Hello retro gamers, Retro Marty here and I’m back with my next top 5 list, this time focusing on a genre that is near and dear to my heart, the 1 on 1 fighter. Many of us like me will have fond memories of visiting an arcade when they were still around to play the latest and greatest fighters and prove that we could beat all comers with our dazzling array of moves, or was that just me? Without further ado, let’s see what made the cut.
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (Arcade)
Street Fighter 2 was a revelation when it hit the arcades in 1991. To say that is was popular is a massive understatement. I couldn’t even get near a machine for the first year of its release such was the demand for this game in the local arcades that I used to visit. Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition was the first version I was able to play on a regular basis (walking to the next suburb over to play it at the fish and chip shop was a regular occurrence). Capcom continued to refine the formula with each upgrade culminating in what I believe to be the pinnacle of the series and indeed one on one fighting games in general with Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. A logical update from Super Street Fighter 2 which introduced many new graphical touch ups, four new characters, a scoring system and different coloured costume choices (a staple that is now rampant in Capcom fighters) along with 3 speed options it was the complete package that I still play to this day and enjoy immensely. Without a doubt Capcom’s finest ever effort and a fitting legacy to the Street Fighter 2 legend.
Samurai Showdown 2 (Neo Geo)
SNK, spurred on by the success of Street Fighter 2, decided that they wanted a piece of that particular money pie and went about crafting a worthy follow up to the first Samurai Showdown on their Neo Geo system. Samurai Showdown 2, debuting in 1994, successfully blended the perfectly balanced fighting game finesse of Street Fighter 2 and merged it with weapons based combat and the results were stunning. I discovered this game at a local shop via an MVS machine and after playing it once I then spent as much time and money as possible, becoming hopelessly addicted in the process. Two player battles were a regular occurrence with many a challenger stepping up and much trash talk taking place. This game had it all, perfectly refined gameplay, a great cast of characters, superb special moves, jaw dropping graphics and let’s not forget, arterial spray when you finished your opponent with a decisive slice! Samurai Showdown 2 is still regarded as the best fighting game SNK have ever produced and rightly so.
Tekken 3 (PlayStation)
By the time 1997 rolled around 2D fighters were a thing of the past and 3D was all the rage with the game industry. Namco released Tekken 3 in arcades in 1997 with the home version appearing on the PlayStation a year later. What really impressed me about Tekken 3 so much is that is built upon the solid foundation laid by the first two games and really knocked it out of the park with number three. The graphics were much improved, there were fifteen new characters to unlock and play as and most importantly of all introduced a new sidestep function creating a third axis which bought a whole new level of strategy to the game. After buying this game and spending many hours unlocking all the secrets I knew that I had made the right decision to buy a PlayStation. Tekken 3 also features a number of other modes apart from the usual arcade and versus which help the longevity of the game. Tekken force is featured here for the first time and it’s a side scrolling game similar to Final Fight with plenty of fun to be had. Other modes such as survival, time attack and Tekken ball keep things interesting rounding out a superb package that’s a more than worthy purchase.
Soul Calibur 2 (GameCube)
Namco’s other flagship 3D fighter Soul Calibur 2 was debuted first in arcades in 2002 with home versions appearing a year later. Often dismissed as the inferior little brother to its older sibling Tekken, Soul Calibur is a more than worthy fighting game that features weapons based combat and a deep and complex fighting game engine. One of the best features of number 2 would have to be the exclusive bonus character that you got depending on what system you purchased it for. On the PlayStation 2 there was Heihachi Mishima of Tekken fame, Xbox owners got the comic book character Spawn and GameCube owners got to play as one of Nintendo’s most famous characters, Link. I had the GameCube version and enjoyed the novelty of playing as Link even though he wasn’t quite as good as the other characters. This game was amazing in the graphics department, I remember buying a component cable for my GameCube and firing this up and I was gobsmacked at how good it looked. It played like a dream too with silky smooth gameplay and game modes galore. Like most fighting games its best enjoyed with two people and I fondly remember some epic Soul Calibur 2 battles.
Mortal Kombat 2 (Arcade)
Mortal Kombat caused a sensation when it was released in arcades in 1992. It single handedly created the need to introduce a ratings system for games such was the level of gore and violence in this game. The sequel was released in 1993 and was a smash success for Midway effectively drawing people away from Street Fighter 2 as the game offered a visceral experience that could not be found anywhere else at the time. I remember seeing this game for the first time and being gobsmacked that this was allowable in a game and then after playing it I begun working on new and horrible ways to decimate my opposition. Mortal Kombat 2 offered many upgrades from the original game the most noteworthy of which include a much improved fighting game engine, better graphics, a larger character roster and the first appearance of babalities and friendships as an alternative to the now classic fatality finishing move. These improvements helped establish the franchise as a worthy entrant in the fighting game genre and really pushed the envelope about what was allowable in a video game.
Fatal Fury Special
Another top notch Neo Geo franchise that takes more than a little inspiration from Street Fighter. It even features its own version of Chun Li, in this case Mai Shiranui who has some *ahem* amazing assets. A solid fighter with many great things going for it.
Marvel Vs Capcom 2
I’m a huge fan of this series and felt that no list would be complete without mention of at least one of the games from this franchise. A superb blend between the Marvel and Capcom universes with amazing over the top gameplay and combos.