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Mortal Kombat's creator: 'Dramatic' changes for game

  • Story Highlights
  • In April, Midway announced the eighth version of Mortal Kombat
  • This version will feature Superman and Batman alongside the usual characters
  • Ed Boon, regarding the new release: "We needed to make a dramatic change"
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By Douglass C. Perry
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( -- Since its 1992 debut in arcades, Midway's fighter Mortal Kombat has been acclaimed by players and denounced by livid parents.

Prepare to combo Batman or Sub-Zero this fall.

The superviolent fatalities and finishing moves put it front and center at the local quickie mart as a must-play arcade game, but those same moves also fueled parent groups, which used what they deemed as a growing out-of-control level of violence in videogames to help form a formal ratings system.

In April, Midway announced the eighth version of the super successful American fighting series, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, debuting the likes of DC superheroes Superman and Batman along side Mortal Kombat characters Sub-Zero and Scorpion.

We caught up with co-creator Ed Boon who spoke about the new inclusion of DC characters, balancing Superheroes such as Superman, the new storyline, and the new face of fatalities and finishers.


GameTap: With Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe, why did you feel that you needed to do something so different?

Ed Boon: We have done this a few times before. The 2002 release of Deadly Alliance was also like a reboot in many respects. You always introduce something new or people take a "been-there-done-that" approach to your game. This being a new generation of consoles requires a whole new presentation for Mortal Kombat. So we thought we should do something dramatic.

GameTap: How do you decide what elements should stay and what should be cut?

Ed Boon: To a large extent, we started from scratch. We had two characters on screen throwing kicks and punches. We asked ourselves, "What have we always wanted to improve on?" What makes Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat is magical moves: people teleport and throw spears, as opposed to just hand-to-hand fighting.

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So we know we'll keep the magic element, and with the DC characters, they really lent themselves to amplifying MK's best qualities. So now we have even more outrageous moves.

Toned Down?

GameTap: Fatalities and Mortal Kombat have always been part of the same equation. With the recent revealing at Midway's event in Las Vegas, now it seems that fatalities are being eliminated. How do you expect fans to react to what is considerably a major alteration to the series?

Ed Boon: I guess that's my favorite part of the reaction -- your exact sentence, which is, "it looks like fatalities will be gone." There was never any statement on our part that fatalities will be gone, or finishing moves will be gone. We did acknowledge that we won't be able to do the same kinds of outrageous moves, like tearing someone's head off and the spine being attached to it.

But there are a lot of assumptions that there will be no blood in the game; that there are no fatalities in the game. It's an assumption that, because the DC characters will be in there, those features will have to be dropped. My response is that, no, we're modifying fatalities.

But I have every intention to keep finishers. The names of these moves, and the level of violence we use, are to be determined. But it's certainly not a feature we plan on eliminating from the series. My intention is that we want to push the envelope of a T-rated game as far as we can without being an M-rated game.

Starting from Scratch

GameTap: When you sat down to design this game, what were your goals? And by the way, when did you start working on this game?

Ed Boon: When Mortal Kombat Armageddon was complete in 2006, we started working on this having no knowledge of including DC characters. We started planning out the game. The DC Universe idea was presented to us, and we talked it over.

My idea was that for this next generation of systems and MK, we needed to do something really different. We needed to make a dramatic change. Even something that will attract attention and may cause controversy. And DC filled a lot of those goals.

GameTap: Given Mortal Kombat's level of violence in the past, did Midway executives ever say, "Well, MK has done well so far, but we really need to tone it down a little, Ed."

Ed Boon: For this title, believe it or not, the goal of making the game more accessible was never on our list of things we wanted to accomplish. We kind of inherited the T-rating because of the DC license.

I suppose if we were crossing with another R-rated or M-rated movie, it might not have been an issue, but we never thought to ourselves, "Let's make this more mainstream." A lot of what makes Mortal Kombat what it is, is the violence and M-rated moves.

GameTap: So do you feel that parents groups who reacted so strongly in the 1990s to your game will look at Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe and say, "Finally, Ed Boon has come to his senses!"

Ed Boon: I am wondering about that myself. Certainly, MK was one of those games associated with violence in videogames, so I can see certain parents making absolute decisions with their kids. Part of what we're doing is communicating that Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe is a different game.

The DC license will partly communicate this notion, but what it boils down to is the novelty of having these two sets of characters fighting together. What we're really most excited about is asking what is Mortal Kombat? And redefining it and rebooting it. That's the most exciting part.

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