I never knew how much I missed Killer Instinct

3 min read
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The fighting game that got me in to fighting games.

The FGC is playing witness to yet another one of the greatest comebacks in the scene, but we aren't talking about a match. We are talking about the rebirth of Killer Instinct as a top title in the FGC.

Killer Instinct fans have had a lot to be happy about this past week following two major announcements to help the game's resurgence. The first being that EVO Online would see KI return to the stage after four years of it being absent. The second was the announcement of the Killer Instinct World Cup, which we haven't seen since 2017.

But, in order for us to appreciate the comeback we are witnessing, we need to understand its journey to this point. Before we get into it, I think the most pivotal part of KI's resurgence back to mainstream relevance is the strong community that has stayed with it since launch and those that joined later even though the game didn't make it to the mainstage of big tournaments. Without a community continuing to back it, we may not have seen KI at EVO again, nor another World Cup, and thank you for your dedication to those guys and gals.

Another point before we get started; this is going to be about my experience with Killer Instinct over the years, and the reason I am thrilled at it being in the light again. If you are all about hearing how KI helped me fall in love with fighting games, read on, my friends.

The glory years

Killer Instinct launched on November 22, 2013, and, man, do I remember the excitement when the game was announced. At that time, I was working at GameStop, and I can still vividly remember customers coming in to preorder the game and telling me all about how they loved to beat up on their friends in the original Killer Instinct on SNES. I never played the original, mostly because I was a one-year-old when it was released. Their excitement and passion for the game made me interested in it, so I made sure to pick it up when it was released, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it, though it would be a lie to say I "no-lifed" it. It was the first fighting game I played to the point that I researched combos and characters. I played a good bit with a few friends and a little online, but not too much outside of that. I did keep up with the tournaments for it reasonably well for the first few years, though, which made me see other fighting games played at a high level, something I had never experienced before then.

Killer Instinct would go on to make an appearance at EVO 2014, 2015, and 2016 and host a World Cup in 2016 and 2017. I vaguely remember watching Jonathan "Rico Suave" Deleon win the 2016 World Cup with Glacius and being blown away at his use of the character, having fumbled miserably with him against my friends many times. KI is such an incredible spectating experience due to the "CCC-COMBO BREAKER" over-the-topness it offers. I wish I would have appreciated the game more in its heyday, but thankfully, it seems I will get that opportunity again very soon.

Original Killer Instinct for SNES
Image via Killer Instinct Wiki

KI goes on the back-burner

I don't want to prop up EVO as the only relevant tournament in the FGC space — it's not. Still, I acknowledge it as the event that will bring new eyes to the scene and is usually a good indicator of what games currently have the most active community. 

In 2017, I made it a point to watch EVO since I missed the KI World Cup that year. When I noticed that KI was missing, even after making it a point to vote for it due to reading SRK's plea to have the game represented at the event, I was upset at the moment, but I quickly forgot about it. And that was kind of where KI left my mind. I didn't offer the game much thought after that point, not by deliberate choice; it just happened. But, after the EVO Online announcement, I became aware of my blunder. Have you ever found something and realized how much you missed it once it's found, but never realized it was gone until it was found? That's how I've felt about KI over these past two weeks.

KI World Cup 2017
Image via Robert Paul @tempusrob

I really wanted to write this primarily due to the crazy realization I had at forgetting about KI until the EVO Online announcement, on my birthday no less. While EVO being online this year is a tad disappointing, I am thrilled that that unfortunate happening brought the revival of seeing KI on the big stage. Seeing the madness ensue in KI's arena for incredible stakes is going to be great, and I'm making it a point not to miss it this time around.

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