Monday, August 1, 2011

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct is a bit of a different genre from my usual choices of influential games. I could have picked Street Fighter 2, but Killer Instinct was really the first game that brought the idea of combos to the forefront of my mind.

The idea of overkill was another Killer Instinct moment for me, though I’m sure people will want to point to Mortal Kombat, what I’m referring to is the Ultra Combos from Killer Instinct. They were part finishing move, part super move. It required enough skill to combo up to a certain point, without having your combo broken, while at the same time, not killing the opponent until the input was complete.

Killer Instinct had games and challenges within its fighting, that challenged players to not only fight well, but to fight while trying to puzzle out combos and breakers.

Later games that continued this sort of interplay were BlazBlue, Street Fighter IV, Dead or Alive, and more, though they may not think to point to Killer Instinct. Killer Instinct had more influence on fighting games than Mortal Kombat.

Aside from the mechanics, Killer Instinct brought Unreal Tournament style exclamations (Ultra!!!! [echo][echo][echo][fade]), interesting fighters that were just shy of generic and appeared to be part of a superhero universe. Not to mention that at the time, the graphics were amazing, the gameplay was fluid, the controls were responsive and you had nothing short of an excellent game.

What lost Killer Instinct was the sequel. I remember going from the original to the sequel and remembering that there was something off. Not being able to revisit the sequel, I’m not exactly sure what it was that felt wrong with it.

Killer Instinct is a game that could make a comeback, and it has a great deal it can learn from its modern progeny. There are aspects of Killer Instinct that can be put into use in any number of games.

Parts can be seen in World of Warcraft focusing on ability synergy, but we can also add this sort of combo to console style RPGs. Like in Chrono Trigger, how one ability weakens the foe to other types of attacks. Generating a game that allows for faster paced combos, or a different type of attack interface, where enemies and players can chain attacks, and disrupt chains, instead of passively sitting back and getting hit.