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 are badass.
Instinct 2 was the surprise sequel to the somewhat "underrated" arcade hit,
1994's Killer Instinct. All the
2D character sprites,
animations and stages were completely redone in KI2, and look
significantly different from the
first game. Returning characters not only showed off updated costumes, but very
different play styles as well.
Welcome to the jungle...
Stage backgrounds are done using "scaling" FMV graphics,
animations of their own as characters moved back and forth. Visually, this was a much different look than the first
KI, and in my opinion was a bit of a downgrade. Also, there wasn't a
single stage in KI2 that offered
the epic camera angles seen in the first game (when a fighter was knocked up into the
air). This 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.
Boooooooooooooo (in case you didn't hear it the first time).
Spinal's ship was the
Gameplay-wise, KI2 also
changed quite a bit. Throws were added to the system 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. Personally, I
don't think the gameplay is nearly as fun as the original KI. 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 looked pretty cool at least, but some
didn't really match the "flavor" of the original. T. J. Combo pulling
out a machine gun and mowing down his opponent (or they just block the bullets)?
Yeah... it's good for a laugh
the first few times, but in the long run.... Lame.
On top of the drastic gameplay
tweaks, many new moves and changes were made to the returning characters. Most
of the updates were decent for the most part. However, the combo strategies and
properties for nearly all returning characters changed quite a bit, leaving some
players happy and others pretty disappointed. Lastly, fan-favorite characters Chief Thunder, Riptor and Cinder
were missing in action. Some
would say this was Killer Instinct 2's BIGGEST downfall. The
new characters such as Tusk, Kim Wu, and Maya aren't terrible designs, but as
"replacements" for the original cast, they fell short.
If you ask around, you'll hear some very mixed
opinions about KI2. From my experience in mid 90's arcades, some players
liked KI2, others hated it. Personally, I didn't play KI2 at the
arcades very much, but I did end up enjoying the hell out of the later N64 port
- KI Gold.
Although KI2 didn't really manage to live up to the original's success or
hype, KI2 was a decent arcade fighting game overall. However, any steam that
up in the arcades was quickly dwindled by some very "heavy hitting"
fighting games that came to the scene later in 1995/1996.
Overall, I enjoyed the original Killer Instinct a lot more than the
sequel. The catchy aura and "feeling" of the first game didn't quite
carry over to KI2, and the gameplay wasn't nearly as fun either. The
drastic changes (and missing characters) of KI2 were controversial at the
time, disappointing some. In retrospect, I definitely appreciate some of KI2's
innovations and character designs.