Top 20 Fighting Games (Part One)

By GlobaX Gaming

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20. King of Fighters 98 (SNK, Neo Geo, 1998)

I’m probably showing my true colours as a fighting game rookie by saying I’m not entirely woven into the complex world of SNK’s King of Fighters series, which boasts stunningly beautiful pixel art and some of the most complex and real-feeling fighting game mechanics that you can find in the genre. But these arcade classics are undeniably great, and there’s no greater edition than King of Fighters 98, which arrived in the pinnacle of SNK’s pixel art dominance. SNK may have transitioned to the dark side of pachinko madness, but King of Finders 98 remains. (David McDougal)

19. Dragon Ball FighterZ (Arc System Works, Multi-Platform, 2018)

One of my surprise favourite games of 2018, Dragon Ball FighterZ is pulsing delight of a modern 2D fighting game. I’m not really a DBZ fan, but this is one of the best licensed games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. The art style is crisp and clean, the animation is stellar, and the cast of characters is balanced but also full of variety. Well worth picking up. (Terri Rose)

18. Persona 4 Arena (Arc System Works/Atlus, Multi-Platform, 2008)

There’s a lot to love about the off-the-wall wildness of Persona 4 Arena, a game that works in spite of natural law itself. The game walks that bizarre tight-rope of having to be a semi-functional follow-up to the byzantine weirdness of Persona 4 and be a functional brawler in its own right, but Persona 4 Arena does this with aplomb. (JCM)

17. Tekken 3 (Namco, Arcade/PlayStation, 1997)

This one is an all-timer. When I got a PlayStation for my birthday in 1999, Tekken 3 was one of the first games I bought. As a result I associate this fast-paced but realistic game with both nostalgic memories and fighting game excellence ever since. (David McDougal)

16. SoulCalibur (Project Soul, Arcade/Dreamcast, 1998)

The poor, poor Dreamcast, cut down in its prime. I didn’t own one, but my elementary school best friend did, and SoulCalibur occupied a huge amount of our time playing the console, and has subsequently carved out a huge chunk of my own imagination. SoulCalibur wasn’t the best weapons-based brawler of the 1990s (we’ll get to that next part), but its cast of memorable characters (what…what is going on with the BDSM-aesthetics of Voldo) ended up creating one of the most enduring fighting franchises. (Nicholas Tristan)

15. Virtua Fighter 4 (Sega, Arcade/PS2, 2001)

Virtua Fighter 4 is when the series really clicked for me, before the PS2 generation Virtua Fighter felt clunky and slow in a way that some of the flagship early 3D fighters felt. But there is nothing slow or clunky about the precise action of Virtua Fighter 4, which still holds up as a compelling and addictive PS2 title. (Ben Beck)

14. Mortal Kombat (Midway, Arcade, 1992)

Everyone agrees that Mortal Kombat is a classic, but does everyone agree that Mortal Kombat is a great game to play today? You need a stomach for early 90s aesthetics, such as those glorious digitized sprites, and a touch of nostalgia doesn’t hurt (I remember dominating at this game in my early arcade-going days), but — yes, it’s absolutely a great game. Mortal Kombat confidently trod territory no other game had even attempted up until this point, and it played fast and furious with gristly effects that caused a little bit of a moral panic. Still worth booting up, decades later. (Terri Rose)

13. ARMS (Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, 2017)

Nintendo are excellent at applying their own particular brand of family-friendly Nintendo magic to other games, such as how the co-operative shooter formula got given a (har har) coat of paint with the excellent Splatoon and its superior sequel. ARMS is another entry in this specific sub-genre, a brawler with up to four players controlling colourful cartoon characters with extendable arms for some family-friendly mayhem. It’s addictive as all get out, and probably one of the best new IPs Nintendo has launched for the Switch. (JCM)

12. Mortal Kombat X (NetherRealms Studios, Multi-Platform, 2015)

In 2011, NetherRealms were mostly successful in rebooting the mostly dormant Mortal Kombat series with the ninth instalment of the series, titled simply Mortal Kombat (maybe there’s a future article in how much I hate the trend of rebooting series with titles with the same name as the original game…maybe some other day). But it’s the follow-up, and tenth title in the series, that hit fighting game paydirt. This is a game that plays fast and hard, like a good MK game shoot, with brutal movesets and a good balance of arcade fun and more mechanical prowess on display. (Terri Rose)

11. Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Capcom, Multi-Platform, 1998)

There are always going to be arguments about what constitute the best Street Fighter games, but Street Fighter Alpha 3 is a pretty safe bet to put near to the top. Dazzling 2D graphics, stunning ports on both the Dreamcast and PlayStation, and a mechanics-heavy style of play that still remains accessible for those dropping in for the first time on a cabinet. This is one of Capcom’s crown jewels in their signature fighting line.