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Killer Instinct

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Killer Instinct is an arcade game released in 1994. It was ported to the Super Nintendo and Gameboy systems. It was rumored to be the game that would showcase the features of Nintendo's then-upcoming 64-bit game system that eventually became the Nintendo 64. It was followed in the arcades by Killer Instinct 2 and on the Nintendo 64 by Killer Instinct Gold.

Combo System

Standard Flow

It is important to keep in mind that the player may finish the combo after any part by simply not inputting any move, using a non-designated special attack, or using a standard move that is not designated as an auto double in the current sequence (the latter two could be considered 'finishers' in their own right), in addition to the sequences below.

If the opposing player's life is very low on their second life bar, there are two special combo endings which can be performed. The first can be done after at least a 2 hit combo and is the most well known move in Killer Instinct, the Ultra combo, which does a visually impressive automatic 18 hit combo ender similar in style to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3's Brutalities. The second can be done after at least a 3 hit combo, the Ultimate, which performs a no mercy finishing move on the opponent. Both of these special combo enders function as 'instant-kill' moves, similar to Guilty Gear XX or Samurai Shodown V.

1. Opener (either designated specials moves, jump-in attack, or "top attack.")

2. Auto-double (a specific strength button that is determined by which strength special attack the player used.) If it is after a jump-in attack, it will always be one strength lower than the jump-in attack. If it is after a top attack, it will always be Medium.)

3. At this point the player has two possible choices. S/he end the combo with an end special, which is a specified special attack (which will result in a special finisher.) Or, the player could use a linker, which is a single special move of certain strength.

4. At this point, again, the player has two possible choices. S/he could use an end special (as noted above) or a second auto-double (which will follow the linker, and therefore always be a punch or kick of certain strength, since the linker is always a fixed special attack of certain strength.)

5. End special (a specified special attack.)

Additionally, players can create speed-up, slow-down, and shadow combos by using certain moves, though generally these are graphical changes that result in little gameplay difference. Finally, players have found certain moves or combinations of moves that can be incorporated into or instigate combos outside of this system. Some of these do, in fact, lead to infinites as seen in other fighting games. There is little doubt that these moves were probably not pre-planned.

Hits designation

After a combo is successfully completed without being broken, bonus points are awarded based on the number of hits:

  • 3 hits - Triple combo
  • 4 hits - Super combo
  • 5 hits - Hyper combo
  • 6 hits - Brutal combo
  • 7 hits - Master combo
  • 8 hits - Awesome combo
  • 9 hits - Blaster combo
  • 10 hits - Monster combo
  • 11 hits - King combo
  • 12-17 hits - Killer combo
  • 18+ - Ultra or Ultimate combo*
  •  ? - Ultimate combo*
  • If used, the combo receives that designation instead.


While combos have the potential to be damaging due to the initial difficulty required to 'break' out of one, it is important to note that they are quite dangerous to use. They can only be initiated by fairly high-risk attacks, and can be broken fairly easily if they become too long. Additionally, damage scaling is very severe, meaning that the damage of every successive hit will become smaller. Beyond the fourth or fifth hits, subsequent hits will do negligible, if any, damage (but instead, they reward big points).

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