Review by Pyro Vesten

Reviewed: 12/07/03

Rareware's arcade fighter lands on the Super Nintendo.

1995. Microsoft’s latest Windows incarnation is unleashed upon the computing public, with the PC leading the way, 2D gaming is beginning to make way for 3D and 2D fighters are plentiful, ensuring that these newfangled polygons don’t completely replace the ways of the sprite in one fell swoop.

Following the phenomenally successful Donkey Kong Country, Rareware began finalising their next couple of projects, two arcade games going by the names of Super Battletoads and Killer Instinct. After some arcade success, Nintendo were eager to get Killer Instinct onto their 16-bit wonder to provide gamers with an alternative to the market-dominating Mortal Kombats and Street Fighters of the time. While it certainly didn’t go on the rule the genre, Killer Instinct provided a great alternative for anyone looking for a good 2D fighter.

Things are pretty standard for a fighting game when it comes to gameplay and design within Killer Instinct. Choose a character and begin serving up a whooping over 2 or 3 rounds to each of the many opponents you’ll face in an onslaught of battles until you eventually face off to one bad mother of a boss. There’s nothing new here, the game follows a very standard formula but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Solidifying their uniqueness as a game developer, Rareware created a very diverse cast of fighters for Killer Instinct. These include a werewolf, skeleton, dinosaur, professional boxer, half-man half-magma hybrid creature, a super-buff warrior and a ho. I make no apologies for the use of the term ‘ho’ either because that’s what she is, but we’ll get to that a little later. All the fighters included in the game have a lot more personality than those found in most ‘other’ fighters due to their diversity in background, appearance and personality. The character bios are actually worth the brief read. Fighting styles also vary from fighter to fighter but essentially this is more aesthetic than a genuine gameplay feature.

You may also notice that for one reason or another Killer Instinct has the boob-factor (refer to ‘ho’ comment in previous paragraph). I guess this is to appeal to the masses of horny, undersexed male gamers out there, who do indeed make up the vast majority of people who fork out for games, so fair enough I guess, but the game does go overboard with the ‘sex-appeal’ of it’s sole female character. It’s as if Rare tried to include all the pant-moistening attributes of two or three female fighters in the body of one. If the 16-bit renditions don’t quite do it for you, whip out the manual and have a look at the deformed, near two-foot-long breasts orchid comes packing under her tight outfit. The renders were obviously all made in winter too.

Fighting is your standard affair. You’ve got four main attacks, plus block. Add in a directional pad and at your fingertips is quite a selection of moves to dominate your opponents with. As with all good fighters, big mutli-hit combos will reward you with commentator comments for each, depending on their size. These range from triple combos, up through super, master, awesome, and the insane ‘Killer Combo’. You’ll also receive recognition for fast wins or having all or most of your health left at the end of a round. Records of high scores and fast wins are kept by the game which will encourage player to come back again and again.

Using the same technology that debuted in their previous SNES effort, Donkey Kong Country, visually Killer Instinct looks very nice. Character models and backgrounds are all pre-rendered and pre-animated, then implemented into the game to give a rather pretty overall look. Clever use of scaling backgrounds also helps provide a sense of depth to fighting arenas. Topped off with more-than-passable animation and graphically, Killer Instinct is a real winner.

Never really a major area of importance (for me at least) in fighting games is the sound and music. Unless it’s overly bad I’ll be quite happily satisfied with average sound effects and a half-decent soundtrack. Being the perfectionists that they are however, Rare put a lot of effort into the audio department of KI, and it shows (er…sounds). The few voice samples featured are high-quality (for a snes game that is), sound effects are varied and plentiful and of course there’s the music, which is, as far as fighting games are concerned, great. It’s quite obvious after only a few minutes of playing that the audio designers who worked on the game really knew what they were doing.

If you’re finding the single player game is at a level of ease or difficulty that just doesn’t suit you, you will be pleased to know that it’s fully adjustable and ranges from a complete cakewalk to a very intense and challenging experience. Of course the real fun and challenges are held within the wonderful world of multiplayer, the mode that no fighting game should be without. It’s here alright, and when the solo game has come and gone, 2 player is where you’re really going to put in some serious finger-numbing hours. Taking on a friend with your favourite fighter is excellent fun. My only complaint is that once you or your friend discovers a certain move a particular character had, you’ll be forced to ban use of it, or the character altogether as it almost completely ensures winning against a human opponent, every time. While I’m at it, my only other real disappointment is the lack of finishing moves such as the Fatalities of Mortal Kombat fame. After big combos during fights, your would-be attackers will stand stunned, unable to move, your only options are to take a jab or leave them be. Sure this is a nice chance for a cheap hit or combo but the ability to pull off a move exclusively for times when an opponent is stunned would really have been awesome. Likewise when you’ve taken every last bit of health from a foe, they will fall into a state daze. Again however, at your disposal is just your standard repertoire of attacks, no special finishing moves to be found to seal victory in style.

With that out of the way, when it’s all said and done, Killer Instinct is a very good game. What sets it apart from being just another game is that the gameplay, which although generic, is quite simply very addictive and enjoyable. It’s nothing extraordinary, nevertheless Killer Instinct is worth checking out if you’re a fan of 2D fighters or are curious as to ‘what else’ Rareware made released on the SNES. It looks great, sounds great and plays great.

8.2/10 (Rounded to 8/10 for GameFAQs)

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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