It's been a long time since Reptile compelled quarter stuffers to look moonward, or Smoke and Jade shared a private joke behind a talking tree, but the element of secrets hasn't left Mortal Kombat entirely. While other franchises begin to abandon the long practiced chase of unlockable characters, MK keeps one foot in the shadows, taunting a rabid fanbase all the way to the end date and beyond.

Yesterday, Mortal Kombat Online enjoyed a customary April Fools rib. The lure of DLC additions and discarded characters may be rooted in truth, but you weren't fooled so easily. For MK fans of the past, however, it hasn't always been so easy to discern truth from fiction.

For fans eager to squeeze a little more out of obscurity, characters like Tremor and Wu Lae remain a luring prospect. Even the likes of Hydro -- a water-themed Lin Kuei character, created by Malibu Comics -- have fought for renewed existence, getting as far as a cameo appearance in the final Mortal Kombat: Legacy [last year]. There is another class of character, however, who contributes to the MK mythology as much, without ever actually having existed -- the rumored, or prank character.

EGMs Nimbus Terrafaux in Action! EGMs Nimbus Terrafaux Tests His Might!

Twenty years since the first Mortal Kombat hit arcades, it may be Nimbus Terrafaux [pictured above] who is the most longlived and recognised hoax character.

Boldly flaunting "faux" in a name reported to intentionally approximate 'Sky Land Fake,' Nimbus fooled enough people to remain a popularly requested character, years later. The creation of Electronic Gaming Magazine, for their cover-dated March 1994 issue; the April Fool was follow-up to another long-lasting EGM prank, Sheng Long -- the 1992 Street Fighter II hoax (inspired by rumors) that went on to inspire the creation of Akuma, and recent design of Gouken. In an age before every home had a PhotoShop equivalent, the mere existence of pictures was enough to fool some, but EGM weren't lazy, going so far as to create elaborate methods of unlocking, in both instances.

The quest to find the infamous Nimbus Terrafaux in the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat has taken a new turn. One reader claims to have found him! To prove it he sent us a picture of this character's existence on an IBM disk. These pictures look too good to be true. Are they? Or is this a very clever deception? It has been said that this is the method to find Nimbus. At the screen when Reptile gives the clue, "Look to La Luna," enter the following: RIGHT, DOWN, RIGHT, A, C, A, B, B, A, RIGHT, DOWN, RIGHT, C, B, START. If done correctly, the game resets and you can play as Nimbus.
- Instructions offered by "Tom Grace of Wernersville, PA" in the '94 EGM issue.

Infotainment World introduce Red Robin in 1995!

Magazines continued to the fuel the fooling fire in the years following EGM's original 1992 prank, thanks in no small part to the induglence of the fighting games themselves. In the same year as Nimbus Terrafaux; Gameinformer reportedly added "Emerald" to the mix [pictured top] -- one of many falsley rumored palette swaps, a curious addition to Mortal Kombat II, given the very public existence of Jade. Another example, Red Robin [above], reportedly came from the trusted source of the Mortal Kombat II Official Players Guide, produced by Infotainment World in 1995.
The red hued Scorpion sprite was described to bare a striking resemblance in play style to a character who actually was nestled deep within MKII, Noob Saibot -- the black palette swap unlocked by defeating Player 2 for a consecutive twenty-five matches.

Other hoax characters, like Aqua (short for Aquilluxborg Hydroxybot), would manage to blur the lines of fact and fiction in later, more sophisticated years, leaping off the pages of magazines to create further uncertainty. Appearing to be an unused character from Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Aqua is widely speculated to be the work of jokesters involved in specific PAL ports of the title, created by Avalanche Studios. For his unique absurdity, he was included in our April Fool.

Prodigal series co-creator, John Tobias, side-swiped the issue of existing material like this, acknowledging unused sprites in Trilogy when asked on Twitter.

The world of console ports has created many new rumors and false reports, but not all of them are false. Belokk, a demonic fighter from Mortal Kombat 4, is one of the most recognised examples of a discarded console creation, the work of Eurocom -- British development studio responsible for porting the game to PC and home consoles. Nintendo has been the exclusive home for the translucent female palette swap, Khameleon, in versions of both Mortal Kombat Trilogy and Armageddon. Likewise, Sega was the home of the little discussed MKII finishing move, the Fergality -- a reference to one of the developers.

In these enlightened times, some fans see red when a rumor comes about, but the cultural significance of uncertainty in Mortal Kombat goes far beyond hoaxes and unused material. For a franchise so famously associated with mysterious gimmicks and self-parody, the existence of rumored characters has become self-fulfilling fact.

EGM were once again at the centre of the emergence of one of MK's most popular myths-turned-fact, printing a steady stream of letters and rumors about the character called Ermac.

Widely believed to be a red palette glitch in the first Mortal Kombat, Ermac actually never existed. The name is now well known to refer to the internal workings of arcade code, "ermac" described in a 2011 tweet by series co-creator Ed Boon as, "... a macro I wrote for catching code errors/traps."
Ermac was finally realised as a character in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, joining the expanding rainbow of palette swap characters which had also come to include Rain. The red male would eventually be joined by his less popular female counterpart, Skarlet, who joined the lineup in 2011 as the first downloadable character [full story]. Skarlet now adorns covers of Komplete Edition, which packs the character on-disc.

NOTHING CAN PREPARE YOU... for Zebron!Blaze deserves an honorable mention as one of the seeds planted by the MK developers, themselves. Beginning life as a non-descript three-frame flame flickering on Liu Kang legs, the characters once affectionately dubbed Torch (by fans) eventually became fully fleshed fact, the reward for completeing Konquest training modes in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Smalltown boy would make good in 2008, Blaze becoming lead antagonist in the feel-good story of Armageddon. He is second only to Zebron, who we all anticipate will join him in the canon, some day soon.

Are you still holding out hope for a character who never was?
We're celebrating twenty years of Mortal Kombat! Discuss secret characters, hoaxes and pranks on the forums and share your nostalgiac entry into Mortal Kombat in the Year of the Dragon thread!

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