Today for the backlog event of the week, we go to a franchise I both wanted to see and dreaded. There was a time in my much younger days when the arcades had almost died out, but got a second wind on the backs of almost exclusively new fighting games trying to capture the excitement created by the likes of Marvel vs Capcom and the new 3D arrivals. Among these games was one of the few to hold my attention: the original Killer Instinct.
I was never very good at this game, but then I was a young kid who was more excited at the awesome robots and aliens in the lineup. And when I played, the big feature I loved was the fact that how you did in one round carried over to the next, as it was the first fighter I had ever seen where your life did not refill between rounds. I loved the idea and I loved the game. I even played it’s sequel in the arcades.
But that was a long time ago and the last time I touched the series was the rather weak port on the SNES which I rented exactly once. And I let the N64 buy without getting one, preventing me from even trying the only other version of the game to release anyone would see until this current F2P Xbox One/WIndows 10 version. And I will be honest, I expected to get my ass kicked repeatedly and wander off to do something else for the second half of the hour I was giving Xbox One games.
That did not happen. I opened up the main menu, I found the usual features I expected (single player and multiplayer like a fighting arcade game would have), but in addition, the first option was the Shadow Lords, something I was looking at without any explanation. Well, hell, let’s choose that….
….and I found myself in “Baby’s first Fighter” with literally the first several fights being used to teach the core mechanics and attack button layout of the game. Some will find it annoying, but for someone like me who has literally been away from fighters for well over a decade, it was nice to have the game take the time to show you the ropes before destroying you in battle, which the first actual fight damn near did I might add, so you can at least grasp how the controls work, especially as they break away from the standards I personally remember from the SNES era.
But in addition to that, this mode adds adventure/RPG elements into the mix, as you have player levels and your team levels up as you play. You will gain items you can equip to give yourself a small edge in combat, and when you finish, your performance in game will effect the condition of your fighters afterwards. (Such as health in the next fighter and so on…. if you don’t use healing items on them.) And this all comes with a plot-line that seems to sequel the main game. I do not know as I never got to the single player, much less beat it… this mode took up the whole session. The gist of this story is Gorgos, an evil god from the series trying to open portals to earth and conquer it Mortal Kombat style. You play a small team who’s job is to delay the inevitable so you can become powerful enough to defeat him when he finally succeeds. You read that right: you can not stop Gorgos from showing up. All you can do is hold him back long enough get stronger before he does.
Honestly I found this mode interesting and pretty fun, which again. surprised the hell out of me. I expected to walk into this, get my ass kicked for the audience, and move on to something more my speed. Instead, I found something that I am looking forward to making it to be one of my main games, something I don’t say about many fighters at all! Nicely done, Microsoft