Killer Instinct 2

:  Eyedol's death at the hands of Orchid in the previous game accidentally set off a time warp sending everyone back 2000 years and allowed Gargos to escape from Limbo. Now, 2000 years in the past, warriors that survived Killer Instinct (1) and several new faces fight for the right to face the Demon Lord Gargos in combat. Some, like T.J. Combo, just want to get home. Others, like Tusk, want to bring an end to Gargos and his reign of evil. This time there is no tournament or prize money, just a fight to the finish with the fate of the future hanging in the balance.


KI2's animated selection screen  portraits = Badass.

Killer Instinct 2 is the sequel to the somewhat "underrated" smash hit at arcades and on Super Nintendo Entertainment System, 1994's Killer Instinct. All of the 2D character sprites, animations and stages were completely redone in KI2 and in many ways look significantly different from the first game. Returning characters have updated appearances, new moves, and of course... plenty of new combos. C-C-C-Combo Breaker!

Great-looking stages and character sprites!


Stage backgrounds are done using "scaling" FMV graphics, having pre-set animations of their own as characters move back and forth on the stage. Visually, this is a much different aesthetic than the first Killer Instinct, and in my opinion was (somehow) a bit of a downgrade. Also, there isn't a single stage in KI2 that feature the "epic" camera angles from certain stages in the first game (when a fighter was launched high up into the air). This alone was a big disappointment if you ask me. No long range projectile wars? No awesome stage fatalities from way high up in the air? Booooooo!


Big changes to returning characters.


Gameplay-wise, KI2 changed quite a bit from the first title which was known for excellent and addicting gameplay, by the way. Throws were added to the gameplay to remedy players who over-used blocking in the first game. Normal special moves are no longer judged on priority, but instead follow a three tiered "rock, paper, scissors" system in which certain special moves will always break other special moves. (In high level play, many consider the system to be flawed.) A new Super Meter was also added to store energy for Super Moves and Super Linkers. Some of the new Super / Finishing Moves that could be performed mid-match look pretty cool at least, but some don't really have the "wow factor" of the original. T. J. Combo pulling out a machine gun to mow down the opponent (unless they hold back to block the bullets)? Yeah... Killer Instinct 2 got a bit random and silly, at times.

In addition to the drastic gameplay tweaks, many new moves and changes were made to the returning characters. Combo paths and strategies for nearly all returning characters have changed quite a bit, leaving some players happy and others understandably disappointed. Lastly, fan-favorite characters Chief Thunder, Riptor and Cinder are missing in action! Some might say this was Killer Instinct 2's BIGGEST downfall. The new characters such as Tusk, Kim Wu, and Maya definitely aren't bad designs, but as "replacements" for the original cast... some might say they fall a bit short.


Page Updated: January 17th, 2022
Developer(s): Rareware
Publisher(s): Midway, Nintendo
Designer(s): Chris Tilston, Kevin Bayliss, Ken Lobb, Mark Betteridge
Platform(s): Arcade, Nintendo 64  (as KI Gold)
Release Date(s): 1995
Characters Orchid, Jago, T.J. Combo, Glacius, Maya, Tusk, Kim Wu, Sabrewulf, Fulgore, Spinal, Gargos

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Featured Video:

Related Games: Killer Instinct Gold, Killer Instinct, Killer Instinct (2013), Mortal Kombat 3, Samurai Shodown 3, King of Fighters '95, Darkstalkers 2, Fatal Fury 3, Golden Axe: The Duel, Savage Reign, Street Fighter Alpha, Marvel Super Heroes, WeaponLord, Power Instinct, Galaxy Fight

Gameplay Engine  7.5 / 10
Story / Theme  7.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.0 / 10
Animation  8.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  9.0 / 10
Innovation  6.5 / 10
Art Direction  8.0 / 10
Customization  7.5 / 10
Options / Extras  5.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  7.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  6.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.0 / 10
Characters  7.0 / 10

 7.7 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version     


Final Words:

If you ask around, you'll probably get mixed opinions about KI2. From my experience in mid 90's arcades, I knew that some players "liked" KI2... while others "hated" it and probably preferred the original. Personally, I didn't play KI2 at the arcades very much (as I was busy with many other fighting games), but I actually did come around to enjoying and learning this game when it was re-launched as Killer Instinct Gold (N64).

Although KI2 didn't really manage to live up to the original's success or hype... the game was still a visually impressive and exciting arcade fighting game. However, any steam that Killer Instinct 2 managed to build up in the arcades was quickly dwindled by some very "heavy hitting" fighting games that soon came to the scene later in 1995/1996. Alas, KI2 wasn't considered a success at the time and nearly "killed" the series... with a sequel (by a new developer) finally releasing nearly 20 years later.

I enjoyed the original Killer Instinct much more than KI2 for numerous reasons. The catchy aura and "upbeat" mood of the first game didn't quite carry over to KI2, and in my opinion, the gameplay just wasn't as fun either. The drastic gameplay changes, closed stages, and missing characters were elements that "asked a lot" from returning fans - many who were becoming enamored with other awesome 2D and 3D fighting games of the era. In retrospect, KI2 wasn't that bad... and its "transformation" into Killer Instinct Gold ended up being one of the best fighting games on N64.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen  

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