Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero is a 1997 action-adventure game developed and published by Midway for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. A spin-off of the Mortal Kombat series, it is the first entry to not be a fighting game. Set before the original 1992 game, players control Bi-Han, the elder Sub-Zero, during his quest to find Shinnok's amulet. It also serves as a prequel to Mortal Kombat 4, which was released the same year, introducing characters and story elements that would be used by the fourth main installment. Mythologies is the final game in the series to use digitized actors.

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
Mortal Kombat Mythologies.jpg
Cover artwork for the PlayStation version
Developer(s)Midway Games (PS)
Avalanche Software (N64)
Publisher(s)Midway Games
Director(s)Dimitrios Tianis
Bill O'Neil
Producer(s)John Tobias
Dimitrios Tianis
Michael Gottlieb
Designer(s)John Tobias
Artist(s)John Tobias
Joshua Y. Tsui
Carlos Pesina
Composer(s)Dan Forden
SeriesMortal Kombat
Platform(s)PlayStation, Nintendo 64, LCD game
  • NA: October 1, 1997
  • EU: December 2, 1997
Nintendo 64
  • NA: December 8, 1997
  • EU: February 12, 1998
Genre(s)Action-adventure, beat 'em up, platform

The game drew a divisive response from critics, with the PlayStation version considered superior to the Nintendo 64 version. Praise was directed at the transition from the fighting game genre to action-adventure and the PlayStation version's live-action cutscenes, but the controls and punishing level design received criticism.

Retrospective reviews were more negative, with some labeling the game as one of the worst Mortal Kombat games ever, as well as one of the worst video games in general.


Although Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero is classified as an action-adventure game, its play controls are very similar to the 2D Mortal Kombat fighting games. The player has four attack buttons, along with a block button and a run button like in Mortal Kombat 3. The player controls Sub-Zero as they would in a fighting game, including the use of command-based special moves, to fight enemies and venture through levels. A "turn" button is used to change the direction Sub-Zero is facing, while an "action" button is used to pick up or use items. The player also has access to a status screen which keeps track of the player's inventory, experience points, and special moves they gain during the game.

The player begins the game with a small health gauge and a limited number of extra lives. Over the course of the game's progression the player can gain experience points by performing combos against enemies, which are then used to increase their character's strength and gain access to special moves.[1] An "ice meter" will appear after the player begins to acquire special moves. Special moves require ice power in order to be performed. Health and ice power can be replenished by picking up items (although the ice meter will gradually replenish itself over time as well). The player also needs to retrieve key items. Passwords are used to keep track of the player's progress.


The story is set before the events that took place in the original Mortal Kombat and follows the Lin Kuei assassin and thief Sub-Zero hired by the sorcerer Quan Chi to steal a map of elements from a Shaolin temple. Battling through the Shaolin monks who guarded the map, Sub-Zero faces his rival, Scorpion from the Shirai Ryu clan who was also hired by Quan Chi. Sub-Zero kills Scorpion and retrieves the map. Back at the headquarters of the Lin Kuei, Sub-Zero delivers the map to Quan Chi, who repays the Lin Kuei by eliminating all the members of the Shirai Ryu, the Lin Kuei's rival clan. Retaining the Lin Kuei's services, Quan Chi has Sub-Zero follow the map to the Temple of Elements, where an amulet of "sentimental value" was resting.[2]

Sub-Zero reaches the temple and went through its many challenges and obstacles, defeating the gods of Wind, Earth, Water, and Fire that protected the amulet. Just as Sub-Zero reaches out for it, Quan Chi takes the amulet, saying that it was actually the source of power for a fallen Elder God named Shinnok. Quan Chi disappears through a portal, and the thunder god Raiden accuses Sub-Zero, ordering him to go to the Netherealm to retrieve the amulet.[3]

Sub-Zero is sent to the Netherealm but is trapped in the Prison of Souls by Quan Chi's guards. There, he is met by the undead spectre of his archnemesis, Scorpion, who blames Sub-Zero for the destruction of his clan and family. Sub-Zero once again defeats Scorpion and escapes. He then fights Quan Chi's underlings: Kia, Sareena, and Jataaka. Retrieving their transportation crystals, he is able to get to Quan Chi's fortress. Sub-Zero defeats the three of them but canonically spares Sareena's life and goes to Quan Chi's room. The fight against Quan Chi ends with Sub-Zero's victory and Sareena finishing Quan Chi and him falling to his apparent death. As Sareena pleads to escape from the Netherealm, she is temporarily incapacitated by Shinnok. Sub-Zero steals the amulet from Shinnok and either defeats the Elder God in demonic form or escapes through a portal created by Raiden, and delivers the amulet to the god.[4] Returning to the Lin Kuei headquarters, Sub-Zero is once again hired by another sorcerer named Shang Tsung to compete in a tournament called Mortal Kombat.


  • Sub-Zero / Bi-Han
  • Scorpion
  • Quan Chi
  • Shinnok
  • Fujin - Fujin represents Wind God in the mythology of Mortal Kombat.
  • Earth God - In Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Earth God was assigned by Raiden as the second of the four guardians along with Wind God (Fujin), Water God and Fire God in order to protect Shinnok's amulet until he was eliminated by Sub-Zero. Due to his giant size towering over Sub-Zero, he has the ability to stomp the ground while stones of rocks fall from above.
  • Water God - Water God appeared in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero as the third of the four guardians assigned by Raiden to protect Shinnok's amulet until he was beaten by Sub-Zero. His powers and abilities are mostly jets of water and waves.
  • Fire God: - Fire God appeared as the guardian of Shinnok's amulet in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Raiden assign him as the last of the four guardians to protect the amulet until Sub-Zero defeated him in battle. His powers and abilities are mostly flames and fire, and because of this, Sub-Zero could not freeze him.
  • Sareena
  • Jataaka - Jataaka appeared in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero as one of the sub-bosses in Shinnok's Fortress. Simultaneously, she is a member of the Brotherhood of Shadow and serves as one of three assassins to Quan Chi and Shinnok along with Sareena and Kia. In Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, she is one of "three female guardians in order to get the crystals that power the teleporter and give access to Quan Chi's lair." Gameplay-wise, she is as fast as Kia but more powerful. Her attacks in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero consist of launching laser bolts from her sword as well as a weapon she uses to attack.[5] She reappears in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon's Konquest mode alongside Quan Chi, Sareena and Kia in the Red Dragon's caverns. Jataaka was played by Rachel Hebert and Erica Grace. She appeared in the TV series Mortal Kombat: Konquest, but was renamed "Sora" and was played by Renee Tenison.
  • Kia - Kia is one of the sub-bosses in Shinnok's Fortress in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and also a member of the Brotherhood of Shadow. She is one of three assassins serving under Quan Chi and Shinnok. In Mortal Kombat: Mythologies: Sub-Zero, she (or Jataaka) is the first of the assassins to face before Sub-Zero can receive the three crystals that power the teleporter to Quan Chi's lair. Gameplay-wise she is the least powerful of the trio but equal in speed to Jataaka. Her only weapon of choice is the razor-shaped boomerang.[5] She, along with Sareena and Jataaka, reappears alongside Quan Chi in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon's Konquest mode inside the caverns of the Red Dragon clan. Kia was played by Kerri Hoskins. She appeared in the TV series Mortal Kombat: Konquest, but was renamed "Mika" and was played by Jaime Pressly.


The making of Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero spanned about 14 months from start to finish, with news that the game was being worked on leaking to the press in the third quarter of 1996.[6] Designer and Sub-Zero co-creator John Tobias said he was intrigued by the character's back story and wanted to flesh it out.[7] The main design team was located at Midway's Chicago offices and consisted of five artists, two programmers and a sound designer.

The graphics in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero were created using many different techniques. While Sub-Zero and many of the more humanoid characters were created using Mortal Kombat's trademark of digitizing live actors, many of the more ominous enemies as well as all of the backgrounds were done in real time 3D. This combination supposedly provides for a more realistic look than has ever been achieved in the previous Mortal Kombat games. Another addition to the Mortal Kombat universe was to use detailed cinematic sequences to help tell the story while the player progresses through the game. This was done by combining live actors with digital elements. The actors were taped in front of a green screen, and then they were digitally combined with 3D backdrops. The actual video shoot for these sequences took about a week to complete. The crew was kept to a minimum and the entire process from taping to post-production work took about a month.[8]


Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero received divisive reviews. IGN stated "it may have been a good idea on paper, but as a game it's terrible."[16] and Next Generation concluded that "Despite a few good features, like the game's RPG elements, Mythologies just isn't any fun. After fighting several cookie-cutter enemies and getting killed in unpredictable traps, even the most hard-core Mortal Kombat fans will find themselves frustrated and angry."[18] On the other side, GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann hailed it as "a pretty amazing meld of fighting and platform jumping".[14] Spanish magazine Super Juegos focused praise on the game's blend of genres, and called it "una auténtica delicia que sorprende tanto a los aficionados a los beat-em-up como a los maniacos de las adventuras estilla Flashback." ("a true delight that will surprise beat 'em up fans as much as Flashback-style adventure maniacs.")[21] GamePro took a more moderate but still positive stance, describing it as "an interesting, entertaining, and ultimately exhausting spinoff of the arcade fighting series. Mythologies isn't as big as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or as complex as Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, but for solid and challenging action, it holds its own nicely."[31]

Praises for the game centered on its system of accumulating experience points to learn moves,[9][11][18][31][32] the graphics (in particular the 3D backgrounds),[9][10][11][14][21][31][32] and the full motion video (FMV) cutscenes.[9][14][21][31] However, many found the animation stiff to the point of appearing ridiculous.[9][10][12][15][16][18] Some also criticized that there is not enough variety in the enemies,[10][16][18] and that the level design and camera often create situations where the player cannot see the platform they need to jump on to proceed, forcing them to jump blindly and hope for the best.[14][15][17][31] By far the most widespread criticism was the unintuitive and slow-to-respond controls,[9][10][11][12][15][16][17][18][32] with some particularly complaining at the need to push an action button to make Sub-Zero turn around.[9][10][11][16][17][18][31] John Ricciardi commented in Electronic Gaming Monthly, "Do you remember the old days of the NES when some games were entirely frustrating because of their horrible control? Well take the worst of the bunch, multiply it by 10, and you have MKM: SZ. The control is really that bad."[9]

Reviews for the Nintendo 64 version were considerably more negative than those for the PlayStation version, as even critics who had a positive response to the game noted the Nintendo 64 version had lower quality audio[10][15][32] and stripped out the FMV cutscenes, which many considered the best element of the game.[10][12][15][17] GameFan and GameSpot also found the Nintendo 64 version's graphics more washed out,[12][15] but IGN said the two versions are graphically identical apart from the removal of the FMV,[17] and Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro both contended that the Nintendo 64 graphics are better.[10][32] However, GamePro was overall less pleased with the Nintendo 64 version, describing it as more of a rental,[32] and even Sushi-X, the only member of Electronic Gaming Monthly's four-person review team to give the PlayStation game a positive review, summed up that "While I somewhat enjoyed the PlayStation version, I detested the N64 mockery." He gave the PlayStation version a 7.5 but the Nintendo 64 version a 5.0.[9][10] French magazine Game Play 64 had mixed opinions but believed that fans of the franchise should still find some enjoyment in it.[19]

Retrospective reviews were more negative, with some labeling the game as one of the worst Mortal Kombat games ever. Game Informer's feature "Replay" declared the game was "absolutely terrible" because all of its aspects.[33] In 2011, IGN's Daemon Hatfield listed it as one of the worst Mortal Kombat games of all time.[34] According to him, Midway had planned Mythologies as a series but the overwhelming negative reception resulted in its cancellation.[35] Its cutscenes have also been criticized in UGO Networks' article "The Worst Cutscenes In Gaming History" based on their unconvincing acting and special effects.[36] GamesRadar's Mikel Reparaz opined that while the concept of giving Sub-Zero his own game was interesting based on his popularity, the game "ended up a terrible mess of ugly sprites, cheap deaths and a button you had to hit just to change the direction you were facing, and the less that’s said about it, the better."[37]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "MK Mythologies: Sub-Zero: Not Just Blood and Guts Anymore". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 100. Ziff Davis. November 1997. p. 78.
  2. ^ Midway (1997). Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Midway. Sub-Zero: Fine... I get to the temple and then what? What's inside?/ Quan Chi: A small amulet... worthless to you, but... let's just say it has great sentimental value to me.
  3. ^ Midway (1997). Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Midway. Raiden: Do you realize what you've done?? / Sub-Zero: I was just earning my living. / Raiden: Your clan's ignorance and greed will cost this entire realm. You must now set things straight. / Sub-Zero: Quan Chi could simply be a lunatic sorcerer. I've never heard of an elder god named Shinnok or of a place called the Netherealm. / Raiden: Well, you'd better start believing in both, because you're going to the Netherealm and you've going to bring the amulet back. We must act quickly. I have no dominion in the Netherealm... You are reality's only hope. / Sub-Zero: I'll do it, Thunder God... but only because I have no choice.
  4. ^ Midway (1997). Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Midway. Sub-Zero: Here... the amulet. / Raiden: Impressive, Sub-Zero. Perhaps you will reconcile your reckless past after all.
  5. ^ a b Playstation Pocket Power Guide Unauthorized, 3, Prima, 1998, pp. 56, 57, ISBN 0-7615-1466-X
  6. ^ "Gaming Gossip". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 86. Ziff Davis. September 1996. p. 34.
  7. ^ Major Mike (August 1997). "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero". GamePro. No. 107. IDG. pp. 32–34.
  8. ^ "Behind the scenes". Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero official website (archive). Archived from the original on 1998-12-01. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Review Crew: MK Myth. Sub-Zero". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 101. Ziff Davis. December 1997. p. 206.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Review Crew: MK Myth.: Sub-Zero". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 103. Ziff Davis. February 1998. p. 105.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Viewpoint". GameFan. Vol. 5 no. 11. November 1997. p. 20. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Viewpoint". GameFan. Vol. 6 no. 2. February 1998. p. 18 – via Internet Archive.
  13. ^ "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero Review Review". Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d e Gerstmann, Jeff (October 1, 1997). "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero Review Review". Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Gerstmann, Jeff (February 3, 1998). "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero Review Review". Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d e f "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero". 1 October 1997. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Casamassina, Matt (December 8, 1997). "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero". IGN. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g "Finals". Next Generation. No. 38. February 1998. pp. 112–3 – via Internet Archive.
  19. ^ a b "Le site des anciennes revues informatiques -".
  20. ^ "Nintendo Accion 064" – via Internet Archive.
  21. ^ a b c d "El gélido abrazo de la muerte". Superjuegos (in Spanish). No. 68. December 1997. pp. 76–78 – via Internet Archive.
  22. ^ "Hobby Consolas 076". 1 January 1998 – via Internet Archive.
  23. ^ "PSX Magazine 14" – via Internet Archive.
  24. ^ "Le site des anciennes revues informatiques -".
  25. ^ a b "File:AcaoGames BR 122.pdf - Retro CDN".
  26. ^ a b
  27. ^ a b
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero PlayStation Review Score". Archived from the original on 2017-06-30.
  30. ^ "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero Nintendo 64 Review Score". Archived from the original on 2017-06-30.
  31. ^ a b c d e f Major Mike (December 1997). "PlayStation ProReview: Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero". GamePro. No. 111. IDG. pp. 148–9.
  32. ^ a b c d e f Major Mike (February 1998). "Nintendo 64 ProReview: Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero". GamePro. No. 113. IDG. p. 80.
  33. ^ "Replay – Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero".
  34. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (March 29, 2011). "The Best (And Worst) Mortal Kombat Games".
  35. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (May 5, 2011). "The History of Mortal Kombat".
  36. ^ Fahs, Travis (May 4, 2011). "The Worst Cutscenes In Gaming History". Archived from the original on 2011-05-09.
  37. ^ Reparaz, Mikel (April 13, 2011). "The evolution of Scorpion and Sub-Zero". GamesRadar.

External linksEdit