The Definitive 50 SNES Games: #31 Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct was developed by Rare and released to arcades in 1994 before being slimmed down and brought to the Super Nintendo in August 1995. It takes 31st place on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games.

This is one wild 2-D fighter, with a story and characters to match. A mega-corporation known as Ultratech has set up a tournament in which human fighters battle it out with Ultratech abominations, and even one extra-dimensional being.

So much of what defines a fighting game is its characters, and perhaps even more so with this title. Humans like boxer T.J. Combo and spy Orchid take on the likes of Spinal, a sword and shield wielding skeleton, and Riptor, a genetically modified velociraptor. A total of ten playable characters are available for selection.

Included in the SNES version of this game are the usual one and two player modes, just like in the arcades, as well as a training mode and a tournament mode, intended for group use.

The fights in Killer Instinct can get as crazy as the characters in the title. Numerous combos can be strung together to take down your opponents. There are also Ultra Combo, No Mercy, and Humiliation kills which end your opponent with particular devastation. These types of moves are reminiscent of the Fatalities seen in Mortal Kombat.

Killer Instinct features the pre-rendered graphics which Rare pioneered on the SNES with Donkey Kong Country. These effects may have been impressive in their day, but have not aged well. Characters and environments often look jagged and messy. Especially offensive are the still images shown before fights, these are pictures of the fighters about to square off. They tend to look stretched, and even bizarre. Have a look at Orchid’s pointed breasts.

Killer Instinct was a prominent title in its day, spawning a short-lived franchise. Its gameplay and quirky aesthetics are similar to that of Mortal Kombat, and fans of those games may enjoy this series.

Check back next week for entry 30 on the Definitive 50 SNES games.