Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Top 10 Best Playing Fighting Games of All Time

This is *my* list. I'm not an expert in all of these games, and I certainly have biases. But in any case, these are, in my opinion, the best playing fighting games in existence today. Some of the rankings could easily be reversed and some games might have made the cut had I made this list on a different day (like KoF '98 for example), but this is how I see them today.

10. Street Fighter Alpha 3
The best in the Alpha series. This game offered tons of characters and 3 different styles of "supers". The gameplay was smooth and the animation was great.

9. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Lots of people (myself included) knock the MK series because, well, most of them suck. And of those that do like the MK series, many would probably say MKII was the best in the series. I can respect that. But while MKII was great, I think the series didn't reach its apex until UMK3. Sure, it has dial-a-combos, but  with its varied characters, smooth gameplay and crazy juggling, the series peaked here.

8. Samurai Shodown III
This game is similar to the MK series in that many people will state that the second installment was the best. I again disagree. I feel like SSIII keeps all the great gameplay elements from SSII, but adds more characters (though I'll miss Cham-Cham) and gameplay options like the Slash/Bust versions of each character.

7. Killer Instinct (2013)
What a redesign! I haven't had a chance to play this as much as I'd like, but no fighting game not named Street Fighter has captured my interest as much as this game has. It's a *vast* improvement over the older two KI entries. There is a ton of thought that went into the gameplay. Although in some cases, it may be overthought. A valid complaint is that the game at higher levels might get too rock-paper-scissory, but I still think that this game is a blast to play. It needs more characters. Hopefully they'll continue to update this title.

6. The Last Blade 2
This is how you make a 2D fighting game with weapons. SamSho was very good, but this is better. There are two different types of styles that can be summed up as "powerful" or "quick", and both are useful. The characters all control smoothly and are well balanced. Many people haven't played this game because it came out during the last days of the fighting game era before its resurgence in the late 2000s.

5. Garou: Mark of the Wolves
If you don't count spinoffs or other platforms, this is basically Fatal Fury 8. It cuts down the cast of characters drastically, but ups the gameplay enough to make it the best in the series. It''s a highly technical, fast paced game.

4.Soul Calibur II
I was never really that good at SC games, but this game was tops. SC was known for realistic looking animation and fighting styles, and this game basically just built upon its predecessor. It successfully walked the line between amazing looking button masher and elegant highly technical fighting game.

3. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
After two tries, Capcom finally got SFIII right. After dumping all of SFII's beloved cast except Ken and Ryu, Chun-Li makes her triumphant return in 3rd Strike. The parry mechanics and superb combination of animation and technical elements made this best SF made until the late 2000s.

2. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
On its own, any version of SF2 would have fallen to the 3rd spot below SFIII:3s. However, the HD remix of SSF2T is a thing of beauty. David Sirlin, a very talented game developer and fighting game community member, was hired to re-balance the game when it came to re-release it with HD graphics. He used top notch fighting game players and lots of gameplay testing to create what I think is the best SF2 game ever. He streamlined many of the special move motions and removed hard-coded randomness from the game. This game is how SSF2T *should* have played all along.

1. Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition 2012
No other game comes close to being #1. This first iteration of SFIV single-handedly revitalized the long lethargic fighting game genre. The Super and AE updates/re-balancing patches have only made it better. And soon, we'll have the Ultra version of SFIV to enjoy. No other game offers this level of near-perfect gameplay. This game is immediately familiar to old-school SF players, but also offers tons of new mechanics for the hardcore players. The addition of the Focus Attack was genius: allowing new setup possibilities and giving us another option other than jumping-in to close the distance between fighters. And the discrepancy between the top tier and lowest tier of characters is the smallest yet. Every time the community discounts a character as being low-tier, someone proves them wrong by winning or advancing very far into a major tournament with that character.

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