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Long Live Mortal Kombat: Round 1's Foreword by John Tobias
Long Live Mortal Kombat: Round 1 was published today! As a teaser, I’ve pasted the foreword written by Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias below. If you’re interested in purchasing the book, it’s available on Amazon, will be making its way into retail stores over the next couple of months, and signed copies are available from the publisher.
David L. Craddock - Author, Long Live Mortal Kombat
Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes we can remember a moment from our infancy with striking detail. Other times, we can’t remember what we had for breakfast. I like to believe that we remember consequential events best. I was fortunate to find some success in my twenties. That decade coincided with a great many consequential events in my life, the memories of which I carry with me to this day. One of those consequential events was co-creating Mortal Kombat along with Ed Boon. Portions of that story are told in this book.
Mortal Kombat has always trafficked in rumor. Upon its coin-op release, there was no official documentation for players on how to do much of anything in the game. We anticipated that part of the fun would be for them to figure stuff out, whether it was the fictional relationship between characters and the larger story or button combinations to uncover special moves and the infamous fatalities. But, when we hid Reptile in MK1, we unleashed a whole new level of discovery for our players.
In the early 1990s, information about Mortal Kombat spread by word of mouth. There was no internet as we know it today. The vast majority of our players either learned stuff from friends, or other players, at the arcade, or they read about it in magazines published monthly. This method of disseminating information opened the door to rumor. We had inadvertently enabled the tall-tale tellers in all of us to make stuff up. It was harmless fun, and if anything, we encouraged the behavior because it mythologized the game by creating mystery. Players didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t. They made up stories about fatalities that weren’t in the game or hidden characters that didn’t exist. Or did they exist? That sense of mystery has been MK’s hallmark for its 30-year existence.
While innocuous game-related rumor was always a part of Mortal Kombat’s DNA, over the years, misinformation regarding the games’ early development has also proliferated. Fans sometimes don’t know what is true and what isn’t. But fear not. The book that you are about to read is in large part a result of David Craddock’s relentless search for truth. Because of that, some of the book reveals uncomfortable but necessary truths that surface when a writer with journalistic curiosities asks questions and follows-up on the answers. MK has been in dire need of a good fact check. While I can’t vouch for every portion of the book, I can promise you that David’s depiction of early MK development is as close to accurate as I’ve read to date.
Much of David’s book is a celebration filled with anecdotal stories from super fans and players. Much of the book is also about people who played critical roles in the early games’ development. While Ed and I used our creative impulses along with the help of Dan Forden and John Vogel to light the flame, we couldn’t have stoked the fire through development of the early games without Tony Goskie, Steve Beran, Dave Michicich, and our other talented teammates.
There are many others who helped as well. Like Eugene Jarvis who was a mentor for both me and Ed; and Ken Fedesna who managed us throughout production. And there were behind-the-scenes developers at Williams/Midway, including fine folks like Mark Loffredo and Warren Davis who provided the hardware and supporting software and tools that made coin-op development for the MK team even possible. And of course, there were the actors whose performances helped bring our characters to life.
Finally, there are the people who played pivotal roles in the birth of Mortal Kombat as a franchise. From the folks who ushered MK into a world of ancillary media, to the marketing geniuses at Acclaim who parlayed MK’s early arcade successes into a forever pop culture phenomenon that is still relevant, no doubt bolstered by the amazing work being done at NetherRealm Studios today.
So, free your mind and leave behind what you think you know. Long live Mortal Kombat, indeed.
—John Tobias, Co-Creator of Mortal Kombat