Killer Instinct (video game series)

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For the FOX television series, see Killer Instinct (TV series).
Killer Instinct (video game series)
Genres Fighting
Developers Rare, Double Helix Games, Microsoft Studios, Iron Galaxy Studios
Publishers Midway Games (1994–1996)
Nintendo (1994–1996)
Microsoft Studios (2013–present)
Composers Robin Beanland (1994–1996)
Graeme Norgate (1994)
Mick Gordon (2013)
Platforms Arcade, SNES, Game Boy, Nintendo 64, Xbox One
Platform of origin Arcade
First release Killer Instinct (1994 video game)
October 28, 1994
Latest release Killer Instinct (2013 video game)
November 22, 2013

Killer Instinct, commonly abbreviated KI, is a series of fighting video games created by Rare.


Killer Instinct is a fighting game featuring one-on-one combat. The game borrows the attack set of Street Fighter and is also inspired by the finishing moves from Mortal Kombat.[1]

There are also several features that distinguish it from other franchises:

  • A double energy bar: instead of winning two rounds, each player has two bars of energy. If a character finishes with his or her opponent's first life bar, the fight stops and resumes like a round, but the winning character still keeps whatever amount of energy he or she had at that moment. The player who depletes his or her opponent's second life bar wins the bout.
  • Automatic combos: rather than press the necessary buttons in order to deliver the individual attacks that form a combo, in Killer Instinct the combos are automated and can be enabled by inputting a determined button or special move (which led to the character to deliver a string of hits).
  • Finishing moves: Bearing resemblance to Mortal Kombat's Fatalities, each character has at least two moves known as No Mercy (Danger Move in later revisions) in order to finish the opponent in a violent manner. One of these No Mercy moves can be executed at the end of a combo (which is labeled as an Ultimate combo), when the opponents life bar flashes red (when his or her second bar is going to be depleted), although it uses a different combination of movements. Unlike a Mortal Kombat Fatality, the No Mercy move does not involve gore and dismemberment. Another finisher is the Humiliation, that forces the opponent to dance (the dance style depends on the character), but this can only be used if the player has his or her first life bar.
  • Ultra Combo: Another finisher; it operates like an Ultimate combo, though this one allows the character to deliver a long string of hits as the combo finisher instead, usually surpassing 20 hits, and can sometimes reach upwards of 80+ hits.
  • Combo Breaker: The player who is being caught in a combo may break out of it by performing a combo breaker move. The combo breaker is a designated special move of the player's character. A combo can be broken at either the auto-double or linker stage. To successfully break an auto-double, the player must use the breaker move at a strength lower than the auto-double itself (i.e. for a player to break a Medium auto-double s/he must use a Quick breaker). The combo can also be broken at the linker stage. At this stage the player can use any strength of breaker, making long combos a risky affair. Also, after performing a combo breaker, a white starburst will appear at the tip of the breaker's health bar, enabling advanced versions of some special moves that require a different command.
  • Counter Breaker: Introduced in the 2013 Xbox One version of the game, this is akin to countering the combo breaker. When an offensive player strings together a combo, the defensive player may initiate a combo breaker, thereby immediately going from defense to offense. When this happens, the original offensive player can counter the combo breaker and continue his original combo uninterrupted.


Killer Instinct (1994)[edit]

An arcade fighting game developed by Rare and published by Midway and Nintendo. Initially released in arcades in 1994, and rumored to use an "Ultra 64" hardware engine, in reality the proprietary arcade hardware was co-developed by Rare and Midway. The game received a high profile launch on the SNES, as well as on the Game Boy handheld the following year. A digital port, titled Killer Instinct Classic, was released as part of a bundle with its 2013 sequel's first season on Xbox One.

Killer Instinct 2 and Killer Instinct: Gold (1996)[edit]

Main article: Killer Instinct 2

A 1996 arcade-only game developed by Rare, licensed by Nintendo, and manufactured by Midway. It was the sequel to Killer Instinct. The game was also ported to the SNES, but never released[citation needed]. Like its predecessor, the game features two 8-way joysticks with six buttons each for attacks (three punches and three kicks), allowing for both a single player mode or a two player versus mode. It was later ported to the Nintendo 64 console under the name Killer Instinct Gold. A digital port, titled Killer Instinct 2 Classic, will be released as part of a bundle with its 2013 sequel's second season on Xbox One.

Killer Instinct (2013)[edit]

A new entry in the Killer Instinct series, developed by Double Helix Games under supervision of Ken Lobb, and the first game in the series to be published by Microsoft Studios. It was released on November 22, 2013 as a launch title for the Xbox One.[2] Following the acquisition of Double Helix Games by Amazon, Iron Galaxy Studios took over the development of post-launch content.[3]



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Killer Instinct Video – E3 2013: Double Helix Interview". GameTrailers. 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  3. ^ Sarkar, Samit (2014-03-27). "Killer Instinct gets a new developer, Fulgore title update arrives April 9". Polygon. Retrieved 2014-03-27.