Shinnok

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Shinnok
Mortal Kombat character
ShinnokMKXrender.png
Shinnok in Mortal Kombat X (2015)
First game Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997)
Created by John Tobias
Designed by John Tobias (MKM:SZ/MK4)
Steve Beran (MK:A)
Jennifer L. Parsons (Annihilation)
Voiced by Steve Beran (MK4/MKG)
Herman Sanchez, Knute Horwitz (MK:A)
Ken Lally (MK2011)
Troy Baker (MKX)[1]
Motion capture Carlos Pesina (MK:A)
Chris Bashen (MKX)[2]
Portrayed by Gary Wingert (MKM:SZ)
Reiner Schöne (Annihilation)
Fictional profile
Origin Netherealm (formerly The Heavens)
Fighting styles Kuo Shou (MK:A)
Weapon Long Spear (MK4)
Amulet Staff (MK:A)

Shinnok is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. First appearing as the nonplayable boss of the 1997 side-scrolling action-adventure game Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, he made his selectable debut in the three-dimensional fighting title Mortal Kombat 4 the same year. In the series canon, Shinnok is a disgraced former Elder God who was imprisoned in the eternally-damned Netherealm, which he rules alongside the nefarious sorcerer Quan Chi while seeking revenge against Raiden for his banishment. He plays his largest role to date in Mortal Kombat X, in which he defeats Raiden's chosen warriors in battle before being sealed inside a magic amulet, in addition to serving as the game's final boss.

While he is associated with Quan Chi due to their recurring partnership throughout the Mortal Kombat series since their collective 1997 debut, Shinnok has not fared as well in terms of long-term popularity and storyline presence. He has been selectable after Mortal Kombat 4 in two other games (the compilation title Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, and Mortal Kombat X) with cameo roles in other installments, in addition to not featuring in any alternate media or merchandise save for a supporting role in the 1997 feature film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. General and media reception has been mixed to negative, mainly for what is considered to be his unimposing stature as a boss character in the series.

Appearances[edit]

In video games[edit]

Shinnok is introduced in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995), first in Noob Saibot's in-game biography as an unnamed "evil and mysterious fallen Elder God" who is worshipped by a faction called the Brotherhood of the Shadow, then is addressed by name in his ending[3] as well as that of Mileena, who comes across Shinnok in the Netherealm after she is murdered by Kitana.[4]

Shinnok makes his official debut as the nonplayable final boss of Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997), chronologically set prior to the events of the first Mortal Kombat game. His background was expanded on the game's official website as a disgraced former Elder God who was forcibly expelled from the Heavens after committing crimes against his fellow gods. He desired to rule Earthrealm (Earth) with immense power acquired by the creation of a magic amulet, but comes into direct conflict with Earthrealm's protector, the thunder god Raiden, who defeats Shinnok after centuries of warring that nearly destroys Earth, then strips him of the amulet and banishes him to the Netherealm. Quan Chi assists Shinnok in defeating the realm's ruler Lucifer in exchange for power and the opportunity to co-rule at Shinnok's side.[5] Shinnok assembles a fanatical cult called the Brotherhood of the Shadow that is dedicated to worshipping him. Quan Chi hires Lin Kuei clansman Sub-Zero to find the lost amulet, which Quan Chi presents to Shinnok, who was unaware that it was a meaningless duplicate while Quan Chi secretly kept the original for himself. Sub-Zero defeats Quan Chi and Shinnok in battle, sending them both into exile, then steals the (fake) amulet from Shinnok and returns it to Raiden at the game's conclusion.

Shinnok is the main (and immediately playable) boss character of Mortal Kombat 4 (1997), in which he invades and annexes the otherworldly realm of Edenia with the aid of Quan Chi's forces and the traitorous Edenian Tanya. He then declares war against the Elder Gods, specifically Raiden for his punishment,[6] but his mission fails after he is defeated by perennial Mortal Kombat champion Liu Kang. He destroys Raiden in his noncanonical ending, is betrayed and killed with the amulet in Quan Chi's ending, and eliminates Reptile (described in his biography as "a general in Shinnok's army of darkness") in the latter's conclusion after taking offense at Reptile's demand that his race be restored as compensation for his service.[7]

In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006), in which Shinnok is selectable along with nearly the entire series cast, he was not given an official biography[8] but features in the game's Konquest mode as having been a friend of main protagonist Taven and his family for years. Taven is under the impression that Shinnok is still a force of good, as he rescues Shinnok from an attack by Li Mei and then helps him regain control of a spire from an army of demons that are later revealed to have been apparitions merely serving as a test. He makes a brief appearance in the beginning of the battle royal against the other combatants at the Pyramid of Argus in Armageddon's opening sequence, when he summons a pair of giant skeletal hands that emerge from the earth and pin Raiden to the ground before Raiden hits him with a lightning blast.[9] Shinnok actually survives the battle as he had sent a doppelgänger of himself to the pyramid, and must face the being in battle after he defeats Blaze in his noncanonical ending.[10]

Shinnok appears at the conclusion of the story mode of Mortal Kombat, the 2011 reboot of the first three titles. He is revealed therein to be the superior to Quan Chi, who declares that Shinnok's plan had "worked to perfection," namely spearheading the Netherealm's invasion of an Earthrealm and Outworld greatly weakened over the course of Shao Kahn's rule and defeat, combined with Quan Chi's machinations and Raiden's successful but flawed prevention of Armageddon.[11]

In Mortal Kombat X (2015), his third playable appearance in the series and second overall as the final boss, Shinnok is first shown in a flashback sequence at Raiden's Sky Temple, defeating Raiden, Fujin, and a group of Earthrealm warriors in combat at the Jinsei Chamber, the source of Earthrealm's life force, until Raiden seals Shinnok inside his own amulet, whose whereabouts are then unknown over the course of the next twenty-five years, when Mileena has acquired it. The amulet switches hands thereafter until Quan Chi is beheaded by Scorpion after a fight at an Earthrealm refugee camp, after which his severed head completes the incantation of a spell that frees Shinnok. With the aid of Quan Chi's revenants from the previous game, Shinnok and D'Vorah assault the Sky Temple, where Raiden is subdued and the climax is established when Shinnok enters the Jinsei and corrupts it, transforming himself into a massive and powerful demon ("Corrupted Shinnok"). A Special Forces unit led by Cassie Cage arrives to battle the transformed Shinnok and Quan Chi's revenant army. After Cassie is victorious over Shinnok, Raiden then purifies the Jinsei, stripping Shinnok of his powers. In a tag scene following the story mode's closing credits, Raiden, appearing to have been corrupted by his purification of the Jinsei, issues a threat to newly-appointed Netherealm rulers Liu Kang and Kitana should they endanger Earthrealm, stressing his stance by presenting them with Shinnok's disembodied, but still living, head.

Design and gameplay[edit]

Shinnok's likeness in Mortal Kombat 4 was based on that of series art director Steve Beran.[12] His skin tone is ash-white like that of Quan Chi, his palette features strong red, yellow, and teal tones, and his head is covered with a miter-like headdress. In Mortal Kombat Mythologies, Shinnok was portrayed in the cutscenes and gameplay by theater actor Gary Wingert,[13] and similar to Shang Tsung in the original Mortal Kombat game, the character was designed as a wizened sorcerer with a floor-length green robe that concealed his lower body, while his offense in the game's final boss battle is exclusively magic-based as he hovered across the playfield. This was altered in MK4 to Shinnok wearing simple battle armor with the headdress but minus the robe, while he walked normally like the other characters.

He was first seen in Mortal Kombat 4's attract mode standing with Quan Chi and toting a staff adorned with a replica of his amulet, but his assigned weapon in the game was instead a naginata-like spear, and the staff was not seen thereafter until it became his weapon in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Shinnok is able to mimic the special moves of his opponents, like Shang Tsung in the two-dimensional games, but the graphical limitations of Midway's then-new 3D software prevented him from physically transforming into the characters, and he was stripped of this feature altogether in the Game Boy Color port of the game, which was substituted by standard special moves of a spear attack and dash punch. Mortal Kombat co-creator and programmer Ed Boon admitted he believed that Shinnok was not imposing enough as a final boss on account of the character having no special moves of his own, while lead storyteller John Vogel explained that Shinnok "wasn't as powerful as he should've been" in MK4 because of Quan Chi having given Shinnok the fake amulet, thus weakening him and enabling the Earth heroes to defeat him in the storyline.[12] His Fatalities in MK4 and MKX involve the summoning of massive skeletal hands that kill his defeated opponents.

Shinnok retains his ability of mimicry in Mortal Kombat X by way of his "Impostor" gameplay variation that allows him to steal one of his opponent's special moves during battle. The "Bone Shaper" allows him to conjure a scepter crafted from bone that he uses for combo attacks, while "Necromancer" has him summoning up his signature skeletal hands as his primary weapon.

In other media[edit]

Shinnok was to feature in one episode of the 1996 animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm that was never produced. A character and storyline guide published for the show's writers by Threshold Entertainment prior to production had mapped out an extensive plot involving what would become Shinnok's Mortal Kombat 4 backstory of his "fierce takeover" of Earthrealm (Edenia in the game) and his desire to "avenge his past" against Raiden, all while backed up by the Brotherhood of the Shadow, whom the Earthrealm defenders battle before becoming trapped in the Netherealm (described in the guide summary as a "dead planet"). Shinnok attempts to force Raiden into revealing the location of the heroes' secret headquarters, and while Nightwolf rescues his comrades from the Netherealm, Shinnok confronts Raiden as part of a subplot involving Raiden "forced to face a past that he wished to forget ... filled with untold treachery and deceit" that is not specified but had resulted in Shinnok's imprisonment. The defenders regroup at headquarters in time to assist Raiden in driving Shinnok out of Earthrealm.[14] Save for a flashback of Scorpion being banished to the "realm of lost souls" in the second episode, no explicit reference to the Netherealm nor the Brotherhood of the Shadow was ever made in the series.

Shinnok's backstory and design in the 1997 film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, in which he was played by German actor Reiner Schöne, differed greatly from that of the games. He had a regular human appearance and was outfitted in a long, hooded black robe and neck-length blond hair, while he was depicted in the plot as the browbeating father of Shao Kahn (and, later revealed, Raiden). He has no fight scenes, and is banished to the Netherealm (specified as such in the movie novelization but not in the film) by the Elder Gods at the film's climax after attempting to interfere in the final battle between Kahn and Liu Kang. In a closing scene that was included in the script and shot, but not added to the final print in time, he and Quan Chi are seen together in the Netherealm with Shinnok speaking the line, "Together, Quan Chi, we will be unstoppable."[15] He was not identified in the film until the ending following Kahn's death, and his name was misspelled as "Shinnock" throughout the novelization.

He makes a one-panel appearance in a special-edition tie-in comic book included with the 1998 PC release of Mortal Kombat 4, in which he and his Netherealm denizens capture Edenia upon emerging from a portal created by an orb that Quan Chi (posing as a refugee from another realm) had given to Sindel.[16]

Reception[edit]

The character has been coolly received by fans and critics. Shinnok was ranked 44th in UGO Networks' 2012 list of the top fifty Mortal Kombat characters,[17] while he was ranked 43rd in a 2013 online fan poll hosted by Dorkly that rated the series' entire playable roster.[18] Robert Workman of GamePlayBook rated Shinnok seventh in his selection of the ten "Worst Mortal Kombat Characters Ever" in 2010. "The most threatening this guy gets is when he summons giant hands to squeeze someone to death."[19] Den of Geek ranked Shinnok 35th in their 2015 rating of the series' 73 playable characters, critical of how the character was built up "as this Satanic ender of worlds" in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, but was "just a lazy Shang Tsung" in Mortal Kombat 4, while "it wasn’t until Armageddon and Mortal Kombat 9 that they were able to make him seem like an actual threat," and further adding that in Mortal Kombat X, he "was pretty fun as a hybrid of Emperor Palpatine and Loki."[20] Hardcore Gaming 101 called him "one of the lamest final bosses in the series" and said, "He can steal the moves from other characters and summon skeleton hands, but that's more or less it, which is pretty lame for a guy who overthrew Lucifer."[21] Mikel Reparaz of GamesRadar described the character as "a pale old man in a stupid hat."[22]

Complex named Shinnok the second-most underrated Mortal Kombat character behind Kenshi in 2011, calling him "simply an uber-evil version of Merlin,"[23] and the site ranked him sixth in their selection of the twenty "most brutal" characters in 2013, for his "cunning and deviousness," while considering him to be "arguably as heartless as Shao Kahn."[24] In 2012, C.J. Smillie of Game Rant named Shinnok as a downloadable character wanted for a future Mortal Kombat release. "Including Shinnok as DLC would not only acknowledge the huge plot twist at the end of the [MK2011 story] mode, but also serve as a sneak peek of things to come."[25] Liam Martin of Digital Spy rated Shinnok's "Hell Hands" second behind Quan Chi's "Leg Beatdown" as his favorite Fatality from MK4.[26] Eric Snider of Film.com remarked in his review of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, "We find out that [Raiden] and Shao Kahn are actually brothers, and that their father, the evil Shinnok ... is one of the Elder Gods. This must have been the 'Luke, I am your father' moment of the Mortal Kombat series."[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Voices of Shinnok". BehindtheVoiceActors.com. Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ Dominic Cianciolo (@domciancolo) on Twitter - April 14, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  3. ^ Midway Games (1995). "Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3". Level/area: Noob Saibot ending (console versions).  ("At first a passive observer, Noob Saibot would soon receive orders to side with the evil Emperor Shao Kahn. Saibot's leaders in the Netherrealm want him to join Kahn's battle to gain his trust and to gain entrance into the Earth Realm. When Kahn drops his guard, Noob Saibot is ordered to attack. With both the Earth Realm and the Outworld's Emperor defeated, the fallen Elder God known as Shinnok can take both realms and gain the power he needs to strike back at the Elder God who banished him into the Netherrealm.")
  4. ^ Midway Games (1995). "Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3". Level/area: Mileena ending.  ("When Mileena is murdered, she finds her soul reborn in an evil place called the Netherealm. Here she accepts servitude to an all mighty god known as Shinnok. It is Shinnok who allows her soul to be reborn on the outworld. Her loyalty to Shao Kahn is replaced by her fear of Shinnok. Mileena plots to overthrow her own father. The ability to read Kitana's mind and predict the Earth warriors motives, enables Mileena to set up her father's downfall. When Kahn is weakened by the onslaught of attacks, Mileena takes the opportunity to destroy her father and allow Shinnok to step forward and take both realms for his own sinister purposes.")
  5. ^ "Enter the Outworld". Archived from the original on December 1, 1998. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 
  6. ^ Shinnok Mortal Kombat 4 Biography - Mortal Kombat Warehouse. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  7. ^ Reptile's Mortal Kombat 4 Biography - Mortal Kombat Warehouse. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  8. ^ "Mortal Kombat Armageddon - Bios". MKSecrets.net. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ Midway Games (2006). "Mortal Kombat: Armageddon". Level/area: Opening sequence. 
  10. ^ Midway Games (2006). "Mortal Kombat: Armageddon". Warner Bros. Level/area: Shinnok ending. 
  11. ^ NetherRealm Studios (2011). "Mortal Kombat". Warner Bros. Level/area: Chapter 16: Raiden. 
  12. ^ a b Shinnok's Armageddon Bio Card - YouTube. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  13. ^ Gary Wingert - GoodmanTheatre.org, 2006. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  14. ^ Shinnok - The Mortal Kombat Movie Preservation & Fan Site (with full episode summary). Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  15. ^ Brent V. Friedman and Bryce Zabel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, first draft (May 22, 1996), p. 110
  16. ^ Ted Adams (with John Tobias) (w), Ryan Benjamin (p), Ryan Benjamin, John Tigue, Sean Parsons (i). "Mortal Kombat 4 Limited Edition" Mortal Kombat (July 1, 1998)
  17. ^ UGO Staff (February 28, 2012). "Shinnok - Top 50 Mortal Kombat Characters". UGO.com. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  18. ^ "The Greatest Mortal Kombat Character of All Time". Dorkly. December 23, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  19. ^ Workman, Robert (August 4, 2010). "Knock 'Em Into the Pit: The Worst Mortal Kombat Characters Ever". GamePlayBook. Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  20. ^ Jasper, Gavin (April 20, 2015). "Mortal Kombat: Ranking All the Characters". Den of Geek. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  21. ^ Mortal Kombat - Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  22. ^ Reparaz, Mikel (April 14, 2011). "The evolution of Shang Tsung and Reptile". GamesRadar. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  23. ^ Complex.com (April 12, 2011). "Shinnok - Your Favorite Fighter's Favorite Fighter: The 10 Most Underrated "Mortal Kombat" Kombatants". Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  24. ^ Watson, Elijah (July 11, 2013). "The Most Brutal Fighters in Mortal Kombat". Complex. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  25. ^ Smillie, CJ (2012). "Top 5 'Mortal Kombat' DLC Characters We'd Like to See". GameRant.com. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  26. ^ Martin, Liam (April 11, 2015). "Ranking the Mortal Kombat games from worst to best". Digital Spy. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  27. ^ Snider, Eric D. (September 11, 2008). "Eric's Bad Movies: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". Film.com. Retrieved February 15, 2015.