Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

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Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
Developer(s) Midway Games
Publisher(s) Midway Games
Designer(s) Ed Boon
Series Mortal Kombat
Engine RenderWare
Platform(s) Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance
Release date(s) PlayStation 2
  • NA November 16, 2002
  • PAL February 14, 2003
  • NA November 17, 2002
  • PAL February 14, 2003
  • NA November 18, 2002
  • PAL February 14, 2003
Game Boy Advance
  • NA November 20, 2002
  • PAL February 14, 2003
  • NA August 25, 2003 (TE)
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution DVD-ROM, Nintendo optical disc, cartridge

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance is a fighting game developed and published by Midway for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Game Boy Advance. It was the first all-new Mortal Kombat fighting game produced exclusively for home consoles, with no preceding arcade release. Deadly Alliance is chronologically the fifth main game in the Mortal Kombat series. Its story focuses on the titular alliance between sorcerers Quan Chi and Shang Tsung and their schemes to revive an ancient army to conquer Outworld and Earthrealm.

Two different Game Boy Advance games based on Deadly Alliance were released. The first version, also titled Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was released on November 2002, during the same week as the home console versions, while the second GBA version, Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition (originally titled Mortal Kombat: Deadly Revenge, which was printed in the manual), was released on August 25, 2003. Although the GBA games feature 2D sprites, they were also the first portable Mortal Kombat games to feature 3D style gameplay.


Gameplay screenshot of a fight between Scorpion and Sub-Zero

Like all of the Mortal Kombat games, Deadly Alliance focuses heavily on its fighting modes. The gameplay is completely different from that of previous entries in the franchise. Each character now possesses three individual fighting styles,[1] generally two hand-to-hand styles and one weapon style (excepting Blaze and Mokap, who received three hand-to hand styles and no weapon style) which players can switch between with the push of a button. In previous games, aside from "dial-a-combos" all the characters fought virtually identically, with only special moves to differentiate them. The number of special moves per character (usable in any fighting style) has also been reduced, varying only from two to four for most, thus forcing the player to make use of the improved fighting system. The characters can no longer run, and there is no run meter. However, while still limited to only moving into the background and foreground, movement in the third dimension is much easier and can be used continuously (in Mortal Kombat 4, sidestepping was mapped to two different buttons and could be performed at a rate of about one a second). To prevent fighters from leaving the arena, boundaries that are otherwise invisible appear when a fighter is knocked against the edge.

Characters models became more realistic. Flesh will move or jiggle on a character as he or she moves around. Environmental interaction is present, but infrequent. Several levels include obstacles - such as pillars or statues - that can be shattered to damage an opponent standing near one. There is just one Fatality per character, while the previous games included many ways to finish the opponent. It is also the only Mortal Kombat game to date that does not include Stage Fatalities, although the Acid Bath level still possesses special acid-vomiting statues called Acid Buddhas that do damage directly to fighters that stray too close to them.

Deadly Alliance also introduces a "Konquest" mode, which expands on the storyline and acts as a tutorial for each character. The Konquest mode consists of a series of missions to complete with each of the characters. In between each sequence, a video of a monk moving between various locations on the path of Konquest is shown, but this has no actual bearing on the gameplay itself other than to simulate the sense of a journey. After completing eight initial "kombat tasks" with Sub-Zero, the player is instructed to complete a specific set of tasks with each character, which vary from performing difficult combos to defeating opponents. Each series comes with text instructions that include a basic storyline that delves further into each character's backgrounds and motives. The characters Blaze and Mokap can only be unlocked by completing all stages of Konquest. Upon completing each mission (of a starting difficulty for each character that increases per mission), the player is rewarded with a number of "koins" (coin with the series' trademark misspelling done intentionally) that act as the in-game currency to open Koffins in the Krypt and unlock secrets in the game.

The Krypt where the player can buy extras with koins earned in regular play and in Konquest mode. The Krypt consists of 676 koffins (actual coffins again referred to by the series' trademark misspelling) arranged in a square format with each designated alphabetically by a two-letter designation (AA - ZZ). The koffins are filled with a vast number of secrets and unlockables. Each koffin has a different designated price, listed in a number (anywhere from 1 up to the thousands) and type (Gold, Ruby, Sapphire, Jade, Onyx, and Platinum) of koins that it would cost to open the koffin. The Krypt includes unlockable characters, arenas, and alternative costumes. Also included among the koffins are various videos, images, concept sketches, and the entire Mortal Kombat Collector's Edition comic book. Some koffins contained koins that could be used towards other koffins, others contained hints as to where other items were located, and others were even empty. One of the unlockable items from the Krypt is a CGI bag of adult diapers (complete with advertisement text), which is nod to a long-standing joke/urban legend that gamers will wear diapers to keep from having to take restroom breaks at crucial times.

Test Your Might, the original minigame of the Mortal Kombat series, returns for the first time since the original game, and a variation, Test Your Sight, is also included. In Test Your Sight, the character stands in front of a set of cups, and the game shows the player which cup contains the Mortal Kombat logo icon. The cups then begin to move in a random order, and by the end one has to select the cup containing the icon. As the player progresses through the minigame, the number of cups increases, as does the speed at which the cups move. At higher levels, the camera would even move in order to make it more difficult for the player to keep track of the movement of the icon. Succeeding at both Test Your Might and Test Your Sight rewards the player with koins.


At the end of Mortal Kombat 4 (which is Scorpion's canon ending), the sorcerer Quan Chi revealed himself to be the murderer of Scorpion's family and clan, before attempting to send him back to the Netherrealm. Scorpion, fueled with homicidal rage, grabbed Quan Chi at the last minute, taking the sorcerer with him. In the intro to Deadly Alliance, it is revealed that Quan Chi was able to escape the Netherrealm, using the amulet he had stolen from Shinnok. He appears in a tomb containing several mummified remains and an ancient runestone, which reveals that the remains are the "undefeatable" army of the long forgotten ruler of Outworld, known simply as the "Dragon King". Learning that it can be revived, Quan Chi forms an alliance with Shang Tsung, offering him an endless supply of souls in return for him transplanting the souls of defeated warriors into the army. The two work together to defeat, and kill, Shao Kahn and Liu Kang, the two greatest threats to their plans. Unable to interfere as an Elder God, Raiden surrenders his status after realizing that, should the sorcerers succeed, they will be virtually unstoppable. He gathers together his most trusted mortal allies in order to stop the Deadly Alliance before the army can be fully resurrected.

In Deadly Alliance, the player receives information concerning the backstories of the characters and their relationships with one another mainly during Konquest mode, but also in way of biographies that can be obtained in the Krypt. The game takes place in a fantasy setting, with most of the game's events occurring in the fictional realms of the Mortal Kombat series. The story begins in the Netherealm (although this is not a playable level), and later switches to Outworld, Edenia and eventually Earthrealm. To fully understand the plot of Deadly Alliance, the player must not only complete the Konquest mode but the Arcade mode as well. As usual, completing the Arcade mode unlocks endings for each character, but only a few endings or a part of them are considered canon to the Mortal Kombat storyline. Some endings even contradict one another. What really happened to the characters was only revealed in the sequel Mortal Kombat: Deception, making Deadly Alliance the first game in the series to have a canonical ending that involves the heroes losing and the villains emerging victorious.


  • Raiden – the thunder god who resumes his lesser-god status to help against the Deadly Alliance.
  • Johnny Cage - a Hollywood actor whose career is now marked with mockery and who hopes to restore his image.
  • Kitana - the Edenian princess who allied with Goro to wage war against Shao Kahn, and eventually the Deadly Alliance.
  • Kung Lao - Liu Kang's friend and fellow monk who is enraged at his death and seeks vengeance.
  • Sub-Zero - cryokinetic warrior who re-establishes the Lin Kuei as a force for good and solicits new members.
  • Scorpion - Quan Chi's tormentor who has left the Netherealm to pursue the sorcerer.
  • Jackson "Jax" Briggs - Established the Outerworld Investigation Agency with Sonya who was betrayed by an OIA operative who destroyed the agency's portal.
  • Sonya Blade - partner with Jax who feels responsible for the disappearance of the two agents of the OIA who were lost in Outworld when the portal was destroyed.
  • Cyrax - a former Lin Kuei cyborg rescued by Jax and Sonya and recruited for the OIA, he is stranded in Outworld and manipulated by Nitara.
  • Kenshi - a blind swordsman who was employed briefly by the OIA before the portal was destroyed, stranding him in Outworld.
  • Bo' Rai Cho - Outworld native who trained Liu Kang and Kung Lao.
  • Li Mei - Outworld native whose people are enslaved by the Deadly Alliance. She enters a tournament sponsored by the sorcerers hoping to win their freedom.
  • Nitara - a manipulative vampire who seeks a means by which to separate her realm from Outworld.
  • Frost - Sub-Zero's first trainee who lacks humility.
  • Shang Tsung - the sorcerer who seeks immortality. One of two possible bosses.
  • Quan Chi - the sorcerer who struck-up the deal with Shang Tsung. One of two possible bosses.
  • Mavado - Red Dragon mastermind who ordered Hsu Hao to infiltrate the OIA.
  • Hsu Hao - Red Dragon operative sent to infiltrate and destroy the OIA.
  • Drahmin - a Netherealm Oni seeking vengeance against Quan Chi.
  • Moloch - Drahmin's partner and the game's sub-boss.
  • Mokap - secret character said to have done motion capture work on the films of Johnny Cage, intended as a homage to Carlos Pesina (who performed the motion capture work for the game).
  • Blaze - the fire elemental that appeared as one of the background characters in a stage from Mortal Kombat II.

Deadly Alliance is notable for being the only game in the main series that does not feature Liu Kang as a playable character, as he and Shao Kahn only appear on the introduction video. Also mentioned in Konquest are the deaths of Goro, Kabal, Motaro and Sheeva, but they would later appear in sequels. The Dragon King mentioned in the game would later appear as Onaga in the sequel Mortal Kombat: Deception. Deadly Alliance is also the last game to feature both Scorpion and Sub-Zero in their unmasked forms and the first and only game where Kung Lao does not have his trademark hat on his main costume but from behind his back because, this is the first game that Kung Lao has long hair and is tied in a high ponytail.

Character design on some returning characters was met with mixed response, most notably in regards to Sub-Zero. While other characters that returned do not appear to have experienced any significant aging, Sub-Zero appears to have aged tremendously and looks to be an elderly Caucasian man in his 60's or 70's. It was theorized by some fans that the amulet he possessed aged him prematurely, as this was part of a series of notes on the character that appeared in concept art. No mention of this was made in the game story, however. Similarly, Reptile's raptor-like appearance was met with both praise and criticism, some feeling that the departure from the original character was too much, while others were excited to a see a playable, non-human in the game with this type of design.

The original character roster of Deadly Alliance was split for the two GBA titles: Shang Tsung, Quan Chi and Scorpion were included in both versions. Frost, Jax, Sub-Zero, Kano, Kung Lao, Kenshi, Kitana, Li Mei, and Sonya Blade are included only in the first Deadly Alliance port. Bo' Rai Cho, Cyrax, Drahmin, Hsu Hao, Johnny Cage, Mavado, Nitara, Raiden and Reptile are included only in Tournament Edition. Blaze, Mokap and Moloch are excluded in both versions.

Tournament Edition builds on the story of Deadly Alliance by including three extra characters that were not in the original versions. These were Sektor, Noob Saibot and Sareena. Sektor and Noob Saibot are palette swaps of Cyrax and Scorpion respectively, while Sareena returns from the action-adventure game Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Tournament Edition is the only Mortal Kombat fighting game that does not feature Sub-Zero in any form. Noob Saibot, the original Sub-Zero, is playable, although his identity was not revealed to players until Mortal Kombat: Deception. Tournament Edition also adds three modes survival, tag team and practice, as well as weapon fatalities.


Despite the success of Mortal Kombat 4, the series had begun to suffer from overexposure by the late '90s, while spawning mostly failed or mediocre projects. The 1996 animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm lasted only one season, and in November 1997, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, the sequel to the successful 1995 original, underperformed in theaters. The live-action series Mortal Kombat: Konquest lasted for only one season in 1998 despite strong ratings. On the game front, the side-scrolling Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero was met with limited interest, as was the Dreamcast port of Mortal Kombat 4 titled Mortal Kombat Gold; among critics, both games were considered mediocre at best and received less than favorable reviews.[2][3] The final straw was the negative reception and poor sales of 2000's Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, which led to Midway putting the franchise on hold in order to focus on the development of Deadly Alliance.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was originally known as Mortal Kombat V: Vengeance or simply Mortal Kombat 5. Starting late 1999 and for a few years afterward, only a vague, cryptic hint at the game's development lingered on co-creator Ed Boon's now-defunct website The site was blank, except for a gif file on the site which consisted of a flashing "5" that featured an image of Scorpion inside it. Later in 2002, a teaser trailer featuring the series' flagship character Scorpion in a solo kata, utilizing the in-game engine appeared on the same site. Though it generated much interest and excitement, it was also largely criticized by fans due to Scorpion's unusual appearance, depicting him in a hyper-masculine state with an enormous, bulky torso, enormous hands and over-muscled arms. The head on the character model was tiny, with the legs short, stick-like and comically disproportionate to the character's enormous torso. The initial teaser trailer also depicted several items that did not make it into the final game, such as destructable environments and a fireball attack performed by Scorpion. Though the trailer reflected a game that was very early in development and character models ultimately improved upon release, character models retained some aspects of the disproportionate, bulky bodies, enlarged hands and "stiff" animation for the majority of the series' 3D entries.


To help promote the game, American rock band Adema recorded a song for the game titled "Immortal" and made a music video for it that featured Scorpion. The song was used in many of the game's commercials and the music video is included in the game's extras, as well as a short live video taken from Adema's performance at the 2002 Electronic Entertainment Expo.[citation needed] Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was released in the United Kingdom on Valentine's Day 2003. One special ad had a girlfriend hugging her boyfriend and as she pulled away, there were bloody hand-prints where her hands had been on his back.[4]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings PS2: 81.90%[12]
GCN: 81.82%[13]
Xbox: 82.60%[14]
GBA: 84.63%[15]
Metacritic PS2: 79[10]
GCN/Xbox/GBA: 81[11]
Review scores
Publication Score
GameSpot PS2/GCN/Xbox: 8.1/10[6]
GBA: 7.9/10.0[7]
GameSpy PS2/GCN/Xbox: 4/5[5]
IGN PS2/GCN/Xbox: 8.6/10[8]
GBA: 8.8/10[9]

Reception for Deadly Alliance was generally favorable as it both resuscitated a series that had been waning since the late 1990s and brought many new innovations to the Mortal Kombat series itself. Jeremy Dunham of IGN praised the game for reinventing the Mortal Kombat formula, pointing specifically to Ed Boon's implementation of "true three-dimensional fighting, entirely different fighting styles, and a deeper, more intuitive combo system."[8] Craig Harris lauded the Game Boy Advance version for its polish and content, stating that "a lot of attention was poured into this project, from the fighting and graphics engine, to establishing enough presentation and extras to make the game an excellent single-player title."[9] Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot commended Deadly Alliance for its fluid animation and graphics, and stated that the roster was a "good mix of old and new faces."[6] Likewise, Benjamin Turner of GameSpy welcomed the addition of new characters to the roster, and was complimentary of the new fighting system: "You can just sit back, turn your brain off, and beat people to bloody pulps."[5] As of 2003, according to IGN, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance had sold 2 million copies.[16] In April 2011, Ed Boon stated that the game had sold 3.5 million units.[17]

Criticism of the game emerged primarily in response to the stiff animation and disproportionate character designs. Mortal Kombat had also entered the realm of 3D fighting quite late...whereas this was Mortal Kombat's first true, fully 3D entry, 3D fighters had been dominating the fighting game circuit for nearly a decade already, and while Mortal Kombat was only just now trying to find its footing, other series were continuing to evolve far ahead of MK. Most pointed out the speed and sluggish, stiff animations of MK versus the fluid, realistic animations of other fighters such as Tekken and Dead or Alive. Additionally, the Fatalities in Deadly Alliance were not well received, and in particular, Quan Chi's fatality is often criticized as being the "worst fatality in history".

GameSpot awarded Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance the award of Best Fighting Game on the Xbox in 2002 as well as the best Fighting Game on the GameCube of 2002.[18][19] Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance won the Best Brawl at G-Phoria on 2003,[20] and later would also be included on the PlayStation 2 Greatest Hits.

A study by Barlett, Harris, and Bruey examined how playing Deadly Alliance affected state hostility and heart rate. The manipulated variable was the game's blood setting: Maximum, Medium, Low, or Off. The Maximum and Medium blood levels were found to increase hostility and arousal more than Low or Off. Subjects assigned to the Maximum and Medium conditions also used the weapons-based fighting style more than the other subjects did, which Barlett et al. interpreted as evidence of "more aggressive thoughts activated in semantic memory".[21]


  1. ^ Lane, Tom (2014-03-03). "New Mortal Kombat bloodier than ever". GAMbIT Magazine. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  2. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (1997-10-01). "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero Review". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  3. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (1999-08-31). "Mortal Kombat Gold Review". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  4. ^ "Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance for GameCube (2002) Trivia". MobyGames. 2002-12-25. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  5. ^ a b Turner, Benjamin (November 22, 2002). "GameSpy Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance review (PS2)". GameSpy. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Gerstmann, Jeff (November 20, 2002). "Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance Review". GameSpot. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  7. ^ Provo, Frank (January 7, 2003). "Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance Review". GameSpot. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Dunham, Jeremy (November 19, 2002). "IGN: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance". IGN. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Harris, Craig (November 20, 2002). "IGN: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance". IGN. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Metacritic: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (PS2)". Metacritic. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Metacritic: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (GCN)". Metacritic. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Game Rankings: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (PS2)". Game Rankings. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Game Rankings: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (GCN)". Game Rankings. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Game Rankings: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (Xbox)". Game Rankings. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Game Rankings: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (GBA)". Game Rankings. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  16. ^ Coleman, Stephen (2003-07-08). "Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance Sells 2 Million Units". Retrieved 2010-04-04. [dead link]
  17. ^ Cook, Dave (2011-04-20). "Mortal Kombat: Ed Boon Interview". Now Gamer. Retrieved 2011-09-06. 
  18. ^ "Best Fighting Game on Xbox". GameSpot. 2002. Retrieved 2010-02-02. [dead link]
  19. ^ "Best Fighting Game on GameCube". GameSpot. 2002. Retrieved 2010-02-02. [dead link]
  21. ^ Barlett, Christopher P.; Harris, Richard J.; Bruey, Callie (2008). "The effect of the amount of blood in a violent video game on aggression, hostility, and arousal". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 44 (2): 539–546. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2007.10.003. 

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