TOP 25 GAMES
We present our top 25 fighting games of all time. These are the fighting games that bring us joy and are our go-to fighting games when we’re in the mood to dust off our gloves and join in a fray.
No. 1: Mortal Kombat II
My fighting game career began in earnest with the gory sequel in 1993. I was but a young lad and eager to learn the fight game after a chance encounter one night in my local arcade. My later master noticed my curiosity and asked if I wanted to learn. The rest is my fighting game history.
Mortal Kombat II has it all: more secrets, more moves, more characters, more story, more everything. It’s such an improvement over the first game that they almost don’t belong in the same franchise.
The depth of the sequel is astounding considering it started with seven fighters, a small storyline about a once-in-a-generation tournament and a chosen one who may or may not be ready to save Earthrealm from destruction. MKII ups the ante with five more characters and new concepts (neck kicks anyone?) that redefine the Mortal Kombat mechanics for future games. Better graphics and a killer soundtrack that still defines the MK sound round out the MKII experience to such a degree that the game is still influential today.
Back in 1993, we were not prepared for the greatness that is Mortal Kombat II and we’re still not more than 25 years later.
No. 2: Vampire Savior
Capcom is known primarily for Street Fighter and the Marvel Versus series, but one of its lesser-known properties is one of its best. Vampire was never that popular, but a lot of Capcom’s later fighters adapt the monster-themed brawler’s mechanics. The pinnacle of that adaptation is Vampire Savior, quite possibly the best fighting game that Capcom didn’t promote.
Vampire Savior takes everything great about Night Warriors and trims more fat to create a sleek fighter that plays well and looks just as good.
Vampire Savior introduces more characters, more stages and improves on the soundtrack as well. Sure, the roster is slightly reduced, but Vampire Savior benefits from that, too.
Don’t let the cartoonish look fool you; the package is deep with Vampire Savior, and it’s one of the best fighting game series you didn’t know about.
No. 3: Street Fighter Alpha 3
Capcom loves to take its time learning to count to three. The same that held true for Street Fighter III holds for the Alpha series: The best game was saved for last.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 is the best version of Street Fighter Alpha and Super Street Fighter II Turbo that you’re ever going to get. Alpha 3’s mixture of the facets of Street Fighter in three categories called ISMs make it the best well-rounded version of the fighting series up to that point.
A-ism represents Street Fighter Alpha, the first in the series. This introduces Alpha Counters and proper, modern super moves. V-ism represents Street Fighter Alpha 2, which introduced Custom Combos while keeping Alpha Counters. X-ism is reminiscent of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, with one bar for super moves, no air blocking or Alpha Counters.
Just with the basics, Alpha 3 surpasses everything before it and nearly everything after. The graphics, soundtrack and overall presentation combine for one slick package that sets up and answers questions about the Street Fighter storyline as well. Through all of this, it is, as an ad for the game once said, “Street Fighter perfection.”
No. 4: Rival Schools
This forgotten Capcom fighter is also among its best unknown properties. Any time you can get together a fighting game that focuses on high school students fighting to protect their schools and make it fun, we’re sold.
Rival Schools has memorable characters, a good story and a great soundtrack. Given that it follows the Street Fighter side of mechanics in Capcom’s stable of fighters, it’s easy to learn and master. Rival Schools is so well designed that the tutorial mode is nearly as fun as the arcade and story modes.
Rival Schools is a nice break from the Street Fighter lore and plays just as well. It’s a shame that it didn’t receive nearly as much attention as the mainline Street Fighter games.
It deserves more as one of the best well-rounded, excellent starter games created and a fun romp through school with Burning Vigor and Team Up Techniques.
No. 5: Super Street Fighter II Turbo
Back when Capcom couldn’t count to three, it ran into the brick wall that is the final revision to Street Fighter II. They saved the best for last in Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
Despite not being released in America for years after its initial release in Japan, Super Turbo is the definitive version of Street Fighter II. Everything that Capcom reiterated repeatedly in upgrades to the core SFII engine is as perfect as SFII can and will be.
SSF2T has the best version of the classic SF soundtrack, the graphics are the best they will ever be and the game plays more smoothly than ever. The best part is that it’s the best of the best, and Capcom knows it. Super moves finally become part of the equation, and one final character has his debut: Akuma/Gouki.
This is, in fact, the grand champion of Street Fighter II versions.
1 - 5
THE REST OF THE BEST
NO. 6 - 25
No. 6: Guilty Gear X
No. 7: Super Smash Bros.
No. 8: Mortal Kombat 3/Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3/Mortal Kombat Trilogy
No. 9: Street Fighter III: Third Strike
No. 10: Mortal Kombat (1992)
No. 11: Killer Instinct Gold
No. 12: Tekken Tag Tournament
No. 13: Super Smash Bros. Melee
No. 14: Soulcalibur
No. 15: Mortal Kombat 9
No. 16: Capcom vs. SNK 2: Millionaire Fighting 2001
No. 17: Marvel vs. Capcom
No. 18: Project Justice
No. 19: Samurai Shodown (2019)
No. 20: Mortal Kombat 11
No. 21: Mortal Kombat XL
No. 22: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
No. 23: Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000
No. 24: Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution
No. 25: Marvel vs. Capcom 2