Mortal Kombat is a video game franchise originally developed by Midway Games’ Chicago studio in 1992. Following Midway’s bankruptcy, the Mortal Kombat development team was acquired by Warner Bros. and turned into NetherRealm Studios. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment currently owns the rights to the franchise and rebooted it in 2011.
The development of the first game was originally based on an idea that Ed Boon and John Tobias had of making a video game starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, but as that idea fell through, a fantasy-horror themed fighting game titled Mortal Kombat was created instead. The original game has spawned many sequels and has spun a media franchise consisting of several action-adventure games, films (animated and live-action with its own sequel), and television series (animated and live-action). Other spin-offs include comic book series, a card game, and a live-action tour. Along with Capcom’s Street Fighter and Bandai Namco Entertainment’s Tekken, Mortal Kombat has become one of the most successful fighting franchises in the history of video games and one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.
The series has a reputation for high levels of bloody violence, including, most notably, its Fatalities (finishing moves, requiring a sequence of button inputs to perform). Controversies surrounding Mortal Kombat, in part, led to the creation of the ESRB video game rating system. It is also known for using the letter “K” in place of “C” for the hard C sound, thus intentionally misspelling the word “combat”, as well as other words with the hard C sound within later games in the series. Early games in this series were also noted for their realistic digitized sprites (which differentiated it from its contemporaries’ hand-drawn sprites) and an extensive use of palette swapping to create new characters.