Worth Playing vol. 2: The Fighting Edition

If you’ve been playing games at all the last two years or so you’ve probably noticed the fairly large amount of fighting games being released. It’s a second coming for the fighter, which saw most of its best entries come out in the 90s. I decided to take a look back at some of the fighting games I remember playing when I was younger, as well as some of more current titles that can slug it out with the best of them.

Get ready fighters.

Go for it, man!

Game: Bloody Roar
Genre: 3D Fighter
System: Playstation 1, Playstation Network, Arcade
Price:$8 (PS1); $6 (PSN)

This series was rumored to be making a comeback (but it turned out to be a hoax), and I seriously wish it would. Bloody Roar and the sequel Bloody Roar IIare 3D fighters with a gimmick: you can transform into an animal form during each fight. Transforming has impacts on the damage you receive and dish out, health regeneration, and even the moves you can preform. Tight controls, a simple button interface, and well done graphics (for the time) make this game one to look into for sure. Also, the novelty of beating the hell out of someone as a anthropomorphic rabbit is hysterical.

Why you should play it
– Good 3D fighting that has a lot of action
– A memorable hook to get you to play: beast mode
– Fun extras to unlock, including big head mode and kiddie mode
– Easy to learn combos and get into the action with each character
– For a freshmen effort, this is a great title that launched the series

Game: Darkstalkers 3
Genre: 2D Fighting
System: Playstation 1, Sega Saturn (Japan only), Arcade
Price:$30 (PS1)

The Darkstalkers series is sorely forgotten by Capcom it would seem, which is strange considering how similar it is to Street Fighter. Darkstalkers 3, or Vampire Savior as it is known outside the US, is one of the best in the series, and has refined the formula to near perfection. Characters are modeled after monsters and creatures from Gothic lore, such as vampires, sprites, mummies, zombies, and succubi. Morrigan has made appearances in other Capcom titles like the Marvel vs. Capcom series, but there has been no movement from the Darkstalkers camp as of late. Fortunately you can snag up the awesome collection Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Towerfor the PSP, which houses the first three versions of the game in one UMD.

Why you should play it
– Do you like Street Fighter? Then you like Darkstalkers.
– Fast paced action sort of like the action in the MvC series
– Interesting cast of characters
– Beautifully animated and flows flawlessly
– Get interested in it so Capcom makes Darkstalkers 4!

 Game: Samurai Shodown
Genre: 2D Weapon Fighting
System: Damn near everything
Price: ~$30 (Samurai Shodown Anthology– PS2/PSP/Wii)

I remember playing this game, specifically Samurai Shodown II, at Pizza Hut and thinking, “Holy crap, that dude just got cut in half!” Samurai Shodown is by NeoGeo, and if you are a fighting fan that should mean something to you. NeoGeo games almost always looked a generation ahead of their time, and they were complicated to play. Samurai Shodown, however, was fun. So many great characters to choose from, including Samurai and Ninjas, and each with their own deadly weapon. The games are also bloody; hitting your opponent will usually spew pixelated blood from the wound. The game also looks pretty, with gorgeous hand-drawn visuals that still hold up today.

Why you should play it
– An alternative fighting system to the normal Street Fighter formula
– Weapon based combat before the popularity of Soul Calibur
– This was the flagship fighting game for NeoGeo: That’s saying something
– Buy Samurai Shodown Anthology – all other forms are inferior and expensive

Game: Killer Instinct Gold
Genre: 2.5D Fighting
System: Nintendo 64, Arcade (as Killer Instinct 2)
Price:$10 (N64)

You know what a lot of these games have had in common so far: They’ve been pretty damn good and then they were never heard from again. Perhaps the poster child for this theory is Killer Instinct 2 (or Killer Instinct Gold). Released by Rare near the beginning of the Nintendo 64’s lifecycle, KI Gold was easily one of the most unique fighters available at the time, and in  a way it still is. The game played on a 2D plane but featured 3D characters and environments (more noticeable in the arcade iterations), much like the recent Street Fighter IV implores. Killer Instinct Goldwas so smooth, handled so well, and sounded so grand I still can’t believe there isn’t a third one. STILL!

Why you should play it
– A killer (no pun intended) soundtrack to fight to
– Memorable cast of characters including the skeleton Spinal and ninja Jago
– Insane combos, Ultra Combos, Combo Breakers, and Humiliations
– A very technical fighter, but still remains fun to play regardless of skill

 Game: Street Fighter: The Movie
Genre: 2D Fighting
System: Arcade, Sega Saturn, Playstation 1
Price:~$25 (PS1); ~$20 (Saturn)

I know what you’re thinking: “Why in the hell is this atrocious game even on the list?” Well, let me explain myself. Street Fighter: The Movie for the home consoles actually isn’t that bad. Sure, it will never compare to the other games in the series, but it has some things going for it. Namely, the fighting system is near identical to that of Super Street Fighter II Turbo: characters have the same moves, combo the same, and handle similarly. The only difference, which is the big draw to the game, is the graphics. This game swapped sprites for digitized actors (sort of like Mortal Kombat), and the swap was totally unwarranted. However, it is quite funny to see the actors do classic movies like Bison’s psycho crusher, Ryu’s Hadouken, and Blanka’s… well, Blanka’s anything.

Why you should play it
– It’s one of the black sheep of the SF series (the others being the EX sereis; also underrated)
– Digitized actors look funny when doing normal SF moves, poses, and taunts
– This is the only game to feature a story mode with branching paths for the series
– This is the first SF game to feature EX moves: more powerful versions of special moves
– The only game to feature the character Sawada
– Completely different from the arcade version: this game was handled by Capcom, the arcade version was not

Game: Capcom vs. SNK 2
Genre: 2D Team Fighting
System: Arcade, Dreamcast (Japan only), Plastation 2, Gamecube, Xbox
Price: ~$30 (Dreamcast); $13 (Xbox/Gamecube – As Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO)

Forget about the Marvel vs. Capcom series, give me more Capcom vs. SNK! This series of fighters (of which there are only two games) is vastly different from the MvC series. You still have two sides duking it out, Capcom (Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, etc.) and SNK (King of Fighters, Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, etc.), but it’s no longer in tag-battle format. Instead you choose teams of up to four combatants to defeat the other team in 1v1 combat. After one character is eliminated, the next round starts with the next character in your team’s roster. It works out well. The game has an incredible amount of characters (48 total!), and each plays different from the next. This is easily the best game featured on this list.

Why you should play it
– It’s made by Capcom, but features characters from rival series’.
– Amazing sound, animation, and fluid fighting
– A clashing of companies not unlike the upcoming Street Fighter x Tekken
Ratio system for choosing characters leads to tons of possible team combinations
– Fun, Fun, FUN to play!

 Game: Tekken 3
Genre: 3D Fighting
System: Arcade, Playstation 1, Playstation 2 (on Tekken 5)
Price: $6 (PS1); ~$5 (PS2 – Tekken 5)

The King of Iron Fist Tournament was easily at its peak with the PS1’s Tekken 3. Adding more characters, better graphics, 3D movement, more stages, better music, and of course Tekken Ball, Tekken 3 is the complete package. In the war between Tekken, Soul Calibur, and Virtua Fighter for 3D fighter supremacy, my money is always with Tekken. Linking up combos, air juggling, and the ridiculous hair of Paul Phoenix make Tekken 3one of the best fighting games EVER made. Seriously… you should be playing this game.

Why you should play it
– The best entry into the series, by far
– A good amount of play modes, including off beat games like volleyball and bowling
– A fantastic cast of characters that are staples for the series
– Some of the best 3D combat in any fighter

 Game: Clayfighter 2: Judement Clay
Genre: 2D Fighting
System: Super Nintendo
Price: $6 (SNES)

Remember the SNES? I sure do, and one of the games I remember renting from Movie Gallery many times was Clayfighter 2. There are plenty of things wrong with this series: unbalanced fighting system, poor combo execution, crazy difficult opponents. But there are plenty of things that are right with the game as well. How about the zany cast of characters: Bad Mr. Frosty, the agitated snow man, the Blob, and murderous wad of goo, or the pedophile-in-training Nana Man, dressed up as a giant Banana? And yes, the game is made with clay, and the characters know it, oftentimes getting cut in half, balled up into globs, and throwing pieces of themselves at one another. Clayfighter 2is just a fun title that captures what video games sometimes lose sight of: Letting the player interact with something absurd and creative they otherwise wouldn’t be able to see or do.

Why you should play it
– The claymation animation style is unique and nicely done
– Bizarre characters give the game it’s style
– Great 2-Player experience
– An older title for the nostalgic fans

 Game: Mortal Kombat 4
Genre: 2.5D Fighting
System: Arcade, Nintendo 64, Playstation 1, PC, Dreamcast
Price: $9 (PS1); $10 (N64); $10 (Dreamcast – as Mortal Kombat Gold)

Many fans of the genre might scoff this title off for being a drastic departure from the series formula, but they’d be missing out on a solid fighter. Ditching the digital actors from the first three iterations, MK4 used fully 3D models for fighters, and it worked well. Seeing classic characters like Scorpion and Sub-Zero in glorious 3D was a treat. The fighting system got an overhaul too, tweaked to work better in 3D, and it works well. Still retained were the gruesome fatalities the series is known for. In fact, one of the best one is in this game.

Why you should play it
– A solid entry into the Mortal Kombat series
– Satisfying fatalities cap off each battle
– 3D transition was done well
– Fast paced fighting that foreshadowed Mortal Kombat 9 (The newest game)

 Game: X-Men: Mutant Academy
Genre: 2.5D Fighting
System: Playstation 1, Game Boy Color
Price: $5

Lastly we’ve got the X-Men in X-Men: Mutant Academy. There were two entries in this series on the PS1 and then the third title switched to the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox in the form of X-Men: Next Dimension. The games have you playing as various X-Men villains and heroes in a quest to stop… you know, I don’t really remember the story. All I remember was being able to play as Wolverine, Cyclops, Toad, and others and enjoying the 3D combat. It was nice to see the X-Men beating the ever loving shit out of each other. The second game in the series actually lets you play as Charles Xavier as well!

Why you should play it
– It’s an X-Men fighting game, and that in itself makes it worth it
– A good variety of characters to choose from
– Animation looks a bit bulky, but still feels like the X-Men world
– A decent fighting system to capitalizes on the special abilities of each mutant



I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Eric

    Good stuff, man. I never really got into the fighting genre outside of playing some of the Genesis Mortal Kombat titles. I might have to pick up Bloody Roar, though, since it’s on PSN. I remember thinking those games looked pretty cool back in the day.

    I hadn’t seen that MK4 fatality. Crazy.

    1. jsicktheslick

      I started playing fighting games (are really games in general) when my brother brought home Mortal Kombat II for the Sega Genesis. Because of that I have very strong ties with the MK series and fighting games in general.
      I’ve actually been having a great time playing through the first two Bloody Roar games this week. It’s fun to play a simple game that doesn’t have all the intricacies current-gen games have: sort of like getting to know your roots. I love it.

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