Few games have embedded themselves in modern culture quite like Mortal Kombat. In the near thirty years since the first game’s arrival, quotes such as “Finish him” and “Fatality” have become familiar even to non-gamers. Now, co-creator Ed Boon has revealed how a move associated with one of these lines, Scorpion’s signature “Get over here!” came about: it was made up on the fly.
Boon yesterday tweeted that it has been three decades since work on the first Mortal Kombat game began. To celebrate the anniversary, he posted a behind-the-scenes clip of its creation in which Boon and designer John Tobias are overseeing the motion capture performance of Scorpion actor Daniel Pesina.
It’s amazing to see the origins of Scorpion’s iconic spear throw. Boon initially says, “You know what would be a cool-ass move?” before asking if ninjas have some kind of ropes. “It would be cool if something went… FAH!” he adds while making the character’s throwing stance. “Like uh, an arrow or whatever.”
Boon and Tobias also ensure that Pesina finishes the throwing move (this was before the weapon came out of the character’s hand) at chest height so opponents would have the chance to duck under it.
It’s interesting to hear Boon mentioning how many frames the moves will take up in-game, something that needed to be considered when working with early nineties hardware. He explained that the throw had to be quick enough to catch opponents by surprise, which meant keeping the animation simple while using very few frames.
“We were so tight on memory, that we didn’t even capture any motions for the victim reactions. Instead we borrowed from their existing animation frames. You can hear us talk about reusing one of the victim’s “knockdown” animations when they initially get hit by the spear,” Boon tweeted.
“We also borrowed the victim’s “fatality dizzy” frames to show they were stunned after being pulled in. Reusing existing animations was one of the many tricks we used to save memory, which was so much more limited in 1991.”
Mortal Kombat went on to become one of the world’s biggest gaming franchises, producing numerous sequels, spin-offs, comics, a short-lived TV show, and more. It also spawned several movies; 1995’s Mortal Kombat, in this writer’s opinion, remains one of the best video game adaptations to date.