trusted. She use[s] her beauty to lure her unsuspecting prey."[64] Jade never appeared on the show and was instead converted by Threshold into this original character, her palette changed to red in order to connect her with Ermac (who himself is not mentioned in the guide) and his forces while her gemstone namesake was kept intact (jade to ruby). Ruby played Jade's designated role in this episode, though as a former ally, and not childhood friend, of Kitana.
  7. ^ Chapter 1: "Though red rather than black, his clothes were otherwise identical to the traditional garb of the ninja: a hood drawn over his head, the lower part of his face masked with a wide strip of cloth, his lightweight boots split at the toe to aid in stealthy movement."
  8. ^ Exact date of sale is unknown; May 5, 2010 is the last archived date when Annihilation appears in the pull-down film listing on the ScreenUsed.com site. The title no longer appears on the next archived date, May 27, 2010.

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External links[edit]