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Toasty!: The Top 10 'Mortal Kombat' Easter Eggs

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Mortal Kombat has had a big impact on gaming, and in more ways than one.

It wasn't just the poster boy for video game violence back in the '90s, it was also one of the best places to go for crazy rumors and hidden Easter eggs.

The video game also helped popularize the entire concept of hidden content in a game, and even two decades later, the series is still full of hidden secrets. And in the time before the Internet, many of these rumors of Easter eggs became urban legend around the arcade machine.

Narrowing the list down to just 10 of the most memorable was tough, but here are the 10 best Easter eggs in the entire Mortal Kombat series:

Reptile

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat
Before Reptile made his first official appearance, secret characters in fighting games didn't really exist. In fact, for the longest time, most gamers didn't think Reptile was real.

There was no Internet to fact-check, and the requirements to fight Reptile were so convoluted that it took forever just to figure out how to find him. Nowadays, he's one of the series' most well-known fighters, but back in the day, Reptile was one of the first great Easter eggs.

"Toasty!"

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat

It's as well-known today as Scorpion or Sub-Zero: after landing a particularly devastating uppercut, a tiny man pops out of the corner or the screen screaming "Toasty!" For a long time, people had no idea how to trigger it or what it meant ... not that it mattered as it quickly became an integral part of the Mortal Kombat legacy.

Today, we know that the man in the corner is actually designer Dan Forden, and that "Toasty!" is alive and well, having appeared as a bonus in Mortal Kombat 9 (and, with any luck, it'll return in Mortal Kombat X).

Ermac

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat

Back when most games were still housed in arcade cabinets, most titles featured something called an "audit menu." This helped arcade owners and developers keep track of what was and wasn't working with the machine — in Mortal Kombat, one of the listings was designated "ermac," short for Error Macros.

Normally, such a listing wouldn't cause any trouble, but "ermac" was placed directly under the listing for "Reptile battles." Fans believed that this "Ermac" was another hidden character, and while he wasn't actually in the game, Boon and Tobias eventually designed a red ninja for Mortal Kombat 3. His name: Ermac.

Skarlet

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat (2011)

While Ermac may have been the first glitch-inspired character, he certainly wasn't the last: Skarlet, a red pallette-swap of the female fighter Kitana, was a supposedly hidden character in Mortal Kombat II. The rumor was eventually debunked, though Skarlet would eventually make an appearance as one of the slaves tied up in Shao Kahn's arena and later as one of Mortal Kombat 9′s downloadable characters.

Noob Saibot

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat II

Everybody knows that Noob Saibot — a.k.a. the original Sub-Zero — made his debut in Mortal Kombat II and 3 as a secret boss, then became playable in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. It was a nice little secret, but that's not the Easter egg we're focusing on.

Have you ever wondered why Noob Saibot's name is so strange? Well, reverse them, and you have Boon Tobias — the last names of Mortal Kombat's creators, Ed Boon and John Tobias.

Kano transformations

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat II

After the discovery of Reptile and speculation surrounding Ermac, fans began poring over every inch of Mortal Kombat games, looking for more hidden characters. It got to the point where the game's creators took notice ... and they decided to play a little prank.

Kano wasn't a playable fighter in Mortal Kombat II, though his name was still in the game: in the Game Audits menu, a listing for "Kano transformations" was found under the game's secret bosses. Players began to frantically search for its meaning, thinking that Kano was indeed in the game, though Boon and Tobias eventually shot their theories down.

Johnny Cage vs. Jean-Claude Van Damme

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat

Everyone knows who Johnny Cage is: he's the man that revolutionized video game groin punches. That being said, few people know that Johnny is actually based on a real-life Hollywood superstar: none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Originally, Mortal Kombat was to be a licensed game based off of Van Damme's action movie Bloodsport. When the deal fell through, the team didn't want to scrap all of the work they had done, and so, they re-purposed the assets to create Mortal Kombat. Johnny Cage's MK1 appearance is a reference to Van Damme's from the movie.

Meat

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat 4

Yes, what you're looking at is real. That's Meat, a hidden character first featured in Mortal Kombat 4. In that game, all characters used the same model when skinless: it didn't matter if you were playing as Scorpion or Shinnok, if they lost their face, you were going to see the same thing. During development, the team thought it would be funny if players could actually play as Meat — and, despite the fact that he didn't have any original moves in the game, he was added in as a secret character.

Mokap

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

Meat wasn't the only hidden Mortal Kombat character that turned out to be completely useless. Mokap — a literal motion capture artist — was introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance as one of Johnny Cage's stunt doubles. Sure, he was a funny enough joke, and it's always cool to find hidden stuff in games, but ... really? A guy in a mocap suit? Can't we, as a community, do better?

Krypt Monster

Appeared in: Mortal Kombat (2011)

There's a good chance that, even if you have played Mortal Kombat 9, you haven't found this Easter egg. That may be a good thing: we won't spoil what the Easter egg actually is, but if you're scared easily, you may want to hold off on watching the video:

That's the Krypt Monster: while randomly unlocking the game's extra content, he'll pop out of the bottom of the screen and scare the bejeezus out of you. Why did the team at NetherRealm include him? Who knows — perhaps the team just loves to watch its fans squirm.

Will Mortal Kombat X come full of Easter eggs? Well, the game is being released in April, and considering the series' history, there's a pretty good chance that there will be something hidden for players to find ... let's just hope it's more along the lines of Reptile or Ermac than Mokap or Krypt Monster.

Mortal Kombat X is set to hit store shelves on April 16.
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