8 Best Fighting Games From The 90s
The fighting game boom officially started in the 90s. While some predated Street Fighter, such as Karate Champ or Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Street Fighter 2 is when fighting games really exploded onto the scene. A lot of video game companies wanted in on the action afterwards, leading to a wide range of great brawlers.
A couple of titles from the decade are still held in very regard as the best in the genre, and this was also the final decade where fighting games ruled the arcade space worldwide. Japan still to this day has a notable arcade scene, but the rest of the world has transitioned to the home space.
8/8 Marvel Vs. Capcom: Clash Of Super Heroes
While the most famous game in the Marvel vs. Capcom series is arguably MVC2, the first title is still really good. It only has 15 characters, which is a bit small, but it works well for the game considering its support system. MVC1 is a two-versus-two fighter, but you do have a random guest character that can assist you in battle.
One is randomly picked as soon as you select your team, and how you use them is vital to winning. Unfortunately, MVC1 isn't readily available anymore — it was re-released on Xbox 360 and PS3 via Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, but that has since been delisted. If you can get your hands on it though, it's absolutely worth it.
7/8 Virtua Fighter 3
Yu Suzuki is perhaps best known for making the Shenmue series, but his highest quality work has to go to Virtua Fighter. The first two have not aged the best, despite being really impactful at the time for 3D fighters. However, the third title holds up much better.
The stages are much more dynamic, and have verticality to them. You can be like Obi-Wan and take advantage of the high-ground position. It elevated the bar for 3D fighters going forward, with how stages are used. In Japan, Virtua Fighter 3 is still played competitively, which is surprising for a game this old.
6/8 Street Fighter 3: Third Strike
The third and final version of Street Fighter 3 pulled out all the stops. Five new characters were added, including the in-demand Chun-Li, who became such a high-tier character you'd see her in almost every top eight in tournaments. What really separated Street Fighter 3 from its predecessor was the parry system.
Instead of normally blocking, you could pull off a well-timed parry, resulting in no chip damage taken. This can be done with any attack in the game, and was a huge game changer that took a lot of skill and practice to master. This mechanic resulted in the most famous moment in FGC history, Evo Moment 37, when Daigo Umehara parried all 15 hits of Chun-Li's super and went on to win the match.
5/8 Dead Or Alive 2
Despite Dead or Alive 2 having multiple revisions following its October 1999 Japan release, ending with one of the best fighters on Xbox, DOA2 Ultimate, the 1.0 release of the game is still impressive for its time. The graphics and stages were on a whole different level than any other fighter at the time — Soulcalibur came close, but even that paled in comparison.
The controls and gameplay were massive improvements over the first title, and really emphasized the reflex-based gameplay Team Ninja would become famous for. DOA uses a rock-paper-scissors system, and you can counter enemy strikes. It's incredibly satisfying to counter moves, and the whole title impacted 3D fighting games.
4/8 Tekken 3
Like Virtua Fighter, the first couple of Tekken titles aren't great to play nowadays. However, Tekken 3 is one of the best fighting games — if not the best — on the original PlayStation, and has aged far better. It's one of the most important 3D fighting games ever made.
You still see many elements from it appear in the more recent Tekken titles, and Tekken 3 was the system's fifth best-selling game overall. That's hard to believe in this age, where most fighting games don't even get close to that level of success. It was such a notable title that it was included on the PlayStation Classic.
3/8 Mortal Kombat 2
Generally considered the best out of all four original arcade Mortal Kombat games, Mortal Kombat 2 has a solid roster, especially for 1993. The digitized sprites still have this timeless charm that never really ages. It just screams the 90s, and you can tell the people who made it had a lot of fun.
It's also packed with a lot of content, with three different types of finishers and many secrets to find. The arcade version, however, is one of the hardest arcade games ever made, and the AI reads your inputs like no other. MK2 never had that big of a competitive scene, but regardless it's still one of the most popular and in-demand retro arcade games.
2/8 Bushido Blade
Bushido Blade was one of the most unique fighting games of the decade. The core concept was one-hit deaths. If you were lucky, you might be struck in one of your limbs, which only disabled you. It sounds incredibly simple, but once you get your hands on it, it's a total blast with friends.
Matches get really intense, and often you can get in a situation where both of you are too anxious to make a move. What makes this title such a standout is how many games were influenced by it, or tried to emulate the mechanics. Even the main gameplay system of Sekiro is heavily influenced by Bushido Blade.
1/8 Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo
At first, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo might seem like a simple rehash of Super Street Fighter 2, but this is far from the case. Super Turbo introduced supers and throw techs, whereas in older versions whoever pushed the throw command first got the move, no matter what. Throws are really effective in almost any fighting title, so you can see why this would be a balancing dilemma.
In Super Turbo, if you push the throw command second but are still close to your opponent when they do likewise, you do a throw tech. Your character not only lands on their feet, but the damage taken is drastically reduced. Throw teching changed the genre as a whole, and Super Turbo is still regarded as one of the best fighting games ever made.
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