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All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations. If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from. ~Eric Hollis
Gamers are an extremely nostalgic people. Whether fans are still clamoring for a Final Fantasy 7 remake or wondering whether we’re ever going to get a great port of Q-bert, we hang on to a good thing forever, sometimes to the detriment of newer and more inventive properties. The original Killer Instinct and its sequel fall firmly in this camp for me, as I spent many a beer-soaked college afternoon challenging friend after friend to just one more match on the SNES from the comfort of my miserable dorm room. I often wondered why no one had attempted a modern take on the franchise. Double Helix picked up the mantle from Rare here; I guess Rare, one of the most prolific developers of last two generations, decided they now want to make Kinect games that no one will ever play. Thankfully, Double Helix stays extremely faithful to the original titles, even if there are some major missteps with the total package.
Killer Instinct on the One plays magnificently. Everything you loved about KI—the combos, the breakers, the manuals, and special attacks—are all here. Other than a few tweaks on the move-set, there is nothing added to the original formula, which is truly a blessing. The remake took me instantly back to the Tate Center arcade (mad respect if you know where that is) where I played the KI cabinets religiously. I’ve played over fifty matches against multiple opponents, and they were repeatedly a blast. Most of them were also very close, and for me that’s a huge part of the replay value of fighting games. The battles are very fluid, extremely fast, and downright addictive.
Gameplay itself isn’t a problem. The problem is that the total package just feels like bare bones. For starters, the inclusion of only eight total playable fighters (one of whom—the illusive Fulgore—isn’t even out yet) feels like an Endokuken to the face. I’m no fighting game expert, but the last game I remember with less than eight playable characters was the original Mortal Kombat. Twenty-two years later, I expect more girth in roster selection, especially when similar titles generally have a lot more fighters to choose from. Characters like TJ Combo, Cinder, and Riptor, all of whom have appeared in at least one of the other installments, aren’t even represented at all. You also only start with one playable stage (out of a measly six); the rest have to be purchased with in-game currency that you earn from completing battles.
All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations. If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from. If you want everything the game has to offer, which basically boils down to a couple of aesthetic character accessories and a playable version of the original KI, prepare to double-up on that Andrew Jackson. The only thing I was interested in besides the core game was the original that, unlike everything else, isn’t available separately. This fact, my friends, is worthy of ire right there. Unfortunately, this is the model I see more companies gravitating towards. I understand that Microsoft wants to nickel and dime me while making me squat on a rabid porcupine, but the company should at least have the courtesy of letting me enjoy that while its happening if I so desire.
If you’re a fan of Killer Instinct and you have a One, you’ve probably already put this game through its paces, and maybe you know what I mean. While it’s fun to bust out to show off the only fighting game on your new system, the lack of variety and annoying microtransactions left me dissatisfied. While many parts of quality of life have improved since I lived in my old dorm, especially access to free pornography, at least back in that abysmal dorm room we had a much better version of Killer Instinct. Let’s hope that Double Helix and Ken Lobb have a true remake or sequel in the works and that the lack of polish here was strictly due to a rushed launch window.