Review by Andy007

Reviewed: 04/18/03 | Updated: 04/18/03

Awesome name, but doesn't live up to its hype

In the days of SNES fighting games, several popular titles emerged to catch the attention of gamers: notably Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Several other lesser titles sold also caught the attention of gamers, but never became too prominent or ever-lasting. Some were exposed to these classic fighting games at the arcades, which provided more competition for players. Rare was able to create such a game, though short-lived: Killer Instinct. Most got bored of this game quickly, or only knew it by the arcades. So why was this game so short-lived? Why couldn't the series last several sequels?

Killer Instinct features a cast of 10 playable characters: Cinder, Jago, Fulgore, B. Orchid, Saberwulf, Spinal, Glacius, Chief Thunder, TJ Combo, and Riptor. Each of these characters has several different colored attires. A linear fighting game, Killer Instinct involves conquering your opponents, or the computer. This game contains only several modes of play: 1 Player Mode, 2 Player Mode, Tournament Mode, and Practice Game. In ''1 Player Mode,'' a player gets to compete against the computer in various difficulties, ranging from very easy to very hard. A player must work his way up the ladder by defeating his opponents without being annihilated himself. In the more difficult levels, a last boss appears: the monstrous ogre, Eyedol. He's no enemy to reckon with: Eyedol possesses cheap tactics, insane physical strength - he will toss your character around the screen like a fly. Of course as a player becomes more skilled, he will be able to beat the game at harder difficulties, including the incredibly cheap boss, Eyedol. Eyedol towers over your character, and his hits will crunch your character's bones. The only ''story mode'' is featured in 1 Player Mode. For beating the game on the hardest difficulty, a player is rewarded with a simple prize: the character's ending. Players are always curious when it comes to a character's ending in fighting games. 2 Player Mode features more fun: you can fight one of your friends to earn the title of who's best. In 2 Player Mode, its just ''bash your friend.'' At least you can humiliate them by executing impressive combos, or using a finishing move on them. Tournament mode is pretty much between 1 and 2 Player Mode: Compete against the other characters to become the tournament champion. Practice Mode is a neat feat; a player gets to polish his moves/combos against an idle character. The time is unlimited; just punish your standing opponent until you're satisfied. Practice Mode is a great way to practice combos, experiment with combos, practice moves, or increase your experience with a certain character.

So what exactly is a character fighting for? Nothing more bragging rights that they beat the game. Killer Instinct contains no true storyline. The characters maintain vague motives to why they are fighting, what they are fighting for. As for the endings, they're just short epilogues of the winning characters: what happens after the KI Tournament to the character. So basically 10 characters came to a tournament to fight...

The variety of Combos is probably the best feature about this game. Combos have varied difficulties to execute: the basic, less-hitting combos are easy to do, while the combos that soar over 10 hits are difficult to fully execute. Moves are fairly limited for each character. But because combos are the basis of this game, players are supposed to concentrate damage on their opponents by using consecutive hits instead of simple moves. Of course, combos do much more damage than moves. Also, a character can finish off his/her opponent with ''Ultra Combos:'' which involves a 20+ chain of hits executed on an opponent near the brink of death. Ultra Combos are impressive and can reflect a player's skill with combos. They are mainly fun to watch. Danger Moves are fun to watch as well: how a character finishes his/her opponent off. Of course, everyone has their own Danger Move to annihilate their wounded opponents. The hybrid of Danger Moves and Ultra Combos is Ultimate Combos. These involve a small combo on a near-death opponent and then finishing off him/her with a Danger Move. Diverse finishing moves give this game some interest for players.

The controls of Killer Instinct involve the entire SNES controller pad. Sometimes, I find the response of the controller to the game awfully slow. Because of this, the game can become frustrating if you're competing against hard opponents. Most of the moves are easy to execute, as well as the combos. But WARNING: Some moves may cause your fingers blisters because they involve sliding your thumb excessively. Yes, this has happened to me twice because I was playing this game too much and doing too many moves that involved sliding my thumb.

Interestingly, this game features some nice tunes. Some Killer Instinct cartridges come with a Killer Instinct music CD (neat huh?). The music is fairly high quality, compared to the older SNES games. The music suits the stages of each level. The sound effects are also neat. Each character has a distinct ''voice.'' Sounds of agony and pain accompany the dripping blood during fights.

This is a fairly late-SNES created game. Seeing how Killer Instinct 2 came out on N64 shortly after this game was created, one can really assume that this game contains the best of SNES graphics. Though the fighting may be two-dimensional, this game features advanced SNES graphics: detailed and realistic models of each of the characters. This may attribute to the game's slow default fighting speed, and the ''lag.''

Fighting games can be short-lived unless they provide as a challenge for players. This game is actually twenty times better when you have friends (who also own the game) to compete with. Often, friends give players the most fun. The spirit of competitiveness increases the fun factor of this game. Otherwise, players are stuck with fighting the computer forever; thus they'll quickly lose interest in the game. The Arcade can sometimes revive your interest for this game, a person will watch another player and challenge him. At home, the computer is not always the most enjoyable opponent: it plays cheap and pummels you relentlessly before you can react. It takes a lot of skill to beat this game on ''Very Hard.'' Sometimes fun, sometimes not, this game depends on the mood of the player. If the player gives it up, it may be likely it will be forever...

I suggest this game for gamers who are fond of fighting games. Otherwise, this game won't appeal to non-fighting game fanatics. It reaches the limits of the SNES console, but it lacks in features. Dimensions would really help his game, though not possible on the SNES. This game may not be the most ''fun'' game, but at least you can try it. Don't like it? Keep looking for that one fighting game...

MAKING THE GRADE -- 36/60
STORY: 2/10 - Story?
GRAPHICS: 9/10 - Tite!
MUSIC/SOUND: 9/10 - Same as above
FUN FACTOR: 5/10 - repetitive, limited options to what you can play
CONTROLS: 4/10 - often slow and annoying
DIFFICULTY: 7/10 - cheap tactical computer opponents as usual

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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