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Killer Instinct

Arcade Video game published 30 years ago by Midway Mfg. Co.

Listed in MAME

Killer Instinct screenshot

Killer Instinct © 1994 Midway Mfg. Co.

10 genetically engineered fighters engage in 1-on-1 combat in a tournament arranged by the sinister 'Ultratech', the organization behind the genetic creation of the fighters. The tournament soon turns into a battle for survival.

Each player starts the game with 2 energy bars, which represent the amount of health each player has for the entire game. Once the first bar is depleted, the player falls, gets up and starts to use the second energy bar. A voice will subsequently announce either 'Round Two' or 'Killer Instinct!'. The player who wins the first round gets to keep their remaining energy, and still has the second bar to use in future fights. This gives an advantage to the player who wins the first round.

Killer Instinct introduced incredibly complex combos to the fighting genre, as well as including the Fatalities and Humiliations made famous by Midway's "Mortal Kombat" Series.

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Main CPU : R4600 (@ 100 Mhz)
Sound CPU : ADSP2105 (@ 10 Mhz)
Sound Chips : DMA-driven (@ 10 Mhz)

Screen Orientation : Horizontal
Video Resolution : 320 x 240 Pixels
Screen Refresh : 60.00 Hz
Palette Colors : 32768

Players : 2
Control : 8-Way Joystick
Buttons : 6
=> [1] QP, [2] MP, [3] FP
=> [4] QK, [5] MK, [6] FK


Killer Instinct was released in October 1994. Manufactured & sold by Midway, under license from Nintendo. Developed by Rare.

This is the first arcade game to use a hard disk drive for mass storage. Killer Instinct's superbly-rendered graphics were considered to be among the finest of their day. The entire game was pre-rendered using SGI computers (Silicon Graphics Incorporated). In addition to this, the backgrounds themselves were pre-rendered as a 'movie', which simply adjusted frames based on your current location. Killer Instinct was the first game to feature 'auto-combos'.

Jago is considered as Killer Instinct's version of Street Fighter's Ryu.

The Glacius character design is rumoured to be influenced by the T-1000 from the Hollywood film 'Terminator 2'.

The character Sabrewulf appears as an enemy in the game 'Sabre Wulf', released by Rare (known at the time as "Ultimate Play the Game) on a variety of home computers during the 1980s, and later resurrected for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance.

"Cruis'n USA" and Killer Instinct were both released as public previews for the then upcoming 'Nintendo Ultra 64' console (later renamed the 'Nintendo 64'). Killer Instinct was the first game to be ported to a home console; NOT to the Nintendo 64, as intended, but to the Nintendo Super NES. This was due to the Nintendo 64's development falling severely behind schedule. Only "Cruis'n USA" would actually appear on the Nintendo 64.

The Nintendo 64's hardware is totally different - and vastly inferior to - the arcade hardware that drove 'Cruis'n USA' and 'Killer Instinct' (which, incidentally, were also different from each OTHER). In the end, neither game actually represented what the Nintendo 64 console was actually capable of and the home conversions were generally considered to be a severe disappointment.

Brad Russell holds the official record for this game with 477,250 points.

Nintendo/Rare released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Killer Cuts - 1948-1-1 HMG) on 1995. Besides being sold separately, the soundtrack was bundled with the initial release of the Nintendo Super Famicom version of the game in limited quantity.

A Killer instinct unit appears in the 2002 movie 'Comic Book Villains'.


* Software version : 4.7

* Software version : 1.3

* Software version : 1.4

* Software version : 1.5d


* Basic Controls :
Each player's fighter is controlled using six buttons and one joystick. Anyone familiar with Capcom's 'Street Fighter' series will find KI's button layout familiar. The top row of buttons are for high attacks/punches and the bottom row are for low ones.
The buttons are :
1 = Quick Punch 2 = Middle Punch 3 = Fierce Punch
4 = Quick Kick 5 = Middle Kick 6 = Fierce Kick
Pull the joystick away from your opponent to block.

* Play as Eyedol (on the 1.5d chip) : Select CINDER and when the VS animation starts, hold Right on the joystick and press 1, 4, 3, 5, 2, 6. If you do it right, the game will say 'Eyedol'.

* Stage Select / Music Select : After choosing the character you want with the Start button, immediately press and hold Up or Down along with one of the Punch or Kick buttons. Different combinations allow different boards. The first player to choose their character gets to choose the stage. The second player gets to choose the music with the same method. The selectable levels are as follows;
Mountain Temple : (Up+LP)
Dungeon : (Up+MP)
Mountain Shrine : (Up+HP)
Castle Rofftop : (Up+LK)
City Rooftop in Chicago : (Up+MK)
Desert Rooftop : (Up+HK)
Canyon : (Down+LP)
Altar : (Down+MP)
Warehouse Basement : (Down+HP)
Chicago Alleyway : (Down+LK)
Castle : (Down+MK)
Industrial Warehouse : (Down+HK)
Desert Rooftop : (Down+Start)
Sky top : Player 1 (Down MK), Player 2 (Down+MK)
Boxing Gym : ???
Eydol's Lair : ???
Tiger Shrine : ???

* Last Breath : This allows players one last chance for life, and allows them to gain enough energy to take one more hit. After the voice says 'No Mercy', the player can start rotating the joy stick and mashing the buttons. Their combatant will then get back up and start to fight again. This MUST do this before the opponent starts doing the 'No Mercy' move.

* Power Up : The Power up bar is the white flashing vertical bar that is situated in the player's health bar. This allows the fighters to unleash more devastating moves, such as the Shadow moves and Triple projectiles. The bar is usually powered up by doing a combo breaker. 'Sabrewulf' can get it by doing his Energy Howl, and Spinal can get it by obtaining skulls. If the bar is NOT flashing, then the player's gither is not powered up.

* Turbo Mode : During the 'Vs Animation', if both players hold the joystick to the RIGHT, and hold buttons 1+2+3. A 'swish' sound will play indicating that the TURBO mode is now active. It's also possible to activate the TURBO mode in the single player game, but the player must still do the stated actions on the second player controls.

* Combo Breaker : During the 'Vs Animation' (after character selection and just prior to the bout starting), if both players push DOWN and START, the announcer says 'Combo Breaker'. Combo Breakers are now much easier to achieve.

* High Scores Table : During the demo mode, press UP on both joysticks to view the high scores.

* Random Character Select : At the 'Character Select' screen, press UP while pressing START and the game will select a character at random.

* Different Coloured Outfits : Once you have chosen your chosen character (and have not pressed a button) moving the joystick UP and DOWN will allow you to change the colours of your player's outfit.

* Humiliation (Only available if you haven't lost any energy bars during the battle) :
T.J COMBO : (Stand anywhere) Down(x3), LP.
JAGO : (Stand anywhere) Forward, Downforward, Down, Downback, Back, MK.
GLACIUS : (Stand anywhere) Forward(x2), Back, LK.
SPINAL : (Stand anywhere) Back, DownBack, Down, Downforward, Forward, HK.
ORCHID : (Stand anywhere) Forward, DownForward, Down, Downback, Back, HP.
CHIEF THUNDER : (Stand anywhere) Down(x3), Forward, LK.
FULGORE : (Stand anywhere) Back, DownBack, Down, Downforward, Forward, MK.
CINDER : (Stand anywhere) Back(x3), HK.
SABREWULF : (Stand anywhere) Forward(x3), LP.
RIPTOR : (Stand anywhere) Down(x2), Forward(x2), HP.

* No Mercy - T.J COMBO :
1. (Stand close to opponent) Back(x2), Forward(x2), MP - A bell rings, he jabs his opponent in the gut and then turns his back to the viewer, and breaks the opponent's neck.
2. (Stand close to opponent) Back, BackDown, Down, DownForward, Forward, HK - He punches his opponent and then spin punches them into the glass of the screen.

* No Mercy - JAGO :
1. (About 1 person-width away) Back, Forward(x2), LP - Jago takes out his sword and slices his opponent a few times. The last strike hits him in his crotch area.
2. (Stand anywhere) Back(x2), Forward(x2), MP - Jago sits Indian style and meditates while his eyes are glowing. Then a car falls from the sky landing on his opponent.

* No Mercy - GLACIUS :
1. (Stand 2 person-widths away) Back, DownBack, Down, Down-Forward, Forward, MP - Glacius extends a long pick from his hand freezing his opponent by touching them.
2. (Stand 1 person-width away) Forward, Down-Forward, Down, Down-Back, Back, MK - Glacius turns into a liquid metal blob and covers his opponent resulting in the opponent being absorbed.
3. (Stand 2 person-widths away) Back(x3), HK - Glacius turns into a pool of liquid metal and slides under the opponent. The opponent is sucked down into the pool.

* No Mercy - SPINAL :
1. (Stand far from opponent) Back(x3), MK - Another skeleton comes out of the ground and grabs opponent's body, and brings it down with him.
2. (Stand close to opponent) Back(x2), Forward, LK - Spinal slices the opponent with a sword twice and then pierces him with a spike that emerges from his shield three times.

* No Mercy - ORCHID :
1. (Stand 1 person-width away) Down, Forward, Back, LK - The opponent turns into a frog. After that press HK and if you're close enough you will step on them and kill them.
2. (About 1 person-width away) Back, Forward(x2), LP - Orchid turns to opponent and opens up her shirt to expose chest to them. Opponent falls over dead (Another Orchid just gets upset).

* No Mercy - CHIEF THUNDER :
1. (Stand half a screen away from opponent) Back, Down, Forward, HP - He will do a sort of rain dance, aim his axe at the enemy, who will then go into convulsions as electricity seems to hit him.
2. (Stand close to opponent) Forward, Down, Back, HK - He does a super hatchet uppercut, resulting with various parts remaining of the different opponents.

* No Mercy - FULGORE :
1. (Stand 2 person-widths away) Forward, Down, DownBack, HP - He shoots a laserbeam from his head and fries his opponent.
2. (Stand 3/4 of the screen away) Back, Down, Forward, HK - His head opens up and a Turret gun blows you away.

* No Mercy - CINDER :
1. (Stand 2 person-widths away) Back(x3), MP - Cinder forms a hole on the ground that slides under the opponent and sucks them in.
2. (Stand 2 person-widths away) Back, Down, Forward, LK - Cinder flares up then shoots a flame from his finger and melts the opponent into a pool of liquid.

* No Mercy - SABREWULF :
1. (Stand close to opponent) Back(x3), MK - Sabrewulf extends a claw and rams it into the gut of his opponent.
2. (Stand 1 person-width away) Back(x2), Forward, MP - Sabrewulf spin slaps his opponent onto the glass of the view screen.

* No Mercy - RIPTOR :
1. (Stand close to opponent) Back, Down, Forward, MP - Riptor jumps at his opponent and the screen goes black. Next you see him with a big belly burping and farting.
2. (Stand anywhere) Back(x3), MK - Riptor spits acid at his opponent frying them.
3. (Stand 2 person-widths away) Forward(x2), Back, HK - Riptor slashes the opponent with his tail.


1. Killer Instinct (1994)
2. Killer Instinct 2 (1996)
3. Killer Instinct (2013, Xbox One)


* Game Development :
Head programmer : Mark Betteridge
Gameplay programmer : Chris Tilston
Technical programmer : Martin Hollis
3D programming : Robert Harrison
Character design and models : Kevin Bayliss
Background design and models : Chris Seavor, Tim Stamper
Additional graphics : Dave Child, Adrian Smith, Carl Tilley, Keri Gunn
Music and sound : Robin Beanland, Greame Norgate
Hardware design : Chris Stamper, Pete Cox
Character voices : Chris Sutherland, Dave Child, Ken Lobb, Dean Smith, Louise Stamper
Motion capture actors : Kevin Bayliss, Simon Farmer, Louise Stamper, Dean Smith
Motion capture set up : Chris Tilston, Kevin Bayliss, Simon Farmer
Game desin : Chris Tilston, Mark Betteridge, Kevin Bayliss
Additional Design : Ken Lobb

* Game Manufacture :
Executive producers : Neil Nicastro, Ken Fedesna, Wally Smolucha, Paul Dussault
Hardware : Cary Mednick, Steve Norris, Pat Cox, John Lowes, Mike Lynch
Mechanical : Matt Davis, Ray Czajka
Sound : Matt Booty, Ed Keenan
Cabinet graphics : Nik Ehrlich


Nintendo Super Famicom (1995)
Nintendo Game Boy (1995)
Xbox One (2013) "Killer Instinct: Ultra Edition": Includes Killer Instinct Classic


Game's manuals.
Game's picture.
Game's ROMs.
Game's screenshots.