John Tobias Explains Character Changes In Early Mortal Kombat Games

Some of the biggest rumors, mysteries, and weird fiction to come out of Mortal Kombat's development has been character selection. Back in the day we really didn't have an answer as to why Sonya and Kano were taken out of MK2, or why Johnny Cage and Raiden were axed from MK3.  But when you're a teenager with a bunch of friends trying to make sense of video game decisions, and all you get are a couple of lines of lore about them being "captured" or "killed", you have to try and make sense of it all, and legendary rumors are born. Well, last week, the franchise's co-creator John Tobias gave everyone a quick history lesson as to why certain characters didn't make the cut. Tobias took to his Twitter page to explain that it had more to do with popularity and memory than storylines.

Ever wonder why Johnny Cage wasn't in Mortal Kombat 3? Now we know! Courtesy of NetherRealm Studios.
Ever wonder why Johnny Cage wasn't in Mortal Kombat 3? Now we know! Courtesy of NetherRealm Studios.

According to Tobias, Midway didn't give the team much more memory for MK2 even though the first game was a major arcade success. Co-creator Ed Boon had programmed in an accessible menu through a button combination to check out the game's stats from any cabinet to see how popular certain characters were. Turns out, at least in the Chicago area, Kano and Sonya were the least-selected characters. And when MK2 rolled around, they saw Johnny along with Baraka and Raiden were the least-selected. This coupled with their desire to feature new characters in each game prompted them to cut characters that, by their own records of people playing the game, weren't getting that much attention and therefore, probably wouldn't be missed.

Well, until they realized that fans of Mortal Kombat loved all the characters and the lore of the game, even if they weren't playing as every character. After that, the decision-making became more refined. It's an interesting piece of gaming lore that sprung dozens of rumors and false stories related to the history of the franchise. Especially when you think about how it was a logical decision based on the need for new characters and limited space to load content. These days it doesn't matter as you can program in the entire MK roster into a game that would probably end up being 100+ GB, but still, the rumors and stories about decision making behind character additions and exclusions carry on to this day. Just ask Ed Boon about getting two years' worth of Mileena tweets.

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.