Mortal Kombat: Komposing Cinematic Audio and the Origins of Toasty!

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Mortal Kombat: Komposing Cinematic Audio and the Origins of Toasty!

Mortal Kombat for PS3

I’ve worked on Mortal Kombat for most of its life, starting with the early arcade versions, and moving on through the first two console versions – Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and Mortal Kombat: Deception. I took a hiatus with Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, but am back with this latest and deadliest version and having a great time working in the audio department with a super-talented and experienced team.

As Audio Director, Rich Carle provided excellent leadership and guidance for the team in addition to writing music, creating sound effects and mixing movies. Senior Sound Designers Matt Grimm and Michael Caisley created a ton of sound effects for the characters and environments in the game as well as for the story mode movies and Senior Sound Designer Brian Chard wrote a lot of the story mode and recorded and edited pretty much every vocal sound in the game in addition to wrangling localization and arcade endings. Chase Ashbaker helped us out at the end with sound design and in-game audio scripting. I wrote a lot of music, created some sound effects for characters and environments and scripted most of the character audio in the game.

[audio:https://blog.us.playstation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/mus_mk9_tower.mp3]

This time around, we’ve made an effort, spearheaded by Rich, to create a cinematic game audio experience. While we definitely wanted to keep and enhance the bone-crunching audio design of the past, we also wanted to create a dynamic experience, so that big events really stand out but we can also hear things like the rustling of the fighter’s clothes and details in the fighting arenas like branches creaking in the Living Forest, insects buzzing in the Courtyard, and people screaming in the distance in the Dead Pool. With nearly two hours of cinematic cut-scenes, we really wanted the player to have a cinema-quality audio experience throughout the story mode, yet still get the in-your-face game experience during the fights.

Regarding the music, our initial approach was to re-work the original music with better instruments and audio tools. This is apparent on backgrounds like Living Forest, Courtyard and the Subway. As we went along, it felt appropriate to allude to some of the melodies in the older tunes, but create a completely new arrangement, as in the Pit, the Temple and the Armory. In a few cases, Rich and I wrote completely new material as in the Street and the Desert, so there’s a broad spectrum of music from the familiar to the brand new in this game. We also went in an orchestral direction with some of the music which was a lot of fun. Matt Grimm mixed all the music in quad (four speakers), so fire up your surround sound system to hear how immersive the musical experience is.

[audio:https://blog.us.playstation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/mus_mk9_rooftop.mp3]

A lot of people ask me about where “Toasty” came from. Before we worked on Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon developed the arcade football games High Impact and Super High Impact. We used to play these a lot and, as the offense and defense approached the line of scrimmage, I’d say something like “You’re toast!”, which turned into “I predict Toasty!”, delivered in high operatic falsetto. Another developer there, George Petro, suggested we put some of our silly taunts into our games as Easter Eggs. Ed decided to go ahead and try it in Mortal Kombat II, so we did, and the rest is history… or something…

Dan "Toasty" Forden

I hope everyone enjoys the game as well as the audio experience. Remember, be sure to play it loud!

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