Killer Instinct
Image: Kev Bayliss

Killer Instinct 3 never happened, but if it had, it would have seen the main characters represented as younger versions of themselves, according to designer Kev Bayliss.

Bayliss says the third game – following Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2 / Gold – would have taken a similar approach to Sega's Virtua Fighter Kids, serving as a prequel where each fighter "honed their moves, gaining more before the next chapters of their lives".

Intended for N64, the game would have used full-3D visuals rather than pre-rendered sprites. "The character models were NURBS and I'd baked the textures out and applied them to the low poly models. But I hadn't worked on N64 yet, so [I] had higher expectations on texture size and polycount."

The third game ultimately never got past the concept phase, and Bayliss instead moved on to Diddy Kong Racing. "Apparently, the fighting game ‘fad’ was over," he says. He also admits that "other than beer talk and ideas that Chris Tilston and myself threw around," there wasn't much in the way of development on the project. "We all moved on to other projects before too long."

Bayliss famously lent his martial arts skills to the Killer Instinct series, performing many of the character's signature kicks and punches for reference before rendering them for use in the game.

Released in 1994 – that's 30 years ago this year – Killer Instinct was intended to showcase the power of the upcoming Ultra 64, but, in reality, it had very little in common with the console when it arrived (as N64) in 1996.

In 2013, the series was revived for the Xbox One, without Rare's direct involvement.

Bayliss joined Rare in 1987 as a teenager and famously created the designs for Donkey Kong Country and Battletoads. He parted company with Rare in 2005 and joined Playtonic Games in 2015, a studio mostly comprised of former Rare staff.