Several years ago, I wrote a post entitled “Sonya Blade is a Terrible Character,” specifically referring to problems in her visual design. Since then, I feel that Netherrealm Studios, the people behind Mortal Kombat, have made significant and positive changes to her look. I no longer think my previous complaints quite apply.
In my original post, I had two criticisms. First, her overall look wasn’t that great in the first place from an aesthetic and character design perspective. Second, her features haven’t been visually or thematically consistent enough. This wasn’t a problem with Mortal Kombat in general, as Scorpion and Liu Kang for example have iconic elements that make you instantly think of them as Scorpion and Liu Kang, and it wasn’t a problem of appealing to horny teenagers because that hasn’t prevented other games from establishing their characters’ signature looks that make them memorable and recognizable. Even Street Fighter V, which heavily revised many popular characters’ designs to no shortage of controversy, still kept the general feel of the characters intact. That wasn’t the case with Sonya Blade.
In the years since, Mortal Kombat X has come out and now Mortal Kombat 11 is set for release this year, and it’s clear that they’ve worked to establish a more consistent default look for Sonya. Instead of a vague gesture of “blond, big-boobed soldier” that permeated most of her recent designs and outfits, the current Sonya sports a form-fitting yet functional jumpsuit that effectively communicates her military special forces background. What I especially like about her current look is that it doesn’t deny her sex appeal, but at the same time doesn’t let it take over her entire design.
Not only does she look cooler overall, but now, whenever I see her, I instantly think “Sonya Blade!” without necessarily needing to be told in advance who it is. That alone is a major improvement that I hope the developers of Mortal Kombat keep for a long time.