Mortal Kombat 4 is a 3D fighting game developed and released by Midway on October 1997 for arcades. The game makes a significant shift to 3D while introducing weapon-based combat to the franchise. The setting reverts from the gritty, Western look of Mortal Kombat 3 to mythical, Eastern look of the first two Mortal Kombat games.
The game has three revisions within a year, fixing various bugs and adding new secrets, bugfixes and features. The game was also ported to the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 in late June 1998, the PC in late July 1998, and was a launch title for the Sega Dreamcast under the name Mortal Kombat Gold. These home versions added exclusive content, including new characters and FMV intros, biographies, and endings. The game was also ported to the Game Boy Color in 1998 by Digital Eclipse.
Taking place after the events of Mortal Kombat 3, the plot of Mortal Kombat 4 revolves around the war between the God of Thunder Raiden (along with the warriors of Earthrealm) and the fallen Elder God Shinnok (along with the evil sorceror Quan Chi and their army of darkness).
Despite the transition to 3D, the game plays very similarly to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Players have four attack buttons (High Punch, High Kick, Low Punch, and Low Kick), a Block button, and a Run button. Players have a Run Meter to prevent them from abusing the Run button, which gives them a quick dash forward for offensive manuevers. Players can now sidestep left and right (by tapping the Run button twice), allowing them to dodge projectiles and move the camera so that other players can not pick up items on the ground as easily.
The "chain combo" system is still intact, where players use strings of normal attacks to perform a pre-programmed combo. However, Mortal Kombat 4 has added a "Maximum Damage" cap, automatically breaking off combos (in a similar vein to Killer Instinct's " Combo Breaker").
One main concept introduced to the Mortal Kombat franchise in Mortal Kombat 4 is weapon-based combat. Players perform a specific button and joystick combination and the character would equip a weapon (usually a sword, an axe, or a club). The weapon deals more damage and changes certain attacks (Fujin's Crossbow, for example, can fire bolts). The weapon is knocked out of the player's hand on the first attack landed by an opponent, in which that weapon can be picked up by either player by pressing down on the joystick and the Run button. Some stages have objects (such as rocks in Goro's Lair) scattered around that can also be picked up and thrown at opponents.
Some mechanics from Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 were scrapped, including Friendships, Babalities, Animalities, the ability to show " Mercy", eight-player tournament mode, and mid-match stage transitions. There are no Endurance Matches, instead bringing back 2-on-2 mode.
This is the first Mortal Kombat game to not include palette swaps, as each character is visually unique. This also marks the first game to include the ability to select an alternate costume (by holding the Start button while selecting a character).
The original Arcade release includes 15 starting playable characters and one secret playable character. Raiden, Liu Kang, Reptile, Scorpion, Jax, Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero, and Sonya return from previous Mortal Kombat games. New fighters include Shinnok (the fallen Elder God and boss of the game who has the ability to switch movesets to other characters in a similar way as Shang Tsung), Quan Chi (the evil sorceror and sub-boss of the game), Fujin (the God of Wind and ally of Raiden), Kai (a Shaolin monk and ally of Liu Kang), Reiko (general of Shinnok's army), Tanya (a female ninja of Edenia with shady motives), and Jarek (the last surviving member of Kano's clan, the Black Dragon). A secret easter egg changes the player's character to Meat, a bloody skeleton.
All of the home versions (with the exception of the Game Boy Color version) added more characters from previous Mortal Kombat games. Goro from the original Mortal Kombat was a sub-boss that was playable with a cheat code. Noob Saibot was also playable with a cheat code. Mortal Kombat Gold for the Sega Dreamcast added Kitana, Mileena, Cyrax, Kung Lao, and Baraka as playable characters with Sektor as a secret playable character.
- Kai (not available in the Game Boy Color version)
- Shinnok (boss)
- Liu Kang
- Reptile (secret character in the Game Boy Color version)
- Jax (not available in the Game Boy Color version)
- Johnny Cage (not available in the Game Boy Color version)
- Jarek (not available in the Game Boy Color version)
- Quan Chi (sub-boss in the Arcade version)
- Sonya (not available in the Game Boy Color version)
- Meat (secret character, not available in the Game Boy Color version)
- Noob Saibot (secret character, not available in the Arcade or Game Boy Color versions)
- Goro (sub-boss and secret character, not available in the Arcade or Game Boy Color versions)
- Kitana (only available in the Dreamcast version)
- Mileena (only available in the Dreamcast version)
- Cyrax (only available in the Dreamcast version)
- Kung Lao (only available in the Dreamcast version)
- Baraka (only available in the Dreamcast version)
- Sektor (secret character only available in the Dreamcast version)