Rare Scares: Spinal from Killer Instinct Gold

With spooky times on my mind, I’m thrilled to offer up my first “Rare Scares” post of the month! And I’m going to start things off by featuring a fearful figure from Rare’s frenetically fun fighting game, Killer Instinct. My time with this fantastic franchise began back in the mid-1990s with Killer Instinct Gold on the Nintendo 64. It was a mildly odd but incredibly enjoyable fighting game, one at which I excelled with one character in particular:


Video from YouTube User OldSkullKiller

Oh indeed, among a host of crazy characters, somehow I ended up falling in line with a pirate skeleton. Which is weird because skeletons and I don’t really get along.

I mean, me and my own skeleton get along just fine… ba dum tsssshhh

Anyway. Of all the possible spooky things associated with Halloween, skeletons are probably the only ones that I find truly creepy. There’s just something really unsettling and supernatural about seeing a skeleton animate all on its own. I can handle all sort of nonsense when it comes to horror, but something about skeletons just sets my nerves aflame.

So why in the world would I choose ever choose a skeleton…a pirate skeleton, no less, as my go-to in a fighting game? Because he was super awesome, that’s why! And, okay, maybe he also had a very cool teleport move that I managed to master. (As one who is terrible at doing teleport moves in fighting games, at least on purpose, this was a super-duper win for me.) Now, he still remained pretty creepy for me to watch, and he didn’t necessarily help me get over my trifling fear of skeletons. No, Spinal wasn’t some sort of cure-all. I could easily scare myself if I thought about him too much and in real-life terms. Between his toothy grin and piercing, bright red eyes, there’s enough in his bony face alone to make my imagination take off in some terrifying ways.

There’s only one thing that might have made me steer clear of Spinal altogether, if it had been included. A set of eyeballs. Skeletons with plain ol’ dark eye sockets are bad enough. Glowing eyes like Spinal’s add a eerie if cartoonish element to a skull. But oh man, skulls with actual eyes in them…


…ew, I have to stop thinking about that. Thank you, Rare, for not producing true nightmare fuel. Spinal, as he was and as he is, is perfectly scary enough.

Lede image © Double Helix Games, Iron Galaxy Studio, Microsoft Studios (2013)


  1. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    This month on Virtual Bastion, we’re celebrating “Rare Scares!” Each week, Hatm0nster, The Duck, and I will be featuring our favorite spooky characters and eerie moments from classic, and not-so-classic Rare games. In my first post for the event, I discussed my favorite Killer Instinct character, who just happens to be a skeleton. It’s…SPINAL!


  2. The Otaku Judge says:

    I have a bone to pick with your skeleton ba dum tsssshhh.


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