Top 20 Best Fighting Games of All Time



Top 20 Best Fighting Games of All Time

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson & Alex Crilly-Mckean
For players who love to pummel, smash, and button mash, you won't find any better fighting games than these. For this list, we're going over the absolute best fighting games to ever exist. Our countdown includes "Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes" (2000), "Mortal Kombat" (2011), "Tekken 3" (1997), "The King of Fighters XIII" (2010), and more!
For players who love to pummel, smash, and button mash, you won't find any better fighting games than these. For this list, we’re going over the absolute best fighting games to ever exist. Our countdown includes "Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes" (2000), "Mortal Kombat" (2011), "Tekken 3" (1997), "The King of Fighters XIII" (2010), and more! Which ones had you and your friends going another round or five? Share with us in the comments below!

#20: “War of the Monsters” (2003)

As kids, we long dreamed of having our own kaiju-sized fights against friends. Arcade games like “Rampage” gave us a taste of that, but when it comes to monsters fighting each other, “War of the Monsters” was everything we had been wanting. Up to four players can duke it out while leveling buildings and avoiding environmental hazards. The best part was the diverse selection of monsters to choose, from giant eyeballs to robots to mutant animals and insects. Needless to say, if there was a monster fight you wanted to see - bug versus bot or Sweet Tooth versus a giant ape, “War of the Monsters” delivered hours of fun!

#19: “Def Jam: Battle for NY” (2004)

You want a fighting game with some attitude? While the first “Def Jam” game was a brutal and badass gem of a brawler, its sequel, “Battle for NY”, was so much better. Just like with the first game, “Battle for NY” was packed with a roster of sixty-seven fighters, featuring some of our favorite rappers and hip-hop artists like Busta Rhymes, Flavor Flav, Carmen Electra, Ice-T, and even Snoop Dogg. (Come on, it just ain’t a party without the Dogg!) Of course, with all these music artists came a sick selection of songs to jam to while we deck our friends’ across their faces. We just wish GameCube players weren’t missing so much of the awesome soundtrack.

#18: “Power Stone 2” (2000)

The original “Power Stone” featured a new formula for fighting games, one that saw two characters tossing items at each other and collecting power-ups to finish each other off. “Power Stone 2” simplified things by removing the combo system, but offered up other features to make up for this removal. In addition to a handful of new playable characters (as well as most of the original cast being present), it was now possible for up to four players to participate in the mayhem, making fights much more chaotic. For Dreamcast owners, this was definitely a game to bring to parties.

#17: “Persona 4 Arena Ultimax” (2014)

The original “Persona 4 Arena” was a surprisingly good spin-off for the “Shin Megami Tensei” series, boasting tight controls, an intricate narrative across its thirteen-character roster, and a combat system that perfectly translates “Persona’s” style and concepts. So, why does the sequel, “Ultimax” make it on here instead? Well, for starters, it features more characters with unique playstyles and moves. On top of that, it is much more balanced than its predecessor, and the story perfectly closes the story arc of “Persona 4”. And this goes without mentioning the fantastic art and animation of co-developer Arc System Works, who you may see a couple more times on this list.

#16: “Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors” (1994)

For a time, Capcom was one of the giants of the fighting game genre, particularly in the 90’s. In addition to the full realization of one particular franchise, Capcom created another 2D fighter that featured more of a horrific, yet goofy aesthetic. The first “Darkstalkers” featured a small, yet humble roster of weird fighters like Morrigan Aensland, Felicia, Lord Raptor, and…um, Sasquatch, and you got to witness these beasts brawl it out in some vibrant settings. While it isn’t as deep as later “Darkstalkers” titles would become, this one was a great way to introduce new players to the world of fighting games!

#15: “The King of Fighters XIII” (2010)

Ash Crimson’s story comes to an end, and with it comes one of the best entries in this juggernaut of a franchise. This is largely due to it streamlining much of the motifs present in its predecessor and in its place applying refined versions of some of the series’ more popular features. Sure, its story mode is practically impossible to follow unless you're a veteran of the lore, but that doesn’t take away from its beautiful visual style and vastly improved controls. Fans will most certainly get a kick of letting loose with so many crazy, colourful combos, not to mention another chance to check out Mai’s magnificent set of…um…techniques.

#14: “Injustice 2” (2017)

After the successful reboot of another legendary fighting game franchise, NetherRealm Studios was tasked with creating a DC fighting game. While “Injustice: Gods Among Us” saw monumental success in 2013, its 2017 sequel managed to improve upon the formula while delivering an excellent narrative and borrowing cues from NetherRealm's flagship franchise (who we’ll get to soon). As for the roster, well, now you could see Batman and Superman take on the likes of even more heroes and villains like Gorilla Grodd, Starfire, and…the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!? Plus, the inclusion of premier skins allowed even more characters to be added without the extra work of having to rebalance the game.

#13: “Project Justice” (2000)

Poor “Rival Schools” has long been neglected, but Akira’s inclusion as one of the final DLC characters for “Street Fighter V” has helped open some folks’ eyes. Whereas the original “Rival Schools” was more of a traditional fighter with small tag-assist elements, the sequel, “Project Justice” went a bit more crazy with it. New mechanics like the Party-Up and Team-Up abilities made fights a bit more based on meter management while creating a visual spectacle of brutal attacks. As for the story mode, events could alter depending on the outcome of certain fights. In other words, losing a fight did not necessarily mean a loss in progress. Crossing our fingers for “Project Justice”, or “Rival Schools” in general, to be revived!

#12: “Samurai Shodown” (2019)

Of the SNK games, “Samurai Shodown”, as a franchise, has withstood the test of time thanks to how different it is than most fighting games. The 2019 revival showcased its calling card perfectly. This wasn’t a game that wanted you to build up crazy combos. It’s a fighting game about patience, acting more defensive as you study your opponent’s movements. With even light attacks dealing significant damage, there isn’t much room for error here. Find your openings to disarm your adversary and finish them quickly. Needless to say, “Samurai Shodown” perfectly replicates those classic samurai duels we’ve seen across TV and movies while offering a complex and risky combat system.

#11: “Tekken 3” (1997)

The series may still be going strong but no one can deny that the turning point for this series came when Jin and his fellow newcomers took over. With far superior graphics, a huge boost to the character roster, as well as much greater depth given to the actual fighting, especially in terms of movement. This set the standard for all Tekken games that followed, and remains one of the most successful games under the banner of the original PlayStation. We’ll just forget that Tekken Ball was ever a thing.

#10: “BlazBlue: Central Fiction” (2016)

It was honestly really hard to choose which “BlazBlue” game to put on this list. Our original Top 10 featured “Calamity Trigger”, but later entries like “Chrono Phantasm Extend” and “Cross Tag Battle” had their own wealth of fun. However, there’s something about “Central Fiction” that keeps us coming back. The roster of thirty-six fighters featured a ton of familiar and new faces, each just as fun to play as the rest of the cast. Plus, there’s that insanely expansive story mode that rivals even fighting games with bigger budgets. It’s also the “BlazBlue” title that has seen extensive support unlike the rest of the series, seeing a Switch port in 2019 and planning to implement rollback netcode for the Steam version in 2022.

#9: “Dead Or Alive 5 Last Round” (2015)

Even though we would see two other versions before this one, “Last Round” was, and still is, known to be the superior rendition in the franchise (save for the Xbox 360 exclusive “Dead Or Alive 4”). “Last Round” was the ultimate revival “Dead Or Alive” had been needing, adding in four characters to the roster, expanding upon the cosmetic customization, and improving the visuals by upping the resolution to HD and bringing the framerate to sixty frames per second. It also featured the same level of action, humor, and sexiness that “Dead Or Alive” has been known for. With the sixth main game being such a disappointment, one can see why folks have flocked back to “Last Round”.

#8: “Mortal Kombat” (2011)

Now this is how you relaunch a franchise! Quite literally taking everything back to the beginning, this reimagining not only brought with it the classic characters we all know and love, but surrounded them with an immense amount of bloody and brilliant content. With fatalities and newly introduced X-Ray moves that redefined stylistic violence, it had an online mode that had the whole world battling against each other, as well as a narrative that (gasp) was actually well-written and proved that western fighting games could have good stories. Mortal Kombat II may have raised the bar, but this one shot it into the stratosphere.

#7: “Soulcalibur VI” (2018)

Look, “Soulcalibur II” will always have a special place in our hearts for its visuals, controls, and inclusion of weird guest characters. However, “Soulcalibur VI” managed to blow everything out of the water. In addition to strange guest characters like Geralt of Rivia, 2B, and “Samurai Shodown’s” Haohmaru, “Soulcalibur VI” featured an insanely deep character customization, allowing players to create almost entirely new characters…or weird renditions of pre-existing ones. And if the regular “Soulcalibur” story mode wasn’t enough single-player content for you, the Libra of Soul campaign offered dozens of hours while centering the story around your custom character. With fantastic controls, a meaty roster, and spectacular visuals to boot, “Soulcalibur VI” is the definitive experience in the franchise.

#6: “Killer Instinct” (2013)

The revival of “Killer Instinct” was not an easy road, but the final result made it one of the best fighting games ever made. We’ll have a soft spot for the original 1994 title, but the 2013 rendition was practically a pioneer. “Killer Instinct” provided the same level of hyperactive action fans knew it for while also incorporating tools and tutorials that helped ease new players into the game, regardless of when they jumped in. Shadow Attacks gave players new and sick ways to end combos or string them longer, simplified Ultras ended fights in musical and climactic ways (as did Ultimates), and the music from Mick Gordon shines spectacularly. If you love fighting games, you absolutely need to play “Killer Instinct”.

#5: “Skullgirls” (2012)

There are several fighting games in the indie marketplace vying for our time and money, and a lot of them are really great. When it comes to “Skullgirls”, though, there hasn’t been anything like it. On top of borrowing and evolving ideas from tag-team fighters that came before it, “Skullgirls” has been the indie fighting game that has only seen more success as the years go by, and rightfully so! The online netcode is some of the best on the market, the addition of new characters expands on new ways to play while offering unique mechanics, and the hand-drawn animation and artstyle make it one of the most beautiful fighting games you can get.

#4: “Dragon Ball FighterZ” (2018)

Look, “Budokai Tenkaichi 3” was fantastic when it came to fan service, but in terms of hardcore fighting, there just hasn’t been a “Dragon Ball” game with as much love and care put into it as “Dragon Ball FighterZ”. Once again, Arc System Works manages to deliver with exceptional animation and visuals, replicating the look and feel of the anime. “FighterZ” also featured a unique combat system where pulling off combos rewarded you with the legendary Dragon Balls, eventually allowing you to summon Shenron himself. Couple this combat system with a hearty helping of post-launch support with DLC characters, and you’ve got a “Dragon Ball” game that every fan needs in their library.

#3: “Street Fighter II: The World Warrior” (1991)

The “Street Fighter” franchise has seen a wealth of great games like “3rd Strike” and the “Alpha” series. Even “Street Fighter V” managed to bring in fans (albeit after some drastic improvements were made to its story, content, and quality of life). However, fighting games just wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for “Street Fighter II”. Unlike the slow and clunky original “Street Fighter”, the second game was faster and more visually impressive while allowing players to string attacks together. It set the scene for competitive gaming as well, with some organizations still holding tournaments of the game to this very day. For “Street Fighter II”, age has only strengthened it.

#2: “Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes” (2000)

In case that repetitive title music didn’t clue you in, this game will indeed take you for a ride. Despite the recent sequels trying to capture what made this entry so accessible, nothing has quite managed to live up to it. Especially the experience of unleashing the fury of your favourite three character tag team and lighting up the entire screen with Hyper Combos in glorious 2D. With its massive roster containing everyone from Spidey to Ryu and every A to C-list character in between along with its iconic art style, this was undoubtedly Marvel and Capcom’s biggest bout.

#1: “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” (2018)

We know everyone has their favorite “Smash” game. Speedy players will stick to “Melee” while Subspace Emissary fans are still going back to “Brawl”. Retro fans are going to play “64” every once in a while as “Smash 4” fans explore the different ideas that game holds. “Ultimate”, on the other hand? You can’t ignore how massive this game has become between the extensive selection of stages, the roster of eighty-nine playable fighters, the unique take on Classic Mode ladders, the customizable game modes, and how Spirits throws in more characters from various IPs. “Smash: Ultimate” isn’t just a fantastic fighter - it’s a celebration of video games as a whole, and even though the DLC is done, we’ll be playing it until our Switches break.
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