Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe Helped Save The Franchise

While some feel it was the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation movie, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is popularly touted as the lowest point for the franchise – at least in terms of video games. The prototype IP soup tried to do something new with popular characters going head to head, but never really got a good reception. The biggest issue was that with the introduction of DC and Warner Bros, MK's iconic gore had to be dialed down. Batman, after all, cannot be split into two by Kung Lao's hat. However, while the game itself signaled the fatality of the Mortal Kombat franchise, its core formula is what resurrected it to become NetherRealm Studio and the reboot we've come to adore.

"The biggest lesson we learned with MKvDC was that there was an opportunity for two separate games that each could embrace their roots without compromising the other,” said Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon in an interview with GameInformer. "This resulted in us deciding that the next Mortal Kombat game would be a full reboot and aggressively embrace everything signature about Mortal Kombat. This included going back to a 2D fighting plane, retelling the [story of the] original trilogy, and going back to our classic Fatalities without restrictions."

And thus was born the Mortal Kombat, and later Injustice, campaign format that we've come to recognise – a series of cutscenes telling a dramatic story, interspersed with combat that would put the player into the shoes of almost every character on the roster. Not only did it act as a tutorial of sorts to get the player ready for competitive matches, but it also served up a tasting platter via which you could pick your main.

As Midway underwent its transformation to NetherRealm, the process was undoubtedly slow and full of hurdles. Before the devs could realise the formula for the reboot, they had to rebuild from the ground-up.

“They called me in for an in-person interview, and I was so excited,” said Daanish Syed, a 2D cinematic associate artist on MK9, to GI. “I went to their old studio location, and it was this weird, industrial, nondescript building. I walked in, and it was even worse on the inside. Really dilapidated. It was awful. They showed me around, and despite the building being so old, it still felt alive and cool. But I just remember being taken aback, like, ‘Wow, what is this place? It is so s—-y looking!’”

But once the reboot was launched, it was clear that Boon and team were clearly onto something with the new Konquest mode. “Mortal Kombat validated our theory that there was a strong demand for single-player content in fighting games,” he said. “In many ways, it set the foundation for the NetherRealm Studios games that followed. Even though MKvDC was the first game with our story mode, Mortal Kombat is where it really took off. Plus, it introduced the Challenge Tower, King of the Hill, and much more. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Mortal Kombat set the stage for all NetherRealm games that followed.”

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