One of the coolest fighting game franchises of the nineties was Killer Instinct. The original 2D brawler offered bold, sexy character design and production values light years ahead of other fighters, at a time when only the crude, untextured polygons of the original Virtua Fighter represented the emerging “proper 3D” beat-’em-up.
Fans have been hoping for news of a Killer comeback ever since Rare became part of Microsoft in 2002 and co-founders Chris and Tim Stamper confirmed to us that “the two properties that go back to Nintendo are Donkey Kong and Star Fox – the rest of the IP actually comes back to Rare”.
We know that both Mark Betteridge (Rare studio head) and Ken Lobb (Microsoft Game Studios) are supporters of the IP, and it would also be a pretty useful platform-exclusive beat-’em-up for Xbox 360.
In recent years, fighting games had not been selling the way they used to (a subject we’ve discussed with both SEGA AM2 and Namco, if you want further reading). But all that may have changed with the success of Capcom’s 2D fighting game revival, Street Fighter IV, which we scored 10/10 and is set for further expansion.
Now, it seems that Killer Instinct may well be coming back – but not in the way you might expect.
In the new issue of Games TM, an excellent Rare studio feature contains a box out on the Killer Instinct franchise, in which Mark Betteridge reaffirms that Killer Instinct is an IP “near and dear to us”.
The real eyebrow raiser comes as he goes on to say: “It’s about timing, and it’s about the opportunity creatively and gameplay-wise that it would offer. Street Fighter IV looked great and they’ve done a great job, and I’m a big fan of those products, but with KI we want to do something different rather than go back into that arena.”
And then the money shot: “I think it’s about doing something different than with a conventional controller.”
George Andreas, head of design at Rare, also says that the challenge will be about making KI for “the masses”, and the magazine itself goes on to conclude: “Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until Natal hits the market before they discover if that question is to remain unanswered.”
Killer Instinct 3? We hope so. For Natal? Hmmm…
In the meantime, how about KI and KI2 arcade perfect on XBLA?