The folks at Hold Back To Block recently released their full-length documentary on the history of Killer Instinct, from its inception to its rocky start on the Xbox One, all the way to its third (and seemingly final) season and incredibly passionate community. As a fighting game fan and as someone who thinks Killer Instinct is the absolute best fighting game this generation, I think this is a must-watch if you’re even remotely interested in the series.
I wish it dug a little more into season 3, the Shadowlords mode, and the cameo characters like Rash, Raam, and Arbiter, but I loved seeing how much passion went into the game’s creation.
We all know how awful the messaging was during the Xbox One reveal, with Microsoft essentially walking onstage and gutting themselves in front of a capacity crowd. Following that bumble up with the announcement that Killer Instinct was not only coming back as an exclusive title to a console most people immediately lost interest in, but it was going to be free-to-play and launch with six fighters… man, it had to be hard. But Double Helix stuck with it, delivered a superb reboot, and, as it turns out, led the charge that seasonal updates do not need to come with a major price tag (looking at you, Street Fighter). It’s now the blueprint most fighting games follow, releasing batches of characters as a “season” instead of constantly pushing a brand new version on to store shelves (still looking at you, Street Fighter).
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, a small team of passionate fighting game fans at Double Helix rebooted Killer Instinct with only 8 months until the Xbox One officially launched. Yikes. After a successful first season and Double Helix finding their footing, they were surprisingly picked up by Amazon and relegated to developing mobile games, which is super fucking depressing.
Iron Galaxy took over for season two, who were mostly familiar with porting existing games (and, ironically, was almost Microsoft’s first choice for the reboot), and this documentary really digs into their struggles to keep the game balanced and unique. It’s interesting stuff (to me, anyway).
I’ve never seen a community stick with a game as passionately (I know I’m using that word a lot, but there’s meaning behind it) as Killer Instinct’s 2013 reboot. I’m stoked to see it come back to EVO since it’s one of the ONLY modern fighting games with a reliable netcode, and I hope this encourages Microsoft to continue the series moving forward. Not likely, but hey, we can dream. The hashtag #BringBackKI exists for a reason and stranger things have happened.