Much of the skill involved in fighting games requires an intimate knowledge of the player’s chosen character and the specific mechanics of the individual title. Because of this steep learning curve, fighting games have transformed into a niche genre, with a dedicated following of talented enthusiasts. Often, players specialize in one specific franchise and the competitive play, whether it be in official tournaments, the local arcade, or on someone’s couch, is arguably the most intense in any multiplayer field.
Street Fighter II is what really brought the genre into its own in 1991. Capcom’s sequel ignited the arcade boom of the 1990s and turned the gaming world on its head with its introduction of competitive multiplayer. Street Fighter II remains one of the best selling and most influential games of all time and impacted the direction of the genre like no other title.
Once just a student of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat ended up having nearly as profound of an affect on the industry as Capcom’s title. A wave of copycat games cloned MK’s style, each working to up the ante on the blood and brutality of the other. Most of these titles have faded into the annals of gaming history but a select few, such as Killer Instinct and Primal Rage standout. Mortal Kombat continues to be revered and exalted by game critics and holds numerous records with Guinness World Records.
3D fighting games took over at the turn of the millennium with franchises such as Soul and Dead or Alive innovating the genre with features like weapon based combat and destructible environments. Even Mortal Kombat had to evolve, introducing 3D arenas and alternate fighting styles. Around this time, fighting games started to focus more on home console releases as the glory days of arcades began to wane.
Another popular modern trend in modern fighting games is the crossover, in which the roster is compiled from all-star sources. The roots of this can be traced to Marvel vs Capcom, in which characters from Capcom’s games such as Street Fighter and Resident Evil squared-off against Marvel comic characters like Spider-Man and Iron Man. In 2008, Midway and DC Comics flipped the coin on this formula with Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. assembles all of their beloved characters, like Mario, Kirby, and Donkey Kong, and throws them into an all out rumble with frantic results. Sony tried to copy this recipe in 2012 with their Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale with their own pantheon of characters.
Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician