Recent Mortal Kombat games (Kortal Kombat 9 and X, specifically) have had a thing for guest characters. Most of them, like Leatherface and Jason, fit in well enough with the rest of the cast. But at one point, Warner Bros. considered a character that was somewhat different: Neo, from the Matrix series.
The origin for guest characters in Mortal Kombat has to do with how the last Midway-published Mortal Kombat game, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, was going to include downloadable characters. Originally, characters like Harley Quinn and Quan Chi were going to make their way into the game’s roster, but the impending bankruptcy Midway faced at the time forced those plans to fall through.
By the time development for Mortal Kombat 9 was in full swing, NetherRealm had already began thinking about their plans for post-release content. “We knew we were going to do DLC characters,” says Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon. With the Mortal Kombat team now owned by Warner Bros. (and renamed NetherRealm), they could access their new parent company’s large swath of characters. “They’re very collaborative,” says Boon. “Like TV and movies and video games. Stuff like that. So that just kind of gave us access to some of these characters through whatever business deals they did.”
Instead of the NetherRealm asking Warner Bros. to use individual characters, they went for a more practical approach. “It was more like ‘We’d love to do a guest character, who’s available?'” says Boon. “And then we would see a list of 10, 15 characters.”
NetherRealm didn’t want to include another DC comics character this time around, since the limitations that placed around the game’s content didn’t fit their vision for a return to the bloody, M-Rated legacy of the series. Then came a suggestion from Warner Bros. “I remember they brought up Neo. So there were a whole bunch of ones that for business reasons or that creatively we didn’t think they’d fit.”
Eventually, NetherRealm settled on a more twisted character that fit the game’s theme. “We kind of realized that the horror characters tend to lend themselves to it,” says Boon. “Jason, Freddy, Leatherface. So a number of those characters had come up in our discussions with Mortal Kombat 9, but for whatever reason we chose to do Freddy Kreuger.”
You can read more about the development of the entire Mortal Kombat series in our massive Ed Boon interview, which hits later today.
While I agree Neo wouldn’t have fit the overall tone of Mortal Kombat 9, he could have made for an interesting character from a gameplay perspective.