Killer Instinct

KI arcade


Do you have the Instinct?

Prologue: A wind-swept battlefield of the distant past, littered with the debris of war. Above the moans and cries of the defeated can still be heard the clashing sound of a single titanic confrontation. Two great warlords, leaders of their now smashed armies, are locked in battle, with the world itself as the prize. But this epic battle is not to have a conclusion. Suddenly, the warlords were engulfed in a nimbus of light, and vanished from the face of the earth, banished to the realm of Limbo. The battle-weary heroes whose spell had trpped the warlords heaved a sigh of relief. Armageddon had been averted, for now.

flyer front flyer back

The Future: The world has seen much progress in the centuries since the warlords were banished, not all of it for good. Pollution has weakened the enviroment. Governments have fallen. Chaos rules, with huge mega-corporations batting and destroying each other for shares of the world's wealth.

In this bleak world, a single corporation, Ultratech, rises above the others. Rather than joining in direct battles with their competitors, Ultratech has profited from their suffering by selling them the very weapons they use against each other. Sales of weaponry are not the only source of profit for Ultratech, however. Their entertainment division produces the top rated television broadcast of the future, the Killer Instinct tournament, which also serves as a testing ground for Ultratech's weapons. The winners of the tournament are promised whatever they desire. The losers suffer a significantly poorer fate.

It is into this bloody contest that our heroes have been drawn. T.J. Combo, disgraced heavyweight champion of the world who seeks redemption. Glacius, a captured alien fighting for his life and a chance to escape. And the deadly robot Fulgore, progammed by Ultratech with a Killer Instinct and the freedom to use it.

Each fights for his or her own reasons, but each has the same goal: win the tournament and destroy all oponents.

It will take more than radical moves and deadly special attacks to win this tournament. It will take a will, a desire; it will take a Killer Instinct.


Most people heard about this game in Nintendo Power, unless you were lucky and your local arcade had it soon after it was released. At the time the graphics, were very top notch, and the characters were really unique. Plus it had a great back story to the fighting tournament, which even Street Fighter II's story at the time didn't make a whole lot of sense (keep in mind this was before any of the SF cartoon movies that helped make it clear). Killer Instinct is nice in many ways: You get 2 bars of health that you can keep if you don't fall, there is no round reset, there are offensive moves and finally the feature that its most known for is the Combo system. The game allows you to link moves and attacks into rather lengthy assualts against your opponent, although there are combo breakers its sometimes too late to get one in before your done with.

KI was promoted as the killer app for the Ultra 64 (what later was renamed the Nintendo 64) because Ultra is better than the Super Nintendo. The arcade also mentions that Killer Instinct will be coming to the Ultra 64 system in 1995 (however the N64 didn't actually ship until 1996), which is kind of funny to hear being said since it was wrong on both counts (name and date) and that its so old now. Ultra combos in KI are the top combos to get, which was a marketing trick, but was also a pretty good name. Ultra combos when said on the SNES echo, but the ones on the arcade are just said with lots of enthusiasm.

The following is Rare's description of their own game (quoted from Rare's old website)

The release of KI in early 1995 caused quite a stir in the arcade market for a variety of reasons. Those who had been following Rare's career as a developer were surprised by the company's abrupt foray into a genre which had never previously seemed to interest them, while gamesplayers the world over rushed for the chance to pull off some spectacular combos and special moves against an array of weird and wonderful opponents rendered to a previously unseen standard. All this attention rocketed the game to number 1 in that year's official arcade chart, confirming the return to the forefront of development that Rare had initiated with the release of DKC.

Killer Instinct is and always has been a love-it-or-hate-it game with as many critics as it has followers, attracting flak as much for its stubborn refusal to abandon 2D combat traditions as for its heavily combo-based style of play. Nonetheless, its essential popularity was confirmed by the performances of the SNES and Game Boy conversions in 1995, each topping its respective annual sales chart and earning widespread critical acclaim for the achievement it represented. Since then KI2 has been unleashed upon the arcades, with the N64 receiving its own tweaked and enhanced version in the form of KI Gold: but still the original KI refuses to be overshadowed, remaining a long-standing favourite with arcade punters worldwide.