Killer Instinct was the first arcade game to use an internal hard disk drive in addition to the games ROMs. This allowed it to store massive amounts of data, thereby giving it the ability to have more detailed graphics than other games of this genre. The game used pre-rendered sprites for characters, created with Silicon Graphics, Inc. computers and the backgrounds were pre-rendered as a "movie," which simply adjusted frames based on your current location. All this data was stored on the hard drive. Killer Instinct's RISC R4600 processor was clocked at 100 MHz.
A Super NES port was released. While it has many of the features the arcade version had, many features were altered, downsampled, or removed. The graphic detail was vastly reduced, and the character sprites were smaller. The stages with a 3D panning camera were simplified into a 2D panning view using parallax scrolling for the background and mode 7 for the ground or arena, giving it a pseudo-3D effect. Zooming and scaling were removed. Some of the stages were redesigned. The full motion videos that showed the characters after a victory were replaced by still images. Voice samples and sound effects were shortened.
Most of the characters preserved their special moves and danger moves. However, some of the special graphical effects — notably the shadow move effect — were removed. In the case of Spinal's skulls that surrounds him when he absorbs projectiles, the skulls are shown under his energy bar instead.
In spite of these changes, some other modes were added, such as a training mode, a tournament mode (used for multiplayer purposes), and other options.
The Super Nintendo version was packaged with a sixteen track audio compact disc soundtrack album entitled Killer Cuts featuring arrangements of music from the game. Killer Cuts was later sold through Nintendo Power's Super Power Supplies mail order service in both CD and cassette form.
The Super NES game was packaged in a black casing in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States, instead of the standard gray shell. The game was not released in Japan.
A Game Boy port was also made, but sacrifices were necessary due to the system's limitations. As a result, neither Cinder nor Riptor appear, and the moves were heavily altered due to the more limited controls of the portable. The game supports some coloring when played in a Super Game Boy. Super Game Boy also allowed for a two player versus match to be played by inserting a second controller. Sabrewulf's moves were also altered severely.