Since June's E3 unveiling of Mortal Kombat X, much has been made about the addition of new and returning finishers. There have been clues, innuendos, and a storm of speculation about the new game's modes -- but what if the returning -Ality has been in front of us all along?


- Stage Animality! (34.2%)
- Stage Fatality! (17.9%)
- Hidden Characters (5.0%)
- Arena Decoration (21.3%)
- Just Another One of
Nightwolf's Crazy Tests

Animalities were introduced in Mortal Kombat 3 (1995), and only appeared in subsequent iterations of the same game [see; Ultimate MK3, MK Trilogy]. They took the hysteria of arcade rumoured finishers to their strangest end, presenting players with the ability to transform their fighter into a specific animal for the win.

While not as overtly strange as Babalities or even Friendships -- logic failed the animal finishers with the disconnect between very odd combinations of animal and fighter. Scorpion may have seemed like one of the most obvious, but his "animality" was infamously a penguin. Who turns into a scorpion? Sheeva, of course.

The idea of assigning "spirit animals" to warriors is found in many of the world's cultures, and it isn't without its potential if a little more care were taken in the choices. That said, there is a simpler, more artful solution for bringing Animalities back -- and we think the evidence of just such a possibility has been there all along! Three of the four stages revealed have a prominent animal presence in them - and the fourth is the simplest of them all. Here's the breakdown:

Kat Nap: Disturbing the kitty might not be such a good idea...

Outworld Marketplace
In the marketplace, the Outworld marketplace, the sabre-toothed tiger sleeps tonight.

It's a strange place to pick a fight, but the sleeping "taigore" is already known to provide Stage Interaction, so its function is clear. There's no reason in-fight interactions disqualify the tiger-esque beast from being part of a new type of environmental animality - but even if it does, there's no shortage of wildlife in the Outworld Marketplace!

Brutes and beasts of burden are littered throughout the background, in what is one of the most personably populated stages thus far. If animalities have been hiding in plain sight - Outworld Marketplace by far provides the most obvious of them. The other arenas are significantly more subtle, but the evidence is there if you look hard enough.

Hungry Like The Wolf: Lithe and large - a wolf lurks deep within the snow forest!

The Snow Forest
With the action taking place in the foreground, you'd be forgiven for missing the tall, thin wolf lurking deep within the otherwise lifeless snow forest. When you know where to look - it's unmistakable, and most visible when in motion. At times, the wolf blends in with the grey-blue world of what may or may not be a Lin Kuei stronghold. At other times, it is a menacing shadow forecasting what may or may not be a fatal threat!

If you click to enlarge the images above, you can get a sense of the creature in motion. It's been moving between the trees since E3 preview footage, less noticeable than the sword impaled warrior laid to rest in the mid-ground. We get the sense this arena is keeping a few secrets -- a stage animality being just one of them!

Kroc Hunter: Crikey! There be creatures in them there waters!

The Jungle
The Jungle has a lot in common with The Snow Forest in terms of its mysterious significance, and lurking wildlife. Obvious evidence of an ancient South American type of culture suggests there's more to this jungle than its dense flora and fauna. Take your eyes off the fight in the foreground and you'll notice there's certainly more to see than ruins!

Some are calling it a crocodile -- whatever it is, its plated, almost pre-historic spine can be clearly seen moving through the jungle waters in the centre background of the stage. It doesn't stay for long, resubmerging itself after moving just close enough to the fight to make a stage animality all the more plausible! Again, enlarge the image above to get a sense of the camouflaged creature. You can find it in the middle of August's Kano Reveal Trailer.

La Mer: Nobody stays dead in MK... except maybe that guy.

The Kove
If MKX animalities exist in perpetuity, rather than as a new type of stage specific finisher, then The Kove is the one arena we've seen so far to be less than forthcoming. Only a minor issue, when you consider the fight takes place on a rickety jetty extending out to the pounding surf. Any number of marine monsters could be lurking deep within the swell - and there's even a very good reason for them to be there!

Stage Interactions include bloated corpses that can be used as weapons when they wash up sporadically from the churning sea. As pictured above; these hapless, water-logged bodies can be seen drifting in from the waters beyond -- the perfect lure for blood-thirsty sharks, or other horrifying aquatic nightmares. NetherRealm Studios certainly learned a thing or two about shark attacks while working on Injustice: Gods Among Us [full story]!

Shark Week: Every week is shark week when you're Aquaman.

Is there something to this Stage Animality theory? Have you got your own? Register to join the speculation on the Mortal Kombat X forum! Support the site by liking & sharing around the web and via @MK_Online, Facebook & YouTube!