10 Mortal Kombat 1 Character Redesigns Better Than Their Classic Looks

The highly anticipated latest edition of the iconic franchise, Mortal Kombat 1, is to be the second Mortal Kombat reboot in the long-running fighting game series. As part of the new timeline, numerous classic characters will be making a return to Mortal Kombat, but they will have their stories reset and their motivations, alliances, and relationships profoundly altered. As demonstrated in the official debut gameplay trailer, the theme of development and change extends beyond the gameplay and story, with the visual appearance of many of the franchise’s most familiar combatants redesigned.


The design of characters is a fundamental aspect of the public reaction to a game. Particular pressure is therefore associated with the redesign of enormously popular characters. Poor redesigns, such as Spyro the Dragon in Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, Dr. Eggman in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), and Mega Man in Street Fighter X Tekken resulted in audience backlash. In spite of this pressure, many of the Mortal Kombat 1 character redesigns revealed so far look great.

Related:Mortal Kombat 1: Every Confirmed Character Revealed (So Far)

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10 Johnny Cage

Original Johnny Cage side-by-side with Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat 1

One of the original seven roster members from Mortal Kombat (1992), Johnny Cage has undergone numerous visual alterations during the franchise’s three-decade-long run. Originally based on actor and mixed martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme, Johnny Cage has, in recent installments, veered away from his original light-hearted Hollywood actor gimmick, in favor of a military position. In Mortal Kombat 1, however, it appears that Cage will be returning to the action-star aesthetic of the earlier games, with the official gameplay debut trailer on the Mortal Kombat YouTube channel showing the actor less bulky than in recent years, clad in a slim-fitting tailored suit rather than military apparel; looking better than ever.

9 Raiden

Original Raiden side-by-side with Raiden from Mortal Kombat 1

The God of Thunder, Raiden, is a veteran of the series, having been playable since the original iteration. His initial appearance was characterized by a simple woven conical sledge hat and white robes, these were joined in later installments by his famous blue vest. However, Raiden’s appearance is seemingly significantly altered in Mortal Kombat 1, with the once all-mighty Thunder God relegated to the status of a young monk – albeit one who can shoot lighting. Although he retains his trademark hat, Raiden now dons the orange robes of a Shaolin monk – the combination of these elements resulting in a visually compelling combatant.

8 Jax

Original Jax side-by-side with Jax from Mortal Kombat 1

Jackson “Jax” Briggs originally joined the Mortal Kombat roster in 1993’s Mortal Kombat 2; however, it was not until Mortal Kombat 3 that he received his most notable attribute, his metal arms. Despite being a fundamental aspect of the character, in the latest series reboot, it appears as though Jax will be without his bionic biceps. In spite of this and the little audiences can see of the character in the official Mortal Kombat 1 gameplay trailer, the character model looks exceptional. Furthermore, it is possible that, as the story mode progresses, Jax will be fitted with his metal arms, as he was in Mortal Kombat (2011).

7 Shang Tsung

Original Shang Tsung side-by-side with Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat 1

From a withered old man in Mortal Kombat 1992 to an energetic young sorcerer in Mortal Kombat 2, the original Mortal Kombat boss, Shang Tsung has, perhaps more than any other character, undergone regular physical alterations throughout his history in Mortal Kombat. The available images of the upcoming iteration of Shang Tsung suggest that the treacherous villain will be modeled on the character’s younger incarnation, however, it is possible that both versions may make appearances in Mortal Kombat 1.

6 Sub-Zero

Original Sub-Zero side-by-side with Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat 1

Sub-Zero is a franchise mainstay, and the only character to never be absent from a mainline Mortal Kombat game. Originating as one of the palette-swapped ninjas, Sub-Zero has become one of the franchise’s most iconic combatants. Although his appearance has never undergone major alterations – at most he occasionally has a scar – Sub-Zero has, since Mortal Kombat 3, become visually distinctive from his fellow ninjas. Sub-Zero looks great in the upcoming game, his design pays homage to the original, yet with an updated aesthetic.

5 Scorpion

Original Scorpion side-by-side with Scorpion from Mortal Kombat 1

Once Sub-Zero’s archrival, now his brother, Scorpion, like Sub-Zero, is one of the original seven combatants and among the Mortal Kombat franchise’s most beloved. Beginning as another palette-swapped ninja in 1992’s Mortal Kombat, Scorpion’s design has, for the most part, remained consistent, only occasionally altering from a human form to a specter. Although not a palette swap, the upcoming version of Scorpion appears to return to the theme of visual similarity with Sub-Zero – a trend avoided in recent releases.

4 Kitana

Original Kitana side-by-side with Kitana from Mortal Kombat 1

The Princess of Edenia, Kitana made her debut in Mortal Kombat 2 as one of the female palette-swapped ninjas. Her appearance throughout the series has changed substantially, but the upcoming incarnation appears to be an updated take on the character, closer to her appearance in Mortal Kombat 3 rather than the original versions. In the official Mortal Kombat 1 gameplay trailer, Kitana is shown fighting Mileena with her trademark weapon, the war fan. The Kitana character model looks great dressed in an ornate blue outfit, including mask.

3 Liu Kang

Original Liu Kang side-by-side with Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat 1

The Fire God version of Liu Kang is an exciting update for the enduringly popular Hero of Earthrealm – significantly better than the character’s previous revamps, Revenant Liu Kang and the infamous Zombie Liu Kang. Liu Kang is a series original and began as a mere mortal Shaolin monk with basic black pants – a classic, but not very visually stimulating. At the end of Mortal Kombat 11 and in Mortal Kombat 1, however, Liu Kang’s role and appearance are revolutionized as he transitions from human to god. Covered in tattoos and adorned in an outfit befitting an elder god, the Fire God version of Liu Kang is one of the best character redesigns in franchise history.

2 Mileena

Original Mileena side-by-side with Mileena from Mortal Kombat 1

Like Kitana, the origins of Mileena can be traced back to the franchise’s second installment, with the character’s original appearance as a female palette-swapped ninja. Unlike Kitana, Jade, or Khameleon, Mileena is identifiably unique when her mask is removed. In the original and second timelines, Mileena is an experiment created by Shang Tsung for Shao Kahn, however, the official Mortal Kombat 1 gameplay trailer suggests a change to the franchise canon – a disease cause Mileena’s Tarkatan-esque teeth, not genetic experiments. Even when wearing a mask, the latest version of Mileena looks fantastic, adorned in pink armor and brandishing a pair of ninja sai.

1 Kenshi

Original Kenshi side-by-side with Kenshi from Mortal Kombat 1

Perhaps the most interesting redesign, and one better than the character’s classic look is the alteration of the visually impaired swordsman, Kenshi Takahashi. The telekinetic and psychokinetic warrior appears in the gameplay trailer to reclaim his family sword, Sento, from Johnny Cage, during which audiences are able to see Kenshi prior to the interaction with Shang Tsung that took his sight – an event that will possibly occur during the story. Making his first appearance since Mortal Kombat 10, the Kenshi character model looks great in Mortal Kombat 1, fighting with Sento alongside a ghostly samurai Kameo Fighter, against Johnny Cage in the gameplay trailer.

Source: Mortal Kombat/YouTube

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