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Mortal Kombat 1 Feels Like A Weird Move

Over the last few months, NetherRealm Studios — and "Mortal Kombat" co-creator Ed Boon, in particular — have strongly hinted that the next installment of the company's long-running tournament fighter franchise wouldn't be the sequel that fans have been expecting. Adding the most fuel to this speculative fire was a teaser posted to Ed Boon's Twitter page that depicted a clock skipping right over the midnight hour and striking "1" instead.

Shortly after, leaks claimed that the next game in the series would actually be titled "Mortal Kombat 1," and that it would be a full-on next-gen remake of the first game in the series. The leaks and rumors turned out to be half-true: Although the new game is indeed called "Mortal Kombat 1," it's not really a remake. Instead, "MK1" is something of a reboot of the series, forging a new path in the reborn universe that Fire God Liu Kang created at the end of "Mortal Kombat 11." Fans will see familiar characters getting a fresh start, but still getting into the same bloody battles. It's looking like we may never get a game titled "Mortal Kombat 12," and for a great number of fans, it's hard to know how to feel about it.

If this is truly the new direction for the series, it feels like a weird move for the "Mortal Kombat" franchise. For one thing, the title is a strange bit of marketing that just doesn't sit right some gamers. For another, the whole concept feels slightly reminiscent of a route the franchise has taken before — and not that long ago, either!

Haven't we gone back to the beginning before?

2011's "Mortal Kombat," also known as "Mortal Kombat 9" among fans, may be a little over a decade old at this point, but fans are unlikely to forget what a drastic game-changer it was for the franchise. And no, that's not a pun; "Mortal Kombat 9" was a huge reset for the game series in more ways than one. 

The plot followed Raiden's attempts to change the outcome of the very first "Mortal Kombat" game after receiving a message from his future self. This allowed the series to continue in a bold new direction while also rooting the reboot in the storyline of the groundbreaking original entry. It's hard to imagine this newest fresh start carrying the same weight, especially since we've already seen such an interesting fresh take on that entry in the relatively recent past.

Some fans have clowned on the idea of sameness that emanates from the title. One fan joked that "Mortal Kombat 1" is "the title so good they used it thrice." Others have argued that the renumbering needlessly complicates an already messy timeline, especially considering how many other "Mortal Kombat" games simply chose to use subtitles over numbers. It remains to be seen how this reset will truly differentiate itself from the last one, particularly since both seem to revolve around a beloved character taking us back to the beginning.

Is MK1 the next logical step?

Yes, the title of "Mortal Kombat 1" has also been a source of some consternation among fans. For some, it feels like an unnecessary means of side-stepping the next expected number in the story. If "Mortal Kombat X" could follow the last reboot, why can't "Mortal Kombat 12" follow the most recent attempt? The whole thing ultimately comes across more like a branding move, and less like a logical next step.

Basically, it remains to be seen how fresh of a start this game really is. After all, we've only seen a brief teaser that seems to spell immediate doom for the series' original baddie, Shang Tsung. Meanwhile, Liu Lang's new power levels and the wild level of gore also indicate that this ain't your dad's "Mortal Kombat 1." 

It should be noted: We're not judging "Mortal Kombat 1" before it's out, just raising an eyebrow at the unorthodox name and this particular continuation of the series' time-bending multiversal saga. There's every chance that it could still turn out to be the injection of newness that the series needs. As always, NetherRealm continues to have fun with its audience and play things close to the chest. Much like the Elder Gods watching over Earthrealm and Outworld, fans will just have to wait and see what their beloved franchise has in store. There are definitely reasons to be curious about this redux, if not outright excited. For now, going with "Mortal Kombat 1" isn't a bad idea on NetherRealm's part — just an exceedingly weird one.