Author: Jeff Rovin
Release Date: 6/1/1995
MSRP: $4.99 (Paperback)
Recommended Audience: Young Adult
The first thing I have to say is that the novel is nothing like the game really. Character’s backgrounds and origins have changed, some don’t make an appearance, and the story is slightly altered. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing because Jeff Rovin uses real Chinese history and mythology to make the game’s story make a little more sense from a real-world perspective. The story follows Kung Lao as an orphan boy in a village in 480 A.D. and winds up in the Mortal Kombat tournament. Shang Tsung needs souls to open the portal to Outworld to let Shao Kahn through and take over Mother Realm (not Earthrealm that we are all used to).
Hardcore fans will nit-pick the changes in the game like Liu-Kang working with Sonya in the Special Forces and is a ninja, Scorpion not being a specter of the Nether Realm. Without spoiling much, Sub-Zero is an evil ninja and has ice breath that freezes (not from his hands), and Baraka is a priest on Shang Tsung’s island. Before you scream blasphemy it is actually very interesting and Jeff does a good job depicting these characters in interesting ways. The story alone isn’t very deep or complex, but it is entertaining at the least and is a fun departure from the series.
There aren’t many fight scenes in the book and no fatalities. The fight scenes are also awkwardly written in a way that tries to be too much like the game. Overall you get a short story of your favorite characters in a new way that we wouldn’t see otherwise. The Chinese mythology mixed in is nice and adds a bit of depth, but this book isn’t for all fans. If you don’t like your Mortal Kombat changed in any way you won’t like this at all. Keep an open mind and you will enjoy the rare offshoot of a beloved franchise.