Killer Instinct SNES Review

killer instinct, microsoft, nintendo, rareware, snes, super nintendo
General Information

Platform: SNES

Developer: Rareware

Release date: August/30/1995

Genre: Fighting

1-2 Players


Hello everyone and I hope you guys enjoy this first retro-review from Belmont’s Catacombs as we summon one of my favorite fighting games of all time and worthy of its name, this beast is Killer Instinct. The main reason I want to discuss this franchise is because this past week, Microsoft announced that they renewed the trademark for Killer Instinct even though they haven’t said if they are going to be releasing a sequel or a remake anytime soon. This news has caused a lot of furor amongst fans because it has been over 15 years since the last entry for this series was made, speculation has left us wondering if the company Rare will be behind this project or if another studio from Microsoft will be taking care of developing this game. At least we got some hope that the company hasn’t forgotten about Killer Instinct and they are planning to do something with it.


I know everyone has their own anecdote of how they experienced Killer Instinct for the first time, and even though many of you experienced it in arcades and some others, like me, on the SNES, I just want to highlight how much this game impacted me. From the first time I laid eyes on the screen, seeing the astonishing graphics, listened to the badass music, and superb gameplay, I could not believe that it would ever be possible to experience that kind of quality from a game.  Having been exposed mostly to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games and then seeing this was completely revolutionary, but what blew my mind was the combo mechanics which is something I have never seen until this title.


Being a fighting game, these titles are not very story driven.  The main emphasis is mostly about having two characters beat the crap out of each other, proving your skills, and doing it the most humiliating way possible. The story tells us that in a future period, the world has fallen into chaos with mega-corporations fighting against each other hoping gain absolute power to take over the planet. A unique company called Ultratech, decides to supply other corporations with advanced materials to destroy each other instead of battling with other competitors. Besides simply profiting from selling the materials, Ultratech decides to create the Killer Instinct tournament which is a television program that provides entertainment for their viewers through the testing of their most advanced weapons. Simultaneously, the winner who survives is promised anything they want while those who fail in the process face a terrible fate.

Here is where we get introduced to the deadly fighters:

killer instinct, microsoft, nintendo, rareware, snes, super nintendo

Jago –  A warrior monk from the Tibet region.

Fulgore – Ultratech’s cybernetic prototype killing machine to test the limits of its combat abilities.

T.J Combo – A brute heavyweight champion of the world.

Black Orchid – The only female character who  is a deadly secret agent.

Chief Thunder – A Native American warrior.

Spinal – A skeleton fighter.

Sabrewulf – A beastly wolfman.

Riptor -A mutant velociraptor.

Glacius – A lost alien made out of ice and water.

Cinder – A flaming torch man.

Eyedol – The final combatant in the game. He is a diabolical beast from Limbo that will crush anyone who confronts him.


The gameplay is what makes KI stand out from the rest of the fighting games. First of all, the fighting system is combo based which is something that was not seen prior to this game. What I mean by that is that fighting games were pretty much limited in executing one special move at a time or sometimes you could only strike up to three or two hits. With Killer Instinct you could perform  multiple hits (which are referred in the game as combos).  Depending on what type of button combination you did, your character will hit the other character from 3-13 hits at once, causing some amazing moves and great damage to your opponent. The game also featured a mechanic to balance the combat which was that you could break the other player combo which was known as a C-C COOOMBO BREAKER!!! The way this worked was that if you were taking multiple hits and you input a certain button command during that combo, you could counter attack and break the combo and it would also change the commands for certain special moves. The game also had two life bars, but instead of just waiting for one life bar to be depleted during a round, whatever damage you had left was used for the next round. By the end of your second bar, when you only had about one tenth left, you could perform a finishing move. This later became known as “Humiliations”.

You can perform an ultra combo where the opponent would take an insane long combo which could be more than 20 hits. Another was an Ultimate move were you would kill your enemy with a special attack that could only be done during the end of the fight. Lastly, the humiliation move was intended to make the enemy perform a silly dance.


killer instinct, microsoft, nintendo, rareware, snes, super nintendo
Fulgore vs. Glacius



Groundbreaking, like I mentioned before. I was used to seeing graphics like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat in fighting games but this title took a different direction with the presentation. They used pre-rendered 3D graphics and the result was amazing.  It gave a 3D perspective to the fighters, the stages scenarios gave the game a unique ambiance which made it feel as if you were part of it. Not to mention that you could fall from the arena if the stage was in an elevated area. To make it more interesting, you could see how the character would spin around as they fall. The sprites in the special moves was a nice touch and seeing the fighters in action was exquisite and seeing how smooth the game looked in action made me feel like I could feel the damage the character was taking.




Blaster, the sound department, was way ahead of its time. It brought that Killer Instinct deep inside of you. The voice of the announcer is, in my opinion, the best that they could have possibly chosen. It made the game more intriguing during the fight. Just by saying the name title was more than enough to let you know that you are about to be part of something brutal. When you choose your character, he says the name of the fighter and makes it sound all badass.  When you make a combo, he tells you what type of combo you did. Most importantly, his signature slogan was when you break a combo also known as C-C-COOOOOOMBO BREAKER!!! Even at the end of the fight if you had done a remarkable performance he would even say “Supreme Victory”. When the character took damage or made a special move, it made a satisfying noise. Details like these made the game stand out from the rest.  My favorite part was the background music on each stage, the music fit so well that it made the environment throughout the fights more extreme.


The replay value in this title is really high. I still play this game very frequently because there is really nothing out there as satisfying and addicting like this game. Once you perform your first combo, you will not want to stop until you had mastered the combo system and prove to yourself what the best way to humiliate your opponent is. Each character is unique and can be easy to adapt depending in your fighting style and how you want to approach it. If you enjoy fighting games, just want to have fun once in a while, or if you are looking for a game to challenge your fighting skills, I can’t recommend Killer Instinct enough. I guarantee you will find at least one thing in the game that will make you come back for more.

Well guys, this concludes my first review on Killer Instinct. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something new from it or if you knew about this game I hope my point of view gave you different perspective of what Killer Instinct causes to those who play it. If you liked the review, please let me know. If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact me as it will mean a lot to me because I want to bring you audience the best.  Don’t stop gaming.


killer instinct, microsoft, nintendo, rareware, snes, super nintendo



Special thanks to my wife, Evy Lizarraga, for her help and support during this review.



Yes, my real name is Belmont. It’s from the Castlevania series. Video games have been my passion since my early childhood, but the game that made me become a gamer and changed my life was The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. Video games are a lifestyle for me. Aside from playing them, I enjoy collecting current-gen and retro titles, strategy guides, figurines, memorabilia, soundtracks, etc. I like to learn as much information as I can about games that I enjoy, as well as anything related to the genre. I enjoy sharing experiences, stories, or game collections with the community out there. If you guys want to share anything or know more about me, please contact me at [email protected]

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