In the distant future, a monopolistic and technological corporation called Ultratech organizes a fighting tournament known as "Killer Instinct". Many fighters answer the challenge to participate, including several of Ultratech's experimental warriors. To increase the tournament's challenge, Ultratech utilizes a technology that can create bridges between alternate dimensions, releasing a creature known as Eyedol. Eyedol is a two-headed ancient warrior that was imprisoned along with his bitter rival, Gargos. Some warriors enter the tournament to seek glory or escape. Other fighters are attempting to bring an end to Ultratech's corruption.
Killer Instinct is a 2D versus fighting game that features 3D rendered sprite based graphics. Players choose from ten characters: Orchid, Cinder, Jago, Glacius, Fulgore, Riptor, Sabrewulf, Spinal, T.J. Combo, and Thunder. The game is known for its heavy combo-based fighting system, allowing players to pull off moves that land a high number of hits on their opponent, the highest being the "Ultra Combo". The game also features combo breakers, finishing moves and stage fatalities, double energy bars, and a dance-music inspired techno soundtrack.