ORIGINALLY AIRED: 9/2/2004
When Midway designers Ed Boon and John Tobias teamed up in the early 1990's to come up with a game to challenge the arcade success of Capcom's Street Fighter II, little did they know that their game would forever change the way the world would view game violence and the influence it had on gamers. Originally seeking to make a title based on a Jean-Claude Van Damme film, the developers decided to continue their plan of action even after the deal to use the film license fell through, even basing one of their characters on Van Damme.
When Mortal Kombat made its arcade debut in 1992, it became a worthy contender to Street Fighter II's comic art style through its more "realistic" digitalized motion capture graphics and of course, its gratuitous violence. Mortal Kombat's trademark finishing moves led to a great deal of controversy as the game soared in popularity and gamers across the country bought the home version of the game in record numbers; at home, concerned parents witnessed firsthand the degree of violence in the game and contacted lawmakers.
In 1993, Senators Joe Lieberman and Herb Kohl publicly denounce Mortal Kombat for its use of gore and violence; the Electronics Software Ratings Board is formed as a result. Refusing to bow down to parental pressure, Midway releases Mortal Kombat II, also in 1993, which proved to be more bloody but also included some tongue-in-cheek humor that was not included in the original game. Mortal Kombat continues down its road to success with the positive response to the Mortal Kombat movie in 1994.
However, a good thing cannot last forever, and 1995's Mortal Kombat 3 proved to a big disappointment, despite the addition of several new characters and new features. Midway continues to roll out the parade of bad Mortal Kombat titles until John Tobias finally leaves the company in 1999. In 2001, Midway abandons the arcade business to work on titles for the home console market. This shift in focus has a positive result; the company bounces back with Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance in 2002, which is the first true sequel to the game since 1997.
Currently, Midway is set to release Mortal Kombat: Deception for the Playstation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube.
It's no secret that some of the Mortal Kombat characters were based heavily on other existing characters. Find out which ones here.