I saw a YouTube video where someone ranked all MK games from worst to best, and I felt like giving this some thought myself. This is kinda tricky, because how exactly would you rank these games: which criteria do you use? Gameplay, gore, story, characters, content, animations, cultural impact, nostalgia, sales, soundtracks...?? Me personally, I think it's just weird to rank the original Mortal Kombat game higher than MKX, even though the first game was such a huge part of my childhood. So for my own list, I'll use two separate categories. I'll first do the 2D era games (two dimensional digitized sprites), and next the 3D era games (all games that use three dimensional character models). These will be from 'worst', to what I think are the best games in their category. I'll exclude Mortal Kombat 11 for obvious reasons.
06. Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996)
05. Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997)
04. Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
03. Mortal Kombat (1992)
02. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
01. Mortal Kombat 2 (1993)
10. Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (2000)
09. Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (2008)
08. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)
07. Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)
06. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005)
05. Mortal Kombat Gold (1999)
04. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)
03. Mortal Kombat X (2015)
02. Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)
01. Mortal Kombat (2011)
I ranked Mortal Kombat Trilogy the lowest among the 2D games, because they threw together all sprites from the first three games, while there's a clear distinction in quality, sizes and proportions, color count, and gameplay options between the characters of those three games. This gave MKT a really messy and unprofessional feel that I never liked.
I think MKM:S-Z is slightly better, because its story wasn't half bad, and it introduced some good characters that would stick till this very day. Also, for sprite editors like myself, the game's a welcome addition, and I know that MKM:S-Z has its place among some of the older die-hard MK fans, even though the game(play) was a mess.
MK:Armageddon, to me was a shitty game. I know some people still liked it, but I think Deception had a far better Konquest mode, and MK:A lacked true Fatalities. Its story was horrible imo, and I never liked the new characters Taven, Daegon and Blaze. Creating your own character was a nice addition, but it wasn't really handled all that well. You could argue that it was better than MK4, but I did consider nostalgia and how these games impacted me personally upon release. By the time MK:A came out, there were tons of fighting games that were way better than MK:A.
I put Mortal Kombat Gold higher on the list than Shaolin Monks, because although MK:SM was super fun, its normal fighting mode had quite a limited roster, and you didn't really play it for the classic 1v1 kombat anyway. MKG was a much better version of MK4: it was colorful and fast, and the character select screen music is probably one of the best in the franchise. I think my top 3 MK games are all fairly close to one another. They all excel in certain aspects, and those elements are all quite unique to each game, but I feel like that top 3 is justified. I'm hoping.. no actually I'm expecting Mortal Kombat 11 to be(come) the best MK game in the franchise.
Alright so those are my thoughts and opinions. This is all subjective of course, but let's be honest: this is the most accurate and realistic ranking anyone could ever hope to come up with ;)
I am very curious as to how (and why) others would rank these games differently. So feel free to construct your own list(s).
I only include the ones that i played.
04. Mortal Kombat 2 (1993)
03. Mortal Kombat (1992)
02. Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
01. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
06. Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)
05. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)
04. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)
03. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005)
02. Mortal Kombat (2011)
01. Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)
The Best (Still Relevant):
1. MK 11
2. MK 9
3. MK XL
Great (In Their Time):
5. MK 2
6. MK 1
7. MK Deception
8. MK Deadly Alliance
9. MK 3
Good, Not Great:
10. MK 4
Not a fan of MK8, Shaolin Monks, Mythologies or Special Forces.