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 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.

Great-looking stages and character sprites!


Stage backgrounds are done using "scaling" FMV graphics, having pre-set 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).


Big changes to returning characters.


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.


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

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 hear mixed opinions about KI2. From my experience in mid 90's arcades, some players liked KI2... others hated it and preferred the original. Personally, I didn't play KI2 at the arcades very much (because I was busy with other fighting games), but I did end up enjoying the hell out of the future N64 port... KI Gold.

Although KI2 didn't really manage to live up to the original's success or hype, KI2 was an impressive arcade fighting game at launch. However, any steam that KI2 built up in the arcades was quickly dwindled by some very "heavy hitting" fighting games that came to the scene later in 1995/1996.

I enjoyed the original Killer Instinct a lot more than the sequel, for a few reasons. The catchy aura and "feeling" of the first game didn't quite carry over to KI2, and in my opinion, the gameplay wasn't quite as fun either. The drastic changes, closed stages, and missing characters made KI2 feel less like a sequel and more like its own game, in a way. In retrospect, KI2 was an "original" fighting game and did stand out from the crowd... but wasn't exactly "the best" the genre had to offer at the time.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen