As a veteran gamer (I started playing Atari 2600 on 1990, so it’s about 20 years of gaming experience), my first love to video game is a platformer / action adventure game such as Prince of Persia, Mario, etc. But the most constant genre I played is fighting game.
And as 26 years old guy, recently I have no time to playing game (well, not as much as I used to that is), and the genre that could hook me on the get-go is fighting game, you could plug and play and enjoy it at the knick of time. I know most people consider this genre as a no-brainer and rather savage and dumb guy who will enjoy it (especially by those who dig RPG or strategy, those holy omni-potent dork and doofus nerd, no offence, just rant), but it took a hard formula called balance to create the most enjoyable fighting game that didn’t stray to be been there done that experience, a combo abused or cheap fighting game.
This list contains some of the fighting game that leaves a strong impression in my life. It’s not the best game by specification or by definition, or even for most gamer contentment. This list is purely about fighting game that according to me was da bomb. So, without further due, here’s the list (in countdown list order with no specific game, unless the one really stands out among others, but rather the series) :
10. Dead or Alive (Arcade SEGA Saturn, Playstation 1 & 2, X Box & X Box 360)
Just like miss universe qualification, this game has 3 B (even more B’s) beauty, babes, boobs, brawl, etc. The first thing most people will noticed must be the juggling boobs, then the awesome graphic (even when the game first came out, it’s using Virtua Fighter 2 engine, which is crème de la crème at the time). A treat to an eye (there even a side game called Dead Or Alive Beach Ball with extra of sexy girl abuse game and “point of view”. This game put Pokemon Snap into shame for it’s better object of photo shot. A game that really meant to perverted guy like me he he).
Other notable thing is, this game first introduced the “booby trap” (sounds like boobs, the game developer have a knack at women that for sure) or “danger zone” such as land mines or electricity if you went outside the arena (besides the notorious “ring out” from the first Virtua Fighter or “caged arena” from Bloody Roar, or Fighting Viper). This game also introduced the multi layer or multiple arena or stage in 3 D fighting game (even it feels like some stage are endless multi arena).
But that’s not all, what makes this game shines is more than just a mere cosmetic, under the beautiful skin, lies a depth and varied moves. What makes this game can’t grade higher is cuz sometimes the guard button, or to be exact the guard + back = counter makes this game is very counter abusive game, which sometimes makes the balance of the games lost and turning into “countering warfare”
9. Last Blade / Samurai Spirit (tie) (Arcade, Genesis, SNES, SEGA CD, Playstation, etc)
As one of the earliest weapons based game, Samurai Spirit sets the standard for this kinda game, it even sets the realistic touch and SNK’s “thinking game” (the game pace is kinda slow for some people). If you just a button quencher / masher, you won’t get far in this game (it sometimes fell like a rock-paper-scissor gameplay sometimes). Samurai Spirit really filled our appetite for classic middle age era warrior (not just Samurai, the title really misinform sometimes cuz there a European character such as Charlotte, a European girl with fencing style, or Galford, a westerner who somehow mastering ninjitsu).
Since Samurai Spirit ain’t everyone cup of Sake, SNK also release a game called Last Blade, this game is more approachable for everyone, with it’s faster pace, pretty graphic (it even gave Capcom’s Street Fighter Alpha / Zero 3 a run for it’s money), and a hope that button quencher / masher to master this game. Last Blade almost felt like a Capcom style released than SNK. One cool fact, the game main character, Kaede, have the ability to be “Super Saiyan” (Akira Toriyama’s alien race whose ability to power up themselves with notable physical change to shift from black hair into blonde hair in Dragon Ball Z).
Somehow, Last Blade never achieved the acknowledgement it deserved due to the fact that everyone thought that it is just some distraction, or some petty effort from SNK to distract gamer and gain some cash from non Samurai Spirit series (but the Last Blade actually inspire the new faster pace gameplay in the next Samurai Spirit game such as Samurai Spirit 5 with more Capcom style fast pace tempo).
8. Tobal (Playstation)
Well, I bet most people don’t know about this game, cuz well, it went out when the 3D fighting game supremacy is being a dualistic fight between SEGA (Virtua Fighter, Last Bronx, Fighting Vipers) and Namco (Tekken, Soul Edge / Soul Blade) other contender is mostly just there and not to stay (the likes of Bloody Roar from Hudson Soft of Bomberman fame, Star Gladiator Capcom first foray into 3D fighting game, which is kinda awesome anyway, or any other 3D game). But Tobal series shines on its own. Tobal (especially No. 1) offers the realistic and thinking game of Virtua Fighter (even with slower tempo) and the most advance grappling system I’ve yet to seen outside the homoerotic UFC Game that is.
About the grappling system, in this game you can hold your opponent, then the next step is rather to hit / kick your opponent to shook him / her off balance and can’t counter your grappling, or just throw your opponent immediately (word of advice, when you hold your opponent, your opponent could also do the same step I told previously). Between the grappling, as I mention earlier, you could hit / kick your opponent to shook him / her off balance, and your opponent could do it also vice versa, what cool is, your character determine the outcome in the grappling battle, if your character is big, you could kick / hit your opponent just 2 or 3 times to shook him off balance, if your character is smaller, it took more effort to shook opponent off balance. How awesome is that!?
This game also offers the RPG-Dungeon crawler like extra game (it’s even out-do the Tekken extra game, a beat ‘em up Final Fight type inspired Tekken Force). And the character list is awesome, if you beat or even just play the extra game, you could use the character you defeat in the game (even in Tobal No. 2 you could play as Chococbo from Final Fantasy series). I never sure the exact character roster and since Tobal No. 2 is Japanese only, but people said that the character roster is around 200, could U believe that?
But Tobal No.2 somehow went the wrong way, though in the right track. They offer better graphic (a beautiful graphic for 32 Bit system, even in 64 Bit), faster tempo, even the signature “kame hame ha” moves from Dragon Ball (another Akira Toriyama works). But somehow it makes the magic disappear, the balance and the realism is gone. Oh, and due to the poor performance of the first game, Tobal No.2 is a Japan only game (I mentioned it earlier).
Other things which makes this game receive poor review is the weak character design, they are unlikable and weird (chicken guy or hellboy look-a-like or other stupid Akira Toriyama design you could imagine ruin this game popularity)
7. Tekken (Playstation, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Gameboy Advance, X Box 360)
Arguably, the most played fighting game in the world. The game that put Namco as one of the top game developer in the world (before 32 bit era, Namco is a mediocre Game-Dev, known only by cheesy game such as Galaxian, Galaga, or any other not worth mentioned game). Tekken spawning 6 sequel and cosmetic or remix version (Tekken 6 Bloodline Rebelion) and derivative side game / gaiden in japanese terms (such as Tekken in Gamboy Advance or Tekken Dark Resurection in PSP).
Tekken offer fast pace, easy to master system and all the requirements of successful game (Beauiful FMV? Checked. Sexy girl? Checked. Great character design? Checked. Pumpin-anoying BGM? Checked. Etc? Checked), no wonder most gamer prefer Tekken than SEGA’s Virtua Fighter series.
Tekken may sounds tedious or no-brainer, but deep within the flashy cosmetics, Tekken offer a deep game-play that makes amateur and novice can enjoy the game at the same time. Maybe people will say that Tekken’s 10 hit combo (a legendary button tap that inspire other game to be copied) is a no-brainer, I agree, but Tekken also have the grappling combo or aerial combo that sets the different between an amateur and a pro. Sum it all, pretty game, approachable gameplay, great fighting game.
Why it didn’t great higher? Cuz the gameplay evolution stops at Tekken 3 (at least for me), Tekken 4 and other sequel after that just a tried & true formula. The graphic somehow didn’t evolved much since Tekken 4. Didn’t believe me? Here’s the proof :
This a shot from Tekken 6 from Arcade version, maybe the lighting effect is better, but the polygon ain’t much evolved from the previous game, and they say this is the next gen console!!!
6. Guilty Gear (Playstation, Playstation 2, Dreamcast, X Box, X Box 360, etc)
Ah, this is a game that shout out loud than video game ain’t just for nerd or sissies. This game combine the greatness and fines of 2-D fighting game and combines it with one thing that truly rock, rock music.
Yes this game full of reference of rock music, from character design that combines post-apocalyptic theme and glam-rock scene to character name and BGM that pays tribute to the rock scene, such as main Character Sol Badguy that were influenced by Freddy Mercury solo album “Mr. Badguy”, Axl Low that without a doubt inspire by Axl Rose from Guns & Roses, or Johnny the pirate who clearly inspired by Goo Goo Dolls vocalist Johny Rzeznik. Don’t forget the music, BGM filled with guitar driven and machine gun drum sound (unlike other fighting game who use annoying techno or electro-machine music) even of the BGM in Guilty Gear X (Dreamcast version is an instrumental version of “Pardon Me” by Incubus, Sol Badguy’s stage if I’m not mistaken).
But what makes this game is great is the graphic and the gameplay. The gameplay is a combination of balance moves between characters, a link combo that makes the game fast & furious (even my thumb is hurt cuz the button mashing) and graphic so beautiful, it makes the player or spectator both are pleased. Simply put, great game.
To Be Continued