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Killer Instinct lead combat designer discusses Kan-Ra

Killer Instinct received its next Season 2 character earlier this week. To learn more about first-time combatant Kan-Ra, Shacknews reached out to Iron Galaxy to ask about his origins, his combos, and his play style.


Killer Instinct continues its second season with another new fighter making his debut this week. This time around, Iron Galaxy has an original creation up their sleeve. It's the mummified warrior known as Kan-Ra. Shacknews was feeling curious about the bandaged behemoth, so we reached out to lead combat designer Adam 'Keits' Heart to learn some more about this new combatant.

Shacknews: Kan-Ra is one of your original creations for Killer Instinct. How did you come up with the concept for the character? And what can you tell us about his back story?

KI lead combat designer Adam Heart: Kan-Ra’s original concept was quite a bit different. It was a loose gameplay archetype idea with a loose character description that, over the course of many brainstorming meetings over many months, evolved into what you see before you now.

His backstory (from the official forums):

Babylon, 559 BC: Kan-Ra is named Vizier, head advisor to the throne.

Over his years of study in this position, he becomes fascinated with the King's enigmatic royal guard – a living bronze statue – and the magic that keeps it alive. From all of Kan-Ra's cautious attempts to observe and study the creature, he deduces that its power source could theoretically keep it alive forever. The thought of being able to study and learn until the end of time enthralls Kan-Ra and feeds his obsession for knowledge.

Scholarly research in the royal libraries into past wonders and lost arts of magic fuels his ambition; Kan-Ra feels that as the smartest person in Babylon only he is qualified to rule. He seduces the King’s wife using a charm spell and begins setting in motion a plan to take the throne by using the Queen as his assassin.

Lacking the power to control the spell effectively, it wears off prematurely. The Queen, thinking herself simply coming to her senses after being seduced by Kan-Ra, is overwhelmed by guilt, killing herself and leaving a note detailing her and Kan-Ra's betrayal.

Enraged, the King has Kan-Ra hunted down and captured by his royal guard, who brings a bloodied a broken Kan-Ra before the throne. The King summons his most powerful sorcerers and curses Kan-Ra with a withering rot- a painful dark magic curse that disintegrates flesh and organs slowly... painfully. Writhing in agony, rotting a bit more every day, Kan-Ra is exiled, he and his ambition doomed to wither away into nothingness.

In exile Kan-Ra uses what little knowledge he has gained of magic to slow the rot. While the King assumes him dead, Kan-Ra's intellect is focused on reversing the rot so that he can have his revenge. He tracks down sorcerers and occultists versed in dark magic, learning what he can. Unable to slow his rot further, he instead places upon himself other curses that work to offset the rot. He seeks out magical artifacts and talismans to ease the pains and ailments these layers of curses cause him, carrying them on him in ever-growing number; a magical balancing act of curses and boons at play throughout his being.

This guy was inflicted with a curse of rot, meant to slowly and painfully kill him. He sought out other dark magic and artificats in an effort to remove this curse, but was only able to slow it. Eventually, by purposely adding additional curses to himself, he was able to halt the rot, though he deals with the agony of his carefully chosen curses every day. He seeks ultimate knowledge and thinks of anyone who would dare oppose him as a joke.

Shacknews: I've seen some cool ranged attacks and some neat counters, but what type of KI player is Kan-Ra best suited for?

AH: Making new characters to add to KI in season 2, we are always looking to fill a gap and appeal to a player type or gameplay type that nothing currently in the game does. Kan-Ra may appeal to fans of trap-based characters, zoners, or grapplers. If you like two of those things, you are almost sure to like him. If you enjoy all three, we think you are in for a treat. We affectionately call him a "Trappler."

Shacknews: Which of Kan-Ra's moves and combos are you particularly proud of? What did you see from him that just made you go, "Ok, that's badass!"

AH: I really like the way he can ping-pong you off of his spikes into swarms and into tornadoes. It's a like a crazy Rube Goldberg of sandy death. Of course, his ranged command throw "Clutch" is totally amazing, and his sand construct Antlion is also pretty damn cool.

Shacknews: What have players had to say about Kan-Ra thus far? And what have players shown you about the character that you weren't necessarily expecting?

AH: We have a really scary Kan-Ra player in our QA department, so we haven't seen anything surprising just yet. He is a tricky character that will take some time to get the hang of for most players, so it may take a month or two to see his potential start to show in the wild. People seem to really be digging his personality, visual effects, gameplay, and animation. Keep playing him and see what you can discover!

Shacknews: What would you consider to be Kan-Ra's best matchup? And which character is just a nightmare for him to deal with?

AH: Anything we think could change if we learn something about a matchup we didn't know before, but in my opinion Fulgore gives him a hard time, and he gives Thunder a hard time.

Killer Instinct is available now for Xbox One. Season 2 is now available for $19.99, while Kan-Ra is available individually for $4.99.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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