Did you know...that one of the main inspirations for the original Mortal Kombat video game was none other than the 80's Belgian martial arts sensation Jean-Claude Van Damme? According to Ed Boone, a video game industry icon and one of the original developers of Mortal Kombat:
"'He was supposed to be Johnny Cage,' Mortal Kombat series co-creator Ed Boon said in an interview with Polygon last year. Developers at Midway pitched the idea to Van Damme, but it never panned out, Boon said: “We took images of Bloodsport and talked about digitized graphics and how it’s going to be [Van Damme] in the game. At some point he passed. But we later inquired, maybe a couple of times, as recently as, like, [Mortal Kombat 9], if he wanted to be in a skin of the game. For some reason, it just never came through.” Apparently, Van Damme has changed his mind.
“The fiction behind Mortal Kombat was kind of already in development even prior to us chatting with Van Damme, and when he ended up not being involved, we just kind of marched ahead,” series co-creator John Tobias said in 2019. “So the idea of his involvement was he was either going to play himself in the game, in the fiction of the game, or he was going to play a character in the fiction of the game. His character is eventually what became Johnny Cage.”
After reading that interesting tidbit in my regular daily scanning of pinball and arcade news, I had to bring up the fact that a new trademark was filed by Trans-American Films International Corp. last week for the iconic 1988 martial arts movie starring Van Damme, "Bloodsport!" This trademark included use of the movie for "arcade games; electronic and non-electronic pinball games and gaming tables." Yep, PINBALL!
Having said this, it wasn't a very targeted trademark like some of them I have seen. It was more of a blanket filing that included everything from action figures to Christmas tree accessories (imagine having Van Damme doing a split on top of your tree!). So in my humble opinion, the likelihood of us actually seeing a commercially-produced Bloodsport! pinball machine is pretty darn low.
Man, I watched the heck out of that movie when I was little. A pin based on the movie sure is fun to think about. I'm too lazy to figure out exactly what such a machine would be like, so like a college kid today with an unstarted term paper due tomorrow, I turned to Chat GPT to design a Bloodsport! pinball machine for us. Here's what Skynet, um I mean Chat GPT, came up with:
ME: "Please describe a commercial pinball machine based upon the 1988 movie "Bloodsport!" starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, including a description of the game's art, modes, mechanical features and toys."
'PUTER: " Title: "Bloodsport Showdown: The Ultimate Pinball Challenge"
Description: The "Bloodsport Showdown: The Ultimate Pinball Challenge" machine immerses players in the intense world of the 1988 martial arts film "Bloodsport," starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. It captures the thrilling atmosphere of the Kumite tournament, where the world's greatest fighters clash in a battle for honor and glory. With captivating artwork, engaging gameplay modes, innovative mechanical features, and exciting toys, this pinball machine brings the adrenaline-fueled action of "Bloodsport" to life.
Artwork: The cabinet and backbox of the pinball machine feature dynamic and highly detailed artwork that transports players to the heart of the Kumite tournament. The artwork prominently showcases Jean-Claude Van Damme as the iconic fighter Frank Dux, capturing his intense determination and martial arts prowess. The background showcases an electrifying arena filled with cheering crowds, neon lights, and traditional martial arts motifs.
Kumite Tournament: Engage in a series of challenging fights against various opponents as you progress through the ranks of the Kumite. Each fight is represented by a unique mode with specific objectives, such as hitting specific targets, performing combo shots, or completing timed challenges.
Training Montage: Enter the training dojo and hone your skills in a fast-paced mode. Hit specific shots to complete various training exercises, including punching bags, kicking targets, and agility courses. Achieve high scores to unlock powerful martial arts moves and bonuses.
Quest for Honor: Embark on a quest to avenge your master's honor. Complete a series of missions by hitting specific shots, defeating mini-bosses, and overcoming obstacles. The missions escalate in difficulty, culminating in an epic final battle against the film's antagonist.
Kumite Arena: A rotating mini-playfield representing the Kumite arena. The arena spins during certain modes, altering shot angles and introducing dynamic gameplay elements.
Multi-Level Ramps: The machine features multiple ramps representing different parts of the tournament grounds. These ramps can be used to execute skillful shots, build combos, and activate special features.
Nunchaku Ball Launcher: A unique ball launcher designed like a pair of nunchaku. Pull back the nunchaku to launch the ball into play, adding an immersive touch to the game.
Trophy Room: A miniature replica of the trophy room from the movie, featuring various trophies and mementos. This interactive toy comes to life during certain modes, lighting up and providing rewards when specific objectives are met.
Shuriken Pop Bumpers: Pop bumpers styled as shurikens, the traditional ninja throwing stars. When hit, they spin and trigger exciting sound effects.
Frank Dux Miniature Figurine: A highly detailed miniature figurine of Jean-Claude Van Damme as Frank Dux. The figurine is placed on a magnetic base, allowing players to move it around the playfield and trigger special effects when certain shots are made.
"Bloodsport Showdown: The Ultimate Pinball Challenge" combines captivating artwork, engaging gameplay modes, innovative mechanics, and exciting toys to deliver an immersive pinball experience that captures the spirit of the classic martial arts film. Get ready to step into the Kumite and prove your skills as the ultimate pinball fighter!"
ME: "Thank you." [I gotta' be nice to our future overlords so they throw me some crumbs when they take over]
'PUTER: "You're welcome! If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to ask. Enjoy your pinball gaming experience in the world of "Bloodsport"!"
Man, that sounds pretty cool. Do I think that Bloodsport! The Pinball Adventure is actually going to happen? Probably not, but if it did I'd play the heck out of it.
After 30 years of trying, Jean-Claude Van Damme is coming to Mortal Kombat
The man behind Johnny Cage will be... Johnny Cage