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25th October 2018

Mortal Kombat source code leaked

“I am about to undertake the preservation of stuff. Important stuff.”
Mortal Kombat source code leaked
Credit: Wikimedia Commons @ Daniel Benavides

Source codes to several Mortal Kombat games have been leaked on the ‘Retro Games’ imageboard of 4chan, /vr/. The games in question included in the leak, Mortal Kombat 3 (Playstation One, PC) and Mortal Kombat Trilogy N64, contain all files necessary for one to run them, provided you have a computer old enough (for the PC version) or an emulator (PS1, N64). The leak is naturally illegal as it breaches copyright law and as such there will be no links included in this article.

The company that owns the Mortal Kombat intellectual property, Warner Bros, will undoubted by looking to find the person behind these leaks, especially given their recent releases of games in the franchise. The anonymous nature of the 4chan imageboards should have made that task particularly difficult but fortunately for them, the author of the 4chan post wrote a short statement to accompany the files in which they state how they “got these from the original developer”.

“I am about to undertake the preservation of stuff. Important stuff. Before we go and preserve it publicly, I wanted to make sure it’s quietly available elsewhere so if we burn to death, it’s not gone forever.”

The 900mb compressed series of files not only includes the release versions of the aforementioned games but, if one looks closely, beta builds in which the game is noticeably different. An example of this is with the MK Trilogy for the N64. There is a build of the game from May 1996 when the final version of the game was released in November 1996.

Among the files are also progress report updates and messages between the developers in readme files such as the following: “Ed, this build contains all the fixes from you last memo except for the Aggressor Shadow Effect. I am working on that today. Please take a look at the brutality move for kung lao as well as the brutality work effect. Also the duck kicks as well as the combos should be fixed. I believe I found the problems and have corrected them. Also, any progress on locating the axe frames for nightwolf? David”

But perhaps most interesting of all, included in the MK Trilogy files are bits of text from Doom 64. Doom 64 is a game that the original company Midway Games developed and was released a whole year later. The fact that the two games were intertwined in such a way is fascinating.

Looking through the code is fun but the main question is, what will happen as a result of this leak? Having the source code for games like these can help massively with the development of two things: home-brew games and emulators. Fans of the original games can use the framework of these games to change move-sets, properties, or even add brand new characters.

For the developers of emulators, which are pieces of software that allow users to make one computer system behave like another (think playing PS1 games on a PC for example), this leak will allow them to potentially see techniques to work around hardware limitations or quirks that were not previously known. The fact that there are several console versions of the same game makes this more useful still.

No matter how hard Warner Bro’s try, they will be unsuccessful in removing these files from the internet. Anyone who has an interest for them most likely possesses the knowledge of where to look in order to find them. It is worth keeping an eye out, however, to see what the gaming community will find and make with this piece of history.

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