Every Friday, A.V. Club staffers kick off our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans and recent gaming glories, but of course, the real action is down in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What Are You Playing This Weekend?
A few weeks ago, NetherRealm released Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, an expansion to its very good fighting game from last year that introduced a new epilogue to its (very good) story, and added some new characters to its roster of ninjas, kung fu monks, and monsters. Over the past year, other bonus fighters have joined the crew, including a bunch of guest characters from outside the Mortal Kombat canon—specifically the Joker, The Terminator, and edgy ’90s comic book legend Spawn. (Spawn: Popping up in random-ass fighting games since 2002.) The Aftermath pack adds a couple of old MK characters to the mix, plus another guest fighter: Alex Murphy, a guy who’s part man, and part machine, but all cop. (It’s RoboCop.)
Given that half (if not more) of the appeal of a game like Smash Bros. is built on the concept, adding random guest characters to a fighting game roster can certainly be a fun addition. But the thing about MK11’s guests is that the game doesn’t even bother trying to integrate them into the universe or the story. It’s just… there’s a Terminator. He’s from the future. A computer system called Skynet tells him to kill. Or take the Joker: He’s a clown from Gotham City. He doesn’t really care about the conflict going on between extra-dimensional demon lords or time gods; he just wants to do Joker stuff. It’s goofy in context, but also weirdly freeing; once you’ve got RoboCop fighting Spawn in a Mortal Kombat game, it sets the stage for all sorts of nonsensical match-ups between completely unrelated characters.
So, in honor of Aftermath—and the opportunity to finally settle that long-standing nerd argument about whether or not RoboCop could beat up Spawn—I’ve decided to dream up the Mortal Kombat guest characters I’d like to see in the future. To make things easier, I’ve limited my picks to characters that NetherRealm could conceivably get the rights to, either through parent company Warner Bros., or existing WB Games deals. Which means, yes, it’s finally time for that Friends reunion we’ve been promised but denied for oh so very long:
KOMBATANT: Ross Geller from Friends. What better way to promote Warner’s HBO Max than by getting one of the characters from its biggest show into one of its biggest fighting game franchises? I would argue that Ross is the worst Friends friend in almost any other context, but he does have a slight anger issue that would make him a formidable foe in the art of Mortal Kombat. Just put in some dialogue before each fight about how Sub-Zero or whoever ate his special sandwich, and it’ll make sense why he wants to kill these people.
FATALITY: Ross’ finishing move would have to have something to do with the fact that he’s obsessed with dinosaurs. He could summon a skeletal Tyrannosaurus that rushes in from offscreen and chomps up his opponent, or someone could ask him to actually spend time with his son, and he just disappears. (We would also accept a Bane-esque back-snapping finisher titled “We Are On A Break.”)
KOMBATANT: Velma Dinkley from Scooby-Doo. Warner Bros. controls a deep library of classic cartoons, and if anybody in that vault is secretly a scrappy killer, it’s the Scooby Gang’s resident genius. Plus, in a world full of guys in masks, Velma is the perfect person to show up and start figuring out which of these ninjas is trying to scare people away from the abandoned amusement park by ripping their spines out of their necks. (“Scorpion was really… Old Man Jenkins!”)
FATALITY: With a whistle, Velma summons the Mystery Machine and runs over her opponent, crushing them. Then the whole gang jumps out of the back and starts kicking them, Scooby does a little laugh, and they all jump in and drive away. Quick and dirty.
KOMBATANT: B.A. Baracus from The A-Team. MK11’s guest fighters already lean toward the ’80s, and Warner Bros. put The A-Team in its Lego Dimensions game for some reason, so he’d be easy to get for this—as long as nobody puts him on an airplane! Ha ha, that’s the kind of fun reference they could do if they put Mr. T in Mortal Kombat!
FATALITY: At the risk of doing another van-based finishing move… probably something with the van? (Vans are terrifying.) Or maybe he could just pity a fool and they’d be so stunned that they explode?
KOMBATANT: Rick Sanchez from Rick And Morty. Wubba lubba dub-dub! Szechuan sauce! Honestly, there are better Adult Swim characters I could pick here (Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force would be awesome, especially with the Foreigner Belt), but I’ve gotta go where the heat is. Mortal Kombat has already done a character with a “drunken fist” fighting style, so the developers could just do that again. Throw in a joke with that Butter Robot, and you’re done.
FATALITY: I’m thinking it should be some kind of meta commentary on fighting game finishing moves? Maybe Rick looks at the camera and goes on some rant about how corporations suck the life out of everything? Or maybe the opponent says that Rick And Morty is overrated and he gets swarmed by Redditors? That actually might be too scary for this game.
KOMBATANT: Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. The game has already proven that it won’t always take the most obvious guest character (why the Joker and not Batman?), so that’s why I’m picking Hermione over Harry Potter himself. Besides, she’s better at magic, and she punched Malfoy that one time. That already makes her better suited to fight evil gods and big monsters than most of these floor-pooping wizards.
FATALITY: Mortal Kombat loves its easy references, so some kind of “wingardium leviosa” move seems pretty obvious. That’s a spell that levitates things, so maybe she can lift her opponent into the air and they get eaten by a hippogriff or something. Dark horse possibility: summoning her creator, J.K. Rowling, to retroactively ruin her opponent’s childhoods with needless retcons and queasy political takes.
KOMBATANT: Stanley Ipkiss from The Mask. SSSSSSMOKIN! C’mon, when was the last time somebody thought about The Mask? I’m not saying he’ll be everyone’s favorite character, but with his cartoony powers and fabulous fashion sense, he’d be a great fighting game character. And he has so many fun catchphrases! Just imagine how exhausting it would be to see literally any of these characters fight The Mask.
FATALITY: The options are limitless. He’s the freakin’ Mask, a character whose power is limited only by his insatiable desire for madcap antics.