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Mortal Kombat: Welcome back?

Series creator Ed Boon on two decades of Kombat...

So, Mortal Kombat 2010, then. Let's see: Slutty bondage ladies, thrones of skulls, laser axes and pits of spikes? Yep. Robot ninjas, shape-shifting old Chinese blokes, acid baths and sexy cannibals? Ditto.

It all looks like it's being beamed to your 360 from 1992 by way of the inside of a 14-year-old Iron Maiden fan's brain. Welcome back, MK. Still trashy, are we?

Of course we are! Mortal Kombat is the game serious fighting fans hate on. It's not about being the best or the smartest; it's about being disgusting and violent and upsetting old dears.

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You hit a button, hit some more, slice your opponent up the middle from balls to brain and hold the two halves high in the air for everyone to see. MORTAL KOMBAT! U-U-U-U-TAH SAINTS.

Y'know, now we mention it, the first Mortal Kombat movie was actually okay, wasn't it Ed Boon, creator of the series?

"The first one was..." he says, "the first one." Boon and his magnificent eyebrows have been working on Mortal Kombat since the early 90s.

"It's never really bored me but I've had ideas for other types of games," he continues. "Mortal Kombat played a critical role at Midway Games as they really counted on each instalment, but Warner Bros has a lot of financial stability and has allowed us to focus more on quality."

"Quality" means dumping the dubious 3D efforts and returning to the game's 2D roots from 18 years ago. It was 1992. People still played games in arcades. Image Comics were making millions off big boobs and buckets of blood. Games shipped without age ratings and Mortal Kombat had just upset the entire planet.

"This new game feels much more like those older 2D titles. It's a combination of sophistication and nostalgia," says Boon, comparing the new game to 1993's Mortal Kombat 2.

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"Our goal isn't to shock people," he continues, talking about a game where a human lizard vomits a gallon of acid into a nearly-naked, quadruple-Hchested cannibal dominatrix's mouth.

"That would be hard in today's market. We want to bring Mortal Kombat fans back to their memories of the early games. This time we're going for the mass market and the hardcore crowd."

So for the mass market, there's Sub-Zero punching his fist down some unfortunate's throat and ripping out his spine, plus a damage system that leaves fighters broken and battered. Hit 'em with your super special moves and the game will switch to an X-ray mode where hips shatter, arms break, and testicles burst like a plum hit with a golf club.

For the hardcore, there's a new combo system and the opportunity to build custom air combos. "Our new gameplay is lightning-fast and focuses mainly on player-created combos. There are lots of 'juggling' combo opportunities and we want to create the widest palette of options for the player to be as creative as possible," says Boon. "That was the beauty of the 2D combat in the original games."

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So, can it take on Capcom? "We do hope that our new Mortal Kombat game will be taken seriously as a competitive fighter," he says. "The fighting game tournament players are a very skilled group of individuals. It would be great to please them but if you pleased only them, you'd have a game that wouldn't reach a larger audience."

While the experts play Marvel vs Capcom 3, Boon and his time machine are doing their best to make Mortal Kombat credible. And you know what? It looks like it might work.

Until, that is, we witness Johnny Cage uppercut a girl's head clean off. Ah, who needs fighting purists anyway? MORTAL KOMBAT!

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