CURRENT STATE

Fight game of the future

Pondering the prognosis of the storied pugilistic genre

BY LYNDSEY BEATTY | GAMING INSURRECTION

 

Where are fighting games today? The genre that properly started with Street Fighter II in 1991 is alive and well. The tournament scene is still vibrant, having moved to a home market many moons ago. And, the individual makers are still doing well with new iterations in a healthy timeframe and support post launch. Here’s a look at the current franchises that are still gearing up for a fight.

 

Franchise: Mortal Kombat

First iteration: Mortal Kombat, 1992

Latest iteration: Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Kombat Pack 2

Developer: NetherRealm Studios (formerly Midway)

Health prognosis: Good

 

Mortal Kombat is still alive and well, despite a sale a few years ago between former publisher Midway and current publisher Warner Bros. The gory brawler has seen 11 games, multiple spinoffs, and a move into other media, through movies, cartoons, TV shows and Web series. Co-creator Ed Boon has stated that Mortal Kombat 11 is the end of the series’ storyline as we know it. This is not the end of Mortal Kombat, however.

 

Franchise: Street Fighter

First iteration: Street Fighter, 1987

Latest iteration: Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, 2020

Developer: Capcom

Health prognosis: Good

 

Given that there is talk of moving forward with Street Fighter VI, the prognosis for the longest-running fighting game series is good. Street Fighter has existed in some way, shape or form since 1987, and it’s known for being the top moneymaker for Capcom since its inception. The franchise remains popular 30 years after its debut, and its characters are easily recognizable and household names. There will probably always be Street Fighter in some form if there are video games.

 

Franchise: Soulcalibur

First iteration: Soul Edge, 1995

Latest iteration: Soulcalibur VI, 2018

Developer: Bandai Namco Studios

Health prognosis: Good

 

Soulcalibur has been around a long time and has seen a lot of ups and downs since the second game was released. The tale of sword and sorcery, however, rebounded with a strong entry in the sixth game in 2018. Bringing a series back from irrelevancy is not easy, yet Bandai Namco managed to do so with one of their former moneymakers. With customization finally coming to the series and a continued emphasis on mechanics, Soulcalibur can count on continuing its comeback.

 

Franchise: Tekken

First iteration: Tekken, 1994

Latest iteration: Tekken 7: Fated Retribution, 2017

Developer: Bandai Namco Studios

Health prognosis: Good

 

Tekken has been on the scene for a long time. The franchise has consistently delivered when it comes to the main entries and even the spinoffs have been game changers. Considering this, Tekken has established itself as a major player in the fighting game scene, and there are no signs of it slowing down. Tekken 8 hasn’t been announced or thought of perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be coming. There’s still much story to be told in the Tekken saga and a lot of opportunity in the continuation even though series mainstay Heihachi Mishima is gone. With the franchise now on the shoulders of Kazuya Mishima and Jin Kazama, Tekken will be back for more King of the Iron Fist antics.

 

Franchise: Samurai Shodown

First iteration: Samurai Shodown, 2019

Developer: SNK

Health prognosis: Good

 

Samurai Shodown has been around since 1993 and has always been a fan favorite. Its gorgeous visuals and stunning soundtrack have always made it stand out. It’s not as big in the U.S. as it is in the East, but it has developed a legion of fans here. When the reboot was announced and released, it revived the slightly dormant series. We’re hoping that reboot means there’s more to come because Samurai Shodown proved it still had more in the tank with a beautiful new game that played incredibly well.

 

Games we expect to have future entries:

Super Smash Bros.: The franchise has come to its seeming end with Ultimate for the Switch. However, Smash Bros. makes entirely too much money for Nintendo to ignore creating what are essentially instant hits.

 

Guilty Gear: The fighting game series from Arc System Works is a major player in the genre. Expect that there will always be a game from the franchise because its devoted fan base will not let it die. Strive has been released to much acclaim, so there’s definitely more to come.

 

Injustice: NetherRealm tends to split its time between Mortal Kombat and Injustice, and now it’s time for a new Injustice game since MK is winding down. The latest entry in the franchise looks fantastic and had a great roster to start with, so there’s only room for it to go up. We’re expecting an Injustice 3 announcement somewhere in 2021.

 

Dragon Ball FighterZ: This was a surprise hit back in 2018, and there is way more potential to be had with the fighting game series based on the extremely popular anime. Expect that Goku, Vegeta and the rest of the Z crew will have more entries given that the first game was easily accessible, visually stunning and trading off the nostalgia of otaku who love Dragon Ball.

 

BlazBlue: We’re on the fence about the future of Arc System Works’ other gorgeous fighter. It has a lot of entries, but the developer keeps releasing the last game in the series for each new console that has been released since 2015. That’s a lot of re-releasing of the same game with a different name. However, a recent release in February 2021 has signaled that the end isn’t here yet, so there’s still obviously more BlazBlue to come.