Ah, fighting games. If there’s one thing I’ve missed, it’s getting to play those with friends. None of my roommates are into them and all my FGC buddies have been dealing with COVID issues of their own. So, much to my dismay, I’ve been stuck playing the three fighting games with online that actually functions.
Shout outs to Skullgirls, Them’s Fightin’ Herds, and Killer Instinct for keeping me sane.
I’ll be the first to admit that getting into fighting games can be a little difficult. Even more difficult is learning how to truly succeed. Granted, if you learn how to block and not spam buttons, you’ll do better than a good 50% of other players. But mastering combos, timing, neutral, and all that other good FGC shit is pretty hard.
But when you overcome that challenge? You’ll find some of the most fun multiplayer gameplay a guy could ask for.
Today, I’m gonna write a little love letter to all my favorite games in the fighting game genre. These are the games that I’ve played and enjoyed the most. I’m not going to discuss stories or game balance. There’s only one factor in mind: is it fun? Though good presentation is always a plus; hey, it’s a fighting game! Flash is part of the appeal!
Soul Calibur 2
Is it weird to consider Soul Calibur to be ‘baby’s first Tekken’? Or is Tekken ‘baby’s first Tekken’ and I’m just bad at fighting games?
Even before I got truly absorbed into fighting games, I’ve always had a soft spot for Soul Calibur. I remember discovering it back in middle school, playing SC5 with a friend in his basement. He didn’t really understand how it worked, so I just picked Nightmare and annihilated him over and over again.
After that, I explored some of the earlier games in the series. I didn’t really care for SC3 or 4, and my affection for 5 was short lived. But when I played SC1 and 2, my love for this series became more solid. In the end, SC2 ended up as one of my personal favorites.
Specifically the GameCube version. You probably know why.
Soul Calibur is, in my mind, the perfect fighting game for beginning players. It’s just simple enough to get into with ease while being just complex enough for competitive play. Few things get as intense or fun as both players sitting on the edge of the ring, desperately trying to knock the other guy off while keeping his own ass safe. I can’t count the number of times my buds and I leaned in towards the TV, desperately pressing buttons in an effort to avoid death. It’s so much fun!
Thankfully, Soul Calibur 6 did a pretty great job of capturing this particular magic. But out of all of them, I’ll find myself revisiting 2 most often.
Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3
The one game where I feel kinda bad playing as Vergil. And by ‘feel kinda bad’, I mean ‘get actively bullied for’. Feel free to keep crying. My cup needs a refill anyways.
What is there to say about MVC3 that hasn’t been said already? This is one of the fastest, craziest fighting games on the market! At the highest level of play, a match could end in less than a minute! A dude down to his last character could still very well come back and annihilate all three of the other guy’s characters! This shit is absolutely insane!
Even if it’s horribly balanced. Jesus Christ, fucking Vergil and Zero are the ruiners of lives. And don’t even get me started on the fucking online! That’s the problem with getting into a game that everyone else has long since stopped playing: everyone still around are just fucking demons!
Tekken is fucking hard, bro. Like, I’m bad at fighting games. But I’m really bad at Tekken.
Not to say that I haven’t tried. Because fuck me, Tekken is so much damn fun!! When you manage to overcome the skill barrier and actually figure out what you’re doing, it’s the most satisfying feeling in the world! It’s even better now, since one of the latest updates greatly improved the online experience!
Plus, this is one of the few fighting games where I actually like to customize my characters. You mean I can stick Akuma from Street Fighter into a sumo outfit?! Sign me the hell up! I can get my ass kicked in style!
Guilty Gear Xrd
Choosing my favorite Guilty Gear was hard. For all the aged jank, I can’t deny how much fun I’ve had with the original game. XX Accent Core Plus is also a ton of fun, featuring five of my favorite playable characters in the series. But in the end, the playtime don’t lie. Xrd is the one I’ve put the most time into.
Though if Strive has good online, I might not ever play anything else.
Xrd has a few things that really set it apart from other fighting games. For one: it’s drop dead gorgeous. Two: it has a genuinely informative and engaging tutorial! And three: the combat is so fucking intense that it’s hard not to lean! When your opponent gears up to use their one-hit kill? Few things have ever struck such fear into my heart!
Oh, and did I mention how fucking killer the music is? Cause god fucking damn, dude! Few video game OSTs slap as hard as Guilty Gear!
See you guys day 1 for Guilty Gear: Strive!
Killer Instinct (2013)
Hey, Microsoft! Bring back KI, you cowards! This shit was awesome!
The journey this game took was absolutely insane. It went from one of the most deep but bare games out there, with incredible combat but a lacking roster. But as the years went on, the combat slowly became even more refined and the roster fucking exploded! This game can be tough to learn, yes, and the tutorial isn’t amazing. But fuck me, if it ain’t fun!
The sheer variety of the roster is the biggest factor for me. Wanna play a skeletal pirate? How about a fire-breathing dinosaur? How about a killer robot? OR THE FUCKING ARBITER FROM HALO?! The sheer variety between these characters is absolutely insane!
And the combo breaker system is the single hypest thing in the world! Nothing feels better than shutting someone down mid-combo and launching a counterattack! If done right, you can go into an intense game of back and forth, launching into insanely long combos, breaking them, countering them, getting them broken, this shit is nuts!!
Did I mention that Mick Gordon did the soundtrack? You know, the guy who did the new Doom music?
I have no reason to buy the new Xbox. Not with the new Halo coming out on PC. But if they brought back Killer Instinct? I’d buy that damn thing without a second thought.
Unless it, too, came to PC. In which case, I get it even luckier!
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Smash is a fighting game. Just a different kind of fighting game. Disagree? Well, good for you, you’re wrong.
What can I say about Smash that literally everyone on the internet hasn’t already? It’s the perfect party game and the most wildly fun competitive game to play with friends. You can pick it up and play with no issue and start racking up kills with ease. It’s pure, simple fun!
While I have more nostalgia for the older games, it’s hard to deny that Ultimate is the best one. Just look at that roster! This isn’t a celebration of Nintendo anymore! This whole game is a big ol’ love letter to all of video games! For fuck’s sake, you can make Minecraft Steve fight Sephiroth, Simon Belmont, Kirby, and Banjo & Kazooie! This shit is insane, bro!
If only people didn’t get up in arms every time a new DLC character gets announced.
Are we still allowed to like this game? I heard the creator was a huge asshole. I can still support the work of everyone else who made this game possible, right?
Forgetting that: Skullgirls is absolutely brilliant. The aesthetic is incredible. The gameplay is wildly flexible, balanced, and addictive. And it’s even got phenomenal online! It’s a game that’s pretty tough to master, but once you get the hang of it? It’s incredibly rewarding and fun!
And the music is sick, too! Smooth jazz? Over my fighting game? Fuck yeah, sign me up!
My only wish is for more. I want more characters, more stages, more music! I’d absolutely kill a man for more of this game!
Just… with someone respectable in charge.
Undernight In-Birth: Exe:Late[cl-r]
Out of all the games on this list, this is the one I’ve played the most. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Fuck, I’d planned on taking my Wagner to EVO 2020!!
Then my hopes and dreams were thoroughly crushed in every possible way.
That aside, this game is super addictive! It’s so easy to learn, featuring one of the best tutorials in any fighting game I’ve ever played! Then, once you figure it out, you can super easily launch into play and start pulling off badass combos!
The GRD mechanic is the one thing that I love the most. Whoever thought to introduce a tug-of-war mechanic to a fighting game is an absolute genius and I love them! Is your defense/offense on point? You get a power boost! Did your shield get broken? Say goodbye to your advantage! So now you need to watch your health gauge, super gauge, and the tug-of-war! And that’s before you watch the actual fight itself!
This game is the shit and I love it. Out of all of them, this is the one I most frequently go back to. I’ve bought it roughly… five or six times, I believe. Maybe more.
Now if only the online were functional…
Dragon Ball Fighterz
Surprise! DB Fighterz is my favorite! Who could’ve seen that coming?!
This is the game that truly got me into fighting games. Initially, I only got into it because it was an extremely beautiful Dragon Ball game. But I quickly found myself getting into the actual game itself.
Then I watched my first EVO and everything changed.
From there, I plunged into the rabbit hole. I practiced every character. Memorized their moves. Studied frame data. Poured dozens, hundreds of hours into the game. Bought every single season pass.
This game has it all. It’s gorgeous! It’s easy to learn! It’s so much fun to play! If the online weren’t trash, this would be the best fighting game ever made! Fight me! This shit is an absolute masterpiece!
I don’t know what the future has in store. Maybe we’ll get a season four. Maybe we’ll get a Dragon Ball Fighterz 2. Either way, I’m in! No matter what it is, I am 100% down.
Just add Mr. Satan. Please. That’s literally all I want.
I had to leave off so many games that I love from this list. Blazblue Cross Tag. Persona 4 Arena. Street Fighter 4. King of Fighters 13. Even motherfucking Pokken! I’ve played so many of these and I love them all!
Except you, Street Fighter 5. And MVC: Infinite. And Mortal Kombat 11. And Injustice 2. Man, the big fighting game companies have done so little for me these days!