Mortal Kombat Gibberish — The Most Underrated Feature in All the Franchise

Johnny Bought a Car!!

I’ve been a fan of Mortal Kombat since about the age of 12. As ironic as it may be, considering the game is rated M, I still enjoyed it a lot. It’s fascinating how the fatalities get more and more creative with each iteration, even if it means becoming more visual. That was probably a bad idea considering that some of the people who worked on the most recent entry got PTSD from having to develop such a violent and brutal game (that’s a true story). But all this bloody fanciness is not what I’m here to talk about… as usual.

Mortal Kombat is known for a lot of things. You have the ever-present fatalities, the uncommonly mentioned joke characters, the weirdly styled tournament. But the one feature that has been present since forever is the gibberish uttered by the many characters. Now, this gibberish is rarely talked about but sometimes jokingly mentioned as being a hallmark of the series, among other hallmarks, which is somewhat true considering that they’re still using it, just not as randomly as the first entries in the franchise.

The Mortal Kombat Gibberish, which doesn’t have an official name, is most popularly associated with Raiden and Liu Kang, popular characters within the game. These two characters have been known to spout random nonsense whenever they perform their moves during fights. The gibberish automatically became a stereotype of the franchise, with many trying to uncover what it means and what they are saying. Still, they’re not saying anything because it’s just gibberish. But out of all the interpretations, the most popular phrase is “Johnny bought a car!!” from the first game. But how well does it hold up today?

So… it’s a language now?

The Mortal Kombat Gibberish started because of a quirky event during the first game’s development, or so they say. It might’ve happened because of a joke that dragged on too much, but I suppose it was relevant back then because it probably would’ve never happened if the game had come out now.

But the characters in the game still use it, even to this day. And even to this day, nobody is sure what it is. Is it an actual language, or just random noises uttered by a thunder god with a Frisbee on his head? Interestingly enough, recent entries in the series would indicate that there is, in fact, a linguistic origin to these phrases in the game’s world, that is, and not in actual development. No, the gibberish is such a staple of the franchise, albeit a subtle one, that the characters respond knowing what these phrases mean.

So yes, apparently, they wanted to do more with the gibberish than just random noises, so now they add context to it, and it’s a language. Suppose they want to turn gibberish into a linguistic element among the different species in the world of Mortal Kombat. In that case, further incorporation of this language should be used, and now is the perfect time for it. Why? I’ll tell you…

30th anniversary, anyone?

Mortal Kombat has been around for quite a while, almost as much as I have. In fact, it is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2022. But autumn is almost here (relatively speaking), and right now, there is no information available on the next title of the franchise, which is supposedly the 12th in the main series. It’s even worse when you consider that there was no E3 in 2022, so there’s nothing to look forward to. However, since this is the 30th anniversary, you’d probably suspect that there will be something, and there might be, but nobody can say for sure. But forget all that. What will be with the gibberish in this instalment?

Of course, I can’t imagine it being the main focus of “Mortal Kombat 12, but in which direction will the gibberish go this time? In previous entries, they made it seem like it was a language, which might be accurate, but maybe this time, at least for the story mode, incorporate more phrases in this weird gibberish while also providing context. Of course, since gibberish isn’t an actual conlang like Klingon, there’s no need to develop it thoroughly, but just incorporate more sentences in the dialogue of the cut scenes. At least that’s how I would do it.

But of course, whatever works for NetherRealm Studios (the developers of the game), it’s their game, after all. But if they insist on keeping it as random noises uttered during fights, they should at least have all the characters say something funny, not just a few. I don’t know if there’s any other way to make the gibberish interesting.

What do you say about Johnny’s car?

If you know any way to make the gibberish in Mortal Kombat more attractive, then be sure to tell me, ’cause I’ve run out of ideas. Luckily, I assume you haven’t, which is where I need you to fill this in. So… be sure to tell me what you think… as always.

In Conclusion…

I REALLY like Mortal Kombat, although not as much as I did in yesteryears. But I still think it’s a cool game, and I can’t wait for the next entry. But the series has aged weirdly. I mean, it’s weird seeing these characters, which you’re familiar with your whole life (30 years or so, give or take), becoming more contemporary with each iteration, as in they adopt contemporary trends such as the smartphone culture and whatnot. It’s… unusual for me when I simply prefer them like they were in 2004.

As for the gibberish, they need to sort out what they want to do with it. One time, it’s just a battle cry, and in the other, they can use it to communicate. I can’t imagine there’ll be some development to it in the next entry but… wishful thinking?

In any case, I’m still waiting for Mortal Kombat 12… if that’s what they’ll call it.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store