Mortal Kombat Co-Creator Ed Boon on MK1

Mortal Kombat Co-Creator Ed Boon on MK1

Mortal Kombat 1: MK Co-Creator Ed Boon Reveals What Makes The Series So Enduring

Mortal Kombat Co-Creator Ed Boon sat down with CBR to talk Mortal Kombat 1’s biggest changes and how the franchise has endured for thirty years.

Mortal Kombat 1 carries the bloody legacy of the iconic video game series into a new generation. The ultra-violent series has been a mainstay of the fighting genre for over three decades, with the developers at NetherRealm Studios finding new approaches to the series with each new iteration. For Mortal Kombat 1, that includes major changes to the game’s lore with a Liu Kang-led universal reboot, a fresh approach to the series’ combat style, and a host of new gameplay mechanics like Kameo Fighters.

Ahead of Mortal Kombat 1’s release on Sept. 19 for the PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, CBR got the chance to sit down with NetherRealm Studios Chief Creative Officer & Co-Creator of Mortal Kombat Ed Boon to discuss the importance constant evolution has played in the series’ enduring success, the joy of seeing fans experiment with the new mechanics, and what separates Mortal Kombat from other fighting games.

Scorpion and Sub-Zero fight Kung-Lao in Mortal Kombat 1

CBR: As someone who’s been a part of this series since the very beginning, what’s been the most exciting addition to Mortal Kombat 1?

Ed Boon: I think the 1 in Mortal Kombat 1 says it all. The reason why we’re calling it Mortal Kombat 1 is because we’re wiping the slate clean on so many levels — the gameplay, certainly the story, the fact that we’re introducing so many new features. The Kameo Fighters, I think, is going to be a total game-changer. I really believe that when players see the full palette of Kameo Fighters, all the main fighters, and start experimenting with combining the two — it’s going to be wild.

Considering all those changes, what would you say has been the biggest surprise of this experience?

There hasn’t been a lot that’s caught us by surprise. Obviously, we planned out the features in advance. I guess it’s been surprising seeing what players are doing with the limited number of Kameos and the limited number of main fighters that they’ve been given so far. Seeing how much that [players] have come up with that we didn’t even think of right away — we just gave them all these toys and said, “Make up stuff!” Seeing what they’ve come up with has been a big surprise.

Scorpion in Mortal Kombat 1

As someone who’s seen firsthand how much this series has evolved and how much this genre has evolved, what would you say has made Mortal Kombat so enduring?

Well, it’s been a conscious decision to always be evolving. I’ve always been a really big proponent of the idea that one of the reasons why Mortal Kombat has sustained for thirty years has been our willingness to embrace change. Change is good. It keeps things fresh. It keeps things novel. It makes you less predictable. When we come up with a new game, I believe that our fans are like, “Okay, there’s going to be something cool coming,” as opposed to this just being a prettier version of our last game. To me, that has always been the key. We definitely want players to be able to win over a friend by saying what’s new about Mortal Kombat 1.

Looking at all the other games and series that try to replicate Mortal Kombat’s success, what has been the key ingredient to the franchises’ success?

I think it’s a combination of what I was talking about before, where there’s always this sense of change. I also do feel that we were the right game at the right time. The digitized graphics of the photorealistic visuals… The blood and the violence brought a lot of eyeballs to the game that might not have looked at it before. We also caught a lot of people in the sweet spot of their life — you hear that title music, and you just remember everything about it. A lot of people just remember fighting one another in Mortal Kombat. So many people have a story of “I was here when this happened. I was this old when it was coming out.” There is a nostalgia element that’s been really resonating with players.

Sub-Zero unleashes an ice attack in Mortal Kombat 1

Since I’m talking to you, I don’t know if I’ll get to ask this again — what’s your favorite Fatality?

Oh my god. In this game, there are so many good ones. I’m running through the roster in my head. You know, it’s gonna sound like a cop-out, but the Kameo Fatalities. Getting to do all of these classic ones with the current technology? Those are my favorite ones. Seeing all those reenacted with the latest tech is the coolest.

Given the DLC characters that have been brought into this universe over the years, are there any that you’re still dying to see?

I think ten years ago, it would have been all those things that I’ve grown up watching. I would have said Terminator, I would have said Robocop, I would have said Rambo. The Xenomorph, for sure. Aliens is my second favorite movie of all time. A lot of them have come true! That’s the thing. I absolutely would have listed a number of those character that we have gotten in our games. Even Jean-Claude Van Damme, I always wanted. Now we’re getting him!

Looking back, what are you most proud of with Mortal Kombat, and what it has it become with Mortal Kombat 1?

Longevity. I don’t know many long-standing video game franchises that are at their peak after three decades. Normally there is a little bit of a bit of a dip. This is very rare to me. The fact that there are these other forms of media — the animated stuff, they’re working on the fourth movie! The fact that is still resonating with fans after all we’ve done. We’ve been doing these games for over thirty years, and there’s still this fervor for it. That makes me proud.

Mortal Kombat 1 will be released on Sept. 19, 2023, for the PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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