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Killer Instinct Gold (N64)

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    6 Reviews
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      01.12.2006 20:32
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      While it is weighed down by some serious flaws, KIG is still a moderately fun fighter in small doses

      Anyone who remembers the launch of the original Killer Instinct will remember that it was not originally conceived as a game for the Super Nintendo, as it ended up being. The game was created to display that Nintendo could handle 'mature' games, and their second party games developers Rare released the game originally to the arcades, where it proved a moderate hit, although it never truly attained status comparable to that of Streetfighter 2 or Mortal Kombat 2, despite what some Nintendo fans would tell you. However, while the game wasn't intended for the SNES, it was intended for a home console; it was originally conceived to show off what Nintendo's upcoming 'Ultra 64' could do, however, various delays meant a SNES port was inevitable before the game's popularity faded, and it would be a few years before the retitled Nintendo 64 hit the shelves.

      Inbetween these events, Rare created a sequel to the game, which didn't prove all that successful, but was fairly highly thought-of by those who did play it, due to it's FMV endings, which reacted to events that happened as you played(for example killing a character influenced your ending and such) and nifty graphics for the time. Because the N64 was going to require a strong launch line-up, a fighter had to be drafted in, and ironically, given that the first game was downgraded from N64 quality, Killer Instinct 2 was tampered with, the FMV removed and the graphics messed with to fit it onto a cartridge, and Killer Instinct Gold was born.

      It actually took some work on my part to land myself a copy of the game, and it wasn't actually until I was basically through with my N64 when I stumbled accross an unboxed copy in a preowned bin somewhere. I had enjoyed the first game, and did want to try and have some positive memories of the console that didn't revolve around Mario Kart 64, WWF Wrestlemania 2000 or Goldeneye, so I snapped it up, deciding to give the N64 a final chance to impress me before I sold it off to buy Dreamcast games.

      For those who have never heard of it, Killer Instinct Gold is a 1-on-1 2D fighting game not too dissimilar to Midway's Mortal Kombat games. The idea is to beat your opponent's health bar to empty using a variety of punches, kicks and special attacks. However, to distance itself from the pack, KI games work in a slightly different manner, in that instead of doing a best of 3 rounds of combat system, your character is simply assigned 2 bars of health for the match. When one is depleted, there is a break, where the 'round' changes, and you continue, with your opponent carrying on their remaining health. The game's other niche is it's outrageous Combo system. While all fighting games have combos(that's combinations of moves strung together), KI is famous for its ridiculously OTT combos, which go well into double-figures on almost every occasion. The only way to interrupt these is by performing a 'Combo Breaker', made famous by the stuttering announcer. These moves shatter the opponent's combo and open up an opportunity to launch one yourself.

      The game basically plays almost exactly like its SNES predecessor, only with the addition of Super Moves and new special moves/death moves. That basically means that while it is a fairly sound engine, good hit detection and button response, not to mention a fairly sensible Capcom-style 6-Button(Light, Medium and Strong definintion punches and kicks) control layout, all of which respond perfect as far as I could tell, the game is way to easy to button-mash your way through. I mean it does have fairly cool endings in single player mode, a nice training mode as well as a slew of nice multiplayer options, of which Team Elimination is probably the best, but the fact is that most fights turn into simple mash-fests that really lose their appeal after a few matches. I mean, in small doses the game is quite enjoyable, hell its probably the best fighter on the console, but at the same time, its far from brilliant, and when you consider some of the fighters found on the PlayStation and Saturn, the console's biggest rivals, KIG really does pale in comparison.

      The plot of the game is basically a continuation of the first game. The evil Ultratech company, who were behind the entire mess that was the first game's plot, unwittingly created some sort of rift in time or something, and the evil monster Gargos, who was the arch-enemy of the original game's boss Eyedol, is now out to rule the universe or something. Naturally most of the same warriors from the first tournament are back, all with their own various reasons, for trying to bring down Gargos, and they are joined by a selection of new warriors with their own axes to grind.
      The plot may not seem brilliant, but truth is I don't have the instruction manual and its been a while since I read up on the game's plot, so the prologue is pretty vague in my mind. The plot isn't anything to write home about, but it does it's job fairly well, and the game does boast a fairly diverse range of characters. While Rare kill two birds with the one stone by making a Ninja character who fights like Ryu and Ken from Streetfighter, most of their other characters are either carried on unique designs from the first game, or equally weird additions(Conan the Barbarian doesn't really spring to mind when you think of the Sci-Fi setting of the first game). Sadly the lame Balrog/Jax wannabe that is TJ Combo is still kicking around, and worse still they removed Cinder and Riptor(no complaints about Chief Thunder biting it though). All of the characters fight in a fairly unique fashion, but they strategy and character definitions never really played a huge part in KI gaming.

      Graphically is where the game is most frustrating. Killer Instinct 2 was a completely rendered game. This means that the graphics are 2D, but they appear 3D, ala the Donkey Kong Country titles. However, in an attempt to make up for the N64 being incapable of producing the FMV endings, Rare opted to try and upgrade the game's visuals somewhat, adding 3D backgrounds. While these are nicely realised, if guilty of featuring the infamous N64 'haze', what really ruins them is the fact that 2D sprites are fighting in them, but still semi-moving in three dimensions. Coupled with the fact that the sprites get very pixelated when in close, something proven via the game's use of scrolling, the graphics not only clash badly with one another, but generally create a not too brilliant appearance for the game.

      If there is one aspect of the game I do have mostly favourable things to say about, it's the sound. The moody, gothic tracks are there, as is the pulse-pounding techno. The game takes the wonderful score of the first game and builds upon it brilliantly. My only complaints with the soundtrack are that the tracks with vocals are a bit lame. The voices, which are relegated to minimal little vocal clips for the characters and the wonderful, stuttering announcer are all of a pretty good quality, and in general my feelings towards the sound in the game are good.

      While the control system is fine, in practice, on the shocking N64 controller, things get a bit more iffy. While the game does, in a rare moment of good judgement from a game on the console, allow players to choose to use either the D-Pad or Analogue stick, both will mangle your thumb as you try to roll out movements to try and add some special move flair to your mashing. The fact that the A and B buttons, which control the light attacks, are so much larger than the C buttons also makes controlling the game slightly awkward and uneven.

      While I do seem to be saying a hell of a lot of negative things, Killer Instinct Gold isn't that bad really. If I'm being honest, I had great fun with it for the first couple of weeks, it just doesn't really have all that much lasting appeal to let you forgive its failings for more than a limited period of time. I can still enjoy the odd match on it, and I do acknowledge that it probably is the N64's best fighting game(not that that takes much), but in general I don't really rate the game as being very far above average. If you own a Nintendo 64 and are looking for a fighting game, then this is quite probably your best bet, but in general, to those with more than one cosole...there isn't much need for owning this game really...whatever other machine you own has a better fighter.

      Review also posted on Epinions.com

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        27.06.2006 20:23

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        By the way this game is pretty difficult to get but if you get it keep it.

        Well I think this is one of the greatest fighting games ever made, it has as i said above or below were ever it is, it has great graphics, combo system characters and awesome music. When i first played K.I on the arcades i loved it and when it came out for the SNES i was over joyed i played it for hours and a year or too later i got a N64 with K.I gold i was really happy playing it everyday alone and with my freinds, played it on every difficulty to get the story for every character it was really fun i wish RARE would come to there sences and bring out another because with the power of the consoles nowadays they could make killer instinct anyway they want to, if you are a fighting game fan get this game you will enjoy it.

        Thanx 4 reading

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        18.08.2000 04:33
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        This game does not seem to be very popular with Dooyoo members. Let me just state a few facts before I give my opinion. This game was brought to you by Rareware, the makers of Goldeneye, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo Koozie, Jet Force Gemini, and the soon to be released Dinasour Planet, and Conkers Bad Fur Day. I know that this does not automaticially mean that Killer Instinct would be a good game, but in all honestly I don't think it's as bad as everyone seems to think. The reason for why it is like the SNES version, is because they intended it to be like that. People requested it to be like the SNES version, and not to pologonate it for the N64. There were many magazines who gave this game 90%. This game is a bit like Marmite, you either hate it or you love it. I think I am in the second group.

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        02.07.2000 20:22
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        Okay this game is possibly one of the worst games on the N64. This may be due to the poor graphics and sound, but also the playablity is extremly poor. I mean 99 hit combos that is a bit over kill on the old combo front. The characters are new and seem well thought out but the graphics let them donw. I know you cant count a game out on the graphics alone but these graphics go a long way to letting this game down. The levels are extremly bad with all these new beatem up's this game should have tryed to be more inventive, i know its a remake of a classic but that classic was bad in my eye's. Give me Street fighter Alpha any day please. Avoid this game like the plauge you have been wanrned.

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        29.06.2000 18:33
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        Now killer instinct on the SNES was great and was pretty revolutionary for its time, this is the complete opposite. The grphics are pretty poor and are 2D. The frame rate is pathetic and at times there is actually a stutter when you are playing. There are quite a few characters to choose from but none of them do actually have any character. The special moves can be pulled of quite easily just by button bashing, no real skill is needed, I actually completed the game on my first go. The game has a 2 player mode which is no fun and there is also a tournament mode and some other crap stuff, it all invloves the same thing, liffless fighting. Anyway just make sure you don't by this shoddy excuse for a game unless you own every other title on the N64 infact even then don't buy it, just get a pack of cards there a lot cheaper and a lot more fun.

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        24.06.2000 00:50
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        I wouldn't buy this game but it came free with my Nintendo and I just cannot see any good points about it. Oh yeah, at the start there are some impressive graphics which show off the pottential for the game. From here it all goes down hill. The charachters are nothing special, nice but not excellent but its when you begin to fight that you really realise that this is not a good game. The fighters are blocky and the detail poor. This game would be more at home back on the snes. The special moves arn't that special and the controlls are puplexingly difficult to master. This one went straight to the second hand shop!

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