Killer Instinct: More Than A Clone

C-C-C-Comb Breaker!


I have fond memories of Killer Instinct. I didn't own it, but my cousins did. They had a SNES while I had a Genesis. Loved my Genesis but was always secretly jealous of not having my own SNES. KI was a Nintendo exclusive. As with a lot more great games.


Arcades had it first


KI first hit arcades in November 1994. Side tangent, 1994 was a good year for videogames. I suggest looking up other titles that released that year. 
The SNES port is where I have played the most. As I mentioned my cousins had the game so every time I was at their house I got to play. 
My current favorite character
The pick of the litter 

I unfortunately don't have much experience with the arcade version growing up. There weren't many arcades around and the ones that were rarely had this cabinet. 

SNES Port


Jago was my go to because he looks like a ninja. He has a somewhat generic design that resonates with kids. He's familiar.

Graphically, the arcade version is far superior. That's a given. KI on SNES doesn't look bad though. Hardware was the biggest limiting factor when compared to its arcade counterpart. Sprites were down sampled or worse removed. Stages had their 3D panning camera removed for 2D panning using parallax scrolling for the background and mode 7 for the ground or arena. Poor man's 3D. It works though. Same feel of motion although not as aesthetically pleasing as the arcade. 

The true downside when it comes to the graphics is the removal of the winning character's FMV. Not that big of a deal but the FMV is better than a still image.

All the characters look unique. Jago and T.J. Combo are the only generic character designs. Jago is your run of the mill ninja while T.J. is a Balrog copy. All the other characters have their own distinct design and personalities. Small roster of only eleven characters, boss included. I'm assuming hardware limitations might've been a factor as why that is. Not enough memory? 

Move sets all have similar button inputs for the most part, but it’s the auto-combo feature that separates KI from other fighters. Which is why six-year-old me enjoyed the game. Without much effort I was performing combos. No other fighting game at the time made that possible or as easy by just having you input a determined button or special move.

 As great as that mechanic was, it was balanced out with each character's signature combo breaker move. You performed one of the character's special moves that was also designated as their combo breaker. Not only was ruining an opponent's combo string rewarding, so was the announcer yelling, "C-C-C-Combo Breaker," to rub it in. For a while, that was my notification ringtone for emails on my phone. 

KI has one of the best videogame soundtracks. This is one of the few games I listen to. If you haven't heard the accompanying album that was released with the SNES release, here you go. Do yourself the favor and here that album. In-game audio gets me hyped. 

Resurgence of Arcades

In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex here in Texas, we have some arcades that cater to adults. They have cabinets set to free-play and serve alcohol. 

These establishments rotate their cabinets every so often to mix up their selection. What is constant and never changes are that KI and KI 2 stay on the floor.

Even though as a kid I didn't get many opportunities to play the way it was meant to, now as an adult I do. With beer. The best way. 

Killer Instinct is a clone of other clones of fighting games that came out during the 90's. All of them were ripping off each other. Or ripping off MK and Street Fighter. But, KI did things better than those other clones. 

The most recent KI is tournament worthy. Mechanics have been changed that allow for more competitive play and not just button smashing luck. So, for the original, I recommend Natural Light. Cheap beer for some cheap fun. KI is not meant to be taken too seriously. 


Enjoy your drinks and game on.

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