Mortal Kombat is an American media franchise centered on a series of video games, originally developed by Midway Games in 1992. 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-themed fighting game was created instead, nonetheless paying homage to him with nut-cracking movie star character Johnny Cage, whose initials and personal style echo Van Damme's. Mortal Kombat was the first ever fighting game to introduce a secret fighter, reached if the player fulfilled a set of requirements.
The original game has spawned many sequels and spin-offs consisting of several action-adventure games, as well as a comic book series and a card game. Film producer Lawrence Kasanoff licensed the rights to the game in the early 1990s and produced the first hit film ever made from a video game. Lawrence also produced the second film, animated TV series, live-action TV series films, the first one million platinum-selling album and a live-action tour. 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 graphic violence, including, most notably, its Fatalities (finishing moves allowing the player to finish off their defeated opponent). Controversies surrounding Mortal Kombat, in part, led to the creation of the ESRB video game rating system. Early games in this series were also noted for their realistic digitized sprites and an extensive use of palette swapping to create new characters. Following Midway's bankruptcy, the Mortal Kombat development team was acquired by Warner Bros. Entertainment and turned into NetherRealm Studios.
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