NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat 1 is shaping up to be one of the best fighting games we’ve ever seen. I, for one, certainly think it’s easily one of the most intriguing upcoming PS5 games this year (of course, that goes for the upcoming Xbox games, too). However, I’m not sold on Liu Kang’s reimagined Mortal Kombat timeline and one thing disappointing me above all else is Reptile in Mortal Kombat 1. Sure, his human form is making him a contender for MK1’s hottest fighter, but he isn’t the freaky lizard-man I want to see and that Mortal Kombat fans deserve.
Now, I might not be a long-time Mortal Kombat player, but I love Reptile. He was certainly one of my most anticipated Mortal Kombat 1 characters. After spending hour upon hour enjoying spitting toxic acid at my opponents in MK9 and MKX, his absence from the MK11 roster was a real shame. So, it really is a delight to see him back in MK1. What isn’t a delight, though, is that NetherRealm Studios has regressed when it comes to Reptile’s design.
Mortal Kombat 1 returns so far back to Reptile’s roots that he’s just the ‘green ninja’ again, while also adopting the overly aggressive animalistic design of 2021’s Mortal Kombat movie. Sure, some of you might think this is “the best MK1 design yet” when it comes to all the reimagined fighters, but are you sure you’re not just suffering from ‘Reptile withdrawal’?
The humanoid-lizard Reptile design we see in MK9 and MKX makes him even more unique when it comes to the roster. If it’s an argument of acceptability, as human-Reptile fits in with Liu Kang and the gang more, then all you need to do is take a look at fighters like Baraka and Goro – both of which are going to feature in Mortal Kombat 1. They’re not exactly human and Mortal Kombat’s Earthrealmers have never had any problems interacting with them before.
In Mortal Kombat 1, Reptile says that “Earthrealmers aren’t ready to see the real [Reptile]” – which sounds like something someone who has never actually visited Earthrealm or met any Earthrealmers would say. Johnny Cage reacts just fine, as you can see below.
So, rather than present Reptile as something of an envoy for the Saurain people in Liu Kang’s new timeline – someone who can show Earthrealm and the rest of the Mortal Kombat universe that they’re not to be seen as enemies against the mysterious new villain threatening everything – NetherRealm Studios has opted to present Reptile as a banished outcast. As nice as his cheeky smile is, Reptile looks like the human embodiment of three-day old Mountain Dew sitting next to a Cheeto-dust covered keyboard. He’s just a little icky.
It also strikes me as odd that Reptile is being presented to us as someone “terrorized” and “run out” by his people for being able to turn into a greasy human – something that seems to confirm characters like Khameleon just don’t exist. If anything, isn’t this something that should be seen as a huge advantage for a race that will inevitably have to deal with humans at some point? I suppose that’s a philosophical debate for another day, but it’s clearly something important to his design.
I like Reptile, I do. I will admit that this new design is growing on me the more I see it. However, I just can’t help but feel like we’re being robbed of an equally endearing lizard boy in a game with a roster dominated by humans. Sure, I’m someone who would pay good money to see the Kombat Kids back on the roster, but I’m also someone who believes that diversity is what makes Mortal Kombat games great.
D’vorah, Shao Kahn, Ferra/Torr, and Sheeva. These are the sorts of characters MK1 should introduce to balance out the ninjas. Reptile could have been one that fits the bill, but instead we’ll see his true Saurian form in cutscenes and Mortal Kombat 1 fatalities. It’s a shame, but I suppose it’s better than no Reptile at all.