The good news: Mortal Kombat is coming to PS Vita! The bad news: Details are so scarce that we haven’t seen so much as a single screenshot! Luckily, Netherrealm Studios Creative Director Ed Boon emerged from the shadows to share first details with PlayStation.Blog readers, including the existence of a PS Vita-exclusive second Challenge Tower and hints at how the game will take advantage of PS Vita‘s unique hardware capabilities. Read up on our full Q&A below and check back soon for more details on this spring’s eagerly anticipated portable pugilist.
PlayStation.Blog: What’s the scope of Mortal Kombat for PS Vita? Does it include all the content from the PS3 game?
Ed Boon, Creative Director, Netherrealm Studios: It’s actually everything from the PS3 game: the entire Story Mode and all the downloadable characters and content, plus additional modes and features that are tailored for PS Vita. We really wanted to take advantage of Vita’s hardware.
PSB: How have the graphics transitioned to PS Vita? Did you have to make any major graphical sacrifices from the PS3 version?
EB:It’s interesting. We did have to reduce some of the polygon counts from the backgrounds and characters, but that screen is so bright, and it’s got such high pixel density…when I saw Scorpion and Sub-Zero fighting on the Living Forest for the first time, I was amazed. It really maintains the identity of the game. I can’t wait for people to hold it in their hands and see it for themselves — it’s a surprisingly similar experience.
PSB: Will the PS Vita version keep the PS3 version’s smooth 60 fps framerate?
EB: Yeah. We wouldn’t accept any compromises there; we needed the game to run at the same framerate as the PS3 version. A number of our internal people proposed running it at 30 frames per second — “we could do this and this and that” — but we knew it would feel different. We didn’t want it to feel sluggish or unresponsive.
PSB: What makes a good mobile fighting game? Obviously, playing habits are different in a mobile environment.
EB: The fundamental necessity is quick access to gameplay, whether it’s online or locally. The mobile gaming experience is shorter bites of time. We identified the Challenge Tower as a perfect fit for mobile sessions, so we expanded it greatly for PS Vita. There are actually two Challenge Towers in the PS Vita version, and the new one has 150 challenges that are exclusive to PS Vita. A number of those challenges use PS Vita’s hardware features: the touch screen, the accelerometer…
PSB: …rear touchscreen?
EB: The rear touchscreen functionality was something that we experimented with, but we ultimately opted not to pursue. We really went to town on the front touchscreen interaction, though, both in the challenges and normal gameplay. A lot of work went into it.
PSB: So how does a touchscreen come into play in Mortal Kombat?
EB: In terms of gameplay, we’ve always wanted MK to be as accessible as possible. For example, you can touch your X-ray meter to execute an X-ray attack. For fatalities, you can “slash” the screen with the appropriate inputs — say, away, away, up — to execute the fatality. It makes some of the more difficult fatalities easier and it’s fun to slash at your screen to fire off a fatality. I was surprised by how engaging it is.
PSB: Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 has a dedicated touchscreen-only mode for more casual players. Are you planning anything along those lines?
EB: We goofed around with ideas like that. It was an interesting novelty at first, but literally everybody who tried it said “oh, that’s cute” and then went right back to the normal control scheme. There’s a lot of precision with the “slicing” mechanic, though, so it works well for fatalities.
PSB: Can you shed any light into how the accelerometer or sixaxis motion controls work in the new PS Vita-centric Challenge Tower?
EB: I’ve been asked not to completely reveal all of the details yet…But in the new Challenge Tower, there are challenges that are unique to PS Vita’s capabilities. Over the years we’ve had Test Your Might, Test Your Luck, Test Your Sight…well, we’ve added two completely new ones for PS Vita. We’ll be revealing those soon, and they will take advantage of the accelerometer and other features.
Those extra 150 Challenge Tower missions are tons of fun. Imagine tilting your PS Vita and affecting gravity in the game, things like that…
PSB: Mortal Kombat is a highly competitive fighter. What’s your approach to multiplayer on PS Vita?
EB: We tried to put all the main things that people would want to do for hooking up with other players online; you can fight one-on-one whether you’re in local Wifi or online [infrastructure] Wifi. There aren’t any eight-player online fighting modes, though, and we aren’t supporting four players in one match. Our focus was getting the core fighting gameplay and Wifi battles as solid as possible.
PSB: Will Mortal Kombat feature any PS3-to-PS Vita connectivity or cross play functionality?
EB: No. We’ve been working with PS Vita for quite a while. We had a lot of conversations about what we could do with it; I thought it would be cool to have an extra bonus for players who bought both the PS3 and PS Vita versions. We talked about unlocking a new character, or having some sort of new mode that enabled you to control the game from your PS Vita…but unfortunately, it’s coming up on a year since the PS3 version came out and we never found a way to marry the two versions together.
PSB: Finally, the game’s official name is Mortal Kombat, right? I know there were rumors of “Mortal Kombat Vitality…”
EB: Yes, it’s Mortal Kombat. “Vitality” was something that somebody mocked up at some point, and it kind of stuck [laughs]. But yes, it’s just called Mortal Kombat.