Street Fighter V is already out. Unfortunately, it’s far from being a complete game despite its solid fighting action. But fighting game fans don’t have to look too far for an excellent alternative. Fellow gamers, let me introduce you to Killer Instinct.

What is a Killer Instinct?

Back in the 90s, Street Fighter II reigned supreme in arcades and home consoles everywhere. Naturally, companies want in on the fighting game goldmine.

Rare was one such company, so what was its fighting game contribution? The Killer Instinct series. Mix in 90s action figures including a mystical ninja, fire and ice elemental beings, a werewolf, and a gargoyle for a last boss, and you’ve got your cast. You also have a combo system that lets you do a preset of inputs to do big fanciful damage. Flashy as heck, but fun nonetheless.

Fast forward to 2013 and the triumvirate of Microsoft, Double Helix, and Iron Galaxy Gaming rebooted the franchise into a deeper, beautiful fighting game. The game features both style and substance too, with killer visuals and gameplay. Not to mention a wide character list too.

Killer Instinct will have a massive update known as ‘Season 3’, which changes the core game by somewhat and will also bring new characters and modes into the mix. We daresay that it’s better than Street Fighter V and even legacy title Street Fighter IV. We thought the game should be held in high regards by both casual and hardcore fighting game fans in Asia too. Why, you may ask?

#1: It has a huge diverse cast

Please ask yourself: have you ever played a fighting game that features these kind of characters?

-A mystic ninja possessed by a spirit of a giant gargoyle, who parodies a certain white gi-clad world warrior hobo.

-A Norse pirate undead skeleton who wears a wood ship wheel on its back and has the most distinct laugh ever when running towards his opponents.

-A giant Greek golem that stands taller than everyone else and has a rock-solid fortitude to power on through even after getting hit a multple times.

-An African American boxer who has his own awesome rap theme song.

No, you probably haven’t. And that’s one big reason why Killer Instinct’s 18-person roster stands out from the rest.

The colorful characters aren’t just all style; they are full of substance too. Aforementioned ninja Jago and resident werewolf scientist Sabrewulf (another character type you don’t see that often outside of Darkstalkers) are the best characters for gamers new to fighting games due to their simple moves and play-style. Advanced players can use the undead mummy Kan-Ra as a keep-away fighter with lots of traps up his bandaged rotting arms, as well as the vengeful Ring-inspired wraith Hisako as a counter-attacking archetype with the fastest forward dash in the game. Everyone plays differently while also making sure they more or less mimic the fighting game character archetype.

With new characters coming in for Season 3 including an immortal swordsman, a kungfu nunchuk-wielding art student, The Arbiter from Halo 2, and Rash from Battletoads, Killer Instinct’s stable of pugilists are getting bigger and more varied than ever. But if you’re brand new to this, prepare your eyes and brain for fighting game roster ecstasy.

#2: Its fighting system blends the best of both worlds

To keep in line with the past series, this Killer Instinct is focused on combos. But instead of a dial-a-combo system, the designers made sure that you have to work for your damage and flair.

Making your own combos when attacking an opponent is a simple step of starting with an opening special move or jump attack known as “Openers”, then linking it with a mix of regular attacks and special attacks that are called “Linkers”. You then “cash out” your damage with a hard version of a special ‘Ender’ move.

Victims of the combo can break out of their opponent’s barrage by doing a Combo Breaker; you break the combo by hitting the same strength as the current chain in the combo (ie: you break a Heavy Linker by pressing both the Heavy Punch and Heavy Kick together).

It’s part chaos damage management and part mind games if you know how to punish habitual plays. This makes high-level matches all the more exhilarating. We present to you Exhibit A; the Grand Finals of last year’s stellar Killer Instinct tournament that displays what we mentioned above in full context:

For newbies, imagine a fighting game where it’s easy to pull off simple combos using a chain of specials, normal moves, and super hard-hitting moves. For veterans: imagine Street Fighter IV with Marvel vs. Capcom 3-style input leniency.

Killer Instinct’s biggest update, Season 3, will have a lot more familiar-yet-new mechanics being introduced such as Stagger and Flip Out; one gives you an opportunity to follow-up with other moves for bigger punishes, while the latter lets you set the neutral game back on.

#3: Its music soundtrack is phenomenal

The game’s music is phenomenal simply because the audio engineers make each different song change tempo and instrument layers depending on te actions taking place during a match. When a character is close to death, the music escalates further into a more desperate tone. When both players aren’t doing much, the music slows down. When someone initiates a Combo Breaker or pulls off a Shadow Move, the soundtrack intentionally gets scrambled momentarily.

Its character themes mix in a bit of the old OST within its new sounds, all courtesy of composer Mick Gordon. Just listen to the songs below, which range from mystical monk music to funky rap.

#4: It has one of the best tutorials

Until the latest update of the game pops up, Street Fighter V’s tutorial barely scratches the surface of teaching you how its game system works, unless you are very hardworking at watching tutorial videos done by professionals. The folks behind Killer Instinct had the courtesy to put in one that’s actually helpful for all to view.

The game’s tutorial breaks down basic moves, special moves, the concept of space-controlling, and even its own combo-heavy mechanics into a less-than 30-minute exercise that can be applied to all fighting games. Apart from that, the game also has a mode dedicated solely for combo breaking and counter breaking so that you get the timing down pat to escape from eating a large combo string.

The game is really friendly towards newcomers if they put in the patience to learn the nuances. For pros, you can just jump straight to the game’s combo system and combo breaking tutorial.

#5: It’s a complete package

When Killer Instinct Season 3 is out, you will get a lot out of it. Especially if it’s your first time hearing about it. It’s arriving on March 29 for both PC and Xbox One; all PC and Xbox 360/One joysticks work on it so you don’t need to go shop for a new one.

There is no better time than this month to get in on a fighting game that takes the old, blends in some new, and pushes out something that both a casual and a veteran fighting game fan can sink into without feeling buyer’s remorse. Street Fighter V needs new competition; the upcoming iteration of Killer Instinct is more than enough to be a worthy rival to Capcom’s legacy title.

Would you be getting Killer Instinct on PC when it comes out end of March? Tell us on the comments below.

The Author

GameStart Asia

GameStart Asia

The GameStart team of geeky gamers share thoughts on the latest games, trends and news.

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