Fighting games were not created in the 1990s, but they sure did hit their stride during that halcyon period. Narrowing down a list of the top 10 of all time is almost as difficult as you can get when it comes to making lists. Because of their iterative nature, most fighting game franchises have spawned multiple games some of which are preferred over others but few of which are objectively better than another. That said, this list represents a classic smattering of titles that made appearances in the arcades and on home consoles. In fact, with the exception of two games, most every title on this last had both a home and arcade installment.
The arcade atmosphere – from the competition to the energy of hanging out with other gamers – is what really gave fighting games their initial jumpstart so it is nearly impossible to forget this component when evaluating them in hindsight. In fact, until eSports, there wasn’t really anywhere a gamer could go for serious competition other than the arcades. That said, here are the ten top fighting games of all time using that criteria:
10. Samurai Shodown
This stylistic rendition on the fighting game craze comes from the masters of the genre over at SNK and features some of the most beautiful sprite work you will see in a classic arcade and console game. From the wandering ronin Haohmaru to the flamboyantly dressed antagonist Amakusa Shiro, this game bleeds with Japanese culture but also includes references to others as well. Basically it is like Street Fighter II with weapons and a historical theme. Beyond that, the gameplay is a little slower and more considered. Special attacks are really devastating and matches tend to play out like a fencing match rather than a furious flurry of attacks. Cool effects like