Home Strategy How to beat Shao Kahn… like a boss*

If you’ve been playing Mortal Kombat‘s exceptional Story Mode, you have (or will soon) face the wrath of Shao Kahn.** While many reviews have complained about this boss’ excessively cheap nature, most journalists forget to mention that every fighting game has a cheap fucking boss.


Look at that smug asshole.

But what makes Shao Kahn so annoying?

  • His attacks do huge damage and juggle or stun you
  • He randomly gains armor, allowing him to plow through hits
  • He has what appears to be double normal health
  • He’s always trying to kill Papa Bear and Lil Britches
  • He taunts you constantly during the match

So, how do you beat a super powerful, nearly invulnerable being? I’ll tell you, but only if you’re willing to read substantial story mode spoilers!

First encounter of the cheese kind

The first time you face Shao Kahn, you’ll be playing as an enraged Liu Kang, who isn’t too happy about Kahn’s recent attempts at practicing chiromancy. Any attempts to fight the Emperor of Outworld head on in a fair engagement will be met with intense and ongoing anal violation. Since Shao (we’re on a first name basis) has double health and damage, it’s essentially like fighting two enemies at once, which is significantly more annoying than the already stacked 1v2 battles sprinkled throughout the game’s plot.

However, Shao Kahn does have weaknesses, and exploiting them by being as cheap as possible is the least you could do to return the favor of his constant, ego-destroying taunts. First of all, Mortal Kombat’s boss has powerful ranged attacks, but they’re by far his weakest attacks. This is good for Liu Kang, who has very fast fireballs and who should avoid fighting this boss up close whenever possible due to aforementioned forcible penetration. Second, Shao Kahn will frequently pause to laugh at or mock you, which is a great time to nail him with Liu’s flying kick (back, forward, BP). Finally… all of Shao Kahn’s close range attacks will destroy you utterly. Just thought I’d throw that in there again.

Liu Kang vs Shao Kahn: The game plan

  1. Immediately run from Shao Kahn until you’re on the opposite side of the screen
  2. If Shao Kahn throws a spear, duck it. If he throws a hammer, jump over it (it stuns you)
  3. At the first safe chance, begin spamming low fireballs (down, forward, FK)
  4. Spam low fireballs as quickly as possible. Start the motion for the next fireball right when the first one hits/is blocked
  5. If Shao Kahn gets out of stunlock, bait a spear, then duck
  6. If Shao Kahn starts throwing a hammer, immediately stop fireballs and jump over it
  7. If Shao Kahn taunts, use a flying kick instead of a fireball. It does more damage and knocks him down
  8. Do not store meter. When you get past two bars, fire an Enhanced low fireball for more damage
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 until you achieve victory!

Is this cheap? Sure, but you’ll be teaching Kahn that two can play at that game. Do note that just because this strategy is simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy. If the big boss lands a single hammer on you, you may have lost the game (this isn’t a joke). His hammer can stun you, comboing into any number of other skills, including another fucking hammer. Additionally, his combos can easily take off half your life, with his X-Ray doing just as much damage. That said, as long as you don’t get cornered, this plan should work.

Beating Shao Kahn again: the reckoning

At the end of Story Mode, you’ll face Shao Kahn once more, this time as (surprise, surprise) Raiden! While Raiden has a slower projectile game, he has one thing Liu Kang doesn’t,† a teleport. For this reason, the final fight is strategically simpler than the initial encounter.

Raiden vs Shao Kahn: The game plan

  1. Immediately run from Shao Kahn until you’re on the opposite side of the screen
  2. If Shao Kahn throws a spear, duck it. If he throws a hammer, jump over it
  3. At the first safe chance, begin spamming lightning (down, back, FP)
  4. Spam lightning as quickly as possible. Start the motion for the next shot right when the first one hits/is blocked
  5. If Shao Kahn gets out of stunlock, bait a projectile, then teleport (down, up)
  6. If Shao Kahn taunts, use a Superman flight or teleport and uppercut/Superman/use your X-Ray
  7. Store meter. Your Enhanced lightning sucks for this fight. Wait for a teleport into X-Ray
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 until you achieve victory!

Raiden’s teleport is extremely fast, and because Shao Kahn is not typically invulnerable during his projectile throw recovery, it is easy to punish him if your reaction speed is good. If you miss a teleport opportunity, don’t worry, just keep dodging projectiles until you can re-establish a spam rhythm or until you can set up another big punish.

Again, this sounds easy, but is aggravated by the fact that any more than 2-3 mistakes on your part will pretty much cost you the match. At this point, you might be wondering how characters without fast projectiles or teleports could win the ultimate showdown in Arcade Mode (Fight Mode in MK9). For instance, Sub Zero’s freeze is incredibly slow and does no direct damage, which means fighting at long range is basically untenable. Any other characters in the same position might also fa….

…wait. Sub Zero is the only character in the game without either a teleport or a spammable projectile.

Uh… good luck?

38 replies to this post
  1. Currently renting MK9 (may buy it as I loved MK1 and MK3 which is EXACTLY what MK9 feels like) and spent about half an hour on the arcade ladder as Scorpion. Shao Khan took me about eight tries. My final winning strategy? Teleport CONSTANTLY.

  2. Wing, due to your image of “Shao Kahn” and despite all the solid advice here, I’m doubtful as to whether you’ve actually played the final boss of this game….

  3. more…pylons?

    on a more serious note, nobody who wishes to lose their free time and/or sanity should fight this bastard until they have had serious mental and physical preparations.

    I lack both.

  4. 3 simple tactics which i discovered trying to beat shao khan over and over again… ( GOT HIM IN the END !!! wohooo!!! )
    1. timing the teleport constantly to get away from shao khan’s beating
    2. beat him up ( max of 2 times of kick or punch) while he is laughing or talking or when you are on his back
    3. grab the opportunity to do the x ray and try not loose ur patience!!

  5. My strategy was rather simple but took a while to get as it took me (no exaggeration) at least 15 tries. Get some space between u nd Shao. Teleport once and only once he has begun an attack. Teleporting before then will only get u hit. I used a kick when I got behind him (<- (forward) +A) for 360. Nd I jus kept it up, nd used the X-ray when I could

  6. my winning strategy with raiden was way different. instead of getting away from him and dodging attacks i stood right in front of him and held the block button. u can block all of his attacks except his hammer throw, x ray, and his low hammer swing. he is very vulnerable right after he tries to hit u and u block it so i just countered with raiden’s kick combo (AAB on 360) and x ray. after a couple of tries the match was won!

  7. Yeah, but you all may not have noticed one small thing: after about 10-15 losses, you might as well hand the controller to your 3 year old nephew who is half-retarded and is blind. And has no hands. See, after losing so much, the game decides to ‘dumb down’ itself. What does this mean for Show Kahn? It means you have to lose to his unfair hammer spam (or charge spam, I dunno which is worse x_x), or watch him taunt LITERALLY up to 8 times in a row. IN. A. ROW. O_O Yeah, plus, you can’t skip his long-ass victory thing. Talk about infuriating…

    • i can understand why you’r angry and evryone else i know shao khan is cheap and anoyying ^ ^yup he’s torture :-/
      ……………./………………..sucess on smiley

  8. mr to3 wow i can’t beleive shoa khan spams i thought he would at least give us a chance right ^^
    ‘ humph.. awkward smiley

  9. Oh man, Sub-Zero is so f*cked in Arcade Mode. No teleport AND no spammable projectile? Not to mention that all of his specials are either slow as f*ck and/or do no damage, and his best move is his throw, which (fyi/btw) is useless against Shao Khan. Oh, and all that stuff about Shao Khan being the cheapest character in the game? That’s all true. If Hara-Kiris were in MK9, the best plan Sub-Zero would have would be to use his Hara-Kiri on himself BEFORE the fight even starts, and save himself the pain.

    • Yeah, it’s funny. Sub Zero is definitely a mid tier character normally and his tools are great for mind games. But mind games don’t work on an invincible AI. I don’t even know if Kahn can be frozen. Can he?

      • You can freeze him and from what inoticed you do more damage to him once he’s frozen. Took me two tries to beat him as Sub-Zero and 30 as Raiden

  10. Fuck this game!!! I have been stuck on him as Raiden for three days!!! About to return it! I seriously cannot beat him and to those of you who have: Fuck you!! (yes, that is extreme jealousy!) There is absolutely no reason to make a boss THIS hard!

  11. i have faced shao kahn at least 50 times no exageration, ive tried evert technique ive read about and nothing works, ive been fighting him alll day every day for about a week now and still cant beat him, i came to onne conclusion…he is a golden asshole

  12. Ok, so i have mk9 on psvita story mode on expert. When you face shao kahn as soon as the match start to run away from him like the worlds going to end if he gets close to you teleport away and keep building up your x-ray. Ps: dont get too close!!!!! :)

  13. It took me 13 tries to beat him on expert (hardest mode) it frustrated the crap out of me. Dam remote sucked too -_-

    i beat him on expert though, so im happy :)

  14. I posted the video of beating him on myyoutube channel (Flipfast_) hope it helps anyone beat it ; This stradegy works on expert so it will certainly work on lower difficulties. Goodluck peeps! :) add me PSN: Flipfast_ mk9 online Psvita or PS3.

  15. You can beat him easier and on harder difficulty with any character by jumping over him and doing uppercuts from behind.

  16. Finally!

    *Go far to the other side of screen.

    *when he sends axe/spear, teleport and do the superman, when you send him away send the lightning ray to make more damage when he gets up.

    *Repeat until he’s dead, used x-ray allways when possible!!!
    (Superman and teleport are the key :D It worked with me)

  17. beating arcade with sub is easy, wait till he taunts, freeze, then triangle square circle, triangle triangle triangle or upper cut, the rinse repeat

  18. This worked for me ( after 2 days of playing so i was frustrated like you ). Jump over Khan with X then XXO (repeat). Make sure u jump far to avoid that green hammer going from up. That’s the best MK in the series. Now Trilogy is no longer best :)

  19. In story mode (also unlocks quan chi) with raiden on the final fight you literally have to tele and evade Kahn for the first 30-40 seconds of the fight then tele and Superman the entire time with perfect timing and he will go down.

  20. The specific individual who programmed this final fight between Rayden and Shao Kahn has/had an ego problem at time of programming. This has nothing to do with the story line or the amulet’s destruction and Rayden getting more & more depressed. This ruins a game which is otherwise awesome. The person who programmed this to be so is godly intelligent in the department of programming, but is a complete idiot otherwise. He knows nothing about game testing for eg. and I could give you my word that 99% of those complaining are actually playing it on EASY. What cheat codes could help here? One is curious as to find out what happens after Rayden supposively defeats Shao Kahn. Why have such a big obstacle in the way? You are denying people content which they legally purchased!

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