Hisako is my Hope to Fall Back in Love with Killer Instinct
March 29, 2015
Killer Instinct is the main reason that I bought an Xbox One, plain and simple. I really could not wait to play the next iteration of my favorite fighting game series of all-time, it felt like a dream. I remember desperately waiting for another game after Killer Instinct 2, but years passed me by without even a mention of the series, the best I had to sate my thirst was fake Killer Instinct 3 trailers. That soon changed at Electronics Entertainment Expo 2013 when a reboot of the iconic franchise was announced for Microsoft’s next generation console. The announcement was exactly what I wanted, and I went absolutely bonkers inside of my Xbox Live viewing party.
Fast forward to the here and now in 2015, a few years after its initial launch and I am saddened by my lack of interest in the game for varying reasons. However, even with the disappointment I have in this newest Killer Instinct, Hisako stands as a beacon of hope for me amongst the shattered remains of my child hood dreams. This article is going to be focused on exactly why Hisako threatens to fan the dying embers of my love for this game and erupt it into a full blown inferno.
NOTE – I know that Hisako is already available to play, but I do not own the Ultra Edition nor the Combo Breaker Edition of Killer Instinct. I am speaking when she is available to be purchased individually for those who want to pay on a character-by-character basis due to player preference or budget restraints.
My History with Killer Instinct
Never did I own a Super Nintendo, but I do remember going over to my god-brother’s house and playing the original console port of Killer Instinct on his console. The game was a lot different than what I was use to playing, but it was fun and had characters that seemed pretty fine by me. It was a good way to past the time but I did not look at things any deeper than that.
Fast forward to when me and my sister had a Nintendo 64, I remember seeing a game I wanted called “Killer Instinct Gold“. I wanted the game because I remember playing Killer Instinct at my god-brother’s house, but I had no idea that this was a Nintendo 64 port of the game’s sequel, Killer Instinct 2. My little sister is my favorite person in the entire world, and she would constantly play this game with me, us button mashing and getting accidental Ultras, Ultimates, and Out-of-Combo Ultimates (I used Jago, T.J. Combo, Tusk, Glacius, and Kim Wu. My sister used mostly B. Orchid, Kim Wu, and Maya). We seriously woke up early in the mornings before school to play this game, rushed to the Nintendo 64 to play the game after school was out while a french bread pizza was warming up in the oven. We played this game to the point I have went through six copies of Killer Instinct Gold and still do not have a working copy to this very day.
During the time that I was playing Killer Instinct Gold, I was nothing more than a button masher… at least I was initially. I had played games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, and while I loved those games, I had only so much of an idea what I was actually doing. Killer Instinct Gold was the first fighting game I had ever played that featured a tutorial mode on exactly what to do, earning me the ability to begin crafting skills that would help me when I started playing traditional fighting games competitively with the rebirth of the fighting game scene as Street Fighter IV released. I credit me learning how to cancel moves into other moves and getting the basic foundations of the combo system from this franchise.
Current Feelings About Killer Instinct
Microsoft held a promotional tour called the “Xbox Area One Tour” in which they stopped in select cities to throw parties and allowed people to play the Xbox One before its initial release. I happened to be in one of those cities, attending the second day it was opened here in Dallas, Texas. I arrived in the morning and played a few games that were available, such as Battlefield 4, Peggle 2, and of course Killer Instinct. They even held a tournament for K.I. and I happened to win the one for that time slot. I was really hype with the game and how beautiful it looked in person and I was really content with how Jago felt. This experience eased any fears I had about Double Helix taking the helm and soon enough I found myself buying an Xbox One specifically influenced by this game.
Killer Instinct became the first game I downloaded to my Xbox One, I ended up buying Jago since I had no interest in any other character since my true main (Tusk) was not in the game. I went through its impressive tutorial mode, learned the mechanics, and began to enjoy the new game for what it was. Playing online and landing Combo Breakers, Counter Breakers, Ultras, and extended combos. I watched tournaments and streams, cheered hard watching Evolution and could not wait to see what the future held for this iconic franchise brought back to life. However, in an unexpected twist, that hype soon died nearly as quick as it came with an unexpected announcement.
Amazon purchased Double Helix and this made me extremely upset and distraught about the future of the new Killer Instinct. I had grown to love this company and what they have done, from the character designs to the music that they incorporated into the stunning stages, what was going to happen now? What was going to happen now that Double Helix was going to have nothing to do with the franchise anymore? Part of me wondered why the hell Microsoft did not purchase them, the other part of me wondered if they had made a contract already for a second iteration into the series. Once it was announced that Double Helix’s final involvement would be finishing up the Fulgore character and stage, I was saddened and worried. The only thing I could hope was that the successors cared to go the same extent that Double Helix was in making sure that even the smallest detail had thought put into it.
Iron Galaxy was going to be at the helm, the company that I best knew from its involvement with the two button game Divekick. I was unfamiliar with Iron Galaxy as far as their work on games that could be viewed as major release, so I was concerned about how things were going to turn out. They released a trailer for T.J. Combo, one of my favorite characters from Killer Instinct 2 and I was absolutely appalled by it. I hated the way the character looked, I hated the next way the character was teased, and I figured it was a bad omen for things to come. Did they not learn from the awesome trailers of B. Orchid and Spinal? Did they not learn the proper way to tease a character from the amazing way that Fulgore was introduced? Everything seemed as though Killer Instinct was taking a turn for the worst, as I feared. Not to mention that their first two original characters, Kan-Ra and Omen, both looked ridiculously stupid to me and had sub-par introductions by way of their respective trailers. I hated the way that they made Jago (especially his Instinct), how they only gave a small portion of the Season 1 characters recaptures, and the way the overall game just felt.
My Hope, Hisako 久子
Hisako is my last hope to finally take Killer Instinct seriously, she is the final chance I am giving the game to prove to me it can ignite that same spark of passion as when I fired up Killer Instinct Gold in the glory days. This character appeals to me in so many ways and provides a love I have not felt since using Makoto Nanaya in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift (anyone who knows me would consider this a big deal). I want to go over a bit about why I am so hyped to finally play this character when she becomes available to me.
First off is Hisako’s origin and aesthetics. Hisako, from her name and native tongue, is suppose to be Japanese. I have taken an interest in Japan and its culture from my love of anime and manga. Hisako’s back story portrays her as a vengeful woman who has come from beyond the grave to take revenge upon those who murdered her family and robbed their graves (according to Hisako’s trailer). She is suppose to resemble an “onryō” ghost, most notably something along the lines of the famous movie franchise “Ju-on“. We know this because of the way her hair covers her face, the way her head bends at a 90 degree angle at times (similar to how Takeo murdered his wife in Ju-on: The Grudge), and unnatural contortion of the body. She is sporting a Kimono and is wielding a naginata. The naginata is significant to me because the first manga I ever fully collected, which is Samurai Girl: Real Bout High School. One of my favorite female characters in the book, Azumi Kiribayashi, weapon of choice was a naginata that she used to great effect.
The most appealing thing about Hisako to me happens to be her fighting style. Her ridiculously slow walk speed but monstrously fast dash reminds me of my main in Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Ultra Street Fighter IV, Makoto. They both also have command grabs, but Hisako actually has one which pulls the enemy towards her, impressive to keep them afraid once you get within a certain range which could lead to counter attack opportunities. Another thing I really like about Hisako is that she is specifically made to counteract opponents by rewarding smart play. In the Super Smash Bros. series, I tend to favor characters that have counters (Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Ike in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Shulk in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS) and I even mained Asuka Kazama in TEKKEN 5 for this very reason. Counters allow to easily manipulate a fool-hardy player who thinks he has a free punish into a situation that makes him weary of trying to counter you again, leading to free pressure. This character will allow me to do what I do best, but within the world of Killer Instinct. Mixing up attacks with grabs can make opponents antsy, forcing them into predictable patterns or causing them to play recklessly and essentially defeat themselves. I love when you can tell that an opponent has no idea what to do next and is scared to act.
Hisako’s concept arts are both well done, for herself and for her stage. The concept art of herself shows that she is actually not a bad looking girl and may have been quite the looker while she was still alive. She died when she was quite young so she probably was killed during the apex of her beauty. I like how her art shows the calm before the storm and is probably a good look at how she was before she became consumed by rage. Also, her theme “Village of Whispers” is absolutely amazing (it is embedded below the character concept art below). I love the mix of eerie melodies and hard vocals, the amazing guitar that brings everything to life. This is probably the greatest theme I have ever heard to be quite honest. While I do love Makoto Nanaya and Cammy White, I have never really particular fond of either of their character themes (“Alexandrite” for Makoto or “Butterfly Sky” if it has vocals, and “London Drizzle” for Cammy).
Killer Instinct is a legendary series to me, with Killer Instinct 2 being my favorite fighting game of all time. Something I promised myself was that if Killer Instinct ever had a third iteration within the series, that I would train to become the best in the world and travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to compete at Evolution to win it. I never went because I did not feel that connection to my current main, Jago, on top of having many responsibilities that I could not afford to go nor did I want to devote my free time to this new K.I. However, if for some reason we do see a return of Killer Instinct to the Evolution line-up for 2016, I would like to go there and win with Hisako, if possible.