Yoodley is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Fighting games have come a long way since Rock ‘Em Sock Em Robots was first released in 1964. Today’s fighting games are sophisticated digital arenas where strategy and skill play a vital role. But this doesn’t mean that we’re over the classic “button smashers”. Some of the most important fighting video games today are just that.
In an age of ray tracing and HD graphics, we have a huge variety of fighting games to choose from, covering everything from boxing to mixed martial arts. We even have the chance to make martial arts work for us with UFC betting outlets all over the place. All this wouldn’t be possible, in turn, without some of the best fighting games in the history of video games.
Street Fighter II
Street Fighter II wasn’t the first fighting game – as its name shows, there was at least one other before it – but it was one of the most influential, leaving its fingerprint across the entire genre. Released in 1991, it introduced goodies like a variety of characters, intricate combos, and one-on-one combat. And, of course, Ryu’s iconic “Hadouken!”.
How big was Street Fighter II? Well, it made almost $1 billion (by 1993) in coin drops alone.
Some would swear that Mortal Kombat was released before Street Fighter. It’s the other way around: Midway released its first edition a full year after it. It didn’t only create a series of iconic characters and some of the most violent finishing moves – fatalities – in the industry, but it also served as a basis for a massive pop culture phenomenon with three feature films (and a fourth on the way), live-action and animated series, even a live stage show, and a collectible card game.
Released in 1997, Tekken 3 was a trendsetter – it added a third dimension to fighting games. On top of that, it came with a captivating storyline, diverse characters, fluid animation, and the Tekken Force mode, where they have to defeat increasingly tough enemies and bosses until they unlock a new playable character.
Tekken 3 set the stage for today’s 3D fighting games.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Fighting games haven’t been the same since the release of Super Smash Bros. Melee. The game was an absolute hit on GameCube, becoming the best-selling title on the platform. It features characters from many well-known Nintendo franchises and embraces chaos: it offers its players a frenetic battle royale.
Mortal Kombat 1
While it’s not a revolutionary game, Mortal Kombat 1 deserves to be included in our list merely because it revives the most recognizable fighting game franchises in history. Built by NetherRealm Studios, the studio behind Batman: Arkham Origins and Injustice: Gods Among Us, it comes with a noteworthy online mode that combines fighting with role-playing and board game mechanics.
Which is the best fighting game?
Choosing a “best” from all the fighting games that have been released between Rock ‘Em Sock Em Robots and Mortal Kombat 1 would be unfair. All of the above games meant a massive leap in the evolution of fighting games. Without them, today’s games wouldn’t be the same. One thing’s for sure, though: the thrill of executing the perfect combo and the satisfaction of beating an opponent will captivate generations to come.