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John Tobias talks crafting the world of Mortal Kombat & history of the series

Comic artist and Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias spoke to us about what it was like entering the Williams gaming ecosystem and crafting the Mortal Kombat series.


Mortal Kombat was a formative series for a lot of folks. The franchise that put a national spotlight on video game violence has put forth a host of legends in the gaming industry. Mortal Kombat is also a central topic in the Insert Coin documentary, which is directed by Mortal Kombat alumni Joshua Tsui and takes a thorough look at the arcade and home gaming history of Midway and Williams Electronics. One of those involved in the documentary is Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias, who we recently spoke to about Midway and the Mortal Kombat franchise.

During our lengthy interview with John Tobias, he goes into the creative design of Mortal Kombat, discussing how Williams’ digitized technology made Mortal Kombat possible where games like it previously weren’t, as well as the process of how of the characters and concepts came into existence. Tobias discusses the limitations the team worked around, such as color palettes and time restraints. You can check out the entire video interview just below.

An interesting byproduct of the limitations that were imposed on Tobias, Boon, and their team when creating Mortal Kombat is that, he claims, it forced the team into focusing a lot of attention on tight gameplay as they worked around those limitations. Tobias also talks a little bit about how the improvements in technology over the years were phenomenal in how much they broke those limitations, allowing the team to expand the series past the difficulties they faced when they first started. He even dips into the controversy that Mortal Kombat’s bombastic violence spurred at the time and how the team reacted to it at the time.

Want more video interviews like this one? Be sure to check out our other Insert Coin coverage, including an interview with director Joshua Tsui on the documentary and his involvement in Mortal Kombat. You can also find more videos at our Shacknews and Gamerhub YouTube channels. Stay tuned for more videos featuring the latest video games, toys, and more.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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