In the heyday of arcade fighters, there were two kinds of people: those who played Street Fighter and those who played Mortal Kombat. If you considered yourself the latter, then you have Ed Boon to thank for it.
It all started when Midway decided to capitalize on the success of eventual rival Capcom and its blockbuster slugger, Street Fighter II, by creating a unique fighting game of its own. John Tobias and Ed Boon were tapped as the men who could pull it off -- with Tobias handling much of the design and Boon wielding his programmer's wand to create the overnight success, Mortal Kombat.
The explanation behind the MK sensation? It was an entirely different experience from Street Fighter altogether. Sporting a dissimilar combat engine, block button and the innovative "Fatality" match-enders, the violent puncher created or seriously influenced many gaming trends that still stand today -- not just in the genre, but the industry as a whole. In fact, it was the heavily-criticized emphasis on blood and gore that spawned the first real debate on violence in videogames that also led to the eventual creation of a rating system to help inform parents about which games may be suitable for their kids. At its height, Mortal Kombat was such a popular and influential fighter that even Midway itself started ripping its own game off, joining the already-sizeable number of clones that tried to capitalize on the MK formula (War Gods anyone?).
Though John Tobias left the Midway team in 2000, Boon has continued to create and oversee each new Mortal Kombat project. He has reinvented the series from its simplistic roots into a deep, well-rounded fighter that's seen upgrades that include everything from the use of weapons and fully-realized quest modes to online head-to-head match-ups and fighters with dynamically-switching fighting styles -- and audiences continue to eat it up.
"When [a game] comes together well, there is very little that is more gratifying," Boon told Edge Magazine in 2006. "It makes all the hard work worth it."
- Mortal Kombat (1992)
- Mortal Kombat II (1993)
- Mortal Kombat III (1995)
- Mortal Kombat Gold (1999)