"The big thing was this uppercut. Once we got this uppercut going and the screen shook and the guy flew up in the air then like suddenly everybody is coming into my office 'Aw, let me see the game!' Our management all of a sudden… it was something that was real. It was something that people started talking about."
- Veteran game maker Ed Boon, speaking to Game Informer about developing the original Mortal Kombat.
24 years ago Midway Games released the original Mortal Kombat, which gained a foothold in American pop culture (as well as a starring role in a U.S. Congressional hearing on video game violence) and spawned a franchise spanning film, comic books and 20+ games.
Now, a new Game Informer interview with longtime game maker and Mortal Kombat co-creator (with John Tobias) Ed Boon sheds a bit more light on how the influential series got its start as the "bad-boy version" of Street Fighter.
While Mortal Kombat's origin story as a bloody fighting game starring Jean-Claude van Damme (basically, a video game adaptation of the film Bloodsport) has been told before, this lengthy interview with Boon is worth reading because it offers a bit more perspective on what it was like to be a game developer in the '80s (when Boon was working on pinball machines like Black Knight 2000) and '90s.
"We put the game on test in an arcade like five months after we started it, after that first demo. With six characters. Sonya Blade didn’t exist. And there were four guys on the team: Myself, John Tobias, a guy named John Vogel, and Dan Forden who did music. And that was the entire team," Boon recalls.
"Looking back now, it was odd just because.... I think in my head it’s just two guys on the screen. How hard can it be? Jumping around and stuff. So we put it on test and it was… I swear to god somewhere in my basement I have footage of that first test. But it was like the most surreal thing seeing 30, 40 people crowded around the game and when they would see something crazy happen when they just saw an uppercut or blood or something like that… they were literally running around out of excitement. Running around the machine."
The full interview, which includes comments from Boon about everything from recording the audio for Black Knight 2000 to what it's like to have worked for the same video game company for roughly three decades, should be read in full on Game Informer's website.