Killer Instinct continues to improve with every passing month, and now, you'll be able to contribute to a community prize pot by way of DLC. For $20 you can buy the Shadow Jago pack, which comes with the character, as we... read
[Update: Now we have a picture of the leg -- really cool shadow effects. Remember this sort of old school style teasing in magazines?]
A new character is coming to Killer Instinct, and developer Iron Galaxy is hinti... read
Oct 17 //
To dispel the notion that Microsoft is "ripping people off," you can get the entire base game so far (read: Seasons 1 and 2) for $40 ($20 per Season), including every character that's been released and the upcoming Season 2 fighters.
While 16 [eventual] fighters is a fairly low count compared to many other games in the genre, Killer Instinct manages to make every combatant feel unique and worthwhile. There are no clones or wasted roster slots. You can also still download the game for free and play one character a week. It's a good deal in my mind, as strong mechanics ultimately outweigh "more fighters."
If you spring for the Ultra upgrade you'll get a number of extras (mostly costumes), as well as a Killer Instinct 2 arcade port, complete with local and online play. I had a chance to test it out and much like the port of the original game in the Season 1 Ultra kit, it plays great and has an incredible amount of stuff packed into a gallery mode.
So how is Season 2? The first thing you'll notice is the updated user interface, which makes it easier to get around the game's various modes and unlocks. Progression isn't tied to online ranking anymore (which solo players should really dig), and everything has a much better explanation attached to it -- like the enhanced movelists in training mode. Every mode now contributes to unlocks, thank goodness.
There is a new "boost" system (read: microtransactions), but they are completely optional, and you'll be unlocking things at a faster pace than before. It's a non-issue for me. Of course the biggest add-ons are easily TJ Combo and Maya, returning from their graves as classic characters. Riptor and Cinder are confirmed so far (and will arrive in the future), as are four all-new characters.
It only took me ten minutes to see that TJ Combo is a great addition to the game, especially given that he feels difficult to master. A lot of his combos are unconventional and require precise timing, but he has a way of making the best of just about any close-combat situation. His new character model also fits the game quite well, and Iron Galaxy didn't need to go over-the-top in this instance. Combo's new level also has a "Stage Ultra" finisher attached to it which should please old-school fans, but sadly it's the only one with said ultra capabilities so far.
Maya however is one of my favorite new go-to fighters. Her entire gimmick revolves around her two daggers, which can be thrown in tandem or one at a time, and depending on the situation, drop on the ground similar to Vega's claw. Her combos are fast and her openers are plentiful, leading to a lot of cool-looking moments, particularly with her shadow moves. She's quickly been deemed the new "scrub" character, but like any other combatant she has counters and is easily manageable if you know what you're doing.
While it's tough to really say whether or not the remaining six fighters will be worth the price of entry, Iron Galaxy has proved its worth in terms of picking up the slack on Killer Instinct. If you're curious, give TJ Combo a shot this week, as he's free.
Maya is one of my new favorites Although it had a few issues in terms of content, Killer Instinct on Xbox One was actually a good game at launch. Since then, I've taken a look at both Spinal and Fulgore, and found them to be a great addition to the alr... read feature
To put a bow on the first season of Killer Instinct, Microsoft's offering the (somewhat) free-to-play Xbox One title to a new audience -- the retail crowd. Microsoft revealed today that on September 23, the game will receive ... read
Apr 10 //
Killer Instinct: Fulgore (Xbox One)Developer: Double Helix GamesPublisher: Microsoft StudiosRelease Date: January 31, 2014MSRP: $4.99 ($20 Season Pass, $40 Ultra Edition)
Although he's a bit slow, it's clear right out of the gate that Fulgore is a massive powerhouse. His signature blade dash is back (now a down-forward kick command instead of a charge move), as is his eye laser, projectile, shoryuken (plasma slice), and teleport. He's a lot like Jago in the sense that he's a "Shotokan" scheme that's very easy to pick up, but difficult to master -- especially in this robot's case. Fulgore's teleport is particularly resourceful because each command (light, medium, heavy) will transfer him to the same location every single time -- in other words, it's not relative to the opponent, so there's no confusion in the heat of the moment.
His shadow meter runs on a charge action by way of an ability that must be used manually (down-back kick). Fulgore boosts his core like he's going Super Saiyan. It can be extremely tough to pull off against an aggressive opponent, but it's not too hard to pop someone up with a finisher, dash back, and boost up, even if it's just for a few seconds. Almost all of his attacks can be modified by way of shadow -- even his teleport (which adds damage)! There are 10 blocks in all, and it takes four to pull off a shadow modifier. Funnily enough a full meter boosts Fulgore's speed a tad, so there's an interesting risk-reward system that players can experiment with.
Where Fulgore utterly differs from the rest of the cast is his unique Devastation Beam move, which requires a maximum shadow meter and an active Instinct Mode to pull off. It's really tough to land (and easy for your opponent to look out for), and if you attempt to mix it into a combo it will scale down considerably. All things considered it's a wicked standalone punish, and a great option that he doesn't even really need.
It helps that his character model is well done, and sports a heavy amount of detail down to the rocket boosts in his legs and arms when using any given move. The new look also stays true to his classic model while making his own mark on the franchise -- kudos to Double Helix for pulling this off. As an added bonus, the Fulgore title update adds another arena in the rotation.
It's far too early to see how balanced Fulgore is in the grand scheme of things (my early warning signs tell me a patch is on the way in the near future, yet Spinal seems to be a great counter-pick), but he's a welcome addition to the cast. Not only is he absolutely essential for a Killer Instinct game as he's one of the most recognizable fighters, but he's a worthwhile character that you should pick up right away if you're an active player.
Now that Double Helix is out of the picture, I hope Iron Galaxy can deliver with a possible Season 2 (Combo and Cinder, please).
The old face of the franchise returns Double Helix's first season of Killer Instinct is over, and here to close it all out is Fulgore, which makes eight total characters in the mix. While only two more fighters have come post-launch, they make a huge difference in terms of the meta-game, and help change things up considerably.
Spinal was a nice addition for sure, but Fulgore ups the stakes considerably. read feature
Available for download today alongside a big update
// Jordan Devore
When I think "Killer Instinct," I think "Fulgore." How could I not, given that iconic, badass black Super Nintendo cartridge featuring the cyborg front and center? It's nice, then, to finally see him added to the game today a... read
Microsoft Studios needed to find a new development partner to work on Killer Instinct after Amazon went and acquired Double Helix Games, and its selection has turned out to be spot on. Divekick and Street Fighter III 3rd Str... read
Killer Instinct composer Mick Gordon, has announced that a new version of Killer Cuts is scheduled to release this March. The album will feature music Gordon created for the Xbox One reboot of Rare's classic fighting game.
Double Helix will release a patch "very soon" that will fix the current known issues with Killer Instinct's Jail mode, the game's penalty for disconnecting before the end of a match. Also included in the update is a seri... read
Feb 18 //
Strider (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Double Helix Games / Capcom Osaka studioPublisher: CapcomReleased: February 18, 2014MSRP: $14.99
As always, Strider features an alternate dystopian future of Earth with a healthy helping of cheese factor. It's ruled by the oppressive Grandmaster Meio, whose vanity even goes as far as declaring the year Meio 0048. The title refers to a specific clan of ninjas, and you're in control of Hiryu -- one of the best and brightest. You've seen it before, a badass ninja infiltrates the enemy and slices it to ruin. But that doesn't make it any less badass.
One of the first things that struck a chord with me was the unique visual style that's immediately noticeable as soon as you boot up the game. For instance, Hiryu's scarf is now a neon glow effect, flapping in the wind freely. There's cartoonish dust when you slice up enemies, tiny nuances like sparks flying out of surfaces you strike, reflections in the ice, and so on.
The retro-inspired soundtrack helps, and although it's lacking in some areas, it generally gets the job done and gets you pumped for the task at hand. The voicework is exemplary, mostly due to the fact that it embraces the cheese factor to the fullest. Strider's voice actors don't just read their lines -- they elongate them, cackle during them, and generally just go all out. You can tell they really had fun with this one.
I'm a pretty big fan of the Strider series, specifically because of its combat systems. The first game is a classic, and Strider 2 really made a name for itself with some tight controls and hardcore action. But overall, I'd actually put the new Strider above the past iterations. Combat still feels fast -- lightning fast. Strider's sword slices as quickly as you can press the button, and wielding that power is just as fun as it sounds.
One of the best parts however is the ability to directionally control your slices in the air, so nothing remains untouched. You can can also stick on walls and ceilings with your scythes, a tactic which is the crux of many obstacle courses and puzzles throughout the game. Because of these abilities and the power to basically do anything you can dream of, platforming never really feels unfair, and neither do the game's enemies. Even more nuances start to appear as you get the charged slice, which can be used to break apart enemy shields. It all leads to a series of split-second decisions and frantic fights, and I love every minute of it.
Our hero still has that same jump flip from the original, and he can still slice on the run. The thing about the Strider games is that they're relatively simple to pick up -- all you really need to do is cut a bunch of people. Initially, at least, until you pick up Strider's numerous Metroidvania-esque upgrades.
The game's frequent boss battles are an absolute highlight, especially when coupled with the interesting designs from the art team and the voicework. Some of them have an epic Bayonetta scale to them with giant monsters, but there are also a number of satisfying humanoid fights on a smaller scale. It's insane how varied these battles are, as one of them even has elements of bullet hell shoot-'em-ups built into it.Individual stages have a Metroidvania feel, complete with a map system and lots of twists and turns. There are tons of impressive locales that range from military bases, to rooftops, to dark sewers. They all have an openness to them, where secrets could be hiding at every turn. With Strider's maneuverability, everything is fair game, and you're inspired to find everything you can.Strider will last you around five hours -- double that if you want everything. The extras you can unlock mostly involve concept art, but there are a few nice inclusions like lore bits and the like. It would have been nice to get the arcade original as an unlock, but there is a survival mode and a race mode (where you rush to pass through multiple beacons) with multiple stages included, which is more than most action games offer. You can also replay the game on Easy, Normal, or Hard if you so choose, but sadly, New Game+ is not an option.
Double Helix has really come into its own. Strider reminds me of a Shadow Complex with a much better combat system and a scaled-down exploration element. And that's perfectly okay with me.
Hiryu is back, and better than ever I was very skeptical when the Strider franchise was handed over to Double Helix. This was before we found out that Killer Instinct was actually a decent game, when the studio was allowed to spread its wings with som... read feature
Amazon's purchase of Killer Instinct developer Double Helix Games as part of its "ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers" came out of nowhere. We know the company is getting into gaming, sure, but Double H... read
Killer Instinct and Strider developer purchased by e-commerce company
// Alessandro Fillari
It's been known that Amazon has had its eye on diversifying into the gaming space. Not just from a sales standpoint, but for publishing and producing its own unique titles. And now, the mega online retailer has made its first... read
Set for digital release on February 18 and will feature additonal modes
// Alessandro Fillari
The new Strider game from Capcom and Double Helix has been looking pretty good. With every screenshot and trailer sent out, I've been become more and more excited with getting my hands on it. And now, it looks we'll do just t... read
Like Jago, Sabrewulf, and Thunder before her, Orchid is the new free playable character for Double Helix's Killer Instinct. As the trend has gone recently, she'll probably only be available for a week, at which point another ... read
Jan 31 //
Killer Instinct: Spinal (Xbox One)Developer: Double Helix GamesPublisher: Microsoft StudiosRelease Date: January 31, 2014MSRP: $4.99 ($20 Season Pass, $40 Ultra Edition)
It must be said that Double Helix has put a lot of work into Spinal. He has tons of character at nearly every turn, from the fact that he constantly "reassembles" his collection of bones, to his goofy, but appropriate yells and rattling noises. He even has a command run that triggers a creepy scream, giving him a "silly but intimidating" factor that not many other fighting game characters can replicate.
There's also a lot of detail in terms of his moveset, as most of his moves sprout neon green hues, skulls, and general "souls of the damned" effects. His combos are particularly fun to watch, as they actually have a point to their flashiness, rather than the generic flame effects that may accompany some other characters. I'm not fully on board with the pirate theme as I feel like the design is a bit too busy, but I literally love everything else about Spinal.
In terms of gameplay, his big gimmick is that he can raise his shield up and devour projectiles. He'll use this mechanic to store "skulls" to use as projectiles in turn, which you can see floating around his character depending on how many you have at any given moment. It's subtle, but it's a very cool way to eliminate any sort of "meter" that would show them, and the ability itself instantly sets himself apart from the rest of the roster. The skulls can be launched low, high, or vertically in the air, which gives you some keep-away options if you meet the proper energy requirement.
Spinal also has a few other tricks up his sleeve, including a teleport move (which can be modified with shadow power to do damage), a standard slicing uppercut combo linker, a shield dash charge move, and a dive kick. One of the most deadly moves in his arsenal however is his standard low + heavy kick slide, which is actually an opener. It's easy to predict on its own, but as a punish it's highly effective to start off a combo chain with.
While he is a fairly technical character, he lacks speed, meaning you'll have to master his teleport move and be rather deliberate in your actions, especially with some of the faster characters in the game. You'll get around this by canceling out projectiles, and closing the gap with dash moves, while teleporting at the right times. You have to be careful though, as it's easy to punish Spinal with nearly everything he does.
I'm extremely pleased with the addition of Spinal in Killer Instinct. He's exceeded my expectations as a balanced and fun character, and with all of his new additions, he differentiates himself from the rest of the cast while making his own mark on the game. Double Helix did a really great job injecting him into the existing foundation, and I hope Fulgore follows suit this March.
He's as alive as he's ever been Killer Instinct surprised a lot of people when it hit the Xbox One. No one really expected much from Double Helix given its track record, but a decent following has been with the game ever since, and there's even an arca... read feature
Killer Instinct is still trucking along, and more fighters are on the way, starting with Spinal, who is launching today on the Xbox One. If you have the Season Pass, he's included as a free download, otherwise he can be... read
In detailing an upcoming patch for Killer Instinct, developer Double Helix Games has broken down its plans for rage quitters. Players whose disconnect percentage rises above 15 percent in ranked multiplayer matches will be se... read
Killer Instinct is still played weekly in my house, especially with the Mad Catz Xbox One stick. The problem is it needs more characters sooner than later, and it looks like Spinal is almost done. Play XBLA has posted th... read
Killer Instinct has swapped out its first free playable character as of a new 675MB update. Since launch in November, Jago has been freely available to test out. Now, it's Sabrewulf.
The full list of patch notes from develope... read
The original "Raid" has not been topped, but both "Siberian Tunnel" tracks make my ears sing.
The Strider reboot is coming to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC early 2014 for $15. C'mon, Double Helix. Don't goof this up or it's back to licensed Battleship games and Killer Instinct DLC forever. read
Killer Instinct may have launched with a paltry six characters, but that number is set to increase to eight early next year. Currently, fan favorites Spinal and Fulgore are in development, and thanks to a forum thread over at... read
Nov 23 //
Killer Instinct (Xbox One)Developer: Double Helix GamesPublisher: Microsoft StudiosRelease Date: November 22, 2013MSRP: Free ($4.99 per character, $20 Season Pass, $40 Ultra Edition)
Killer Instinct 2013 is a "2.5D" fighting game that operates similarly to Street Fighter IV. But as a stark contrast to some other fighters, the crux of the game is based on the intricate combo system -- which lets you to "link" certain moves together (regulars and specials) to form long chains of attacks. To start off this process you'll throw up an "opener," which will allow you to begin a combo, then you can throw in a few regulars, with a small window to enact another link move, and so on.
The regular hit-confirm game is more present than ever, as you attempt to link everything you can into an opener to start a combo. To prevent you from doing this indefinitely, there's a "combo limit" meter near your hit count that shows you when you'll have to stop -- at that point, you'll pop an "ender" to inflict as much damage as you can, and your opponent will be allowed to recover, resetting the fight.
The beauty of this system is that it's extremely simple to grasp at first, but it has a lot of intricacies to it. For starters, the enemy can escape any combo with a "combo breaker" move, which is used by pressing either LP+LK, MP+MK, or HP+HK. Why the disparity between light, medium, and heavy? Well, because you need to know the strength of the combo your opponent is using to break it -- if you press the wrong combination of buttons, you'll be "locked out" of a breaker for a few seconds, and you'll have to take the punishment.
Add in the fact that you can use moves called "manuals" (delayed attacks that mix up the timing of combo breakers), and you have a huge, interesting meta-game involving the combo system that's very interesting to take part in. In practice, I mainly love this setup because it always keeps you on your toes. At any point anything can be punished, but instead of sitting there and waiting for it to be complete, you can just break it -- and with enough practice, you'll be able to break more and more.
But combos aren't the only system present in Killer Instinct. There are shadow attacks (EX moves) that allow you to modify special moves to do more damage, open up new combos, or even go through projectiles. Killer Instinct also has its own version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3's X-Factor (used by pressing HP+HK), which allows you to regenerate a small amount of health, and gives you more hit stun capabilities. But it's more than just a buff, as it can be used to cancel a move to avoid a punish, and momentarily reset your combo limit.
All of the standard fighting game tropes are also present, including cross-ups, wake up game, resets, and frame-specific moves. To finish everything off, you can use an "Ultra" combo as a fatality of sorts when your opponent has less than 15% of their health left on their last life. It's meant to be a dramatic finish, and the announcer goes absolutely nuts.
You won't have too much difficulty learning these systems, as Killer Instinct's "Dojo" tutorial is one of the best in the genre, rivaled only by Skullgirls. In fact, I'd make the claim that if you finished both tutorials from start to finish, that you'd have the foundations to improve your skills in any fighting game -- they're that comprehensive, including frame data and frame specific tutorials. Jago is the new Shotokan (or, Shoto, Street Fighter's perfect learning character) of Killer Instinct, so injecting him into the demo as your first free character is genius.
But while the systems are pretty solid, Killer Instinct is bare-bones in a lot of ways. For one, there's no campaign or any substantial amount of single-player content, really -- you're relegated to playing against the AI in single combat in the form of versus, survival, and practice. Killer Instinct does support two-player local and online play of course (which is where I spend all of my time anyway), but if you're the type of person who tends to play by themselves a lot, you might get bored rather quickly.
It doesn't have a whole lot going for it in terms of the fighter count, either -- there are a mere six at launch, and the promise of two more earlier next year (with future content up in the air). Alongside of Jago you'll get Sabrewulf, Sadira, Thunder, Orchid, and Glacius. Out of all these Sadira is the only newcomer to the fray -- so you're getting five pre-existing characters in all. Now, while the count is low for sure, I have to say the game is pretty balanced, to the point where all six are viable in their own way.
I was particularly blown away by Sadira, who quickly became one of my favorites with her web-based combos and aerial antics. All of the fighters have a decent amount of flair and their own personality though, so players shouldn't have trouble gravitating towards one. Personally, my all-time favorite Fulgore isn't coming until 2014, but I'm slowly learning to master Jago and Sabrewulf until then. As an aside, the visual style may feel a bit uninspired at times, but it runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, and occasionally looks like a next-gen game -- albeit a very early one.
Although I've been playing the game for quite some time, the reason the review is dropping after release is because I wanted to test the netcode, and online play in general. It's a bit of a mixed bag in the end, as most of the games I played had no slowdown, latency issues, or drops -- but there were a handful of games that had any number of those issues, to the point where I hope Double Helix fixes them sooner than later. On the bright side, you'll get a win for enemy disconnects.
Matchmaking is simplistic (to a fault), with the ability to be put together in ranked or unranked fashion, or host private games for friends. Keep in mind that your options are extremely limited in the sense that online play has no bells and whistles attached to it, and I hope that Double Helix ends up adding far more options in the future -- including robust lobbies, a spectator mode, and tournament options.
So how do you buy Killer Instinct since it's not a physical game? Well, you download the free version, and choose what to add on from there. Despite the gaming community's proclamation that the sky was falling at the announcement of the game, Killer Instinct is a far cry from an abusive free-to-play scheme. It's very simple -- you download the game for free, which comes with Jago, or buy each character for $5.
If you spring for a Season Pass (six characters now, with two more later) it'll run you $20, and the "Ultra Edition" nets you some extras for $40. So long as you don't mind the limited roster of six at launch, it's not a bad scheme in the slightest.
Since you can still completely learn the game's systems using Jago for free and play with your friends, fighting game fans will get hours of entertainment out of the "demo" alone. I tested the bare-bones version out for myself actually, and was sufficiently entertained for quite a while before I was influenced to redeem my Ultra code.
If you spring for the Ultra Edition of the game, you'll get a number of costumes, all the characters from the Season Pass, and a full Xbox Live Arcade game -- Killer Instinct Classic. This is basically its own game that's completely separate from Killer Instinct 2013, with its own achievements, save files, and extras. Point blank, if you're even a mild fan of the original it's worth buying.
The Ultra version includes the original arcade game with all its "fan-favorite glitches" in tow, and a rework that smoothed them out completely -- to be clear, this is not the Super Nintendo version. Unlike the Xbox One game this one has 10 characters, all of which are fairly unique in their own way. The extras are basically a solid collection of fan service, including a sprite gallery, cutscenes, and even Easter eggs like the "Winners Don't Do Drugs" arcade messages.
Killer Instinct may not be the new king of fighting games, and it feels a bit rushed in terms of content, but it is very solid and far exceeds my expectations for it. With a pricing scheme that doesn't feel exploitative and a balanced character roster, the well developed mechanics will keep you busy until the new content drops next year. It'll be interesting to see what the community at large thinks of it over time, but in my living room, it's a welcome addition to my fighting game roster.
A surprisingly semi-killer combo When Killer Instinct was announced, I don't think I had heard the silencing of so many screams since the destruction of Alderaan. While many gamers quickly jumped for joy at the mere mention of this resurrection, said joy was... read feature
As the release of the Xbox One approaches, the official launch trailer for Killer Instinct is out now, and it's teasing plans for the future. Much like their previous trailers, they showcase much of the existing content whil... read
In 2014, a new Strider will launch on the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC platforms. Set to hit Japan on February 22nd, the game will be both a downloadable title and a packaged version -- similar to DuckTales Remastered... read
Currently, the only way to get Killer Instinct Classic is by purchasing either the Ultra ($39.99) or Ultimate ($59.99) edition of Double Helix's new Killer Instinct. I say "currently" because these things have a habit of gett... read
Dojo, survival mode, and the many uses of Killer Points detailed
// Alessandro Fillari
With the Xbox One coming in just two weeks, it's about time Microsoft let out a bit more information about one of its more talked-about titles. Killer Instinct is easily one of the most commonly-seen titles for the new consol... read
Less than a week after the reveal of Spinal, we get a nice little leak showing Fulgore as the final character for Killer Instinct's season-one roster. Yes, there is a God. The leak comes by way of Penny Arcade, who seemingly ... read
During IGN's recent livestream event for Killer Instinct, much of the focus was on B.Orchid's return in the newest entry of the series. As a fan favorite, Double Helix was keen to show off its redesign and new mechanics for ... read
With Killer Instinct drawing nearer, so too are details, specifically about the game's training modes. You can expect the standard training mode, of course -- just you and a dummy with A.I. The twist here is that the previous... read
Even without a deep-rooted sense of nostalgia for Strider -- okay, I do love the ridiculous Blue Dragon and always will for obvious reasons -- the remake in development at Double Helix is enough to bring about feelings of un... read