A lot of people ask me what was the best game on the Gameboy. Some would say it was Tetris or SuperMarioLand, but for me, the best game… the game that showed the whole world just what the Game Boy could actually do was Killer Instinct.
This Arcade game was successfully ported to the SNES in 1995 after being released in 1994 in Arcades and was a huge commercial and critical success. When it was brought to the Game Boy there was a feeling that there would be huge sacrifices and that the game would be the shadow of the SNES which was already a shadow of the awesome Arcade version. Oh how very wrong.
Killer Instinct is almost like someone decided to pluck all the best parts of every beat-em-up. The speed and combos of Streetfighter 2, the violence and fatalities from Mortal Kombat and the eclectic variety of characters from both and others. This was all mixed in a pot to create (in my opinion) the best beat-em-up there has ever been.
The story was simple. A sinister company called Ultratech devised a tournament pitting a number of fighters who all had some connection to the company. Selecting one of the fighters, you smash your way through the others until you face Eyedol, a two headed beast with the unhelpful ability to heal himself, which is totally unfair, but makes whooping him even more satisfying.
Fights were unique in that instead of starting each round anew, whoever won the previous round would get to keep their remaining life bar into the next round. The other thing that made this game awesome was the focus on combos. Combos could range from a simple three hit ‘Triple’ to the insane and game ending thirty to forty hit ‘Ultimate’ combos.
The game is possibly one of the greatest achievements of the Game Boy. And it is simply because it works. Other beat-em-ups, such as Mortal Kombat and the awful Streetfighter 2 conversion suffered from loss of characters (as did Killer Instinct) and also failed in creating the feeling of the game. This game did not and it is almost a miracle that Rare managed to pull it off and I’ll tell you why:
This is all the Game Boy has to work with and yet they were able to cram all the functions of the six button original into these two little buttons. All without losing any of the action, the combos or other features of the game.
Now of course I should point out that no Rare did not fit the Arcade game and all of its features into Game Boy. They couldn’t even do that for the SNES and so that would be an impossible task. Two characters were lost (Cinder and Riptor, though it retained the ability to play as Eyedol if you enter the correct code). Some moves were lost and the characters’ all had their fatalities reduced to one, but the rest, the combos, the action, the hard hitting violence, even on the green screen is still as graphic and awesome as ever. Through the link cable you were even able to play a two player mode which was great.
It is odd that there hasn’t been a Killer Instinct game since Killer Instinct Gold on the N64 in 1996 and though there have been rumours of Killer Instinct 3 or the original coming to Xbox Live, for me the most fun I ever had playing Killer Instinct was on the Game Boy.