10 Mortal Kombat Rip-Offs You Won't Believe Got Made

"Self-ownality"

mortal kombat ripoff
NetherRealm

In the event that you hadn't yet arrived to Earth Realm in the early 1990s, Mortal Kombat was one seriously hot arcade phenomenon that spawned an entire empire of merchandise (from home ports, a myriad of sequels still going to this very day, animated series, live-action films, comic books, lunch boxes, etc.)

Wait, let's back this up. In the early 1990s Capcom's Street Fighter II was one seriously hot arcade phenomenon that spawned all of the things mentioned above - including many imitators. Midway's 1992 arcade game Mortal Kombat just so happened to be one of the most popular of these.

Just as Mortal Kombat emulated all that made Street Fighter II so successful, many other developers decided to try and emulate all that made Mortal Kombat so successful: Digitized images of real actors rather than pixel art sprites, combo moves, graphic gore and over the top finishing moves.

Were any able to dethrone Mortal Kombat at its own game? Well given that Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate (the 27th incarnation of the video game franchise) was released in 2020 followed by a third live-action film in 2021 and every game on this list disappeared shortly after release never to be heard from again, the proof is in the proverbial pudding.

Or another way to say it - if the game industry were a tournament and Mortal Kombat an entrant, Shang Tsung would be saying, "Fatality" right about now.

10. Thea Realm Fighters - High Voltage Software (1996)

mortal kombat ripoff
High Voltage Software

In what can only be described as bad-game overkill, the Atari Jaguar nearly received a third terrible Mortal Kombat clone in 1996 in Thea Realm Fighters.

Thankfully the plug on this one was pulled literally at the zero hour, with the game having been nearly completed no less. Waning interest in both the console and the genre were the culprits.

So what was Thea Realm Fighters?

It looked a lot like Mortal Kombat 3, featured more than twenty-five playable characters, each one with four special moves and two finisher moves, and boasted a tournament mode which culminated in a match with SurRaider, a powerful warrior from another dimension. In short, Mortal Klonebat at its finest.

Because merely emulating MK wasn't quite enough to drive home the point, High Voltage even managed to hire Philip Ahn (Shang Tsung in MK 2) and Katalin Zamiar (Jade, Kitana, and Mileena) to appear on the Thea Realm Fighters roster.

In the end, though, all the Mortal Kombat flattery in the world couldn't prevent this title from being scrapped and perhaps the world is a better place for it.

Contributor

Jason Russell has been working in video game journalism since the early 1990s before the internet existed, the term "fanzine" had meaning and sailors still debated as to whether or not the earth was flat. The first time. More recently he has been the guy responsible for the Retrospective column for Old School Gamer Magazine, pens up a Game Skinny column on a plethora of video game topics. He's somehow managed to author nine novels, writes and runs the blog CG Movie Review, is co-founder of the science fiction publishing house Starry Eyed Press, and sometimes, when the planets align and the caffeine has fully left his system, it's rumored he sleeps.