It was a pretty tight fit for Daniel Pesina.
He was playing the role of Scorpion in the legendary Mortal Kombat video game.
However, at this point, the game didn’t have the massive budget that it does today.
So Pesina had to squeeze into a child’s size costume that would become the iconic yellow garb of the undead ninja warrior.
“We bought the largest kids size because it was $10 to $15 less than the adult size,” Pesina told an audience at Free Play Florida on Saturday as part of a discussion about the game.
The franchise has since earned more than $10 billion and continues to release titles, with Mortal Kombat 11 debuting in April.
The new game takes advantage of the high-tech platforms to show off its high-striking action.
But, in 1990, the game had to rely on new technology.
Warren Davis, known as the creator of the alien hopper Q-Bert, had created a digitization process that could put realistic characters into video games.
The process grabbed frames from video recordings and turned them into actions in a game.
The stylized character animations had been done on a game called Narc, which released in 1988.
Pesina first got involved in martial arts in China.
It was there he learned the moves, attacks and defensive postures he would replicate for Mortal Kombat.
The game started as a side project, which meant he and the game’s co-creator John Tobias would sneak in late at night to film Pesina and some friends “who would work for cheap” improvising and creating moves.
That’s also where the team started creating fatalities, which would land the franchise in some controversy at the time.
“When we were making the game … we thought we would only make 200 arcade cabinets,” he said of the controversy. “We never thought it would be this big of a hit.”
Still, from Sonya Blade’s “kiss of death” to Liu Kang’s “cartwheel uppercut,” the fatalities gave the performers and game makers a chance to throw crazy ideas out there for the game.
“I would say, ‘That would be cool if I could just punch some guy’s head off,’” Pesina said. “Then everybody tried to one-up each other.”