The Mortal Kombat series celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year, but in all its decades of dishing out gut-wrenching fights and macabre fatalities, it’s arguably never had a gameplay system that’s been as mind-expanding as Kameos. As the big new feature in Mortal Kombat 1, it invites you to select a second character to accompany your primary fighter into battle, chosen from a completely separate roster, and expands the creative options you have during kombat.
Characters from the original cast of Mortal Kombat like Sonya, Kano, and Goro lead the pack as Kameos, rocking their 1990s outfits, and are joined by some inspired deep cuts from later in the series, like Stryker and Sareena. Alternate versions of certain characters like Sub-Zero and Kung Lao are also unlockable, and even though it might seem weird to have a modern and classic version of the same character on the same team, let’s just say that there’s a very entertaining narrative reason to why that works in Mortal Kombat 1.
Kameos are incredibly easy to use in-game – you simply hit the right shoulder button (R1 on PlayStation, RB on Xbox), and your Kameo character will pop onto the screen to fire off one of their signature attacks. But the ceiling for how you can use Kameos in different situations is very, very high.
Each Kameo has a number of different abilities you can call in, depending on the direction you’re pushing on the controller when you summon them. These can range from simple attacks and projectiles – like a leg sweep or a blast of Sonya’s energy rings – and can also include attacks that inflict very useful status effects. You might call in Cyrax to ensnare your opponent in a net, holding them in place. You might get Jax to come in with his devastating ground pound, knocking them off their feet.
Naturally, every fighter in Mortal Kombat 1 has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, so if you have a favourite character you always like to play, your chosen Kameo character can potentially make up for some of their shortcomings, or simply give them access to a utility they don’t have. Maybe you like to play as the grapple-focussed Reiko, and need a Kameo character with a projectile attack, so you can fight back at long range. Perhaps you’d like to pair Scorpion up with the Kameo version of Sub Zero, so you can have access to fire and ice – something that’ll be especially useful in Mortal Kombat 1’s Invasion mode, where elemental effects come into play.
And given how integrated Kameos are into the fabric of Mortal Kombat 1’s fighting system, they are vital in making the most advanced techniques and lengthy combos possible. In the weeks leading up to the game’s launch, the community has been having a field day with everything that’s possible with Kameos, just from the brief glimpses they’ve had in the online beta that was held for those who pre-ordered the game.
Because summoning a Kameo character essentially acts as another Special Ability in your character’s arsenal, it means you can easily chain it to the end of an attack string, stacking on additional damage once you’ve started your assault on your opponent. Things start getting interesting here. There are 15 Kameo characters available in the game at launch, and with so many potential combinations of primary character and Kameo, the sheer variety of abilities spread across the Kameo roster, and Mortal Kombat 1’s very approachable combo-building flow, you can get supremely creative here, and pull off many things that would have been impossible to do in past games.
Characters like Li Mei may not have the reach or abilities to combine more than a couple of attack strings together, but send in a Kameo like the centaur Motaro to strike a few blows while Li Mei quickly resets herself, and you’ve opened up a pathway to keep the chain going for another flurry of strikes, while your opponent helplessly takes the damage. Scorpion’s high kicks send opponents flying far out of reach, and sure – you can use his iconic chain weapon to give them one last smack. Or, you could summon Kung Lao as a Kameo to hold them in place with a spinning attack, giving you time to close the gap, and dole out some more meaningful damage to secure the round.
Of course, Kameo usage doesn’t need to be as complex as that. Just summoning Kameo as a first step can be incredibly helpful in applying pressure, and opening up your opponent’s defences. Are you going up against someone who likes to block all your projectiles? Goro’s Kameo can help you out by leaping up and stomping them from directly above, while you send another projectile their way – oh no, which one do they block? Got an unpredictable opponent you’re trying to close in on? Call Sonya in to cover the skies with her aerial charge, and then dash in at ground level once she’s up there. Your adversary will literally have nowhere to run.
More than just utility, Kameo characters add a delightful tag-team flavour to Kombat proceedings as well, providing their own last-resort Fatal Blow techniques, as well Fatalities – the game’s signature finishing moves. They’re fantastic to have around, and inject the Mortal Kombat series with a formidable dose of life and creativity.
Mortal Kombat 1 is available now on PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and
For more information, visit the official Mortal Kombat website.
All the Kameo characters in Mortal Kombat 1 so far:
- Jax Briggs
- Kung Lao
- Sonya Blade