Oh Rare, how you teased and teased and teased about a third installment in this much loved fighting series. From Christmas cards featuring the KI3 logo to hints in games such as Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. A possible Killer Instinct 3 has been mentioned by the media, fans, and the developers, Rare, themselves, so why hasn’t there been a third installment yet? Based on franchise history alone, it deserves one. Let’s dive into past games to see why they’re so popular with the hardcore fighting fans.
Killer Instinct was first released on Arcades way back in 1994 by Midway, and later published by Nintendo for release on the Super Nintendo and Game Boy. The game was developed by Rare across all platforms. KI quickly became popular due to its over-the-top automatic combos, No Mercy finishers, Humiliations, Ultra Combos, Ultimate Combos, Combo Breakers, and, of course, unique characters. All brought together by the powerful mega-corporation, Ultratech, in a tournament to test the company’s experimental creatures in mortal combat, the warriors of Killer Instinct fought as if they were just waiting to be picked up on Xbox Live.
It has been 13 years since Killer Instinct‘s sequel hit the arcades and Nintendo 64. That’s a long time for a much loved series to be dormant, but over the last year we’ve been hearing more and more whispers that Killer Instinct may be making its long overdue return to the gaming world. Since Rare is now owned by Microsoft, we know that if it ever is released, KI3 will be an Xbox 360 exclusive. You have seen the rumors in our Rumor Killers feature, but we have yet to see any hard evidence that could support these claims. What if KI3 was in production? Would it be a simple upgrade of the original, making it faster, better-looking, and, most importantly, online compatible? Would we see all the loved characters — Jago, Fulgore, and Orchid, to name a few — make a return? Rare once stated that they would have to come up with some new gameplay idea before even considering reviving the series. I am on the fence about that; I don’t think they need a new idea to revolutionize the fighting genre. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Soul Calibur (I can keep on going), are all still running, so why not KI?
So what would we want from Killer Instinct 3 then? Well, we would want all the characters back, for sure, but we would also like to see a few new ones. Imagine what Rare could come up with now. Maybe they could put a piñata in there? Actually, scrap that one, but you get my point. And with the power of the 360 behind it, we would expect KI3 to be gorgeous, with stunning level designs and backdrops that pack a punch or two. Maybe each stage could have multiple levels, allowing you to use the surroundings to your advantage or smash someone off of a cliff and continue the fight at the bottom, a la Dead or Alive 4.
As stated before, finishers are a trademark of KI, so they would have to return and be bigger, more brutal, and more extreme than ever before. The same goes with Ultimate and Ultra Combos. And regarding controls, the 360’s wealth of buttons as compared to the past Nintendo controllers adds a number of possibilities — extra strength punches/kicks, blocks, or even commands entirely new to the series. This is all open to experimentation, but one thing is certain, KI3‘s online capabilities.
We would expect Killer Instinct 3 to take full advantage of Microsoft’s Xbox Live service. Being a first-party studio, we would expect that the online fighting would be smooth and lag free. One could wish, anyway. Online leaderboards are a given, but we would hope for online tournaments, player rooms where people gather to talk and take turns fighting, much like DoA 4’s lobby system and the recent Street Fighter HD XBLA game. Considering Soul Calibur IV’s impressive customization features, it would be cool if KI3 would allow you to create your own fighter and then unleash the beast online. Achievements would play a big role in the online portion of the game, but earning them would need to be enjoyable and rewarding — something that’s has been lacking as of late.
KI3 would feature the usual Time Attack and Survival modes, along with the main Tournament mode and on- and offline Versus modes, but what else could Rare bring to the table? What could they bring to the fighting genre that hasn’t been done before? To be honest, there isn’t much they can do to the fighting genre that hasn’t been done before, but is that such a bad thing? I personally don’t think that is. Fighting games are fighting games and the reason people buy them is kick the crap out the opponent. All Rare needs to do is keep the magic of the originals, enhance the combo system, and make the game fast and enjoyable and they will have a winner. What we don’t want them to do is try to incorporate things that are not needed. For example, the Vision Camera worked fine with Viva Pinata, but let’s just keep KI a camera-free fighter and re-create the franchise’s former glory.
The fact of the matter is that gamers want Killer Instinct 3. That’s all. Microsoft could benefit from a killer fighting franchise exclusive to the 360. What better than Killer Instinct? It is entirely possible that we could hear, in the coming months, that an XBLA version of the original is in the works or even released, but what we really want is number 3. We want updated graphics, online competition, and over-the-top combos and finishers to bring back all our memories of stuffing coins down Arcade machines. We’re are wishing on a game, and that game is Killer Instinct 3.