Feature PAX East 2012

NetherRealm dev: ‘I wanted to vomit’ at Vita loading times, 30 FPS ‘was never an option’

One of our highlights from PAX East last weekend was NetherRealm’s upcoming Vita version of Mortal Kombat. We had the chance to speak to Associate Designer on the project, Derek Kirtzic, as he gave us an in-depth tour of the game running on Sony’s new handheld.

First, we tried out the new mini-games added for the Vita version that make use of the touch screen and gyroscope controls. Mortal Kombat’s take on Fruit Ninja was actually pretty entertaining; replace all that fruit juice with body parts, organs, and lots of blood.

Then we dove into the Test Your Balance mode, in which the player tilts the Vita side-to-side in order to keep balance on a beam, and overcome even more body parts being thrown at the player.

A few menu screens later, we were testing out the traditional fighting gameplay in Versus mode against AI – which we’d say is on par, if not better, on the Vita than on console, somehow – when it hit us: until now, we’d only spent mere seconds in loading screens transitioning from mode to mode.

We pointed out that the smooth, constant 60 FPS during gameplay was striking, and that loading times were also very impressive. Derek let us know just how serious the team at NetherRealms is taking this handheld port, and that it’s not just another console game shoehorned into a portable device. 

“I played a couple of other Vita games and I wanted to vomit at the loading times,” said Kirtzic. 

“We’re running at 60 FPS, and it plays exactly like the console. There is no miss in button inputs, no button lag, it feels exactly like it, and it looks great. We don’t have static backgrounds; we have fully animated backgrounds just like we did on the consoles,” he added.

“A lot of the Vita games out there are only running at 30 frames per second. It was mandatory that we made sure we stayed at 60 frames per second.”

“It was never an option. It has to run at 60 frames per second, it’s a fighting game. That’s what it has to do.”

We’ve got to admit, NetherRealms’ devotion to making this the definitive version of Mortal Kombat really shines through when the game is in your hands and, speaking of which, you won’t have to wait much longer to see for yourself; Mortal Kombat Vita hits store shelves on May 1.