Ever since Killer Instinct’s E3 2013 announcement, the name Maximilian has become synonymous with the game. Max has been there since day one religiously playing and covering the game probably more than any other individual outside of the development teams at Double Helix and Microsoft. So we reached out to him to get his own personal thoughts on the new KI, his first experience with the franchise, and more! Read on for our exclusive interview with the one and only Maximilian!
Killer Instinct Central: So Killer Instinct. It has been seventeen years since Killer Instinct 2/Gold and you’ve shown a tremendous amount of excitement for the game and have been covering it more than anyone else. How does it feel for you personally having KI back in the fighting scene?
Maximilian: Bizarre to say the least. There’s been KI3 rumors floating for the past 10+ years and nothing came to fruition. After so much time passing, you don’t even entertain the possibility that KI will ever be a thing again…and here we are. With KI being the first fighting game I actually spent time learning back when I was 11 years old, it’s beyond crazy that I’m talking with random folks all over again about one of my favorite games ever.
KIC: I think a lot of people were taken by surprise to learn that Double Helix was developing the new game as opposed to Rare. What was your initial reaction to this news?
Max: My reaction to DH developing was skeptical at first. The initial E3 trailer wasn’t very exciting and the graphics didn’t seem too amazing, so I went to the first public playtest not expecting much. After all, KI was a great game, but it wasn’t a great fighting game back in the day…and if you copy that now, it would sink pretty hard. My entire opinion changed after actually playing KI3, and I’ve been hooked to finding the next place to play since.
KIC: What has been your favorite moment and/or experience so far since KI was announced at E3?
Max: Absolutely playing KI on stage at Evo 2013. I can now actively thank the new Killer Instinct for giving me the opportunity to meet the developers of the original game, introducing me to a ton of classic fighting game community KI members, and fulfilling a dream I’ve had for the past 10 years. Making it to mainstage Evo.
KIC: What could you tell us about your first experience with the franchise? How did you get into Killer Instinct?
Max: The first KI debuted in arcades when I was around 10 or 11 years old. I collected Nintendo Power at the time, so I heard few rumors about Rare making a fighting game at some point. I had little passing interest in such a title, as Super SF2 on my Genesis was everything I ever wanted. Then one day I passed by my arcade to hear a woman screaming in pain followed by gunfire. This was not a robbery in progress, it was Fulgore executing a No Mercy on B. Orchid. It was brutal, violent, and everything I shouldn’t be playing/watching at that age. So of course, I was intrigued. Going forth to play the game, and seeing its roster filled with classic monsters and extreme characters, I was hooked. I even remember writing a short film script of Killer Instinct back when I was 12 or 13, and drawing new designs of all the characters. Hooked for life, you might say.
KIC: Fighters have changed quite significantly since the original KI’s release in the 1990s. Nowadays there are typically three different fighting styles for characters: zoners, grapplers and rushdown fighters. Are you excited about Double Helix introducing that ‘combat triangle’ to Killer Instinct?
Max: I didn’t think it would be possible to be honest. One of the endearing factors of the original KI is that almost every character was the same. Even at such a young age, I could randomly select anyone and be really good because the combo system followed suit to everyone else. The moment I saw that Glacius in the new KI had something crazy like ‘full-screen auto doubles’, it took me some time to process such a notion…as it’s extremely alien from what the first titles accomplished. After playing with each of the archetypes, it seems like DH really has a grasp on what works in fighting games and what doesn’t. Similar to the first two titles, there’s a lot of influence from other games…and the new KI takes a lot of worked in the past 17 years, while still being able to preserve what matters most. It still feels like Killer Instinct.
KIC: Of the remaining roster of original KI characters that has yet to be announced, who do you think would best fit each of the three traditional fighting styles?
Max: So we’ve got Fulgore, Orchid, Spinal, Cinder, Riptor remaining from KI-1. Fulgore I would make hybrid, similar to Jago. Orchid probably rushdown. Spinal should be hybrid zoner/rushdown. Cinder maybe a zoner. And Riptor all rushdown. However, with recent character reveals, we saw the new fighter does air combos similar to the VS series. So maybe there’s a chance of teleport characters at some point? If so, I might stick Fulgore/Spinal in there.
KIC: Speaking of rosters, who would you say is your favorite character in the new KI so far? How about the original games?
Max: For KI3, my favorite character in the game right now is Sabrewulf. He easily is the most fun character in the game, and I love how much he emotes/has personality. However, I’m best with Jago right now, and I personally feel he’s the best character in the game. Fulgore takes the cake in the first two titles for favorite fighter. However, I admit I didn’t use him very often in favor of Orchid.
KIC: The KI community is a bit torn over the most recently announced fighter. There were expectations I guess you’d say for Double Helix to bring back all of the original cast before introducing anyone new. What are your thoughts on the subject? Are you glad to see a new character this early on or would you have preferred to have had the majority of/all of the original fighters first?
Max: A lot of folks like me love the original cast roster, and feel they need to be represented no matter what. As much as I’d prefer the slot of a new fighter to be any one of the original 10, I do get excited at what could possibly be added to the roster. The new girl looks extremely evil and interesting from a gameplay perspective. But if it was a trailer for someone like Cinder/Riptor, I’d probably be flipping out.
KIC: What’s your opinion on Microsoft’s pricing model for the new KI?
Max: It’s different, to say the least. MS’s approach to KI is very awkward considering the majority of history behind selling fighting games. I see the potential tho, for bringing people in by letting them play a majority of the game for free, and giving you the option to buy what you want. Of course I expected 10 characters at the start, but understanding that the title was in development for maybe a year as of right now makes me rethink that. DH seems to be focusing the most of gameplay/balance right now, and how polished the core system is. I’d prefer that with 8 characters over something with useless mechanics and character moves that never get used in a quickly constructed fighting engine. I enjoy playing every character in the new KI so far, and I can’t say that’s the case for many fighting games out there right now.
KIC: If there was any one thing you could change about the game right now, what would it be? And what type of feature or content are you hoping to be introduced in the future?
Max: There’s some minor details about the presentation I might change. Gameplay wise, I’d like to see more variation to ending a match. Right now it’s KO or Ultra/double Ultra and that’s it. It would be really cool if there’s a variety of ways to finish off my opponent, without having to do something archaic like a KO stagger state(ala KI1 and MK series). Otherwise, I hope the game plays well online. Like really well. I’m hearing the game has rollback netcode, and for those that have no idea what that is, it’s a good thing. Being an early console title, I hope they get the kinks all worked out for an awesome online experience.
KIC: To someone who has never played KI before, how would you convince them that they need to play this game?
Max: KI might seem extremely odd at first to SF4 newcomers, but don’t be afraid of the same things that newer age fighters might of made you fear. Like mobility, zoning, and tight frame link combos. One of my favorite things about the new KI is similar to my favorite fighting game ever, SF3:3rd Strike. You get a lot of freedom to your mobility, and don’t generally lose half your health bar if you jump in at a bad moment. Combos are easy to perform, as executing them isn’t what’s hard. Making the right decisions of what buttons you press during your combos is where the skill gap lies, while understanding the strengths and weakness of the cast. It also is one of the most responsive fighting games I’ve played in quite some time. Seriously, just play it and you’ll see what I mean.