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At a loud and smoky discotheque, flashing lights of acid-tripping haze are blanketing the room. People around me are gyrating and flirting and sticking their tongues down each other’s throats. My dancing shoes are burning to get used on the dance floor, my arms aching to move to the rhythm of the beat. This was the congregation of courtship, a place to let down your hair, move to loud music whilst stalking a potential mate for the night. I was prepared to backslide, spin, and c-walk my way across the floor to the awesome tunes the DJ was churning out. A loud robotic voice echoes across the vast dance floor from the speakers; the low pounding bass of the sonorous sound shattering my spleen.
“Let your body rock, Let your body move. Let your body talk, To the killer groove.”
I am in the centre of the dance floor, my legs a whirlwind of intricately choreographed steps, my arms a controlled flailing of swaying motions. A group of sexy blonde girls in knee-high boots, short denim skirts and crop tops begin to walk around me, surrounding me as if they worshipped me as a dancing God, or an artistically moving charismatic demon. They start to dance around me, gyrating themselves with me as many of the other people stare in a mixture of awe and disgust. They begin to sing, their siren-nous voices ricochet off from across each other.
“It’s the way you move, It’s the way you move, It’s the way you move, To the killer groove.”
Yes! I feel the adoration! I feel the love and the admiration of these ladies! No mere evil glance nor envious stare could put me off this!
And then I wake up covered in my own drool and lying on my cold bedroom floor, with my guitar strings all snapped off because my flailing arms knocked it over onto the corner of my bedside cabinet. I wake up to the disappointment that it was all just a beautiful dream, and a dream it shall remain because my dancing skills are as amazing as a chimpanzee falling out of a tree, after getting clobbered over the head with a banana by his mate.
My days back when I was 13/14 years old were days spent playing this game called Killer Instinct for the SNES. It was 1995, and they released this gem of a game for the Super Nintendo that redefined for me what a fighting game would play and look like on my trusty SNES. Killer Instinct, created by developers RARE, was originally an arcade only fighting game in a similar vein to Street Fighter 2, but in 3-glorious-D and with emphasis on combination attacks, or combos as the hip and young would call them. This is the only game cart in my collection that is completely black, and it even came with a Killer Cuts collectors CD that had all the music in glorious CD quality sound. Knowing that the SNES could not reproduce the CD quality audio capable at the arcade machines due to memory restrictions of the cart, they gave away this CD as a bonus with the game so that we could also enjoy it’s greatness. This CD warped my fragile little 13 year old mind, resulting in the dream sequence you just read above. Its electro genre type tunes were really catchy, and made me think about the music and the game even as I slept. That was the power of RARE and Nintendo at their best.
All SNES games in the UK do not have end-labels, just like the 32x games or the N64 games, so this makes looking for the game you want to play more hassle than it is worth. But since Killer Instinct is a black cartridge, you will immediately spot it within the sea of grey carts that you would stash this game with, making it very easy to find. This just makes me wonder why Nintendo did not separate up the crappy games by marking them red, the average games with grey, and the bad ass games with black. It would make buying games and selecting them so much easier.
Pictures of Killer Instinct (SNES)
Killer Instinct (SNES)
storyline for this game isn’t anything special at all; it uses the same formula as used by many other fighting games such as Street Fighter 2 and Tekken. There is always a megacorporation behind the scenes funding these fights as a means to test experimental fighters or find certain individuals with power. And this remains true with Killer Instinct. The tournament being held in this game is being backed by Ultratech, a corrupt megacorporation that is just using the tournament to test a variety of fiendish things. The fighters in the tournament all want something different, but all are there as a result of direct or indirect influence by Ultratech. These individuals include:- Fulgore the cyborg - Cinder the living flame - Glacius the icy alien - Jago the Tibetian ninja monk - Riptor the genetically engineered velociraptor-human hybrid - Sabrewulf the wolfman - Spinal the resurrected skeletal warrior - TJ Combo the shamed heavy-weight boxer - Chief Thunder the native American Chief - B. Orchid the sexy female spy - Eyedol the ancient 10 foot, 2 headed green ogre with a big club and a bad temper
Each character has their own reasons and motivations to win the tournament, except for Eyedol who was accidentally pulled in from an alternate dimension and just wants to fight for the sheer pleasure of it. Eyedol serves as the final boss for all combatants, and he is one very hard to beat sucker. He will trample on you and bash your face in if you get close, and even if you’re far away he will get in close to trample you anyway. If you survive the 1st round with him, he gets even more violent and starts pounding you mercilessly into the ground. He is awesome.
The first thing you’ll notice about this game would be the graphics, because believe me when I say that they are a breath of fresh air when you’ve spent several years playing 2D SNES games. They aren’t real 3D, more like pseudo 3D since RARE found an ingenious way of displaying 3D via the 2D capabilities of the SNES. What they did was take the 3D animations of the fighters in each pose, do screen captures of each frame and then render them into animated 2D sprites, so that it looks 3D on the SNES. At the time, many thought the game was for the N64, but in actual fact it was a SNES game utilising that innovative technique. It doesn’t sound very cool now, but back then it was a great way to bring this amazing game into our homes without having to purchase a bankrupting arcade machine. The SNES’ Mode 7 scaling capabilities are used for the ‘dramatic’ falling death scenes when a fighter loses. It is quite funny seeing this in action when you’ve seen the arcade version which makes the SNES’ attempt seem like a bad B-movie attempt. But hey, RARE did their best considering the technological circumstances.
The audio of this game is good, but nothing memorable due to the SNES’ restrictive storage capabilities. The CD quality music for the stages were replaced with SNES’ midi chip to make way for the 2D animation sprites for each character, and believe me there are a lot. The music generated isn’t bad, but pop in the Killer Cuts CD, listen to the CD quality equivalent and you’ll feel underwhelmed when you’re back listening to the game’s audio playback. Some of my friend back then actually resorted to playing the CD track for the level they were fighting on for that ‘more authentic’ arcade feel. That was just some next level nerd behaviour that I avoided because I wanted to maintain what little street cred I had left. The sound effects are pretty good with satisfying thuds and bashing noises when your character’s attack connects with your opponent. But what really grated on my nerves were the 1 or 2 sound effects for each character when they get hit. They all make the same echoey ‘ARGH!’ scream or growl when they get hit, when they fall, when they get defeated or when they get killed. It’s like why not throw in some other wincing-in-pain voice effects rather than use that one effect per character repeatedly? Imagine your spouse could only say ‘no’, no matter what you say or do to them and it is the only thing that they say. It would eventually get on your nerves and drive you up the wall. One voice that isn’t bad is the commentator’s voice when you pull off a good combo, because it’s so cheesy that it’s awesome. When you pull off a half decent combo, he would chime in with his deep-morphic voice and say ‘AWESOME COMBO!’ or ‘MASTER COMBO!’ with large superimposed letters to announce it to the world. It gets better when you pull off finishing moves because his voice has an added reverb and it is really exaggerated, such as when you pull off the ULTRA combo or the ULTIMATE finish. It’s like you’ve just spoken to that girl you’ve always fancied, getting her number and then your mate says to you on your way back ‘ALRIGHT! WAY TO GO BUDDY!’ That’s just an awesome experience.
The gameplay is the most addicting factor of this game. The controls for this game with the SNES was done exceptionally well as each character is responsive and reacts as you press the necessary buttons on the control pad. This is necessary because the whole game centres around doing combos, and quick button presses at the right time are needed to chain them together for maximum damage. The basics to fight are quite simple. The control pad has 4 face buttons, Y B X A, and 2 shoulder buttons, L and R. You can start an attack with one button, and then immediately press the button directly adjacent to it horizontally or vertically. Therefore, Y and A are connected, X and B are connected, and L and R are connected, and using them to perform a simple attack would result in a 4 hit combo. You next work out to chain these attacks together by using the character’s special attacks and then pressing the correct button with the right direction to keep chaining the combo. Therefore, you start the combo, press a button to link it to the next part and then perform a special move to keep the flow, do another link with the right button and continue it until you perform a finishing move which is usually another special move. It takes practice, but when you get it right, i.e. STARTER -> LINK -> SPECIAL -> LINK -> SPECIAL -> LINK -> FINISHER, it feels really satisfying and the commentator shouts out how incredible your combo was. As a result of this combo nature, the gameplay is fast, and I mean very fast. You can literally perform 2 sets of combos and your opponent is dead. Luckily, there are moves called combo breakers that stop the flow of a combo if you’re caught in one, and they have to be pulled off at the right time. When done correctly, the commentator obtains a stutter at how amazing it was and says ‘C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!’ This becomes a big requirement to win this game when fighting the tougher fighters later on. Pulling off a successful combo breaker also gives you a power up and you can see it as a flashing white light at the end of your energy bar. Depending on the character you’re using you can perform extra moves that have more power, or attacks that usually do 1 hit would now do 3 hits, essentially making them 3 times more powerful.
What I like a lot with this game is the flow of the entire thing. It feels seamless and high speed, with little to no load time at all between fights. Fights are 2 out of 3 rounds as per many other fighting games, but what Killer Instinct does differently is that when the moment one round is over, the fallen character’s energy bar replenishes and they get back up for the next fight. This keeps the fight going and keeps the tension high because there is no black out screen to relax to, such as in Street Fighter 2. The other thing that I really enjoy is pulling off the finishing moves for each character. Each character has a couple of death moves each as well an Ultra combo finisher and a Humiliation move. These moves can only performed once the other character is in DANGER state or has entered it during a combo so that they can get finished off with an Ultra combo. The Ultra combo and the Humiliation finisher are the same with every character. An Ultra combo adds 18 hits to your current combo so if you perform a 12 hit combo and then perform the Ultra, you get a 30 hit combo and the commentator shouts, with reverb, ’ULTRA! ULTRA! ULTRA!’ Humiliation causes the losing player to perform a stupid dance and then gets HUMILIATION superimposed on the screen. The character specific finishers can be hilarious as heck, such as with my favourite character, B.Orchid. She has this Ultimate move where she unzips her costume from the top, flashes her ‘assets’, thus causing the opponent to stare at them with their jaws dropped and eyes shooting out of their faces before dying from a heart attack. That’s just awesome!
Where this game truly shines is when you have a mate over to play you in a 2 player match. I remember playing this game with a group of buddies in the past and we used to get into arguments about cheap tactics or cheating techniques. When you play this with a mate who is as good as you at this game, the action can get pretty insane and your dexterity is put to the test. The winner is the one with the fastest reflexes, knowledge of the right combo techniques and ability to cancel out combos when necessary. We were all high off cans of Coke and were smashing our SNES pads into pieces. That’s when you know that the game you have will become a classic in the future.
One thing that is slightly weak with this game are the character’s endings. They can be rather bad and can feel unrewarding after sitting through a hectic gaming session bashing in the faces of the computer controlled opponents. But truth be told, this game is played for the action and not for the story, so endings are just something used to justify all the ass kicking and head slapping that this game was made for.
Overall this game is very good and has aged rather well considering its over 13 years old. I played it again the other day and it still holds my attention as it did back in the day and I remember all the old moves to pull out a 6 pack can of whoop ass to decimate all my foes. If you own a SNES and have never played this game, I say give it a shot because it’s pretty awesome! If you can get your hands on the Killer Cuts CD as well, then that would be an added bonus and you can listen to the music that caused me to have those insane dreams of mine as a child. The only people I would not recommend this game to are to those that despise fighting games because of the violence. But for everyone else, this cart would be an experience you’ll never forget.
Tip: If you’re in DANGER state (you’ll be dizzy and swaying with no health), quickly do full circles on your directional pad around 7 times whilst pressing all the face buttons like crazy. While the other character is trying to perform a death move, you might be able to get out of the dizzy state and enter Last Breath mode. This gives you a small amount of energy, enough to take 1 more hit, and grants you immense power. Now a simple combo can empty out all of their energy. It is risky, and if you can connect they are as good as dead, but if you get hit its game over. If you manage to pull this off against a computer opponent on the first round, the next round they will be EXTREMELY aggressive. They will move in close and attempt to batter you senseless. This is not recommended against Eyedol for the first round, because he becomes nigh-on unbeatable in round 2.