Mortal Kombat 1 Easter Eggs: The Best References And Inside-Jokes Hiding In Plain Sight
Mortal Kombat games have become treasure troves of Easter eggs over the many years that the series has been around, and Mortal Kombat 1 is no exception. With 30 years of history behind it, the latest entry in the blood-soaked franchise pays tribute to its past with cleverly hidden nods to the past, quick references to previous events, and references operating in stealth mode.
It's a thrill to perform lethal chiropractic arts in Mortal Kombat 1, but it's even more fun to spot an Easter egg in the game's many character interactions, collectibles, stages, and more. Some of these are subtle and some are sly winks at the audience, cheerful little audio and visual bonuses that help preserve the past of Mortal Kombat in its refreshed timeline.
We've gathered several of them up below--just in case you missed them--but there are likely a whole lot more hidden throughout the game. From Queen references to fatalities riffing on anime, here's a look at some of the best Mortal Kombat 1 Easter eggs so far. For more info on the game, you can check out GameSpot's Mortal Kombat 1 review, every Mortal Kombat 1 fatal blow, all Mortal Kombat 1 fatalities (sorry, Reptile), and every character in the game.
And the Oscar goes to…
Take a close look at Johnny Cage's award shelf in the background of his level, and you'll spot a very familiar trophy. It might be hard to recognize when it's not covered in blood and guts, but that's the very same award that Cage used to bludgeon his opponents as part of his Mortal Kombat 11 Fatal Blow and Brutality.
A "toasty" reference
In Liu Kang's New Era timeline, all people have a chance to find peace. Or more specifically, a pizza box design that references sound designer Dan Forden's classic cameo in the corner of multiple Mortal Kombat games. Warning, it's toasty!
You can also hear the line in the background of Johnny Cage's second fatality, just before he sends his unlucky opponent--and fancy car--crashing into his mansion wall.
Blow up the outside world
Cyrax brings his appreciation for Soundgarden into Mortal Kombat 1, as his fatality involves him unloading all of his bombs and blowing the entire planet up. Oppenheimer has nothing on this nod to his Mortal Kombat 3 fatality.
The Art of War
During the character pre-matchup sequence, Liu Kang will reference Sun Tzu with the quote, "When you move fall like a thunderbolt," a line that was first used during the training section for Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.
Street Fighter x Mortal Kombat
If we're getting really technical, Mortal Kombat 1 is the first game to feature a Street Fighter guest character. Johnny Cage's Jean Claude van Damme skin features the actual voice of the muscles from Brussels, and in one sequence, JCVD will say, "Great, I'll be a kickboxer, you be a Street Fighter."
The Hollywood legend's appearance also brings things full circle in Mortal Kombat 1, as according to Ed Boon, the Mortal Kombat team at the time wanted to make Jean-Claude Van Damme: The Game before it began work on its genre-defining franchise.
"We called his people, and I don't know if he declined or it just never got to him or something like that," Boon said to Hot Ones host Sean Evans. "But this is a couple of 20-something-year-old kids who wanted to make a video game. I could see how Van Damme would go, 'No, no, we're not doing this.' So we tried a number of times going back and forth with him. This time, we hit the lottery, and we got him. And we actually have his voice and he's going to be the Johnny Cage character, and it is the absolute full-circle moment that we had."
Get away from her!
Johnny Cage can't resist the urge to drop a movie reference, and in one sequence, he quotes Aliens when he confronts Shang Tsung, Rain, and Tanya while they administer a serum to a Tarkat-afflicted Mileena. Interestingly, the Alien franchise has made an appearance in Mortal Kombat, as a Tarkatan-born Xenomorph was available as a downloadable character in Mortal Kombat X.
There's no shortage of techniques designed to cause lethal cardiac arrests in Mortal Kombat 1, but one of the best comes straight out of Kill Bill. If you have Shujinko selected as your Kameo Fighter, you can make him perform the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique from Kill Bill 2 on an opponent. A few steps later, and they'll have an explosive heart attack reaction.
Johnny Cage has several great interactions with NetherRealm refugee Ashrah, and in one of those moments, he refers to her as a "Wonder Woman." This is a reference to Ashrah's voice actor, Susan Eisenberg, who provided the voice for Wonder Woman in NetherRealm's Injustice games.
A hat in time
In another moment of playful banter between Cage and Ashrah, the Hollywood B-lister convinces her that the Outworld hat she's wearing to disguise herself doesn't look ridiculous at all. If that fashionable headwear looks familiar, it's because the hat has the same design as the one that the Ashrah from the previous timeline wore in Mortal Kombat Deception.
What's in a name?
After three decades of Mortal Kombat games, certain ideas had become entrenched until Liu Kang hit KTRL+F5 on reality. Fortunately, there's a running joke in the New Era where Johnny Cage ends up naming familiar locales and magical phenomena like the Flesh Pits and Soulnado, and he even asks Syzoth if he can just call him Reptile instead.
Before they clash, Kung Lao briefly asks Nitara about the location of "Jen's body," a reference to the movie Jennifer's Body that starred Megan Fox. The actress and noted blood enthusiast voices Nitara in Mortal Kombat 1, and she's not ready to spill the beans on the missing person just yet.
2023 marks the 30th anniversary of the beloved--and violent--anime film Ninja Scroll, and what better way to pay tribute to that landmark piece of animation than a brutal fatality? Sub-Zero's Hairline fatality references the infamous battle between wandering swordsman Jubei and the stone-skinned Tessai, a clash of steel and stone that eventually ended with the titan getting a splitting headache. History repeats itself in Mortal Kombat 1, as you'll be able to pull off that finisher on anyone unlucky enough to fall before the might of Sub-Zero.
What a Noob
In this character interaction between Johnny Van Damme and Sub-Zero, the film star says, "I'm not the noob here" to the Lin Kuei grandmaster, a reference to how this original incarnation of Sub-Zero died and became the revenant ninja Noob Saibot.
We are the champions
Queen references are always welcome, and in this interaction, Johnny Cage and Raiden are in sync with the tribute to the legendary rock band. "You are the champion, my friend," Cage says to Raiden, who quickly follows up with, "I'll keep on fighting to the end."
Even more movie references
Johnny--or Van Damme--just can't stop themselves from referencing movies before they throw down, and the list includes quite a few gems like:
- "Holy shit, I've been Miyagied!" -- The Karate Kid
- "Close encounters of the weird kind." -- Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- "Be glad that I'm not some cheap-ass knock-off." -- Knock-off
- "Two Johnnies, one timeline. Now that's a double-team!" -- Double-Team
- "And I've played universal soldiers. Big deal." -- Universal Soldier
- "Well pardon me, time cop!" -- Time Cop
- "You want a sports almanac from the future?" -- Back to the Future
- "What? Do I become a cyborg or something?" -- Universal Soldier
- "You are one ugly mother" -- Predator (A film in which JCVD was originally supposed to portray the intergalactic hunter)
- "I have had enough of your assassination games." -- Assassination Games
- "It is very cold, in space." -- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The silence of the hams
Johnny Cage, world-famous action star, Earthrealm champion, and master of the Hannibal Lector impersonation.
Attack of the klones
In this callback to Scorpion's Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 fatality, the Shirai-Ryu leader summons several of his similarly dressed minions to help him finish his opponent. There's no fade to black this time, as the unlucky recipient gets chopped, sliced, set on fire, and eventually has their skeleton removed with extreme force.
No one knows how Sektor manages to fit an entire industrial-sized flattener inside of his chest cavity, but in this reference to his Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 fatality, he turns a 3D character into a gooey puddle of blood, organs, and bones.
A character with one of the most fascinating behind-the-scenes stories in Mortal Kombat's long history, Ermac has long been a core part of the series ever since he made his official debut in 1995's Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. The actual story of "Error Macros" is a fascinating one, and is briefly teased in Johnny Cage's fatal blow.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Which martial arts style is superior, Raiden's Crouching Tiger or Liu Kang's Hidden Dragon? That's up for debate, but at least Ang Lee's blockbuster martial arts epic from 2000 gets a nice nod in the New Era.
Netflix's popular original series gets a shoutout in this quick conversation between Johnny Cage and Raiden, as they reference the supernatural series and its spooky alternate dimension.
The White Lotus Society is looking for a few good Earthrealmers
Mortal Kombat's secret society is alive and active in the New Era, although this incarnation was created by Ashrah and Sareena in the New Era timeline, not Raiden. Instead, the Earthrealm champion is on the cusp of being allowed into the group, provided that he can best Liu Kang in a sparring match.
It's a trap!
The Wu Shi Academy plays a crucial role in Mortal Kombat 1's story, providing a safe haven and training ground for Earthrealm's champions. When Raiden and Reptile clash, the green ninja mentions his discovery of the location and gets informed that it still has a dungeon full of traps, a reference to its design in Mortal Kombat 11.
Through the looking glass
What happens when Raiden faces off against Raiden? Alice in Wonderland references, that's what! Now off with one of their heads.
It's still going to be a while before Bethesda publishes its Indiana Jones game, but at least Johnny Cage is living his globetrotting archeologist dream in Mortal Kombat 1. The introduction to Cage is a heavy riff on the Nazi-punching explorer of the unknown, and in some pre-match banter, he'll mention that one of the temples that he visited would have been brilliant in his "indie" film.
The Mortal Kombat onslaught kontinues
Liu Kang's clever plan to prepare Earthrealm for the knowledge that another realm exists beyond it is clever, as he tasks Johnny Cage with creating a Mortal Kombat multimedia empire that lays the groundwork for that eventual reveal. As part of the plan, Cage begins work on movies, TV series, video games, and a mobile game that cheekily alludes to the real-world iOS and Android game, Mortal Kombat Onslaught.
Mortal Kombat 2's mysterious floating monk returns in Mortal Kombat 1's Invasion mode, informing you that someone's gluteus maximus is about to get kicked in a secret fight.