Interviews

Ed Boon talks Mortal Kombat

Interview: Mortal Kombat creator and industry legend grilled

We recently got the chance to go hands-on with the Wii version of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and, after wrestling with the Wii Remote, took in several deep breaths in preparation for leaping into a chat with Ed Boon, Mortal Kombat's creator and industry legend...

So how have you found working with the Wii hardware in general? Has it been easier than you expected?

Ed Boon: It definitely has its challenges. Our goal was for simplicity, so we really wanted to have... When I say 'go left-right on the controller', you'll be amazed how many go from like this to this (waves Wii Remote around) and the goal was to try to accept the whole range of people's interpretations of what left-right is.

The hardware that's inside of here, programming that and making it universal, that's probably the biggest challenge.

Can you tell us more about the whole accessibility direction you've taken for Mortal Kombat: Armageddon on Wii?

Ed Boon: Mortal Kombat's been around since 1992 - I can't believe how long it's been. And since the beginning, one of the things that's separated us from other fighting games is the crazy moves we've put in it, like fireballs and all the magic moves, so to speak. And they've always been something that we've hid in the game and made it somewhat of a challenge to get. When we did that, it's a great feature because it's a level of skill you have to get to, but there were certain people who just couldn't get there, they just could not get the whole combination of the two.

So, we really wanted to make those moves more accessible, because the Wii player is more of a casual player - more people who might not have been playing videogames since the 1990s and whatnot. Our goal was to make it so as many people as possible could pick up the controller and go left-right with the thing to throw Scorpion's spear, or to go up-down and make somebody teleport. That was really the whole goal of the Wii Remote, to make more people be able to do moves that they couldn't do before.

Do you expect the hardcore Mortal Kombat fan who has a Wii to pick this version of Armageddon up even if they have it already on another platform?

Ed Boon: Well, we're hoping so. We didn't want to restrict the controls to be only Wii Remote, so we included the Classic controller as well as the GameCube controller as it's something that some people are also more used to. In addition we've added the Chameleon character who is exclusive only to the Wii, we've added the Endurance mode which is only for the Wii version, and we've added a new feature where you can make your character lay down and there's a whole set of attacks associated with that.

So we added more layers for people who might have already played Armageddon.

Is this Wii Remote system something you'd build on for future Mortal Kombat games on the platform?

Ed Boon: Yeah, for the Wii the controls are the unique feature of that system. In reality, Armageddon already existed, and we put the controls on a game that existed. But if we were to start from scratch and knew that we had these controls, we'd probably have been more ambitious with it, with the fighting mechanics, and integrate it even more into the basic fighting.

The Mortal Kombat series has been around for many years. How do you stay motivated and keep your passion for the series going?

Ed Boon: With Mortal Kombat we really haven't been afraid to introduce something new or to kind of like do a reset where we say 'OK, let's start all over'. Deadly Alliance was nothing like Mortal Kombat 4, and it was nothing like Mortal Kombat 3, it was just a complete reset. We feel that periodically we have to do that. Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3 were like the 2D games and then 4 was like the combination of 3D and 2D, and then Deadly Alliance was the multiple fighting styles.

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