Killer Instinct 2 (commonly abbreviated KI2) is a 1996 arcade-only fighting game developed by Rare Ltd., licensed by Nintendo, and manufactured by Midway. KI2 is the sequel to Killer Instinct (1994), an arcade game which was also ported to the SNES. Like its predecessor, the game features two 8-way joysticks with six buttons each for attacks (three punch and three kick), allowing for both a single player mode or a two player versus mode. A modified version of KI2 appeared on the Nintendo 64 as Killer Instinct Gold in 1996 (see below.)


As with most fighting games and indeed its predecessor, two characters square off with the goal of depleting the opponent's life bar. As with the original Killer Instinct, when a player's original life bar is fully depleted, he or she will fall to the ground, and immediately begin on his or her second lifebar.

As with the first game, Killer Instinct 2 relies on an automatic combo subsystem in its matches. The matches, as with Killer Instinct, revolve around a three strength system (Quick, Medium, and Fierce.) However, normal moves have lost a lot of their priority and range, as well as gaining extra recovery time. Throws have been added into the game to deal with blocking characters (as opposed to the top attack in Killer Instinct.) Additionally, characters can be knocked down much easier with normal moves than in the first game, ending the possibility of opening with a 'glitch' combo and also weakening the effectiveness of normal moves. Normal special moves no longer are judged on priority, but instead follow a three tiered 'rock, paper, scissors' system, in which a certain special move will always break another certain special move (similar to the three tiered system in Soul Calibur.) The system has been seen as flawed due to little differences between the special moves themselves [1].

Additionally, a Super bar has been added to the game (similar to Street Fighter Alpha or King of Fighters). This super bar fills as players take damage. After the bar reaches a certain point, the player can use a multi-hit super special move (normally referred to as Super Move,) which is usually an extended version of a normal special move.

The combo system has its roots in the original Killer Instinct. By pressing a certain strength button after an opener move, a player will launch an auto-double and initiate the combo system of the game. However, unlike the first game, players can now open up combos with new and much less risky moves than before (most notable a close Fierce punch or close Fierce kick.) Additionally, Super Moves can be placed into combos, greatly increasing their damage and potency as well as being unbreakable. Additionally combos can be extended using throws, super linkers, manual-doubles, and super end specials.

As a result of the weakened normal moves and other changes to the system, combos have now become more devastating in Killer Instinct 2. In an apparent effort to help ease this dominance, combo breakers are now easier to perform. Unlike combo breakers in the first game, which also required a three tiered 'rock, paper, scissors' system based on strength to break, combos are now broken depending on the type of attack. Punches break kick doubles, and kicks will break punch doubles.

As popular as its predecessor was this next installment, in addition to praise, was criticized for its more liberal combo engine which changed the dynamics of the game considerably [citation needed].

Parry, an advanced new addition, allow an open counter-attack after a successful parry block. A player can assume a standing defensive position and cause the attacker to temporarily freeze if the parry is successful.

The finishing moves have also been reworked. Now each character can only execute these attacks when the opponent's second life bar flashes red (unlike the first Killer Instinct the opponents falls when he or she loses all of his or her energy bars). Each characters has two Ultimate combo moves (one of them can be executed without executing a combo), the Humiliation sequences were dropped, and the Ultra combo feature is still intact.


Killer Instinct 2 follows on from the plot line that the previous installment ended with. Eyedol's death at the hands of Orchid accidentally sets off a time warp, transporting some of the combatants back in time and allowing the Demon Lord Gargos to escape from Limbo. Now, trapped 2000 years in the past, the warriors that survived Killer Instinct, along with several new faces, fight for the right to face Gargos in combat, but Chief Thunder, Cinder and Riptor did not return. Each character that survived the journey from the first game has a corresponding background story, while new characters on this installment are native inhabitants of this past time period. Some fighters, like T.J. Combo who survives from the original, just want to get home. Others, like new character 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.

List of Characters

Characters returning from the first game

  • Fulgore: A new, enhanced cyborg created after the first Fulgore was destroyed by Jago in the first tournament. His current goal is the destruction of Jago.
  • Jago: Succeeded in destroying Fulgore in the first tournament after being possessed by the Tiger Spirit. He was soon betrayed by the Tiger Spirit which turned out to be the demon Gargos in disguise. Gargos used Jago to gain entrance to the physical world. Jago seeks revenge against Gargos's manipulation. It is revealed in this game that Orchid is his sister.
  • Spinal: Spinal was destroyed by Chief Thunder in the first tournament. Gargos however had one of his own in the past. Spinal now fights for vengeance and for his freedom.
  • T.J. Combo: After he defeated Riptor in the first tournament, T.J. Combo was sent into the past when attempting to destroy the Ultratech building. Now he simply fights to get home.
  • Glacius: The original Glacius defeated Cinder and returned home. A distant relative of Glacius 2,000 years in the past heeds a distress call and comes to Earth. His objective is to find his lost brethren and return home.
  • Sabrewulf: Captured by Ultratech in the first tournament after being severely injured and beaten. Has been driven mad by experimentation from Ultratech. With cybernetic arms and being 2,000 years in the past, Sabrewulf desperately seeks a cure for his lycanthropy.
  • B. Orchid: Orchid destroyed Eyedol in the first tournament which subsequently sent the Ultratech building two millennia into the past. Now Orchid seeks to destroy Gargos and to find a way home. Orchid had a weapon change from the first game. She used laser swords from the first game, but now uses Tonfa for the second.

New characters

  • Maya - An Amazonian warrior that previously banished Gargos. Maya was banished by her people when Gargos reappeared. Her goal is to destroy Gargos once and for all to regain her former standing.
  • Tusk - A barbarian that seeks to fight all of the challengers before he believes he will have the right to fight and destroy Gargos.
  • Kim Wu - An eastern martial artist that is a descendant of the people who previously drove off Eyedol and Gargos. To protect her people, she seeks to destroy Gargos.
  • Gargos - A demon lord that has returned to the physical world. Resembles a huge gargoyle that is very powerful and can also breathe fire. He was the rival of Eyedol, the boss of the first game.

Intro censorship

The FMV introduction of KI2 features a provocative scene of the female character Black Orchid. Before release, the full version of this video sequence was shown on the UK gaming TV show Gamesmaster, but was later cut for the arcade release.


Each character in the game has two or four different endings. Which ending the player gets depends whether or not the player kills (by using a finishing move vs. simply depleting their health) one or more certain character(s) during the course of the game.

For example, Jago's endings both involve Fulgore and Black Orchid. Thus, killing or not killing them over the course of the game alters the outcomes of his endings.

  • If he kills both of them, he relishes his victory over Fulgore, but feels an inexplicable emptiness in his heart.
  • If he kills Orchid but doesn't destroy Fulgore, the cyborg will eventually make a lethal attack on him after he wins the tournament, and fulfills Ultratech's original purposes by seizing control of the world.
  • If he kills Fulgore but spares Orchid, his enjoyment of his enemy's demises is only sweetened by the discovery that Orchid is his older sister.
  • If he spares both their lives, he makes that discovery when she saves him from Fulgore's attack.

Killer Instinct Gold

Killer Instinct Gold is the Nintendo 64 version of Killer Instinct 2. It was released shortly after the launch of the console. The game suffered some graphical downgrades and the endings for each character do not change (as they would in the Arcade version) due to the memory limitations of the Nintendo 64 cartridge. Other than that, Killer Instinct Gold remains faithful to the original Killer Instinct 2.

These differences include:

  • Team Battles, in which one can fight with up to 11 characters.
  • Team Elimination Battles, in which one has to finish his or her opponents off with Fatals (finishing moves similar to Mortal Kombat's Fatalities, which can be executed immediately) instead of simply depleting their life bar with normal moves, or they will simply return later on in the match (however as the computer player will sometimes use Gargos as the last opponent, victims can be removed from play anyway as he lacks a finishing move).
  • Training and Advanced Training, in which the player can learn the moves of the character they have chosen as well as the correct execution of combos, doubles, auto-doubles link moves, etc.
  • Options menu, which allows the player to modify certain data, such as the speed of the game, the color of the blood, button configuration, sound and manage Controller Pak data.
  • Unlockable content, such as alternate colors for characters and scenarios, and faster degrees of speed for the game.

KI Gold is compatible with the Nintendo 64's Controller Pak to save options and high scores, though the cartridge also includes battery save.

Unlike the arcade version, however, this home port had most of its FMV scenes and several frames of character animation removed, due to the memory limitations of the Nintendo 64 cartridge. Alternate endings for characters were also removed, resulting in each character having only one ending which seems to mix certain aspects of their other endings into one. Since this system was cartridge-based, and full-screen FMVs can take up hundreds of megabytes of space, the FMVs had to be replaced with a simple animation consisting of a zoom of the character the player was using. To compensate for the loss of animation, the stages in the game were fully rendered in 3D, as opposed to the scaling and distorting FMVs used for the stage backgrounds in the arcade version, allowing more dynamic camera takes at the beginning of the battle, while using less memory consumption. However, the quality of the animation of the sprites was notably decreased in comparison to KI2.


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