If you’ve been playing Mortal Kombat‘s exceptional Story Mode, you have (or will soon) face the wrath of Shao Kahn.** While many reviews have complained about this boss’ excessively cheap nature, most journalists forget to mention that every fighting game has a cheap fucking boss.

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Look at that smug asshole.


But what makes Shao Kahn so annoying?

His attacks do huge damage and juggle or stun youHe randomly gains armor, allowing him to plow through hitsHe has what appears to be double normal healthHe’s always trying to kill Papa Bear and Lil BritchesHe taunts you constantly during the match

So, how do you beat a super powerful, nearly invulnerable being? I’ll tell you, but only if you’re willing to read substantial story mode spoilers!

First encounter of the cheese kind

The first time you face Shao Kahn, you’ll be playing as an enraged Liu Kang, who isn’t too happy about Kahn’s recent attempts at practicing chiromancy. Any attempts to fight the Emperor of Outworld head on in a fair engagement will be met with intense and ongoing anal violation. Since Shao (we’re on a first name basis) has double health and damage, it’s essentially like fighting two enemies at once, which is significantly more annoying than the already stacked 1v2 battles sprinkled throughout the game’s plot.

However, Shao Kahn does have weaknesses, and exploiting them by being as cheap as possible is the least you could do to return the favor of his constant, ego-destroying taunts. First of all, Mortal Kombat’s boss has powerful ranged attacks, but they’re by far his weakest attacks. This is good for Liu Kang, who has very fast fireballs and who should avoid fighting this boss up close whenever possible due to aforementioned forcible penetration. Second, Shao Kahn will frequently pause to laugh at or mock you, which is a great time to nail him with Liu’s flying kick (back, forward, BP). Finally… all of Shao Kahn’s close range attacks will destroy you utterly. Just thought I’d throw that in there again.

Liu Kang vs Shao Kahn: The game plan

Immediately run from Shao Kahn until you’re on the opposite side of the screenIf Shao Kahn throws a spear, duck it. If he throws a hammer, jump over it (it stuns you)At the first safe chance, begin spamming low fireballs (down, forward, FK)Spam low fireballs as quickly as possible. Start the motion for the next fireball right when the first one hits/is blockedIf Shao Kahn gets out of stunlock, bait a spear, then duckIf Shao Kahn starts throwing a hammer, immediately stop fireballs and jump over itIf Shao Kahn taunts, use a flying kick instead of a fireball. It does more damage and knocks him downDo not store meter. When you get past two bars, fire an Enhanced low fireball for more damageRepeat steps 4-8 until you achieve victory!

Is this cheap? Sure, but you’ll be teaching Kahn that two can play at that game. Do note that just because this strategy is simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy. If the big boss lands a single hammer on you, you may have lost the game (this isn’t a joke). His hammer can stun you, comboing into any number of other skills, including another fucking hammer. Additionally, his combos can easily take off half your life, with his X-Ray doing just as much damage. That said, as long as you don’t get cornered, this plan should work.

Beating Shao Kahn again: the reckoning

At the end of Story Mode, you’ll face Shao Kahn once more, this time as (surprise, surprise) Raiden! While Raiden has a slower projectile game, he has one thing Liu Kang doesn’t,† a teleport. For this reason, the final fight is strategically simpler than the initial encounter.

Raiden vs Shao Kahn: The game plan

Immediately run from Shao Kahn until you’re on the opposite side of the screenIf Shao Kahn throws a spear, duck it. If he throws a hammer, jump over itAt the first safe chance, begin spamming lightning (down, back, FP)Spam lightning as quickly as possible. Start the motion for the next shot right when the first one hits/is blockedIf Shao Kahn gets out of stunlock, bait a projectile, then teleport (down, up)If Shao Kahn taunts, use a Superman flight or teleport and uppercut/Superman/use your X-RayStore meter. Your Enhanced lightning sucks for this fight. Wait for a teleport into X-RayRepeat steps 4-7 until you achieve victory!

Raiden’s teleport is extremely fast, and because Shao Kahn is not typically invulnerable during his projectile throw recovery, it is easy to punish him if your reaction speed is good. If you miss a teleport opportunity, don’t worry, just keep dodging projectiles until you can re-establish a spam rhythm or until you can set up another big punish.

Again, this sounds easy, but is aggravated by the fact that any more than 2-3 mistakes on your part will pretty much cost you the match. At this point, you might be wondering how characters without fast projectiles or teleports could win the ultimate showdown in Arcade Mode (Fight Mode in MK9). For instance, Sub Zero’s freeze is incredibly slow and does no direct damage, which means fighting at long range is basically untenable. Any other characters in the same position might also fa….

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…wait. Sub Zero is the only character in the game without either a teleport or a spammable projectile.