Killer Instinct GoldFans of Killer Instinct won't be disappointed
When the first Killer Instinct came out for Super NES, fans of this arcade fighting game were overjoyed. KI Gold hits home on Nintendo 64 with solid, intact combo-intensive gameplay, music, and interactive backgrounds that'll make KI Gold fans happy. All the popular characters are back from KI 2, with some hidden ones thrown in for good measure.
Game control is fluid, but the N64 joypad does require some getting used to. The game uses the same six-button system as Street Fighter II, with three buttons dedicated to punches and the others for kick attacks, but that is essentially where the similarity ends. Whereas SF emphasizes skill, patience, and a mastery over the controls, Killer Instinct seems to favor the aggressive, chaotic button pushing techniques found in the Mortal Kombat series. KI had the potential to be a deep fighting game, but the depth is clouded by the archaic fighting system which relies far too heavily on combo memorization and pre-planning then it does on inventive, spontaneous gameplay.
Drawing you into the heated battles is a vastly improved camera which automatically zooms in and out of the action, adjusting for the best possible viewing angle. This seems to be one of the rare instances where the camera adds to the gameplay instead of hindering it.
As far as conversions go, KI Gold is superior but not perfect. All the characters and combos from KI 2 are here, running at a good frame rate, with the backgrounds updating at 60 fps. But due to the limitations of the cartridge format, some frames of animation have been left out, as well as all the FMV sequences, but overall that doesn't detract from the gameplay. The backgrounds have been wonderfully ported over from the arcade version, and have even been refined to increase the detail levels and the colors. The soundtrack is fully intact, and now seems even better with cleaner sound effects and music.
Nintendo has even gone and improved upon the practice mode, enabling gamers to work on specific areas of their fighting game. Want to perfect a counter move or combo breaker? No problem. Just follow the appropriate tutorial, and you have the chance to get better. Other options include team and tournament modes which enable gamers to compete against each other using their favorite group of characters.
In the final analysis, Nintendo 64 users desperate for a fighting game will probably snatch this game up, but the title is showing signs of age from its extended stay in the arcades. If you're a fan of Killer Instinct, you won't be disappointed, but KI Gold really can't be considered in the upper echelon of next-generation fighting games.