The original coin-op was engineered with two purposes in mind. Firstly, to hype the N64. Secondly, to rip the heart out of Sega's claim that Nintendo only wrote kiddie a games. Killer Instinct answers Nintendo's critics with a ferocity unimaginable in any Miyamoto game. From the game's razor-edged logo to Glacius'S T2-like hand-to-blade morph to 70+ combo moves, Killer Instinct fully delivers on the ultra-violent, hyper-aggressive appeal central to all good beat-'em-ups. The blood may be scant compared to MK3, the finishing moves less cheeslly gory, but in-game Killer Instinct has all the lip-curling, fang-baring rage of a starving Sabre Wulf.
The graphic rendition of this rage is both impressive and, at the same time, dated. The original coin-op was developed without N64 hardware, using pre-rendered SGI sprites rather than true polygon characters. At its best, Killer Instinct combines a superb, pseudo-3-D look with the kind of outrageous special moves usually only seen in SFII. The Predator-like Fulgore provides a particularly spectacular opponent, his eyes shooting out laser beams, his body armour gleaming with crackling electricity. He even boasts a shimmering invisibility move just like his Hollywood inspiration.
An intelligent camera works hard to show off the N64's chipset, angling and zooming to provide the best perspective and further the 3-D illusion. Each bout usually begins with the camera pulling out of the superb, true 3-D backgrounds and dramatic finishing moves have it following the defeated as they fall off an arena. The 3D backgrounds also provide interactive elements, ranging from passing trains to gunship copters, as well as falling barrels and walls which shatter on contact.
Nevertheless, the SGI trickery can't disguise the lack of the kinetic realism true 3-D games offer. There's also none of those flamboyant fly-by end sequences, moreover cartridge limitations have removed the FMV reward sequences. Completing the game brings up little more than a picture and text relating to an obscure story-line neither game nor instruction manual explain. What the manual does offer is an insight into an incredibly sophisticated combat system, wherein varied link moves offer each character insanely long combo options.
Over a million moves' may seem daunting to novices, but in fact random button-pushing can usually trigger a spectacular move or two, quickly drawing beginners into its high-speed gameplay. In the arcades, the challenge of memorising lengthy combo moves, and the hazard of easy fluke moves for beginners, limited its appeal. The game's depth makes more sense for home users, with reams of options enabling users to massively reconfigure the game to their own tastes.
Ultimately, this is an excellent conversion of a decent coin-op. It has neither the Instinctive playability of SFII nor the kinetic realism of 3-D graphics. It Is, however, a very well presented, often spectacular game with one of the N64's best soundtracks to date. Its lightning speed and impressive basic moves make it easy to get Into, even if advanced moves can resemble advanced calculus. A shoddy Mortal Kombat Trilogy conversion and the lack of any imminent, feMen-trashing beat-'em-ups makes Killer Instinct a very useful stop-gap.... That Is, If you ignore the fact N64 cart prices don't really support anything less than essential.
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A fighting game where speed and demented combos are the key. Button-bashing, rather than actual skill, is what counts for most.
Great in its time but a bit out-dated now. For most people, enthusiasm for this type of beat-'em-up is at a low ebb.
Beat-'em-up action for caffeine addicts and speed freaks; Kl Gold is fast and frantic (often ludicrously so), but relies too much on mad button hammering in place of skill, whatever the Kl combo bores may tell you. The use of 2-D characters on з-D backgrounds now looks a little dated, especially when compared to games like Mace or Art Of Fighting Twin.