Raiden rose to prominence as a Mortal Kombat 1 fighter – which makes it all the stranger that he’s now said to have never fought in the tournament.
Raiden is typically considered one of the most intrinsic fighters to Mortal Kombat as a series. The character has been around since the first game, and he’s returned for most of the important entries, Mortal Kombat 3 being a notable exception. The game’s creators eventually decided to retcon their story to say Raiden never fought in the first Mortal Kombat tournament featured in the games – which might seem odd, since it’s part of the reason why anyone knows his name in the first place. The move does have a logic behind it, however, according to one of Mortal Kombat‘s co-creators.
As a thunder god, Raiden is the central protector of Earthrealm and the leader of his fellow defenders, including familiar Mortal Kombat fighters like Liu Kang and Sonya Blade. His lightning-based powers are suitably fierce, and arguably some of the most impressive in the series. Some of his only direct competitors in Mortal Kombat are the likes of Kronika and Cetrion, who rank higher in the universe’s pantheon.
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MK’s Raiden was always intended to be a “mentor” figure and a “literal god,” perceived as a “higher power” than Mortal Kombat‘s other characters, co-creator John Tobias explains on Twitter. That’s why there aren’t many other gods in the series, at least not as playable options. To develop and solidify this role, it was deemed necessary to make Raiden more than another tournament fighter. So as the series progressed, Mortal Kombat‘s initial setup was gradually written out.
What Role Does Raiden Serve In Mortal Kombat Now?
While he technically competed in the MK1 tournament, we walked that back in the later games as we further developed the story. Hopefully it was for the betterment of the character…
You Krazy Kids today would call that a retcon (13/13)
— John Tobias (@therealsaibot) April 12, 2021
This isn’t to say Mortal Kombat’s Raiden became unplayable, of course. In fact he serves a vital role in both the plot and gameplay of the recent reboot series, and is included in its stock roster despite characters like Sindel and Mileena occasionally being relegated to DLC. Developers have learned the hard way that omitting Mortal Kombat 1 characters can be tantamount to heresy, since players are very vocal about the idea. Memory issues have sometimes forced characters out, but that mostly ceased to be a problem after Mortal Kombat Trilogy, which skipped arcades and went straight to consoles.
Conceivably Raiden could be sidelined for plot reasons. Another MK1 favorite, Goro, is missing in from the story modes of both Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11. In the latter the character has been killed, and players even get to see his corpse sitting in his lair. Killing off Mortal Kombat’s Raiden would likely upset too many players, but making him sit out the next game in the interests of focusing elsewhere (which, considering how Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath ended things, might actually happen) might not be considered the worst crime, since players know he’ll likely return eventually.
Source: John Tobias/Twitter
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