If you don't know the name - you know the face. Former Midway Games developer Josh Tsui gave the second Sub-Zero identity in one of the series' earliest bombshell twists - his Mortal Kombat II arcade ending. Tsui later provided the basis for Mortal Kombat 4 Liu Kang, and has worked on the development of games including Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and the ill fated 2000 third-person shooter: Mortal Kombat: Special Forces.

There was more than one version of the troubled Special Forces spin-off a limited few fans played at the turn of the millennium -- just one of the memories Tsui discussed with Mortal Kombat Online during a recent interview.

The retrospective is inspired by Insert Coin - a documentary project dedicated to the bustling arcade boom of Midway in the early nineties. Recently featured on MK Online, Tsui is seeking Kickstarter crowd funding for the project, which promises to unearth untold tales of Midway Games from the mouths of those who made them. Learn more about Insert Coin and consider joining Mortal Kombat Online in helping make it become a reality.

Josh Tsui appeared in Mortal Kombat II as the unmasked second Sub-Zero.

For those who might not know: Who are you, and what was your history with Mortal Kombat?
My name is Josh Tsui. I've been working in game development for over 20 years now. I've worked on everything from the Mortal Kombat series, to Fight Night, to Tony Hawk. I started my career at Midway Games back in the early [nineties] during the last arcade boom. I worked on Mortal Kombat 4 and MK Mythologies: Sub Zero, as well as the original MK: Special Forces, which was never released. I was also the face of Sub-Zero at the end of MK2, and the face of Liu Kang in MK4.

How did the Insert Coin documentary project come about?
The concept came about a couple of years ago after I had done an interview with Polygon. I got to thinking about how game development used to be for arcades, and realized that nobody has ever put something together about that era. My hope is that I can weave together all the various stories of the games, and give people an overview of one of the most incredible eras and companies in video games.

What do you think made Midway such a livewire for gaming in the 90s?
It was the people. That's it. From management on down, the people just "got it". We had an attitude that very few had back then. We were left alone to make the games. Management and marketing figured out how to sell it, but nobody told us how to make them. Teams were small and everyone did everything.

What influence did Chicago have on Midway and its products?
Ha! We used to joke that the reason our games were so crazy and over the top was because the weather would piss us off all the time. Besides that, there was a real Chicago attitude in these games. We got shit done and we didn't care who got in our way. There was no place for crying. Everyone toughened up and just put sweat and blood into the games. The work ethic was over the top. I've never put so many hours in my life and I loved every minute of it. It was truly the Chicago way back then.

Some might say Midway's cavalier style led to its demise. Do you think that's fair?
Perhaps. A lot of the people I interviewed did bring up that once Midway transitioned to consoles at the end of the '90s, it took a long time to fully understand how different console games were. It's laughable now to think that, but back then it was unknown territory. The management style needed to change. I wasn't there during the 2000s, so I can't say.

Do you have a narrative in mind for Insert Coin, or are you still finding the story?
A bit of both. With documentaries, one goes in with an idea of the overall story arc, but it's also journalism, and one needs to go in and be fluid, and let the story happen. Even with what I have so far I've been really surprised by some of the stories that have come up. I'm really looking forward to finding out even more things that I was just vaguely aware of.

What are the key games you'll be featuring?
Obviously MK was huge, but I'm really keen to look at all of Midway during that era. One highly underrated game was at the end of the 80s that truly affected almost all the games in the 90s: NARC.

Here's an example of how the documentary is shaping up: NARC influenced Terminator 2, influencing NBA Jam, then MK, and so on. It's like the Marvel Universe -- every game affected the next one.

The stories from Wrestlemania (my first game there) and Revolution X are insane. I'm actually really looking forward to getting into the games that never got released. That is going to be fun!

is there a favourite story you hope to revisit?
There are so many. I think the WWF stuff for Wrestlemania is going to be insane. Another one would be when Steven Spielberg's company tried to poach away a massive amount of the leads.

How much will you be delving into Mortal Kombat's history?
Quite a bit about MK has been talked about already. My goal is to find the stories about production, and the little things that the team did to make the games so much better than others of its kind back then. There was a lawsuit that happened with the actors that I'd like to pursue also. We'll see. I just don't want to rehash stuff that's already been told.

Are there any lost MK treasures you think fans will be excited to see?
Oh hell yeah, but [I] can't really reveal too much right now. A hint of it is on the Kickstarter page and more will be revealed. There are so many stories about MK and Midway that are just so good. Here's one - the MK team and War Gods... Man, that was awkward.

Unseen MK Special Forces footage is teased on the Kickstarter. Can you tell us a little bit about the difficulties that hounded that game to completion?
The version of the game that got released is not anything that I had worked on. People would be pretty surprised just how different it was. The original that I worked on was huge and crazy ambitious. We left Midway about a year into that project and for them to just scrap it was nuts to me, but at the same time, maybe it was just easier to make a new game. Who knows?

Do you think Special Forces could have been a bigger success?
Uh, not the released version!

Warner Bros pulled the plug on a digitized MK HD remake. Do you think there's a future for digitized sprites?
Yes, there is. I love digitized sprites. I have no idea what happened to that project outside of some rumors I heard. I would say that the process to make digitized sprites is more challenging than most people realize. I had learned a lot from [John] Tobias back in the day, and from working on Wrestlemania. On how to position the camera, and what field of view to use. These are things I still use in game development.

You've already been filming for the documentary. Who are some of the names involved?
So far it's Eugene Jarvis (who really is the backbone of the story here), Mark Turmell, John Tobias, George Petro, Kerri Hoskins, John Turk, Sal Divita and a few more. I'm actually interviewing a lot more people once production hits. The outpouring of support has been insane. A lot of people are contacting me to participate.

Has anything taken you by surprise?
Not sure if this is a surprise, but it was really interesting to learn how Jarvis came back to restart the video department, and how it was considered an afterthought. Back then pinball was paying the bills, so nobody really cared about the video games. Which might have worked to their advantage.

Insert Coin is on Kickstarter. Is there anything you'd like to say to the adoring public in closing?
Yes! This is truly a passion project. At first this was going to be something I was going to just play around with, but the more I started working on it, the more I realized that there is something great here. This is truly something that the fans are going to love and really add another layer to something they loved when they were younger. I hope others want this to happen as badly as I do, which is why it's on Kickstarter. Thanks so much for this opportunity to chat about it.

Kontinue?: Insert coin via Kickstarter to help Insert Coin come to life.

With less than two weeks to go to meet a lofty Kickstarter target -- fans will need to act soon if they want to reap the rewards. Josh Tsui recently informed Mortal Kombat Online of several new benefits for funding, including an original art print by series co-creator John Tobias, a voice message from MK voice artist Herman Sanchez, and signed Blu-Ray copies of the finished film! Mortal Kombat Online has contributed to the fund. We hope you will too!

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