Killer Instinct (SNES)

ESRB Rating
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  PCGamer77 (3237)
Written on  :  Jun 15, 2005
Platform  :  SNES
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by PCGamer77
read more reviews for this game


Combo Instinct is more like it!

The Good

Killer Instinct (KI) is the king of SNES one-on-one fighters, as well as one of the prettiest games available for the console – despite the inherent graphical limitations that keep this conversion from completely matching the arcade original. The soundtrack is an appropriately driving techno/industrial mix.

There is an outstanding mix of characters fitting a variety of different styles and archetypes (martial artist, boxer, amazon, ice-man, fire-man, wolf-man, cyborg, etc.). In short, the cast is both well-balanced and full of personality – for a fighting game, at any rate. The number of characters, along with the seemingly endless number of combinations (some of them hidden), gives this title considerable replay value. Tournament play is available for one or two players, and there is also a practice mode that is very useful in learning how to execute the complicated combo moves and combo breakers.

The Bad

The combo moves were influential on the rest of the tournament fighting genre, but they are also KI’s biggest flaw. Fighting without using combos is a sure way to lose, and they are often quite difficult to master. The gamepad makes things both better and worse; the buttons are nice and close together for fast pressing, but the directional pad isn’t as good for smooth rotating motions as an arcade joystick is.

KI can be rather frustrating, especially since its AI seems to cheat. Believe me, it’s a lot better at pulling off those “impossible” 80-hit combos than any human player would be. Also, you can be fairly successful (but not dominant) just by mashing buttons in random combinations. This makes the game easy to get into, but then you’ll hit a wall when you attempt to go from smashing buttons to smashing your opponents with any kind of consistency. Frankly, I don’t know how many gamers out there will have both the skill and the patience to really master KI. I’m sure they exist, but I’m certainly not one of them.

The Bottom Line

The game that stole some of the 16-bit thunder from Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct will be a hit with fighting game fans who like colorful characters and combo systems. If you don’t like combo moves, though, you should avoid KI at all costs.