So you have come to see which game titles we say are the absolute best Mortal Kombat games of 2023, have ya? Well it will not be an easy task.
There’s a lot of great games in the series, from the original arcade titles through the modern reboot series. Twenty four games in total, actually.
While putting them in a ranked order will not come easy, one thing is clear… the Mortal Kombat franchise is one of the best in the fight genre.
If I were to vote for the Mount Rushmore of producers of video games in the fighting genre, it would be a very easy choice:
Midway Games was founded in 1958 as an amusement game manufacturer, and their timeline eventually lead them into video game development and distribution in the 1970s.
You know it, you love it.
Mortal Kombat is a staple in the fighting genre… the fighting genre wouldn’t be the same without it.
And we are here to celebrate it. So here we go… the best Mortal Kombat games of all time (as of 2023)…
10. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon made quite a splash at the time of its release in 2006.
“Armageddon” is the seventh mainline entry in the franchise, and represents the chronological finale to the Mortal Kombat story.
And one of the most remarkable achievements of the game was that it included every single character to appear in all of the previous game titles.
It packed sixty two characters in total (63 on the Nintendo Wii version, as mentioned on our list of the 10 Best Nintendo Wii Fighting Games).
Also, with the addition of the “Kreate-A-Fatality”, “Kreate-A-Fighter”, and the Mario Kart style “Motor Kombat” minigame…
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon truly delivered a gigantic package of playable content.
Truly one of the absolute best Mortal Kombat game. But if you’re wondering why it scored so low on the list, it’s cause there are that many games that are even better!
9. Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe (2008)
As the name surely suggests, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a crossover fighting video game where the Mortal Kombat and DC Comics universes collide.
Following similar crossover fighting titles made popular by the likes of Capcom or SNK, Midway leveraged the incredible roster of DC characters and pit them against some of our favorites in their own lineup.
The game’s story mode is told from two different perspectives, the perspective of the Mortal Kombat roster and the perspective of the DC roster. Making for a quite interesting story.
Play as Baraka, Raiden, Sub-Zero or Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman (to name a few). I mean, how cool is that?
An obvious addition to this list of the best Mortal Kombat games.
8. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005)
The Mortal Kombat franchise has not had a lot of good luck when it comes to spinoff game titles.
Y’all remember Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero or Mortal Kombat: Special Forces? Yeah me either.
And according to reviews from critics and players… they are two entries that we are lucky to not remember.
But one spinoff title that fans are happy to talk about is Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks.
This game came shortly after the success of “Deadly Alliance” and “Deception”, two high ranking games on this list and many other best MK lists.
Play as Liu Kang or Kung Lao in a single player or co-op play experience that plays more like a God of War title.
This game is a fun playthrough, and is a nice break from the usual formula of one-vs-one battles.
If you enjoy the lore of Mortal Kombat and the game play style of God of War, this one will be perfect for you.
Happy to include it on the best Mortal Kombat list. Well deserved spot.
7. Mortal Kombat II (2007)
Mortal Kombat II took one of the best fighting games in video game history and expanded on the formula.
The play style and visual style were a continuation of the original Mortal Kombat game, and the combat mechanics were expanded, and the popularity of Fatalities led to multiple for each character.
And as I’m sure you could guess, MKII was one of the main targets of video game violence protestors.
But that didn’t stop Mortal Kombat II from absolutely crushing it in sales and reviews.
(They did introduce the “Friendships” fatalities for the faint of heart.)
Almost universally loved, MKII is widely considered one of the absolute best in the series. And we tend to agree. There just happened to be quite a few we loved even better.
Needless to say, Midway went absolutely hog wild with the ports at that time.
Mortal Kombat II was made available in arcades, MS-DOS, Amiga, Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, 32X, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and PlayStation.
6. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was the very first MK game title that was produced for home consoles with no intention to go to arcade.
It was also the first in the franchise to be released without the series’ co-creator John Tobias.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance took the franchise in an entirely new direction, making each characters combat style entirely unique, and introducing three possible fight styles per character.
There were twenty one playable characters in total, and surprisingly.. Liu Kang was nowhere to be found. Don’t worry, he will return very soon.
They reduced the amount of special attacks and fatalities, making combat more competitive and skill focused.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was well received, and considered a rebirth for the franchise at a time when the familiar formula started to feel overplayed.
5. Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)
Mortal Kombat: Deception was the follow up to Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, a game we told you was the rebirth of the franchise in the early 2000s.
In response to fan outcry, they brought back multiple fatalities per character, and even gave players the option to commit a hara-kiri suicide move during the “Finish Him” sequence.
“Deadly Alliance” also includes the single player “Konquest”mode, that was introduced in “Deception”. This is an adventure style experience that plays in a small open world area.
There are twenty six playable characters in total, including nine entirely new ones, and the return of Liu Kang.
In many ways, “Deception” could be looked at as a part 2 to “Deadly Alliance”, just improving on an already great game. And that is exactly how it was received by players.
Just as good as “Deadly Alliance”, if not better.
So for that reason, we give it the slight edge on our list of the best Mortal Kombat games.
4. Mortal Kombat (1992)
The classic that started it all… Mortal Kombat. Numero Uno.
In many cases, it is the original that sets the bar super high, and also establishes a level of sentimental connection that will be hard to top.
For me, in particular, the very first Mortal Kombat game will always be one of the very best.
If you were around at that time and remember what it was like the first time you saw Mortal Kombat, you know what I mean. It was groundbreaking.
The realistic graphics, due to their unique approach of photography based sprites, blew us away when we saw it at the arcades in the early 90s.
And the Fatalities? Come on man… how freakin cool was that in 1992?!
It is not our number one Mortal Kombat game, but it’s on our list of the best fighting games if we are talking about the games that established the genre. Mortal Kombat is one of the most historic video games in history.
3. Mortal Kombat X (2015)
Mortal Kombat X was the 2015 addition to the franchise that was developed by NetherRealm Studios for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
It was the follow up to the Mortal Kombat reboot in 2011 by NetherRealm, which we will discuss next on the list. To not spoil much about that game, we can say that it was a lot to live up to.
And Mortal Kombat X surely came very very close to the perfection of the 2011 reboot.
The graphics, controls, combat mechanics, characters, and single player story were all near perfect.
And you know what’s cooler than Mortal Kombat fatalities? X-Ray special moves! These were also introduced in the 2011 reboot, but were perfected in Mortal Kombat X.
There were twenty four characters at launch, and the upgraded Mortal Kombat XL includes all nine of the additional characters that were introduced in DLC packs. Those characters include Predator, Alien, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface.
Much like “Deadly Alliance” and “Deception”, you can view Mortal Kombat X as a direct part 2 to Mortal Kombat 2011. And it’s a very close call which is the better of the pair.
But in this case, we gave the slight edge to the reboot, as it really set a super high standard for the new generation of MK.
So without any further ado, let’s tell you why the reboot was so special for us:
2. Mortal Kombat (2011)
NetherRealm Studios was the new studio formed after the end of Midway Games and the Warner Bros. acquisition. Warner Bros. was now the owner of the Mortal Kombat franchise, and ready to give it a new start.
The first game developed by NetherRealm Studios would be one of the absolute best to appear in the Mortal Kombat franchise.
So turns out… going bankrupt and being aquired by Warner Bros. was the best thing that could have happened for Midway Games. And us players!
Mortal Kombat (2011) features the modern 3d aesthetics of recent games of that time, while also returning to a more conventional 2d fighting format of the classic game titles. Which, in our opinion, is the best setup for a fight game.
Needless to say, the games commitment to graphic violence led to some of the usual controversies.
The game was literally refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, making it a prohibited item to import into Australia. Similar restrictions happened in Germany and South Korea.
As we all know… any media exposure is good for sales… so cry all you want, ya babies.
The Mortal Kombat reboot was a wild success. It received very positive reviews and won several game of the year awards. And sales were through the roof at over 4 million copies sold.
It also took the number one spot on our list of the 10 Best PS3 Fighting Games.
But we gotta say, we do have one last Mortal Kombat game that we like even better…
1. Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)
I mentioned on the original Mortal Kombat game that it is those firsts that sometime set the bar so high, that it’s hard to top it.
As we have seen on this list, I give some of the modern iterations the nod for their massive improvements on an already awesome game formula.
So when I am asked to rank “best” Mortal Kombat games… if I’m not thinking specifically in terms of sentimental connection.. I gotta say.. the latest offering from NetherRealm Studios is their absolute best!
It is the part 3 in the modern reboot of the franchise, and the perfect culmination of everything great that we have seen in the franchise to date.
Incredible graphics. 2D combat in 3d environments. Fatalities, stage fatalities, friendship finishes, and fatal blows (similar to X-ray fatalities). 37 playable characters. Character customization.
I mean, I think I said enough to convince you it’s got everything that makes Mortal Kombat fun and worth the punishing grind.
Needless to say, the graphic violence has led to the game being banned in Indonesia, Japan, China and Ukraine. But like.. those who really want it will get it.
And as we said before, that kind of publicity is good for the franchise in the end.
With the kind of content that is considered okay to show in the news media.. I don’t think being upset about violent animations is a valid argument. It’s a cartoon, people.
Having sold over 12 million copies to date, and winning the Fighting Game of the Year at the 23rd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards and The Game Awards 2020.. it is one of the most successful in the MK franchise.
I love the reboot trilogy that NetherRealm Studios have delivered. To me, they are all insanely fun games. And any one of them could take the win.
But for me… Mortal Kombat 11 is the absolute best Mortal Kombat game in the entire franchise. And for that reason, it gets my stamp of approval and takes the gold medal.
Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.