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Videogame: Killer Instinct
"Available for your home in 1995, only on Nintendo Ultra 64..."
The attract mode for the first Killer Instinct. They never fulfilled that promise. note 

It was the olden days of 1994, and Nintendo felt they were hurt hard by the perception that they were the video gaming equivalent of the Animation Age Ghetto. They took a huge hit in censoring the Gorn in Mortal Kombat, and even allowing it in the sequel didn't calm their detractors. What was there to do?

Why, go Darker and Edgier, of course! Make a Fighting Game that would make Mortal Kombat look tame, and even make sure to break their own long-established rules (like allowing a player to control the undead or putting the word "Killer" in the title). Even better, get Midway Games to manufacture it! And thus, the seeds of Killer Instinct were planted.

The game's actual story revolves around the eponymous Killer Instinct tournament, which is being held by the mysterious UltraTech company for reasons not totally revealed. Attracting several disparate competitors in addition to a few of the company's own projects, it's not quite known what the result of the tournament will be.

The first proved popular due to its eye-popping graphics (courtesy of Silicon Graphics, who did the pre-rendered sprites for Donkey Kong Country), catchy soundtrack, and signature combo-intensive gameplay, which also allowed players the chance to break combos and fight back. A sequel was later released which wasn't nearly as popular, partly for revamping several characters, partly for a confusing time-travel plot, and partly due to the rise of 3D Fighting Games. The series still had a fanbase, however, and some still hope for a revival done by developer Rare. However, in light of certain news, it sadly seemed unlikely...

...That is, until E3 2013 when Microsoft announced a new KI game was in the works for the Xbox One, developed by Double Helix Games. It was released as a download-only launch title on November 22, 2013. Watch the trailer here. As of March 2014, Double Helix got bought out by Amazon, but they have handed off the role of developers to Iron Galaxy Studios, the company behind Divekick, Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition.

Has a character sheet in need of some wiki magic love.


This series has examples of:

  • A.I. Breaker: You can easily beat Fulgore by dashing in, stopping just out of reach, and jumping back until he tries to uppercut you, then countering over and over.
  • Allegedly Free Game: The 2013 game can be downloaded for free, but has a single playable character that rotates on a regular basis (with Jago being the free character at launch). The remaining cast can be downloaded individually, or can be bought all together in a single purchase. Buying the characters individually also discounts the cost of each individual character so that players who purchase characters individually never pay more than those who buy the full pack of characters.
  • All There in the Manual: The games themselves give nothing more than character backgrounds, although important character information can be pieced together from various profiles to form a vague idea about what's going on. Anything else came from the manuals to the console ports or Word of God attached to official artwork and the like. The biggest plot point ignored by the game is that Eyedol is not an UltraTech bio-weapon in testing like many of the standard characters, but a warring god from ancient times sealed in Limbo by sorcerers (the other one being Gargos, boss of the second game). Eyedol's lava-bridge stage has the portal machine that freed him as its backdrop.
  • Announcer Chatter:
    • "ULTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA COMBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
    • C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!!!!!!
    • When you perform two Ultras in your finisher in the Xbox One game, you get an extended "ULTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" cry.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Gargos, KI 2's final boss' stage theme.
  • Bonus Boss: The 2013 title has a special version of Shadow Jago as a secret endboss, available only after unlocking everyone else's endings and then completing Arcade Mode again on at least Medium difficulty without losing once. This guy is definitely much tougher than the original Jago.
    • True Final Boss: Defeating him nets you a special ending where ARIA is revealed for the first time to the player.
  • Boobs of Steel: Maya and Orchid
  • Broad Strokes: The plot of KI 2013 seems to be a sequel to the second game but only in ways that actually make sense (for instance Orchid's story basically ignores what happened in 2 and the whole business with being pulled back in time, assuming Ultratech fell when she won the tournament in the first game; conversely Jago's story does indeed pick up from 2, with his questioned faith as a result of Gargos).
  • Calling Your Attacks: ENDOKUKEN!
  • Cap:
    • In the first two games, you can do up to 80 hits in a single combo.
    • There is no hit cap KI 2013, as there have been several combos shown that go beyond 80 hits. However, it has "knockdown value", a bar that represents the amount of combo potential you have left before your combo will automatically stop. Depending on the move, the KV bar will rise at different speeds. It's crucial to perform an ender before the KV fills up or risk losing out on big damage.
  • Charged Attack: Charged by performing a combo breaker. The second game had a more traditional super meter, but the easiest way to charge it was performing combo breakers.
  • Cherry Tapping: The "Humiliation" moves, which makes your opponent dance to a disco-ish beat.
  • Christmas Rushed: Double Helix admitted that Microsoft wanted KI 2013 to be a launch title for the Xbox One, and they had to release it with only six characters and no story mode. Fortunately, unlike most examples of this trope, KI 2013 still ended up very playable and polished, with a minimum of bugs, and Double Helix has been supporting this game with DLC, including multiplayer lobbies and Arcade Mode.
  • Combo Breaker: Tr-Tr-Tr-Tr-Trope Namer!
    • The 2013 game now allows you to perform a "Counter Breaker" when this occurs, essentially breaking the combo breaker.
  • Combos: This series is basically the Trope Codifier, as it was the second (after Super Street Fighter II) Fighting Game to count combo hits and the third to use chain combos (after Darkstalkers and X-Men: Children of the Atom, later games like Street Fighter Alpha and Mortal Kombat 3 would adopt the system.) Almost any hit can be strung into a combo, and can be interrupted with a C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER! In Killer Instinct 2, it's possible to reach 60+ hits without glitching or cheating, although this is limited to the end-of-match Ultra combos, and to players who had a full comprehension of the combo engine. Also, combos basically ARE the gameplay; you won't get far without using a few of them.
  • Comeback Mechanic: The Instinct Meter in the 2013 game builds only when you take damage or successfully perform combo breakers, so you won't be able to activate Instinct mode unless you've been beaten down a few times. The only aversion to this rule is Spinal thanks to his Shadow Skull Fireball draining Instinct.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The computer pretty much performs combo breakers at will. In the second game, it almost always counters your combo opener with the move that trumps it. One saving grace; the computer will never have magical immunity to the Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors; if you respond to the computer opponent's opener with the appropriate counter, it will work, every time. The game is also quite infamous for the computer controlled characters hit harder then human ones. Get into a mirror match with the computer and trade blows, you will lose.
    • And let's not get started on the new Arcade Mode boss, Shadow Jago...
  • Continuity Snarl: The character profiles for the second game explain that Eyedol's death sent the surviving characters 2000 years into the past, but several parts of the game's design contradict this while others reinforce it. Several characters, especially the three new ones who could only be from the past, have stages seemingly set in fantasy worlds or at least fanciful concepts of a past time. On the flipside, TJ Combo's and Orchid's stages are set in a modern-day city, Fulgore's stage is a robot factory, and Sabrewulf has involuntarily gained cybernetic arms courtesy of Ultratech. Various handwaves have been proposed, some more reasonable than others, but none of them come from the actual game.
  • Crowning Momentof Heartwarming/Brother-Sister Team: One of Black Orchid's endings in KI 2013 has Jago coming to her aid to help ease her very troubled mind.
  • Death Cry Echo
  • Dem Bones: Spinal, complete with sword and shield.
  • Desperation Attack: If your opponent doesn't use a finishing move of some kind, it's possible to recover from no damage once, which also grants you a Charged Attack chance.
  • Digitized Sprites: At least with the SNES port of the first game.
  • Downer Ending: Orchid in KI 2 if you make her kill Jago.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: In the easier difficulties in some versions, after you fought Fulgore you get... a credits screen.
  • Economy Cast: Compared to many modern fighters. Between being a series starting nearly two decades ago and having a long Sequel Gap, the cast of the series never gets very big. Both KI and KI2 have ten playable characters and one boss character, adding up to a grand total of 15 characters across both games. KI 2013 began its first season with six playable characters, only one of which is new, with more released as time passed.
  • Embedded Precursor: Opting for the top tier package of the 2013 game will include an emulated (but offlinenote ) version of the original Killer Instinct (a game that, until now, has yet to get a full arcade-quality home port).
  • Evil Laugh: SPINAL.
  • Feelies - The game was released with a soundtrack album, Killer Cuts.
  • Finishing Move - Each character gets at least two, plus the Humiliation moves and a match-ending "Ultra Combo". Although the third game has mostly done away with all these finishers aside from Ultra Combos, Bonus Boss Shadow Jago gets his own cinematic Ultimate Combo to finish combos in the same way as Ultras.
    • The replacement developer for Double Helix, Iron Galaxy Games, has said they want to bring these back for everyone during the second season of content.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning - Cinder, Glacius, and Chief Thunder, respectively. They don't do extra damage to each other, though.
  • Gorn: The game exceeded Mortal Kombat in the gallons of blood characters lost during the match, though the actual finishing moves were relatively tame (opponents still died, but in a less gruesome manner, probably to maintain the game's "T" rating).
  • High-Altitude Battle: The ever-elusive Sky Stage present in both games. It's a flat platform somehow floating several stories abovegroung inbetween clouds rushing at high speed. Any hit may be deadly as in, even if you're whooping your opponent's ass, if he manages to use a knockdown move while you're at the corner, you'll fall off the stage and lose (it's a pretty long fall, by the way). KI2 made it even worse: the platform is even smaller, and you can die simply by walking off.
  • Hitbox Dissonance
  • Homage: B. Orchid is practically an homage to Cheshire from DC Comics. If you think that is unbelievable, then check out the pictures of B. Orchid and Cheshire here and here.
    • Orchid may have received a homage of her own in Joystick from Marvel Comics.
  • Idiosyncratic Combo Levels: They go in this order: Triple, Super, Hyper, Brutal, Master, Awesome, Blaster, Monster, King, Killer. Above that, there's two types: Ultimate Combos and ULTRAAAAAAAAA COOOOOOMBOOOOOOOOOS!
    • KI 2013 seems to have the following: Basic, Triple, Quad, Solid, Hyper, Brutal, Master, Extreme, Blaster, Awesome, Beastly, King, Crazy, Insane, Godlike. Killer Combos are also in there somewhere. And above them all is ULTRAAA COOOOOOMBOOOOOOOOO!. Perform two or more ultras, and you get an elongated ULTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!
  • I'm Melting: In the Arcade version, if you finish off Glacius with Riptor's Acid Spit or Chief Thunder's Lighting Bolt No Mercy moves, Glacius will melt into oblivion.
  • Large Ham: The announcer, bar none. Taken Up to Eleven in the Xbox One Reboot.
  • Mega Corp.: Ultra Tech. Dabbles in all sorts of freaky science from Mecha-Mooks to reviving the dead to cross-breeding humans and reptile genetics. They also capture aliens and force them to fight, turn convicted felons into sentient lava beings, and graft mechanical arms to werewolves.
  • Mickey Mousing: Ultras in KI 2013 are now punctuated by music, where each hit in the combo is accompanied by a note. The beat is different for each character, and the song is different for each stage.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on who you let live and not (and in Glacius' case, if his ship is still intact), it can cause different ending scenes to play out at the end of the game in KI2. These came back in the 2013 release's Arcade Mode.
  • Nightmare Face: Or lack thereof, in ARIA's case.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: UltraTech.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: KI 2013. Any one hit results in a enough sprayed blood to make a puddle on the ground. Keep in mind that every character has the potential to make fairly long combos...
  • Perfect Play A.I.: Very prevalent in the first game, not so much in the second. Makes a violent comeback in the third when playing under ''Kyle'' Difficulty.note 
  • Prison Dimension: Both Eyedol and Gargos were trapped in one until Ultratech busted them out.
  • Recycled Title: The 2013 game will be called Killer Instinct, not Killer Instinct 3 (which is understandable since people born at the time of the release of KI Gold would be 17 now).
  • Scenery Porn: Noted for its at-the-time excellent pre-rendered graphics, which made it stand out against the hand-drawn or digitized-sprite fighting games in the genre's glut of imitators.
    • KI 2013 is known for its incredibly detailed backgrounds and characters, fitting for a next gen game, with no graphical slowdown. Chief Thunder's stage (the rain, in particular) and Glacius' stage are specific things critics like to talk about when praising its graphics.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: More noticeable in Killer Instinct Gold, and EVEN MORE noticeable when you knock your opponent off Jago's stage - the sprite will stay there as if it suddenly decided to lie down on the bridge!
  • Super Mode: In the 2013 game, each character has a character-specific trait called "Instinct Mode", where they can gain different buffs that aid their playstyle (so for instance Chief Thunder gains an invincible, longer dash that allows him to rush in and grab his opponent without having to worry about being hit). It also grants the universal effects of instant cancellation and knockdown value reset if popped during a combo.
  • Surplus Damage Bonus: The 2013 game enforces this by allowing players to continue their combos even if they kill their foe, and allowing that continued combo to even gain meter. This extra meter allows such things like using one Ultra Combo, then activating Instinct Mode to reset the combo, and then gaining enough meter to make another Ultra Combo.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors - The proper combo breaker to use depends on the strength of the combo's initial attack.
    • Complaints about the ridiculousness of this (it takes master-level knowledge of every character to recognize what button to do the breaker with) led to a simpler system in the second game, where punch breaks kick and vice-versa. Unlike in the first game, maneuvers in combos will always match the button being used as a blink-and-you-miss-it visual cue for the victim; a punch input results in the character performing a punch, even if it's not the punch that button does outside of combos.
    • Also in the second game, every character can open a combo with most basic attacks, standing or jumping in. However, every character also has three special moves that are specifically meant to open combos, often more damaging and easier to work with than the basic punches and kicks. The weakness of the special-move openers is that they function on a literal rock-paper-scissors mechanic, and no matter which two characters are facing off, one character's specific opener will always trump someone else's specific opener.
    • KI 2013 is back to the original system of strength-based combo breakers. Failing to choose the correct one results in a "lockout", preventing combo breakers for a few seconds.
  • Take That: Eyedol's ending is clearly inspired by Blanka's ending in Street Fighter II.
  • Theres No Kill Like Overkill: The 2013 release will give players the ability to chain an Ultra Combo into another combo, which in itself can lead into another Ultra Combo. Since the opponent is basically knocked out before you can perform an Ultra, this is basically just for eye candy, racking up a high hit count, showing off and needless brutality. On the other side, more merciful players can perform the ultra combo ender early to end the opponent's suffering.
  • Three Round Deathmatch: A variant: Each character gets two life meters. When the first runs out, the character stands back up, the two face off, and the battle continues.
  • Title Scream: Well, more like pronounced normally in a sinisterly low voice.
  • Variable Mix: The music in 2013 will change in accordance to what's happening in the fight. For example, if you idle, the music becomes more passive; if something exciting happens, like a counter breaker, the music becomes more intense. An example of it can be seen here. The Ultras also have Mickey Mousing.


Nurarihyon No MagoCreator/Erika HarlacherSword Art Online
DivekickCreator/Iron Galaxy StudiosScribblenauts
KameoCreator/Microsoft StudiosKinect Adventures
Hydro ThunderCreator/Midway GamesMace: The Dark Age
Kakuto ChojinTeen RatingKing Arthur The Roleplaying Wargame
Kensei Sacred FistFighting GameThe King of Fighters
JourneyEveryone RatingKirby
Kid Klown In Crazy ChaseSuper Nintendo Entertainment SystemThe King of Dragons
Katamari DamacyTropeNamers/Video GamesKingdom Hearts
The King of FightersGame BoyKlax
Jet Force GeminiNintendo 64 Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Kid Icarus: UprisingUsefulNotes/The Eighth Generation of Console Video GamesKillzone
Halo 5: GuardiansXbox OneKingdom Hearts III
KGBVideo Games of the 1990sKing's Field
Gunstar HeroesUsefulNotes/The 16 -bit Era of Console Video GamesLandstalker
Jurassic Park ArcadeArcade GameThe King of Dragons
Video GamesImageSource/Video GamesCombo Breaker
Khary PaytonNeeds Wiki Magic LoveKilling Time

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