Ultimate Mortal Kombat Developer Interview with Hans Lo

Patrick McCarron - July 24, 2007

As we were growing up, us Mortal Kombat fans were always looking to create the arcade experience of Mortal Kombat at home. But due to the game systems at the time being less powerful than the arcade machines, the ports were not always as good as we'd like. Over the past few years we have witnessed an evolution in computer processors, and in turn we've gathered more and more powerful gaming systems. Because of this drastic increase in power of game systems, the current systems of today can easily duplicate the high-end games of old. Now even today's portable systems are running perfect copies of our favorite Mortal Kombat arcade games we had while growing up. The next portable system to be graced with a Mortal Kombat port is the Nintendo DS with it's upcoming Ultimate Mortal Kombat.

We caught up with Producer Hans Lo of the upcoming Ultimate Mortal Kombat for the Nintendo DS.

The familiar select screen with DS button key at the
bottom. This will likely be a touchable select screen.
TRMK: Could you tell us a little about what Ultimate Mortal Kombat is?

Hans Lo: Well simply put, it's Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for the Nintendo DS with the inclusion of Puzzle Kombat, which first appeared in Mortal Kombat Deception. But it's not just simply a port, we've also included wireless support for 2 player action for both games. So now the player can play against the CPU, or they can go up against friends, families, and even other Mortal Kombat players online. The great thing is that you and your opponent could be in the same room, or if you have wifi internet connection, you can challenge each other from opposite sides of the world. Also with the inclusion of game sharing, you can introduce a friend to the MK world just using one game cartridge between two DS's if you're both in the same room.

TRMK: Why the choice of making this only for the DS versus developing Ultimate Mortal Kombat on the Sony PlayStation Portable as well?

Hans Lo: Up until now, there hasn't been any Mortal Kombat title for the DS, unlike the PSP. Given the popularity of both Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and the DS, it just seemed like the right choice at the right time.

TRMK: The Nintendo DS has been around for almost three years, why has it taken so long to get a classic arcade Mortal Kombat onto this system?

Hans Lo: It's really a question of timing. We wanted to be able to give this game the proper attention that it deserves. Before this, the team's attention was focused on finishing up Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Now with that project finished, we have the proper time to give this game the attention that it deserves. The last thing anyone on the team wants is a sub-par game. Ed and the team have set a very high bar. The fans of Mortal Kombat have very high expectations. So we really want to make this game right for all of them.

TRMK: We heard this port is being done in house by a portion of the current "MK Team," how many of those members were around 10+ years ago when UMK3 was originally created?

Hans Lo: The MK Team originally contained only 4 people back in those days. It wasn't until the time of Deadly Alliance did this number start to go up. However of the four original team members, 3 are still on the team.

Same old favorite UMK3 just on a smaller screen.
TRMK: For those who were around then, are there any ideas that never made it to fruition that they'd like to explore today if given the opportunity?

Hans Lo: Well from my personal experience on working on Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks, we worked closely with the original MK team to ensure that we were able to capture the feel and look of Mortal Kombat 2's universe. Through that process, with the help of those members, we were able to bring to life some of the characters and backgrounds that didn't make it into the original game. So the short answer would be yes, but it's also a question of what makes sense for each project.

TRMK: Since this development team has access to the original lead programmer, Ed Boon, and the source code as well, are we going to see more of a traditional port or another emulation attempt?

Hans Lo: While we did have access to the original source codes for UMK3 and Puzzle Kombat, this game is more of emulation. Obviously we've had to make changes to the game to work within the DS's framework, but the gameplay is more based on emulation.

Puzzle Kombat is rearranged for the dual screens.
Here the game board is on the lower touch screen.
TRMK: What type of fun additions is the original game and/or Puzzle Kombat going to see in this port?

Hans Lo: The main focus for us was to re-capture the essence of these games. On UMK3, there have been several different ports of this game to choose from, but we wanted to go with the original arcade version. We didn't want to mess with the formula that made the original games great. However this doesn't mean we didn't want add to the original. The addition of WiFi, and game-share modes we feel add to the fun. There's always another added level of fun when you can play a game against friends, family, and rivals. What's more fun than taunting a buddy when you pull of a flawless victory?

TRMK: Since this game will feature online play via WiFi are there going to be some enhancements to the online play system the MK team has used before?

Hans Lo: On WiFi we're going to be using a rating system in conjunction with Nintendo's Gamespy server. This will allow players to have the choice of playing against a friend using friend codes, or they can challenge other players who they do not know. What the system will do is try to pair up the player against someone of similar ranking within a certain range. By doing this, we allow gamers to play against a greater selection of adversaries. The player's performance will determine their ranking. So for example, as more wins are gained online, the greater the player's ranking will be.

Here is the top screen of Puzzle Kombat on
the DS, where the characters battle it out..
TRMK: Are there any plans for uses of the DS's unique features such as "dual screen", touch screen, and/or headset?

Hans Lo: It's about finding what works best and makes sense for the game. It's not our intention to change the way the games are played, but to compliment what is already there. So with that being said, we are looking at some things now that take advantage of the dual screens, and touch screen. We'll keep you guys in the loop as we move forward.

TRMK: There has been a lot of media and fan hype over Capcom going back and redrawing their sprites for a future High Definition Street Fighter 2 remake. Is it possible that Midway could do something similar for a similar HD MK project?

Hans Lo: HD content would make more sense on systems like the PS3, and Xbox 360, but the truth of the fact is that the DS screens are not designed for HD resolution. So even if we were to create HD screens, they would only end up being down-rezzed to fit the screen. This isn't to say that we don't care how the game looks on the DS. Throughout development this is one of several things we always to keep in mind, to have optimal images resolution for the system.

TRMK: While most of the previous Mortal Kombat games have been on all sorts of systems, it seems that Mortal Kombat II has been left to stay only on the PlayStation 3 and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 on the Xbox 360. Are these titles under some form of exclusivity or is there a chance either version will make it to the other systems in time?

Hans Lo: Are these games exclusive to each system? No, so with that said, anything is possible. Only time will tell.

TRMK: Nintendo recently announced their WiiWare channel. Any word on whether we will see a version of the classic arcade Mortal Kombat downloadable on the Wii?

Hans Lo: Nintendo's WiiWare channel is definitely an exciting possible opportunity for the MK franchise. We definitely look forward to having an opportunity to do this, but as of right now, it's still too early to say.

Of course Mortal Kombat's most important feature...
...will remain in full effect.
TRMK: Now every pre-Xbox generation Mortal Kombat has made it to another system, is there chance that we'll see a Mortal Kombat 4 port anytime soon?

Hans Lo: I think the team would love to see this game come out on these new systems. Hopefully such an opportunity will allow this to happen some day.

TRMK: Any hints or teases you guys want to toss our readers' way for the next-generation Mortal Kombat?

Hans Lo: Nope, you're just going to have to wait and see, but trust me, it'll be worth the wait.

TRMK: Thanks for your time, and keep up the good work on providing the fans with more places to play the classic Mortal Kombat games we all grew up with.

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