The Last of Us: Neil Druckmann Explains Why Mortal Kombat II Was Chosen To Replace The Turning

Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO

Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO

The Last of Us Episode 7 has reminded everyone just how much fun it is to play Mortal Kombat II, thanks to Ellie and Riley's sweet and tragic backstory. However, this doesn't happen in the original Naughty Dog game, which featured a fictional title The Turning. So why did the HBO series decide to use the Midway game instead? Co-creator Neil Druckmann had an awesome explanation for the change.

In The Last of Us Episode 7, Ellie and Riley spent an evening in an abandoned mall where they took photos, rode a carousel, and played Mortal Kombat II. This isn't the first time that the game has been referenced in the show. In Episode 5, Ellie found an arcade cabinet and gushed about Mileena's finishing move. In the original game, the title Ellie is excited about is the fictional game The Turning.

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So what's with the change? Neil Druckmann explained on the latest Last of Us podcast that it was their way to pay tribute to Mortal Kombat II in a way that Naughty Dog was not able to.

"First of all, Mortal Kombat II is the best. Not every cabinet arcade game worked like that, but I think MKII is the best. We had the opportunity to do what Naughty Dog couldn’t do—use real stuff," he said. "I don’t know the rules on intellectual property in video games. When I skipped school, I’d go to the arcade. So this had to be the climax of what Riley shows Ellie. My own nostalgia for arcades comes up in this episode and I get emotional.

Druckmann also pointed out that they had to come up with The Turning for the original game but they had always wanted to make a reference to Mortal Kombat II.

"In the game, we’d need to recreate and licence an actual game so we made our own game called The Turning. It was named that because the original comic that became The Last of Us was called The Turning. It was a rip-off of Mortal Kombat II," he said.

"The reason we did MKII was because of the evolution of violence in games, and there was a conversation of violence in games, and this is when the ratings system came out," Druckmann continued. "Lots of interesting things came up because of this game, but now we were able to use it."

The tribute to Mortal Kombat II didn't go unnoticed. Co-creator Ed Boon tweeted about the scene and Druckmann was quick to thank him.

The Last of Us Episode 7 is now streaming on HBO Max.

Related: Mortal Kombat Creator Reacts To Epic The Last of Us Episode 7 Scene

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