You know, I don’t think I have ever covered a beat-em-up… well not counting ARMS but then ARMS is a very unique beat em up. Well it’s time to look at a classic. So let’s look at a game with ninjas, acid spitting reptiles, undead warriors, and a single playable female: that’s right it’s Killer Instinct (anyone who thought Mortal Kombat musn’t have been looking at the title)
There is no doubt that without Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct wouldn’t exist. It paved the way for the more violent “realistic” looking beat-em-ups that we got during the SNES generation. Killer Instinct was a game made by Rare Ware back before they were bought by Microsoft and sucked (though I have heard good things about the modern Killer Instinct). It utilised the pre rendered character model design that was used in Donkey Kong to give the fighters a more unique appearance than MK’s fight actors and Street fighters sprites. But also unlike those two, no character is a blatant pallet swap of another (the amount of ninjas in MK and Ryu and Ken Masters in SF)
Characters ranged from humans like T.J Combo the boxer, Lone – wait a moment – (looks up the wiki) ok so there are two female characters… well anyway lone HUMAN female Orchid, Tibetan monk Jago and Chief Thunder (yes he’s a native American with a mohawk). After that there are the less human characters of Cinder (who was broken, yes he was he had a infinite combo that was abusable like hell) ,Ice alien Glacius (yes there was a fire and ice thing going on), a werewolf Sabrewulf (not that clever a name, until you realize he’s actually named after an older Sabrewulf character), Riptor a female genetically enhanced raptor, Spinal (look if you haven’t guessed what the characters are by their names by now, then I don’t know what) and the robot Fulgore. Topping this list is the two headed insanely easy to pull off combos wielding his massive club, Eyedol (I can’t really call him a cyclopes as he has 2 eyes, one on each head).
Fighting is your standard affair, weak, medium and heavy punches and kicks, combos, specials and throws – it was very much the standard. What was nice if you pulled off combos an announcer commented on it, also you could break combos with a cococococombo breaker (that’s how he says it). Much like other violent beat-em-ups, when you get a person to near death you can if you know the button combination do a danger move (which is just a fatality). These come in all sorts of crazy moves: Riptor eating the opponent in a comical way, Orchid removing her top causing the opponent to die of shock (yes really that’s one of hers) and Fulgore transforming his head into a weapons platform. There are 3 other unique ways to kill people in this game (rather than having them fall over). On certain stages you can with your final move shove them off the end causing them to fall to their deaths. There is the option to let them live by making them do an humiliation. Finally if you perform a combo as they die, and do the right button input you will perform an ULTRA ULTRA ULTRA! (ultra combo but once again that’s how they say it) hitting them tones and quickly finishing them off in a stylish manner.
Single player is your standard ladder system, beat-up each person then move to the next. It’s split into 6 difficulties. On difficulty 1 you don’t face Eyedol and it instead ends at Fulgore (he’s the penultimate boss). On difficulty 2 you can now face Eyedol, and get pissed off at how broken the final boss is (until you play a SNK game and realize Eyedol isn’t that bad in comparison) but upon beating him it tells you to try again on a harder setting. Beat the game on difficulty 4 and you get your characters ending and on difficulty 6 it will tell you how to play as Eyedol (assuming you didn’t look it up already and playing as him is how you beat it at that difficulty).
Killer Instinct is a fun beat-em-up though not as famous as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Its unique roster helped it stand out from those two. The SNES version is probably the best one to go for, unless you can shell out for the original arcade cabinet, or if they re-released it on modern consoles they sometimes do that.