Killer Instinct


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


kisnes1.bmp (182810 bytes)It's impossible for any critic of fighting games to determine if Killer Instinct is for you. Of all the oddball, gimmick-filled one-on-one combat titles out there, KI is the most interesting. It's not deep, it's not easy, and those who practice have a distinct advantage. It requires patience and defense, certainly not something fans of the genre are probably used to.

All of that is because of the combo system. This is likely the first game that created the term "dial-a-combo." Each character's moves are pre-set; it's a matter of finding the right combination of button presses. There a few moves in each character's roster that opens these up, and once found, it's over pretty quick.

Counters are available, though extremely difficult to pull off. These combo breakers are the key to fighting back outside of blocking and waiting for your chance. Combos can reach into the hundreds, so it's imperative that you figure out how to use them quickly.

That leaves the great debate open: Is this actual skill, just memorization, or dumb luck? That's the call that can't be made here. Killer Instinct probably created more hype simply for its incredible rendered graphics and pounding audio (including one of the best announcers ever) than it did for any gameplay quirks, but it's hard to not see something here.

kisnes2.bmp (182810 bytes)What's weird about KI is that even without the controversial combos, it would be a decent fighter if it just used the basic system for ripping people apart. It does everything right, with flawless hit detection, nifty fatalities, and great character designs. There are balance issues (especially with Cinder) but there's a strong chance with the hype over the graphics, this still would have been a success, odd combos or not. The stylish black cart and the remarkable way this turned out on a 16-bit console only sweetens the deal.

That said however, we'll never know. This is one of the purest examples of love it or hate gaming. There's no room for people to land in the middle ground. It's flashy, it's loud, and regardless of your position on it, it's obvious that as a fighting game it tried something different. That's commendable, but be sure to have a strategy guide.


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Last updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 04:53 PM