Double Helix Games Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Double Helix Games RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Killer Instinct - Starter Guide - The Basics Fri, 30 May 2014 17:31:39 -0400 Kaelan Otto

It's been over seventeen years since the last Killer Instinct game by Rare studio, and many gamers ask "was it worth the wait," the answer you're most likely to get is, you bet it was. Killer Instinct is 2D fighting game that emphasizes on light, medium, and heavy attacks, Linkers, and Shadow attacks. In this new version of the game, the new developers, Double Helix, also added brand-new features like customization options, titles, backgrounds, icons, taunts, and "Instinct Mode."

The new Killer Instinct got a huge upgrade, these upgrades are level designs, character designs, graphics, netcode, in-game mechanics, new moves for the characters, sound design, a brand-new character, in-game announcer, and everyone's favorite upgrade, Ultra combos. This new art style of Killer Instinct looks absolutely amazing, my personal favorite is the character designs, all completely modernized.

The overall new game mechanics, along with some changes to the characters, will feel similar for veterans of the series, but for new-comers, it's going to be rather challenging. However, with some practice and patience, the game will feel a lot smoother for you. Believe it or not, the mechanics are actually quite easy to learn.

Lets get started on the basics of Killer Instinct:

The controls:

The controls will feel quite similar to Street Fighter, punches and kicks, with the strengths of lights, mediums, and heavies. In fact, most of the attack notations and button layout of the basics are almost identical to Street Fighter's. Because of this, Street Fighter players will pick-up on the controls easily, as for the combo system for Killer Instinct, that's where things become little difficult.

The animations for each attack will appear differently depending if the character is standing, crouching, walking forward or backward, or jumping. Each character has at least twenty-four "Normal(s)" attacks in their arsenal, each containing a strength and weakness.

Here is the default control format:
  • Light Punch(LP)= X
  • Medium Punch(MP)=Y
  • Heavy Punch(HP)=Right Bumper(RP)
  • Light Kick(LK)=A
  • Medium Kick(MK)=B
  • Heavy Kick(HK)=Right Trigger(RT)
  • All Three Punches(3P)=Left Bumper(LP)
  • All Three Punches(3K)=Left Trigger(LT)

Note: These controls can be customized through the options under "Controls"  in the main menu.


If you played the original Killer Instinct back in the day, then you'll know that the combos had to be done in a specific way in order to create some extensive combos. Now, with this new combo mechanic, combos are much easier to execute, especially for novice players. There is a bit of freedom/randomness within the new combo mechanics, this being that players are still limited of what they can do to start and end combos.

What this means is that combos MUST start from a "Opener," then must go to a "Linker," "Shadow Linker," "Manual," or "Auto-Double." Here is what a typical combo looks like:

Opener > Auto-Double/Manual > Linker/Shadow Linker > Auto-Double/Manual > Ender

Note: There are a some specific exceptions for certain characters.


Openers can be any special or Shadow attack that leaves your opponent completely vulnerable for any follow-ups. Certain attacks can bring the opponent immediately to the air or ground, while air juggles are possible, traditional combos requires the opponent to be stunned while standing.

Once you have started a combo with an Opener, you follow it with almost any attack that is available to your character. Any button that is pressed after a Opener is considered an Auto-Double, if you do another special attack, it's called a Linker. You can also follow it with a Shadow attack, this is what is called a Shadow Linker.

Note: Openers cannot be broken by Combo Breakers.


Auto-Doubles are used by pressing any button after an Opener, Linker, or and Shadow attack. Within a quick succession, it'll appear as two basic attacks. Depending on the speed of it, the strength varies, from lights, mediums, and heavies.

The quicker the Auto-Doubles are, it becomes much more difficult for the opponents to break, but they will do less damage. The slower the Auto-Doubles are, the easier it is for the opponents to break, but if succeeded, they will cause the most damage.

For most of the characters, Auto-Doubles cannot be used consecutively, you must perform a Linker or Shadow Linker in order to use another Auto-Double. Auto-Doubles can be replaced by Manuals, however, they are much harder to execute.

Note: Characters like Jago or Sabrewulf can perform more than one Auto-Double after another.


A Manual is one basic attack that's used during a combo. The proper timing for this is extremely strict, which makes it essentially harder to execute. Like Auto-Doubles, Manuals can only be used after Openers, Linkers, or Shadow Linkers.

After an Opener, Linker, or any Shadow attack is performed, there will be a limited time before the combo is dropped. Within that gap of time, you can use a light or medium punch or kick, pressing it too early, will result in a Auto-Double, but doing it too late, can result with the combo dropping.

You must time the Manual perfectly if you wish to beat some of the more professional players out there. Manuals will confuse many players, especially those who are not used to them - this is what makes them such a large threat.

Manuals act like Normals, each containing a certain frame advantage. These frames determine how much effectiveness they have during the combos, safe or unsafe, so you must be careful of which ones you use. One of the great aspects of Manuals is that opponents will have less than half the time to break them compared to Auto-Doubles.

This can result into a huge mind game that your opponent must guess perfectly if they wish to break the combos. Also, depending on the frames the Manual might have, you can do up to two Manuals before having to use a Linker or Shadow Linker. This will inflict more damage towards the opponent than a Auto-Double.

Note: Frame data for each attack can be viewed in Practice mode.


Any special move that is performed during a combo, whether it's a light, medium, or heavy, is called a Linker. They can be used after Openers, Auto-Doubles, Manuals, or any Shadow attack. A Linker follows the rule with lights, mediums and heavies, but instead of speed, its number of hits. Light Linkers are one hit, medium Linkers are two hits and in order to perform heavy Linkers, you must hold down any button that's light or medium, heavies are three hits.

Heavy Linkers can easily be broken by a skilled player, for that third hit will make it obviously a perfect target for a Combo Breaker, be careful when using them.

Note: Certain heavy Linkers can result in a Ender, this will of course end the combo. Again, be careful of how you use them.


A heavy special move that is used at any time during a combo, this will result with maximum damage and ending the combo. Not using an Ender can result in losing any potential damage you had on your opponent, it's very important that you use these Enders.

Some Enders contain different properties, what this means is that certain Enders can launch the opponent in air for small, but quick air juggle, and others can send the opponent flying at the wall causing a "Wall Splat." If a player gets a Wall Splat on their opponent, they can potential add more hits to the combo.

Note: Enders cannot be broken unless it's after an Opener. Another note is that certain Shadow Linkers can also cause an Ender.

Combo Breakers:

Combo Breakers are what stop the opponent's combo, this can only be done on the ground, not in the air. However, with the new update for the game, if the opponent ends the combo with an Ender that launches you in the air for a air juggle, if the opponent is standing and hits you in air with a Manual, then you are able to Combo Break that.

You cannot Combo Break an Opener or Ender, unless it's a short combo that goes from Open to Ender, then you may Combo Break it, but only on the Ender. To use a Combo Breaker, you must input the punch and kick strength that corresponds with the attack the opponent is using.

For example: in the middle of the combo, if you see the opponent doing a medium Auto-Double, as it's hitting, you must quickly press MP and MK at the same time to break it. If you see the opponent doing a medium Linker, again, you press both MP and MK. This rule also applies to lights and heavies.

Note: Doing the same Combo Breakers over and over, can make you a target for a Counter Breaker. Use them wisely.

Counter Breakers:

Counter Breakers, also known as bluffs, are used to stop the defensive player that tries to attempt a Combo Breaker during a combo. What this means is that if your opponent has a habit of breaking the same strings over and over, you can stop this by pressing both MP and MK at any point during the combo.

When this happens, the character will do a animation that looks like guard and the announcer will scream Counter Breaker. After this, the combo will reset, bringing the opponent to Lock-Out and will allow you to add more hits to your combos, which can cause some ridiculous damage.

Note: If you attempt to perform a Counter Breaker and the opponent does nothing, the combo is dropped and you left vulnerable a short period of time. Again, you must use these wisely.


During a combo, if the defensive player attempts to Combo Breaker, but inputs the wrong command, they are put into Lock-Out for three seconds. This means that an X is placed above their head, making it so that the player can't perform a Combo Breaker for three whole seconds.

The indicator will appear in two different colors, if the player mis-times the Combo Breaker, then it's yellow and if the player inputs the wrong command, then it's red. However, if the offensive player succeeds with a Counter Breaker, then the defensive player will be locked-out for four whole seconds.

Note: When the opponent is in Lock-Out, use that time to inflict as much damage as possible.

Shadow Meter, Shadow Attacks, Shadow Linkers,  Shadow Breakers, and Shadow Counters:

Located at the bottom of the screen, there will appear a blue meter, this is called the Shadow meter. The meter has two bars and you need at least one full bar to perform a Shadow attack or a Shadow Counter. To full the Shadow meter, you must hit your opponent with any attack, if the attack hits, you'll gain meter at a slow pace; but if the attack hits on block, then you gain more meter. Some Enders can give you a lot of meter, however, Shadow Linkers will not give you any meter.

To perform a Shadow attack, you will input any special move with two buttons instead of one. What this means if you were to input LP for a special move, then you would input two punch buttons to perform a Shadow attack. If use a Shadow attack during a combo, then it would be called a Shadow Linker. All Shadow attacks are five hits and each one has a different speed and property. Again, you cannot gain any meter with Shadow Linkers.

If your opponent ever hits you with a Shadow attack or Shadow Linker and you wish to break it, then you tap both MP and MK the same time, three times out of the five hits. You need to tap the both buttons as each move hits you, when this happens, your character will flash white the announcer will yell one, when you hear that do it again and you'll hear two, after three the Shadow move will break.

Depending on the Shadow attack, each one requires precise timing in order for a Shadow Breaker to occur. If you attempt to break them and you fail, then you are automatically put into Lock-Out.

Similar to a parry, Shadow Counters are performed by pressing both MP and MK, however, you must have at least one full bar of your Shadow meter. Whether if you're successful or not, Shadow Counters requires a bar of meter, and if successful, then your character will go into a counter-like animation and will perform a Shadow attack on the opponent, this can open up combos.

To perform a Shadow Counter, you must first start blocking the incoming Shadow attack, since there is a delay between both executions, you time it perfectly. The best way to do this is to wait for the fifth and final move to hit, right before it hits you input both MP and MK at the same times. The announcer will scream Shadow Counter.

Instinct Mode:

Located right under your health bar, is a yellow bar, this is your Instinct Meter. In order to gain Instinct, you must take damage from your opponent or perform a Combo Breaker. When the meter is full and you want to activate Instinct Mode, you must input both HP and HK together.

Each character has a unique Instinct trait. For example, Glacius' Instinct trait is armor plating, meaning he can take one hit without being stunned and hit you at the same exact same time.

You can also activate Instinct Mode during a combo, this is whats called an Instinct Cancel. When this happens, the combo will reset and you are able to perform a new Opener, adding more damage to the combo.

If you do an Instinct Cancel during a standalone attack, then that attack will stop immediately. You can also use Instinct Cancel stop your opponent from punishing an unsafe attack or Shadow Countering you.

Rounds and Throws:

Each match in Killer Instinct is divided into two separate rounds. How this works is that both players have two health bars, a green bar and a red bar. When the green bar is depleted, then the match will pause for a moment, the character will stand back up the red bar will fill up, thus creating the second round. During these pauses, both players can freely move around the level but cannot attack until the second starts.

Throws can used by pressing both LP and LK together. Throws execute very quickly and cannot be blocked, but they can be interrupted by any attack or jumping. To escape a throw, you must input the both LP and LK as the animation appears. Most of the character's throws can only take out guarding opponents, but certain characters can use a throw during a combo.

Killer Instinct Tournament Stopped by Xbox One DRM Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:00:31 -0500 Wokendreamer

Sometimes irony is simply too beautiful.  When a couple of guys got up on stage at EVO 2013 to talk about Xbox One and Killer Instinct, they received a round of boos.  The unpleasant reception was almost certainly mostly due to the console's originally planned DRM, but the memory is a stark one.  Now a fighting game tournament, a tournament featuring Killer Instinct, has found itself interrupted by that very console's DRM policies.

And it happened during a live stream of the event.

Two fighters were interrupted in the middle of their match by the Xbox One they were playing on returning to its dashboard and prompting them to prove they own the game.  This is especially problematic with Killer Instinct, since the game is digitally distributed and technically free, with individual characters being paid for.  Often it is literally not possible for consoles to be connected to the internet during tournaments, as such is entirely venue-determined and venues for these events can be difficult to find.

In fighting games, this sort of issue is a big deal.  I have personally seen people ejected from tournaments for using a wireless controller and accidentally pausing a game they were not taking part in.  Even pausing a game someone is an active part of is generally considered a forfeit, given the precision of the timing required for high-level play.

This is the kind of thing that could seriously alienate the tournament fighting game community.

This probably was not a glitch.  From all I can find, this is a relic of the DRM systems Microsoft originally wanted for the Xbox One.  It is possible they simply did not change the way they were designed for their digitally distributed games, assuming anyone downloading games to begin with would have the system connected all the time.

Hopefully the issue is one Microsoft will correct soon with a patch.  Being able to only play a given game for a limited time before the console simply shuts it down would effectively prohibit the game from becoming a tournament staple for practical reasons.  The fighting game community can be intensely loyal if treated well and listened to, but they have their limits, and Xbox One did not start off on the right foot.

Killer Instinct: Chief Thunder Revealed As Playable Character Thu, 15 Aug 2013 21:17:57 -0400 MyNameIsProjekt

Killer Instinct is a next-gen fighting game being developed by Double Helix Games exclusively for the Xbox One when it releases this Fall. The game is actually the third installment of the Killer Instinct line of fighting games and is the first game from that series to be developed in 17 years.

Chief Thunder

The character that was revealed today is none other than Chief Thunder who is one of the series most popular fighters. Chief Thunder is a Native American chief that arms himself with dual tomahawks and looks like he means business. The game's developer has labeled Chief Thunder as a "grappler" which means he will be best used at close-range of the opponent, and his moves allow him to keep as close as possible to his adversary. 

The developer has warned other close-range fighters to not mess up their close-range attacks against Chief Thunder because he will make them pay for any mistakes.  Long-range characters will also be vulnerable to Chief Thunder because one of his special abilities allows him to close on them quickly and he is invulnerable while doing so. 

David Verfaillie, the game's design director, said

"we wanted the key read immediately to be 'Hey, this guy is dangerous and you don't want him up close."

Thunder's main reason for fighting in the game's tournament is to find out what happened to his missing brother in the previous year's tournament. The developers have said that Thunder knows that his brother is dead and that his brother's spirit is restless, and this causes Thunder to show the grief that he feels.  Which explains Thunder's splattered war paint and his ambition to work fight his way through the tournament to find out what happened to his brother.

Looking Ahead

Killer Instinct looks like a solid fighting game and it will be interesting to see how Chief Thunder plays when the game is released. Fighting games are popular in the competitive gaming world so it will be interesting to see if Killer Instinct reaches the competitive arena. And if the game does reach the competitive stage, will players choose Chief Thunder as their main character for competition?

In any regards, Killer Instinct is supposed to be released around the Xbox One release date and should make for an interesting Xbox One exclusive.  If you are a fighting game fan or a prospective Xbox One buyer, keep an eye out for Killer Instinct as it could become a next-gen rival for the other fighting-game franchises. 

Killer Instinct Almost Makes Me Forget XBOX ONE's DRM Policies Fri, 14 Jun 2013 07:40:36 -0400 Joseph Rowe

I will admit it: I thought the new Killer Instinct was going to be bad. I do not have a very high opinion of Microsoft after learning about everything they're planning to do with the XBOX ONE and I expected myself to hate all the games on the system automatically because of that. I was wrong.

I played the hell out of the original Killer Instinct when it was on the SNES. I was a kid at the time and had no real clue what I was doing, but combos were pretty easy to pull off, the characters looked awesome, and the announcer added some style to the game that never lost its appeal to me.

The new version of the game looks radically different, plays a little bit different, but somehow still retains that same combo heavy, fast paced fun the original had.

I got a chance to try out the game this week and I had a blast. It was very simple to pick up. Within the first round I was doing long chains of combos with Jago.

I really liked that they gave Sabrewulf and Jago most of their old moves. Jago still plays sort of like Ryu and Sabrewulf has his lovely charge claw attacks. Since the inputs seemed to be the same from the original game, it made it easy to throw some specials into the combos that were so easy to pull off.

The combo breaker system is back so players have a chance to get out of enemy strings. This keeps the game's easy to use combo system a bit more balanced since they do feel like they could go on forever.

The rounds are still divided up the same way: there is only one round, but players have two lives, so to speak.When a player is down to their last sliver of health, their bar says ultra and their opponent can pull off some amazing combos that absolutely shred them to pieces.

So far, aside from the two playable characters, Glacius, Spinal, Cinder, and Fulgore are slated to make their return. I really hope that the full cast, especially Combo, Mohawk, and Orchid, make their return as the game would feel empty without them. How can you have a combo breaker without a Combo?

More characters will be revealed at EVO this summer, so be sure to pay attention to that. I hope that there will also be some new additions added to the cast to liven things up a little bit.

Pad vs. Stick

I got a chance to try out Killer Instinct on both the XBOX ONE pad and the new MadCatz KI XBOX ONE arcade stick.

I had played the game first with the stick then next with the pad and I am thankful I did this. When I played with the stick, everything felt super responsive and my moves came out clean.

When I played with the pad, my inputs sometimes did not register and everything felt like it had a delay. I was wondering if it was a low battery, but the controller gave no indication of being low and my opponent was having the same difficulties.

Why Did You Have to Be So Good?

I am really mad at Killer Instinct. It is an XBOX ONE exclusive and I really, really want to play it. I absolutely refuse to buy the console, though, especially when this is the only exclusive I have any interest in. Nonetheless, however, it definitely makes the console tempting to me when I had previously found it objectionable.

Although it might not be enough to convince people to buy the console, it is definitely worth checking out if you get a chance to get your hands on it. I will be keeping my fingers crossed that somehow, by some miracle of the gaming gods, Killer Instinct will go multiplatform.