Since the early days of Mortal Kombat, the series has had a wonderfully B-movie-like approach to universe building. Gods, portals to other realms, skeletal ninjas returning from the dead, shapeshifters, cyborgs, monsters, and things you figured would never really be explained because they were just there for the hell of it.
Why were there screaming trees in the background of Mortal Kombat 2? I never felt the need to know as a kid; just looking cool was enough.
Turns out the trees—excuse me, the Living Forest—has a fan wiki entry and a multi-game-appearance track record, because of course it does. The Mortal Kombat team has developed a fanatical devotion to building out their game world over the decades. Their dedication is matched only by the enthusiasm of the franchise’s fan base to consume and dig into this backstory.
In the fighting game community, we refer to the general background of characters and their world as “the lore,” and nobody does lore quite like NetherRealm Studios. Street Fighter might have dabbled into the Illuminati, but where are the elder gods and time loops, Capcom? You got any screaming trees?
In our last “Unsolved Mysteries” video, we talked to the Mass Effect team about all the nerdy things that give Lee Hutchinson special tingles. This time around we’re going beyond the fan wikis and straight to the source to really see how deep the Mortal Kombat rabbit hole goes.
We spoke with Dominic Cianciolo, Story and Voiceover Director at NetherRealm, and hit him with the lore-iest of the lore questions we could find. For an assist, we even reached out to the Mortal Kombat subreddit, and boy did they deliver. We had hundreds of responses both on Reddit and in email, with respondents sometimes getting incredibly (disturbingly?) detailed in their thirst for knowledge.
As is befitting someone with a title like “Story Director,” we got just as detailed responses from Cianciolo. If I lost you somewhere between the screaming trees and elder gods, strap in—Dominic could give a Trekkie a run for their money when it comes to explaining things you didn’t even know to ask about in the first place.