Santa Monica Studio’s soft reboot of God of War and its new sequel, God of War Ragnarök, focus on the god-slaying hero reckoning with — and at times, trying to hide from — his violent past. And while much of that contemplation and consternation touches on Kratos’ actions in the first three mainline God of War games, the ol’ Ghost of Sparta appears to have regrets beyond his Greek god body count.
Like, for example, when Kratos appeared in Sony’s attempt to recreate the success of Super Smash Bros. He would prefer not to speak about it.
[Warning: Minor spoilers for God of War Ragnarök follow.]
During one conversation between Mimir and Kratos, while the latter is paddling his canoe, the chatty decapitated head asks his handler whether one story he’d heard about Kratos’ past is true. Here’s the exchange:
Mimir: Brother, I’ve heard my share of stories about your homeland. But I’d also heard that you once fought in a tournament.
Kratos: I fought in many contests.
Mimir: But this particular one... I heard you did battle with beasts, scoundrels, princesses, the undead, automatons, and... history’s greatest musician. That’s not... that’s not true, is it?
Kratos: I would not speak of this.
Like Kvasir’s poems in God of War Ragnarök, Mimir is winking at another PlayStation property here, the crossover fighting game PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Mimir is referencing the platform-fighter’s roster, hinting at fellow combatants like Ratchet and Clank, Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth, Fat Princess, Sir Daniel Fortesque, and PaRappa the Rapper — history’s greatest musician, naturally. Kratos, of course, was part of the PlayStation All-Stars lineup alongside his old enemy Zeus.
But some players have interpreted that exchange differently, mistakenly thinking that Mimir is talking about another fighting game appearance: 2011’s Mortal Kombat soft reboot, colloquially known as Mortal Kombat 9. Kratos was a guest character — MK’s first guest character — and he fought beasts (Reptile), scoundrels (Kano), princesses (Kitana), the undead (Scorpion), and automatons (Sektor and Cyrax) there, too. One could argue history’s greatest musician also appeared (kind of), since the purple ninja Rain is inspired by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Prince.
Mortal Kombat 9 is also a noteworthy appearance for Kratos as it’s his first interaction with gods outside of the Greek pantheon. In his story ending, after defeating Shao Khan, he comes face-to-face with thunder god Raiden and wind god Fujin, both of whom are named for figures in Japanese mythology. Kratos did not end up fighting them, however, as the following video explains.
Before his two aforementioned fighting game crossovers, Kratos appeared in yet another fighting game: 2009’s Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny. That game, a PlayStation Portable exclusive based on Soulcalibur 4, featured Kratos as a guest character replacing the cameos of Darth Vader and Yoda in the console versions. The whole crossover with Soulcalibur was clearly an incentive for Bandai Namco to bring its weapons-based fighter to the PSP, and Kratos barely has a story in Broken Destiny.
So yes, Kratos has fought in many contests, and Sony was pretty liberal with the character’s cameos a decade ago, but only one guest appearance seems to have a tenuous attachment to lore — PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, like it or not, is up there with baseball, Macbeth, and Jim Carrey’s The Mask as part of the greater God of War canon.