As gamers are eagerly queuing in lines for, opening their parcels of, or awaiting the end of work to play the latest Mortal Kombat, series creator Ed Boon harkens back to the early nighties when the original game first appeared and became the centre of much controversy. The reason was simple, it was gory as hell for the time period with lashings of blood shooting from characters as they were struck and, of course, the now infamous Fatalities. After Mortal Kombat, many a fighting game matches were ended with some over the top death move but Ed Boon’s was the first to include them and without a rating system in place, Mortal Kombat felt the full force of angry politicians. Yep, they interfered just as much back then as they do now.
Nintendo, the family system, chose to censor all of the gore for the SNES release replacing blood with odd puffs of grey and neutering the Fatalities of certain characters. “People were objecting to the fact that a game that was as violent as it is, did not have a rating,” said Boon (via Eurogamer) adding “I agree with that idea. The rating system is great. The censorship with the SNES version was a response to that. Nintendo felt like they had an obligation to not offer something like this to a system that’s played by many young players.” Sega however seemingly felt differently opting not to exclude any content, resulting in my Mega Drive owning friends to gloat while I was stuck with seeing thing like Kano punch into the opponent’s chest but forgetting to pull out their heart. Thankfully, before the second game came out, a ratings board was in place so Nintendo felt happy with leaving in all the nasties because it was clear that it was designed for older gamers. This made Mortal Kombat II one of the games I became obsessed with back in my youth, buying any mag which included information on it and even proudly wearing a T-shirt sporting the MK logo.
At the start of the nighties, fighting games were huge and Capcom’s Street Fighter II was the impetus for Boon to develop Mortal Kombat: “Street Fighter II was getting into its stride. We felt we wanted to do something that was an American-made fighting game with the latest technology, which was digitised graphics at the time. We felt we had something to contribute in that field.” Indeed they did. Not only were the aforementioned Fatalities picked up by nearly every publisher but the digitisation of real people instead of hand-drawn sprites was attempted by other teams too. Most if not all failed leaving the Mortal Kombat franchise to keep its unique look for two more games.
The popularity of Mortal Kombat was a pleasant surprise for Boon: “I don’t think anybody was expecting the level of success the game had. It would be arrogant of me to assume that something was going to perform this well. It was a big surprise to us. We hoped we would reach some level of success and pay for the development of the game. But I would have never have guessed that almost 20 years later we would still be making Mortal Kombat games.” The latest game is technically Mortal Kombat 9 but a few of the titles which preceded it are probably best forgotten as are the spin-offs and TV show. The 1995 film however is still awesome in my eyes. You know, so bad its good? Because the series deviated a little too much from tradition, Boon and the NetherRealm Studios team decided to call the gorgeous-looking new game Mortal Kombat, rebooting the franchise along side the so far brilliant webisode series. So does that mean if it gets a sequel we’ll have another Mortal Kombat II?