A look at Killer Instinct: TJ Combo Boxing, an unreleased Windows Phone game

Internal company support for its apps and games is at an all-time low, and Microsoft seems to be doing all it can to scrub the memory of Windows on phones from our collective consciousness. Depressing, no?

Now that I set the mood, let's reminisce about a time when Microsoft did care about Windows on phones, to the point of making exclusive games and apps, including the cartoony action city-builder hybrid Eden Falls, which we recently took a look at following its cancellation.

Microsoft has also thrown Age of Empires and Halo spinoffs at Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, in the form of Age of Empires: Castle Siege (opens in new tab) and Halo: Spartan Strike (opens in new tab). Did you know they were also working on a Killer Instinct spinoff for phones too?

Say hello to Killer Instinct: TJ Combo Boxing

Killer Instinct: TJ Combo Boxing was a wholly unfinished prototype boxing game for Windows Phone 8. Killer Instinct, of course, is Microsoft's flagship fighting game for Windows 10 and Xbox One, revolving around combos (and breaking them). TJ Combo is a boxer character from Killer Instinct, and he's been a staple of the franchise since the 90s. As you might expect from a game called "TJ Combo Boxing," you played as TJ Combo.

In its unfinished form, TJ Combo Boxing is a fairly simple touch-based fighting game where swipes, taps, and long-press blocks make up the basis of combat. The game has a full story mode, with several different types of boxers. Our version of the game has a debug mode that allowed me to skip through the story, which seemed fairly finished, albeit without fully implemented visuals. Most of the graphics are simply placeholders and hitboxes.

The story mode goes over the origin story of TJ Combo, and how Killer Instinct's antagonistic UltraTech company was somehow involved in manipulating the boxing industry and its combatants. The cutscenes sport cartoony art and text-based dialogue and can be skipped.

TJ Combo Boxing would have also had leaderboards and an arcade mode, allowing you to challenge the campaign's various boxers at will. Beyond that, there's not a lot to the game, which appears to have been killed off shortly after entering development.

TJ Combo Boxing looks like something that could have evolved into a decent time-waster for Windows Phone users. The light graphics would've allowed the game to run on lower-end hardware like the Lumia 640s of the world, handsets that to this day make up the bulk of remaining Lumia users.

Exclusive games like this might not have saved Windows Phone, but they certainly wouldn't have hurt it. TJ Combo Boxing simply harkens back to a time when Xbox was tasked with helping prop up Windows Phone in addition to PC and console games. Those days are far behind us now, sadly.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

23 Comments
  • Pfff...ok...nothing to say... ☹
  • Trying to scrub the memory of Windows on phones? Talk about extreme hyperbole.
  • He's not exactly wrong though...
  • That would counter it being hyperbole... He is exactly wrong.
  • Extreme honesty more like
  • #AlternativeFacts
  • This looks awesome. Had they pushed Xbox Live support for Mobile games, and ensured major apps got put on the platform Windows Phone could have been so successful. Short sighted management ruined the platform
  • no it wouldn't. Everyone I know dislikes the tiles. I'm talking about average users not techies. Too chaotic.
  • He said could, not would. Everyone I know likes the tiles. Your experience, nor my experience, however, are truly representative of the whole. So why pretend they are?
  • If Microsoft had only invested 1/10 of the resources into Windows Phone development that Apple and Samsung do. Vexing.
  • How about if Microsoft invested more of their app development resources for their OWN platform instead of others? It would be like Netflix sending its original movies to Hulu first and then maybe releasing it on its own service. Unacceptable...
  • I love Killer Instinct. Yes, having this game would not hurt Windows Phone. They should make more games with achievements for Windows Mobile and tie them to Xbox live.
  • On the topic of you depression, the herb albiizzia is quite good. Regarding games, back in the day, no one ways making windows 8 AAAs. Now they are porting their AAAs to UWP. Doesn't really need "seeding" anymore. What does need work is desktop games in the store. Hence the the current push for inhouse play anywhere titles. 
  • A lot of those AAA games rely on Win32 libraries and aren't native UWP technically. The Windows Store is basically just a desktop app repository now, where mobile is becoming an afterthought.
  • Jez,you are an excellent writer or journalist,idk,carry on lads
  • Cancelled Central
  • I was talking about stuff like the gameloft games, the go series, leo's fortune, tiny troopers etc - you know the blockbuster mobile titles we get nowadays as full UWP, of which there are new recent additions, like deus ex, or the latest gameloft titles. Used to be a day when all the windows 8 phone titles were microsoft studio titles. Now we have a shared with desktop and xbox app platform, not so. So there's not really a need for first party game development on mobile anymore. The third parties have taken the mantle.  The fire has caught.  The trickier thing for the windows store, is the whole steam issue, and the big desktop apps - which is why the centennial bridge getting a bit of growth is a great thing. If people can make the windows store the default place to look for software, thats really the biggest thing for UWPs future - and that means we need centennials. 
    Because full UWP isn't a mobile only app platform. Its the future, one way or another. There's a lot of steps to that future like windows s, which requires centennials, and windows on arm, where UWPs will run at least 30 percent faster than centennials, or cshell where scaling will become more desireable.  In that sense you can't treat apps on win10m, as an isolated thing. Nor a two year old app platform, still growing, and a massive change for windows users and developers, at this early point as a failure. It's literally the biggest change windows has ever gone through, it'll take time. 
  • I played a level of leo's fortune on my PC last night. It saves the progress across devices, so i continued from where I'd gotten up to on mobile. Thought that was neat :)
  • As part of that change, for the time being, apps for mobile, new apps, new games, are mostly trickle down from desktop. But that is better than what we would get, if it were win10m userbase (what is it technically 1.5 percent), alone. It's a damn sight better than what bb10 is getting right now. To me, it looks like growth. To others, who were around during the silverlight era, it looks like a dying app platform (because they use those apps, whereas I never really have). But in reality its not really either - its a change in windows itself, that is a long and winding road. 
  • And speaking of Silverlight, support for that will be gone soon. That will be anything but a trickling decline in Windows Store apps.
  • Most of them are discountinued or not very good from what I can tell. At least, anything good I can run on pc, tablet and mobile
    . A few exceptions to that, but not many. Those people currently making money from the popular apps, might want to think about a proper UWP!!
  • Hello
  • Kia Ora