Mortal Kombat Scorpion Sub-Zero Ed Boon cover

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Ed Boon Shows How Mortal Kombat Brought Sub-Zero and Scorpion to Life

March 10, 2022

By: Robert N. Adams

 
 

Ed Boon is continuing to show off the history of Mortal Kombat with archive footage. This time, he shows us how they made Scorpion and Sub-Zero stand out despite their visual similarities.

The Mortal Kombat franchise has been going for 30 years and shows no signs of stopping. To celebrate this monumental anniversary, co-creator Ed Boon has been showing off archive footage from motion capture sessions and detailing the creative process behind some of the game's most iconic characters.

 

Thus far, Boon has shown us how they brought Scorpion's iconic spear to life and talked about voice acting. He's an authority on the latter subject -- Ed Boon is the man behind Scorpion's original "Get over here!" voiceline. Now, he's showing off how some subtle animation changes and a palette swap helped make Sub-Zero and Scorpion into unique characters.

How NetherRealm Made Sub-Zero and Scorpion Stand Out in Mortal Kombat

It's plainly obvious that the original Scorpion and Sub-Zero had the same outfit with different colors in the original Mortal Kombat. As Ed Boon explains in a recent Twitter thread, that was a deliberate decision to save memory and get more bang for their buck out of motion capture shoots.

 
 

"One reason we made them ninjas was to get two fighters out of the same motion shoot & memory footprint," Boon explained in a Twitter thread. "But we did have some unique frames made exclusively for one ninja. For example, we felt giving them different stances was worth the 7 extra frames of animation it cost us."

"Since we thought of the idea during the shoot, the next step was to come up with a unique fighting stance for each ninja. They had to be different (to stand apart) but still work with all the attacks (punches and kicks) the two ninjas shared."

 
 

The roughly 2-minute video shows how Scorpion and Sub-Zero's stances came to life. Ed Boon and John Tobias asked actor Daniel Pesina to make subtle adjustments to his stance. The final stances for each character are on either side of the screen and you can gradually see them come to life throughout the video.

The end result? For a paltry 7 extra frames of animation, Scorpion and Sub-Zero got different stances. Changing up their colors was somewhat easier -- they simply removed yellow from the color palette and replaced it with light blue for Sub-Zero.

This excellent look behind the scenes comes less than a year after NetherRealm Studios announced that there would be no more Mortal Kombat 11 DLC, effectively ending development of new content for that game. As for Mortal Kombat 12, we don't know much yet beyond the occasional cheeky leak and a boatload of rumors -- let's hope that we won't have to wait too long to enjoy a new entry in the franchise.