Younger members of the current generation of gamers may not even realize that Killer Instinct is a follow-up to an arcade staple from the 90’s rather than a brand new IP. Killer Instinct first debuted in the arcades in 1994 with a very unique twist on the fighting game genre, by seemingly combining elements of fighters, such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, while also adding plenty to set itself apart from the pack. The series is perhaps most well known for its combo system which often includes a phrase that has long been used on the internet, “C-C-C-C-Combo Breaker!”
The original found its way to the Super Nintendo and surprisingly even the Game Boy soon after the arcade release. A sequel was then released in arcades and ported to the Nintendo 64 in 1996. However, after that, the series just kind of died off until a revival was announced at E3 2013 as a launch title for the Xbox One, but surprisingly as a free-to-play game.
The free-to-play aspect of the game gives every person who picks up an Xbox One a free game to download and try out. This is a very nice option for those that aren’t sure about the game yet and want to see if it is worth buying more beyond the playable Jago. You can purchase the remaining characters individually or get the six launch characters, plus early access to the other two coming soon, for $19.99. You can also pay $39.99 to get the Ultra Edition that includes all eight characters, six now and two later, plus extra costumes, accessories, and two versions of the classic Killer Instinct from the arcade. This allows for you to choose how much of the game you want plus the ability to play the classic game. The free-to-play system is very much appreciated for those that may not have the funds to purchase the game right now, but want something to show off their new system with and could possibly entice said gamers to purchase the full game in the future.
As aforementioned, Killer Instinct has always been known for it’s unique combat style that revolves around combos. That certainly does not change with the revival, as there is no mistake that this is a Killer Instinct title from the combat alone. The only downside to the combo combat is its complexity, but luckily the game has one of the best training areas in a fighting game I’ve ever seen. After your first few matches of button mashing, the next place you should go is the Dojo to learn the ins and outs of the fighting system. This will teach you the basics to the very advanced combos with very good descriptions of how to do everything. A lot of fighting games struggle immensely with training tutorials for some reason, and usually the biggest problem is the lack of explanation. Luckily, the developers understand that they have a very complicated fighting system and that the game needed such a tutorial.
Now after you go through the tutorial, you are ready to enter battle. Like most fighters, you can easily access your move list from the pause menu to learn the ropes for individual characters. However, most special moves follow the same attack structure to where you don’t have to learn much. This is both a good and bad thing. It means that you can switch up your characters, rather than having to stick to one, but sometimes the learning of different move sets for each character is fun. Luckily the playstyle themselves of each character is very different, as we will discuss further on.
Figuring out the best moves to combine for the longest combos is what you will spends hours doing in this game. From the different openers and linkers available to each character, you can really experiment to figure out what suits your playstyle best. On the opposite side, it is vital to also learn how to play defense, including counter throws, if for any other reason to hear that “C-C-C-C-Combo Breaker” narration during battle. Similar to how games like Halo have different names for the number of kills you get in a row, Killer Instinct has different names for the number of hits you get per combo, such as Ultra and Extreme Combos. Oddly, the Mortal Kombat like finishers that were in the originals are not a part of this game, but have been said to be a possibility to be patched in at a later time.