Baraka was introduced as a mean, unforgiving, and unpredictable warrior in service of the Outworld Emperor, Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat II. He belongs to a race of nomadic mutants, later revealed in Mortal Kombat: Deception to be called Tarkata, a crossbreed between vile Netherrealm demons and denizens of Outworld, apparently populating the vast wastelands of Outworld. Like most members of his race, Baraka possesses long blades extending from his forearms. Although he has had numerous incursions with the Earthrealm warriors, he appears not to have any particular rivalry or hatred towards Earth or its inhabitants. As a loyal warrior, he fights for those whom he calls "master".
While brainstorming possible character ideas for Mortal Kombat II, several designers visited a local costume shop and found a Nosferatu mask. They painted the mask to enhance its horrifying appearance and added false fingernails to appear as long fangs. This mask was worn by Richard Divizio, the actor who portrayed Baraka in the game. In a video interview, on the bonus DVD included with the special edition of Mortal Kombat: Deception, Divizio stated that the mask was a "skin-tight" fit, and throughout his motion capture filming he was sweating profusely. "He was a pretty cool character," Divizio said to Electronic Gaming Monthly in 1994, "but I didn't like him too much."
Early Baraka concept art by character designer John Tobias portrayed him as a masked, bald human ninja armed with hookswords. The swords were later used by Kabal - also played by Divizio - in Mortal Kombat 3.
Another Baraka concept portrayed him as a creature with extra-long, metal talon-studded, muscular arms, but it was felt this might create an unfair reach advantage and so was re-sketched with blades inspired by the X-Men's Wolverine, whose claws extend from his hands.
The third and final attempt at a Baraka design included a full head of black hair tied up in a bun, and a large red dot on his belt to go along with his familiar red-and-white tunic and black pants. The red dot, added simply as a decoration, was axed because it was misinterpreted as symbolizing the red dot on the Japanese flag, and the hair was gone shortly thereafter, finalizing Baraka's bald look used throughout the MK series.
In the early stages of Mortal Kombat II, Baraka was going to be given a fatality in which he would slice his opponent's stomach open and let their entrails spill to the ground. This was actually deemed too gory, even for Mortal Kombat by the development team and still has not been seen in game-form. This would eventually become Kabal's fatality in Mortal Kombat 2011.
Baraka's biggest drawback in his first appearance was that he lacked any sort of "moving" special move and was widely considered to be a "low-tier" character. Although only he and Jax (a high-tier) shared this problem, Jax's other specials were considered much better than Baraka's.
In Mortal Kombat Gold, Baraka has a scar lined with large metal staples splitting his body straight down the middle. According to a render of Baraka and Mileena found in Deception's Krypt, this was the end result of Baraka's brush with Kung Lao's Hat Slice fatality during Mortal Kombat Trilogy (although this fatality is only usable in MK2 and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks). Baraka survived the attack and the staples were implemented to hold his body together while he healed. However, an unused bio for Baraka had him dying from Kung Lao's attack and being revived by Shinnok. This bio was released in a few strategy guides for the game, sparking the misconception that he had actually died.
In Mortal Kombat: Deception, after the use of a special move, Baraka's blades which came out in the process of the move would slide back in without a sound. However, if the player executes a special move in the Blade style, the blades will never shoot back in. Baraka is also revealed to be "The Scourge Of Outworld". This is the exact title given to Kintaro in the Malibu series of Mortal Kombat comics. Also, if Baraka is defeated in the first round, he will lift himself up using his blades and start the next round using his blades as his fighting style. He is the only character to switch to or remain in his weapon style after being defeated. All other characters revert to their first fighting style if using weapons, or remain in the same style if not.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and in Mortal Kombat: Deception, Baraka is playable in all the mini-games available, these include Chess Kombat, Puzzle Kombat, and Motor Kombat.
As a Tarkatan, Baraka possesses greater stamina and fighting power than a normal human, along with his trademark weapon - the Tarkatan blades that extend from his forearms. He is also shown in many cases to have a highly acute sense of smell, as he can tell the true identity of targets by their scent, and a potent healing factor, as he was able to survive Kung Lao's vertical hat slice fatality in the events of Mortal Kombat Trilogy (though he required giant staples to hold his body together).
- Flying Shard: Baraka fires a spark by scraping his blades together and aiming at his opponent. This is called Spark in MK 2011. (MKII, MKT, MKG, MK:D, MK:SM, MK:A, MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Sparked which causes a knockdown as well as increases the damage.
- Chop Chop Blades: Baraka slices his opponent up vertically with his blades numerous times. In MK vs DCU, he follows up with his Mutant Blades move. In MK 2011 Baraka repeatedly stabs his opponent in the gut rather than slashing them, and is only called Chop Chop. (MKII, MKT, MKG, MK:D, MK:SM, MK:A, MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Chop Chop Shop and stabs the opponent two more times.
- Blade Swipe: Baraka performs a quick, strong swipe at the opponent with his blade. This move is called Slices in MK 2011 (MKII, MKT, MK:SM, MK 2011).
- The enhanced version is called Slicer. Baraka adds an uppercut to the end of the Slices combo.
- Blade Spin: Baraka would spin like a top with his blades extended, damaging his opponent. (MKT, MKG, MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Spinner and connects with two more slices in his vicious spin.
- Blade Charge: Baraka quickly lunges at his opponent with both blades out. In MK vs DCU, this move appears after Baraka's Chop Chop Blades connects. (MK:D, MK:A, MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Blade Rush. This increases the damage
- Scrape Kick: Baraka gets on his Tarkatan Blades and launches at his opponent with his legs. (MKvsDCU)
- Triple Flying Shard: Baraka jumps high and shoots three shards at once. (MK:SM)
- Air Blade Spin: After a jump Baraka spins like a top damaging his opponent. (MK:SM)
- X-Ray Move - Nail and Impale: Baraka impales his opponent and lifts them up on both his blades and then rams his left blade through their carotid artery damaging the neck, throat and jaw and then through the eye socket causing damage in the skull. After this, Baraka kicks the opponent off his blades and they'll go flying back with a trail of blood. (MK 2011)
- Blade Decapitation: Baraka extends a blade and severs his opponent's head with a single swipe. (MKII, MKT, MKG, MK:SM)
- Blade Lift: Extending both blades, Baraka stabs his opponent in the torso and lifts him/her high. The victim screams and flails about helplessly before expiring, the limp form twitching as it slides down the deadly shears. In Shaolin Monks, Baraka spreads out his arms, cutting the torso into pieces. However, in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, he slices the foe twice, then lifts and throws him/her behind him. (MKII, MKT, MKG, MK:SM, MKvsDCU)
- Mutant Dissection: Baraka uses his blades to slices the arms, legs, and neck of his victim, then stabs the torso and rips it out, leaving the arms, head, and legs. (MK:D)
- Head Spike: Baraka unleashes a devastating uppercut, sending the head flying in the air, Baraka holds up his blade, stabbing the head on it. (MK:D)
- Chest Stab: Baraka kicks the opponent to the ground, jumps on top of him/her with his hands at his/her chest, and abruptly extends his blades. (MKvsDCU)
- Take a Spin: Baraka impales the opponent in the stomach with his blade, lifting them over his head, then he spins them around while using his other blade to cut off their arms, legs, and head. (MK 2011)
- Up the Middle: Baraka slices off the opponent's arms then impales them through the chest. Baraka then uses the other blade to slice the opponent vertically in half and raise their half-sliced body in victory. (MK 2011)