Top 10 Greatest Fighting Games

Here are the top 10 games in the fighting genre that can't be missed by anyone who calls themselves a gamer.
10. Street Fighter Alpha 2
  • Year: 1996
  • Developer/Publisher: Capcom
  • Available on: Arcade, PSone, PS2, Saturn, SNES, Windows, PSN, Wii VC

Not all Street Fighter fans enjoyed the jump to the Alpha series, but for those who did, the second iteration was the greatest. The upgrade included all the characters from Street Fighter Alpha, added some new ones, and added a custom combo system instead of chain combos. The pace of the game was fast and fluid, and featured a comfortable array of characters to pick from.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 may have been loaded with more options and there are reasons why that game is better, but the overall package doesn't exceed SFA2. The announcer was cringeworthy and the new characters were forgetful.

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9. Tekken Tag Tournament
  • Year: 2000
  • Developer/Publisher: Namco
  • Available on: Arcade, PS2, PS3

Tekken had its own unique fighting system, and the culmination of the series may have came in the release after Tekken 3, which is arguably the best in the series. Why TTT tops it out is because it takes away the needless stories in fighting games and pits a 35 character roster featuring players from Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 with the additional Team Battle mode and addictive Tekken Bowl minigame.

8. The King of Fighters '98
  • Year: 1998
  • Developer/Publisher: SNK
  • Available on: Arcade, Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Dreamcast, PSone, PS2, PSN, XBLA, Wii VC, iOS, Android, Windows

This could be the most controversial entry on the list, but SNK's annual all-star battle ended on a high note with the final entry. Featuring a loaded roster of the arcade company's best fighters from all of their fighting games, it proved that 2D fighting was still an absolute blast as the world was evolving to the 3D arena on PlayStation and Nintendo 64. 

There were some bugs that plagued some ports, notably the Dreamcast edition when it came to special moves, and the later release of Ultimate Edition was slammed by critics for being too similar. However, there isn't a bigger variation of different types of fighters while keeping the status quo of a versus fighter.

7. Super Street Fighter II Turbo
  • Year: 1994
  • Developer/Publisher: Capcom
  • Available on: Arcade, Computer, 3DO, Dreamcast, GBA, PSone, PS2, Saturn

The addition of air combos, super combos, and an all-around faster game from the already excellent Street Fighter II was the icing on the cake of the excellent fighter. It was famously ported from the arcades to the 3DO, creating a near-perfect emulation of the arcade edition. Capcom never looked back in the Street Fighter series since the evolutionary combo additions, and many hail this game (or the HD Turbo Remix on PS3/Xbox 360) as the best fighter of all time.

6. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus
  • Year: 2009
  • Developer: Arc System Works
  • Publsiher: Aksys Games
  • Available on: PS2/PSP/Wii

Even after playing this game for hours on end, I still have no idea what the hell is going on. There hasn't ever been a fighting series that had a roster full of absolute freaks with a huge amount of varying attacks. It's also arguably the best Wii fighting game (along with Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, which just misses the list) that perfectly meshes together with the strange remote-nunchuck combination.

The story mode was most impressive for a fighting game, featuring a unique chapter for each character and implementing a branching method that creates about 350 scenarios to play through. Despite a little unbalance in the characters (that was fixed in the updated Accent Core Plus R), the game is famous for its incredibly unique character designs.

5. Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
  • Year: 2000
  • Developer/Publisher: Capcom
  • Available on: Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox

Capcom released a number of tag team fighters and pitted their roster against other fighting franchises (SNK's roster, for example), but the most familiar roster came in this rendition where they beefed up the tag teams by one more character (three fighters instead of two, similar to KOF). The arcade version was the first to use the NAOMI arcade platform, which placed 2D fighter sprites in front of 3D polygonal backgrounds and special effects.

The arcade edition was simplified when released on consoles, limiting the button layout and making the game more accessible to the non-diehard fighting fans while not sacrificing the quality of an all-around fantastic game. 

4. Soulcalibur 2
  • Year: 2002
  • Developer: Project Soul
  • Publisher: Namco
  • Available on: Arcade, GameCube, PS2, Xbox

Tekken may be Namco's baby, but their most successful title is Soulcalibur 2, made famous by adding characters exclusive to three different consoles. The GameCube rendition with the addition of Link spawned the most sales, a perfect character fit into the weaponry-armed fighter -- not to mention the wonky controller layout actually worked well with how this particular fighter plays.

SC2 was so addicting in so many ways. Especially with the addition to go through quests to pick up additional weaponry for the full roster of characters. So many hours can be piled onto this fighter because of its unrepetitive nature in the customization.

3. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
  • Year: 1999
  • Developer/Publisher: Capcom
  • Available on: Arcade, Dreamcast, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360

Highly regarded as the best Street Fighter by fans of the series, it fine-tuned everything that SF III needed. The roster wasn't major, but it included the essential characters in the series. Background designs were so beautiful they could distract from the fighting taking place of the already gorgeous character designs. Don't forget the music that even took it up a notch from the already irresistible tunes from the Alpha series. 

SF IV tried to improve the series, but simply put, SF III may always be the perfect installment of the Street Fighter franchise that didn't need improvement.

2. Mortal Kombat
  • Year: 2011
  • Developer: NetherRealm Studios
  • Publisher: Warner Bros.
  • Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, Vita, Windows

Midway's collapse signaled the end of the extremely popular Mortal Kombat franchise and there were plenty of skeptics heading into the 2011 relaunch of the series through Warner Bros. But nearly 20 years after the initial game was released on Super Nintendo, fans were treated with one of the greatest fighting games of all time.

Featuring an incredible wealth of modes to play, the most mind-blowing mode was one of the first to select. A full-fledged story that was engaging and pit the player in certain situations was an absolute blast to play. Character models were extremely detailed and had a wide array of attacks that hailed to the old-school games. The addition of the X-ray attack always kept a player in the fight, and most importantly, the fatalities were as gruesome as ever.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for the Super Nintendo was gritty and bold when it was released, and fans hailed that as the best in the MK franchise. But now, surprisingly, the clear-cut winner of the franchise goes to a game that wasn't even released by the now defunct publisher.

1. Super Smash Bros. Melee
  • Year: 2001
  • Developer: HAL
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Available on: GameCube

Fighting games don't necessarily have to be one-on-one, and the best game ever in the fighting genre was Nintendo's sequel to the all-star mascot mashup from the Nintendo 64.

Super Smash Bros. Melee is easily one of the best crafted games of all time. Everything that Nintendo fans could want was in the game with such a huge array of characters, items, stages, and so much trivial information. It's incredible how information was jam-packed in such a small disc. Similar to how Capcom turned on turbo for the Street Fighter series, SSBM was helped by adding speed and chaos to the four-player frantic fighting fest.

The follow up to SSBM, SSB: Brawl on the Nintendo Wii, was a fantastic fighter which even added more content, but fans still tend to prefer the GameCube edition. It's hard to beat perfection, and SSBM -- with its nostalgia and perfect variety of character gameplay -- is that game in the fighting genre.

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Brian Spaen
Freelance video game and sports writer. I'm the guy who picks Saints Row over Grand Theft Auto. Mario is my idol.