Shadow Priest

        I’ll be brief this time. While fighting games are not my forte, I do really like Mortal Kombat. There’s something rather visceral and satisfying about pummeling your enemy and sending far too much blood everywhere. Even if I never could get those Fatalities to work properly… in any case, today’s subject is Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks.
        It is an beat ‘em up with some platforming elements, like getting power ups to traverse terrain and the like, but the meat of the game is beating evil monsters and minions into a bloody pulp with your characters combat skills and special moves. They can also, as per tradition, pull off a Fatality on these minions, but unlike when facing similarly empowered combatants, you can pull these off anytime as long as you hit them with a ‘fatality stunner’ move, easy as pushing a button. Of course, then you have to know how to pull off the Fatality, but even then, it’s far easier than in the main series, since the game tells you what buttons you need to press and it is much harder to mess up.
        So in all of this, given enemies can be taken out so easily, who could I write about that would stand out? The bosses? I think not. They are, honestly, about what you might expect if you know the character, and I don’t really see much to really talk about. No, instead I’m going to talk about one of the many enemies you meet across the game, and I promise you, once you meet them you won’t forget them.
        The Shadow Priests are literally the first enemy you see when you arrive in Outworld, where you spend most of the game. Specifically, the first two levels are on Earth, but the protagonists go to Outworld to take the fight to the villains trying to invade their world. They arrive in The Portal, a hub world with portals to all the other levels. Shadow Priests appear in pairs at every one of these portals, including the one you come out of when you arrive. In fact, you have to face them, since the portal they are guarding will not open until you dispatch them.
        Due to how often they appear, it is quickly obvious they simply do not operate under the same rules as the rest of the enemies in the game. For a start, they appear to be floating robes without legs, and levitate everywhere. Rather than facing you with martial arts and weapons, they fight with magic, and you can tell which they are using by the way their hands glow. If they glow blue, they will call down lightning. If it is purple, they will throw an energy orb at you. If green, they will rush at you and, if successful, drain your health and heal their own before flinging you away.
        Complicating this is that they are capable of teleporting, very quickly and continuously at that if they feel they’re too close to you. Though their attacks are telegraphed, the fact that there is two of them, not to mention other enemies likely around, can make them difficult to deal with.
        Oh yes, speaking of other enemies, Shadow Priests do not always attack you. If you’re dealing with other enemies at the time and they have enough distance, the Shadow Priests will decide to help them with their magic, producing mystical circles around them that either heal them or temporarily increase their power. Even worse, if there are no more enemies aside from themselves, they will decide to summon new ones for you to deal with, specifically Tarkatans, natives of Outworld.
        Tarkatans are very common enemies in this game, but no weaker for it. They can be fairly dangerous up close thanks to the natural blades that grow out of their arms, and they can somehow fire energy out of them as well at a distance, which they can even use to hit you while you’re in midair- not a great thing if you’re a fan of air combos like me. If there are two of them, they’ll team up; one will act as a spring for the other, launching themselves at you. But at least they can be beaten fairly easily if you know what you’re doing, and you can use Fatalities on them.
        Shadow Priests are completely immune to throws and Fatalities, just like the bosses are- you have to beat them the old fashioned way. Which is why they attempt to keep you at a distance, and summon minions to stall and harm you. Luckily, they aren’t immune to everything- if they’re near a ledge or other death trap, the right sort of attack can send them flying to their doom. Plus, unlike other enemies that are more physically imposing, they cannot block your attacks, relying on their magic to dodge and stay out of your way. Because of this, once you actually close the distance and manage to hit them, they go down as easily as any other enemy.
        Still… it really is an impressive display, especially considering the developers came up with this enemy based on something that was effectively just background- they first appeared in Mortal Kombat 2, as floating people simply observing the battle taking place. Who’d think they would be able to put up such a fight?

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