Mortal Kombat is one of the most brutal, bloody, and notorious fighting games of all time. (Duh.) In the dark bowels of a warehouse in LA, we chatted to the co-creator of the game–and the voice of one of its most iconic characters, Scorpion–Ed Boon about the fantastic franchise and its 27-year history, leading up to Mortal Kombat 11. Boon is soft spoken but you never question how clearly ecstatic he is about the ongoing popularity of the game that he came up with almost thirty years ago.
Nerdist: Mortal Kombat has a great origin story could you give us a little recap of the creation of the game?
Boon: Way way back in 1991, Street Fighter 2 had just come out and at the time we were called Midway Games and we were doing a bunch of games where we would use digitized graphics of real actors to get our animations and everything. We thought we should take this tech innovation and marry it to a fighting game. Originally we wanted to make a Van Damme game but that kind of fell apart so we said “Oh let’s make up our own characters!” and that was the start of Mortal Kombat.
Nerdist: What’s the experience of the last 27 years of creating Mortal Kombat been like?
Boon: It’s been amazing. We’ve gone through so many different ways of playing games. You know, we began as a cabinet that you’d play in an arcade, then we became a home game that you would play on a cartridge, then when disks and CDs got introduced, the games suddenly got bigger and you could tell this more elaborate story. But at the heart of it, it’s still Mortal Kombat, we’ve just evolved it over the years. Knock on wood, we’ve been able to stay at the same level over almost thirty years.
Nerdist: The game was supremely controversial when it originally come out. What’s it been like seeing that change so dramatically?
Boon: At the time I think that the controversy was because there wasn’t a rating system, and once there was a rating system put in place people were like “oh, okay it’s like an R-rated movie” or a song with explicit lyrics. You know, you just put it over here in the category of “not meant for everyone.”
Nerdist: Did you ever imagine you’d be here with a new game almost 30 years later?
Boon: Never! Never! When we did our reveal presentation [today] and people were cheering at the level they were, it literally took me aback. I had to get my bearings again and kind of thought “Oh my god, I didn’t know it was this loved.” It was amazing.
Nerdist: You voice Scorpion! How much fun as that been?
Boon: It’s fun! It’s kinda cool, I’m not a professional voice actor by any means but it’s fun to still do it, at this point it’s more of a nostalgia thing honestly.
Nerdist: Have there been any Eureka! moments when you’ve felt like you’re really pushing the boundaries of fighting games?
Boon: When we started working on this game we were exploring new kinds of graphics technology, and there’s a technique called “photogrammetry” which is basically taking photographs using surface qualities as opposed to textures. So we’ll have leather or steel or something like that, and you’re kind of painting not with digital but based on real objects and that’s been applied to this game and has really upped the ante on the realism that we’ve been able to achieve.
Nerdist: What are you most excited for fans to see in Mortal Kombat 11?
Boon: The new story obviously is a huge one. The new fighting mechanics, it fights differently than Mortal Kombat X you know? I think it’s really important that we bring something new every time. Definitely the graphics and presentation of it all and some of these really crazy fatalities. My favorite so far is Geras’ fatality where the opponents face comes off and the brains are right behind it!
Mortal Kombat 11 is available for pre-order now and is out on April 23rd!
Images: NetherRealm Studios