Mortal Kombat has been around for as long as I can remember, and the series is due to hit the Nintendo DS next week. VideoGamer.com caught up with series co-creator Ed Boon to talk about the DS hardware, censorship and how the video game industry has changed over the years.
VideoGamer.com: Mortal Kombat is about as far away from the typical DS game as possible. Why bring it to the DS?
Ed Boon: Well, when you think about it, it's not so unusual to have a fighting game on a handheld console. We've had a number of MK games appear on handhelds as far back as the original Game Boy. So thinking about it from that perspective it actually seemed like a perfect fit to put Ultimate Mortal Kombat on the DS. Adding Puzzle Kombat made it an even better match and we are very pleased with the results.
VideoGamer.com: The series has a hardcore following. Who is the DS game aimed at?
EB: The DS version is aimed at the people who enjoyed the original 2D Mortal Kombat titles as well as some of the diversions we've added to the more recent 3D titles. I've always felt that Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was the fastest and most fun of the 2D MK games. Plus, Puzzle Kombat is such a no-brainer for the DS.
VideoGamer.com: Have any sacrifices had to be made in bringing the game to the Nintendo handheld?
EB: No, not really. If anything, additions were made to the DS versions. Additions in the area of online play for BOTH the fighting and puzzle games. We've also added the fighting moves-list on the second screen that you can reference at any time, which turned out to be a fantastic addition.
VideoGamer.com: The inclusion of Puzzle Kombat seems like a wise move given the DS's audience. Did you consider including numerous other mini-games?
EB: We talked about possibly including the Chess Kombat from MK Deception and briefly talked about including Motor Kombat from MK Armageddon. However, in the end we wanted to focus on fewer modes and make them as polished as possible.
VideoGamer.com: Having worked on all the platforms last gen and no doubt working on the current consoles and handhelds, what's your view on the industry at the moment?
EB: Our industry is getting tougher and more expensive to make great titles. At the same time it's the most exciting time since the possibilities are endless with all these new innovative (and very different) consoles. With online playing a bigger role now it opens so many more doors when thinking of new game features.
VideoGamer.com: Many publishers seem to use the handhelds and the Wii to create smaller-scale titles that give a good return financially. Is there a danger this will mean those systems aren't fully exploited?
EB: I don't think so. It really means that you have to approach making a game from a different perspective. That different perspective could result in games that don't fall into the same cookie-cutter category and we could end up seeing much more innovation. I think the Wii and handhelds actually EXPAND the business to include different financial and game-design models.
VideoGamer.com: With one title for the DS and the Wii, will you continue to work on those platforms?
EB: I don't think the Wii or the DS are going away any time soon. So I would be surprised if these were the last games we did for those platforms. Stay tuned !!
VideoGamer.com: Mortal Kombat has always been a somewhat controversial title. With the inevitable move to next-gen systems is there a danger that the censors won't allow the game to get into the public's hands?
EB: I don't think so. Mortal Kombat is actually pretty tame in comparison to many titles that have come along since. I think the fact that MK was one of the first games to show the kind of graphic scenes as it did gave it the reputation that is has. But with all the titles that have followed, I don't think we will have any problem with censors.
VideoGamer.com: Few developers can match your stay in the industry and this must surely give you a rather unique perspective on things. What's been the biggest change during your time working in video games?
EB: The biggest change has been in the scope, cost and time it takes to create a game. It's really more exhausting than anyone would imagine. Keep in mind that the first Mortal Kombat game was developed in 8 months by four people in 1992. Now our team is over 40 people and it takes over 2 years to create a new title. It's crazy.
VideoGamer.com: Finally, the Fatalities in Mortal Kombat strangely rank among the fondest teenage memories for people of my generation. Are there plenty more in Ed Boon's locker?
EB: Fatalities in Mortal Kombat are so elaborate now that it takes everyone on the team to come up with enough ideas for them. So, while I might have a few left over in my locker (do I even own a locker?) there are a lot that come from lockers, storage rooms, garages and attics of the sick minds on the MK team.
VideoGamer.com: Thanks for your time.