Killer Instinct is one of those rare times we can play three degrees of separation in gaming. Sure, it is not exactly true to that theory but we can link Nintendo and Microsoft rather easily. Developed by Rare for arcades, Killer Instinct set out to do fighting games differently. In 1994 Capcom was still riding high on Street Fighter II and its various iterations. SNK was still playing second fiddle, for the most part, with their myriad of fighting games. Mortal Kombat II had been released the year before showing that franchise was not a one hit wonder. Rare was a newcomer to fighting games and they had these SGI workstations to play with. What to do.
Create your own fighting game of course
Graphically, Killer Instinct was one of the best-looking games of the time. While Street Fighter II went with cartoon, hand drawn, style sprites, Killer Instinct would go with SGI rendered scenes. Mortal Kombat was well known already for the digitized fighter’s idea so Rare’s choice was able to stand out even more.
SGI graphics were still new to gamers. The effect was impressive whenever used. Much like any other art style, the games using it were only as good as developers were given time to create. SGI graphics would not be used all that often in gaming though, partly due to the cost of the computers needed.
Killer Instinct formed quickly
Considering all the work done already elsewhere, Rare simply plugged in their ideas. First, fighting games featured a standard of eight playable characters with at least a couple of bosses. Rare gave gamers 10 fighters to choose from with one boss waiting to decimate those that made it that far.
Next up was fighting styles. Street Fighter II made it clear that fans wanted combos. The ability to string together more than one move into an unstoppable offense. Again, Rare saw fit to one up the competition with automatic combos. Here, you simply input the right button combination and watch as, up to, 80+ hit monstrosities of destruction are unleashed.
You are not defenseless if you are on the receiving end of an Ultra Combo though. Perform the right button combination at the right time to perform a Combo Breaker. Timing is key for this to work though.
Rare were paying attention to Mortal Kombat too though. Each character has a unique finishing move that can be performed on their opponent. Add a finishing move at the end of an automatic combo for a special bonus. There are also humiliation finishers that force your opponent to dance for their life.
There is a lot to like about the Killer Instinct franchise.
Ports and buyouts
Midway released the arcade version while Nintendo handled the home port on Super Nintendo. Later gamers would see the sequel come home on the Nintendo 64 as Killer Instinct Gold.
Then Microsoft would buy Rare from Nintendo and make Killer Instinct an Xbox console exclusive. As with most of Microsoft’s Xbox titles, there is a version available for PC’s as well.
[Source : RetroGamingMagazine]