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SummaryThe Gameboy manages to inject some life into this dead horse
The GoodTo understand what the Gameboy port of Killer Instinct does right one needs to understand just what the original Killer Instinct did wrong and what it was all about.
By the early nineties, If one should believe the stories, Nintendo of America's golden boy Rare had gotten so cozy with the big N that they finally got them to sign up into the development of an arcade-oriented 2D fighting game, (something Rare apparently had a fetish for and definetivly uncharted waters for Nintendo). Thus one day the world's arcades received Killer Instinct, a pretty repulsive fighting game to any seasoned gamer, but nonetheless a really smart vehicle for Nintendo/Rare who pretty much proved that they might not know how to make a good fighting game, but still knew how to carve themselves a niche in any market and sell you their version of that product by introducing their own gameplay innovations, or if that failed by simply resorting to cheap gimmicks.
And that's Killer Instinct in a nutshell, a game that replaces good-ol fashioned gameplay with gimmicks. Pure and simple. What we have here is your typical lame Street Fighter clone except with production values up the wazoo, which translate into: An incredible techno soundtrack with equally pumping sfx and digitized samples; atractive pre-rendered graphics to replace the good 'ol 2D bitmaps and looping FMVs for the backgrounds and other nifty details like dynamic scaling, particle effects, etc.
So what about the fighting? Know about those combo systems every fighting game nowadays has? Well Rare figured they could build a game solely around that and that's what they did, and for a while everyone took notice, for a while anyway. This is a slow and dull (but beautiful-looking) game were characters drag around the screen doing nothing until a combo is triggered (by connecting an "opening" move which nullifies the animation delay between hits and then following it up with some of the possible pre-stablished button sequences) and suddenly 5-12 hits are landed in a second and then the process repeats itself... If you are thinking Rise of the Robots with combos then you are pretty much right on the money and that's all I'm going to say about it. As with most things that are extreme in their orientations they always find a niche of fans that consider it a godsend in the face of the general public's lack of interest... Killer Instinct's legs carried it as far as most novelties go and that's that, but no hardcore gamer was impressed by KI for too long and barely anyone remembers it by now.
Now, as for "the good" one needs to thank the hardware limitations of the home ports which had to cut down on the flair and bring back gameplay into the spotlight (at least to an extent) when they got released. The snes version is understandably much more faithful to the original, but the Gameboy one having to contend with a smaller play area, less sprite memory and a much more constrained control scheme (2 buttons vs the original 6) made the fights much more simpler and faster than in the original game.
Following that train of tought the character rooster was reduced, tightening the package by loosing the pathetic Jurassic Park-ripped Riptor and the shitty Glacius clone Cinder, and the shitty fatalities were also filtered out leaving only the best ones around. Graphics while inmensely downgraded still managed to milk out the very best graphics the original Gameboy was capable of and the inclusion of a Vs and practice mode add substantial value to the usual lackluster fighting ports for the Gameboy.
The BadTis' still Killer Instinct!!! Far from the world's best fighting game... with shitty gameplay, un-original characters, limited and stolen moves, etc, etc...
Finally as with most fighting games ported to the Gameboy, the lack of features limit it's appeal to a simple time-killer rather a full-fledged entertainment product.