Gonna End Up a Big Old Pile of Them Bones
Greetings fellow Killer Instinct aficionados! As of Friday, 1/31, owners of the Ultra Edition or Combo Breaker Edition of the game now have access to Spinal, the cackling pirate we all dearly missed. To celebrate, I’m going to give some thoughts on my time with the scurvy dog.
Right away, it’s evident that Spinal is very unique amongst the KI roster. Being the only resource based character, the very way he interacts with the other fighters is refreshing. Spinal’s game plan revolves around gaining and using skulls. You can gain these by performing a forward or backwards throw, and by using his Power Devour command attack. This command is much more than an anti-projectile, and will absorb his opponent’s special and shadow attacks. This throws a major wrench in those pesky Jago and Sadira players’ plans, as an Endokuken, Wind Kick, or Web Cling is no longer an effective zoning or opening attack.
So I know you must be thinking to yourself, “What do I use these skulls for?!”. I’m glad you asked! Spinal uses these mystical juju heads to grant himself invulnerability frames on certain moves, and the skulls also enhance or change properties on his specials. For instance, he has a short range projectile skull that hits immediately next to him normally, but if you enhance with a skull, the projectile can travel low, medium, or overhead depending on the attack power you choose. This enables a fairly strong mixup that catches opponents off guard. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the skull resource mechanic for Spinal is the concept of Curses. When Spinal lands a Searing Skull with Skull attack, it inflicts Shadow Curse, which slowly chips at accumulated Shadow of your opponents. This helps give Spinal a very tactical and refreshing way to do battle with the other six fighters. Additionally, if you use a Shadow version of the move, you’ll instead inflict an Instinct Curse. As you might surmise, this eats at the Instinct meter, which is albeit slightly more situational and less useful than the Shadow Curse.
Apart from his specials, his moveset is very similar in form and function to the rest of the roster. His movements are pretty poor, however. His back dash barely moves him back at all. Interestingly his forward dash is actually not a dash, but a full fledged run mildly useful for closing ground.
In total, it’s refreshing to have a new character on the scene, but it will take time as the fighting community tinkers with Spinal to reveal how much potential he truly has on the game. Keep it right here at Royal Flush for more news on Killer Instinct and other gaming goodness.