This week's community question is all about fighting games. More specifically, which one is your favorite? Is it a classic like one of the early Street Fighter games, or are you into something a little more up-to-date, such as the latest iteration of Killer Instinct? Whatever it is, we're interested to know.
While you ponder your response, here's the USgamer team on their beat 'em ups of choice.
My first impulse here was to give a kneejerk Street Fighter response, because that series by far accounts for the greatest amount of time I've spent playing fighting games. Not that you'd know it from the way I play these days. (It's been a while.) However, if we're calculating favoritism not as a function of time invested but rather as simple admiration and a desire for a proper follow-up, then my answer can only be Bushido Blade.
Published by Squaresoft fairly early in the PlayStation's life, Bushido Blade represented an attempt by developer Lightweight to do something truly unique within the fighting game. Bushido Blade offered weapon-based fighting, which wasn't totally unheard of — Namco had already produced both Weaponlord and Soul Edge by that point — but Bushido Blade used weapons as something more than merely an extension of the player's reach. Bushido Blade's combat felt grounded in stark realism, with no aerial attacks, no super moves, no charge counters. It didn't even have life meters.
Rather, your opponents wielded their weapons with deadly precision, and a single solid blow to the heart could kill. A less precise strike still had value, though; slash a warrior's dominant arm and it would dangle limp, forcing them to fight weakly with their off hand. A hit to the legs would hobble a fighter, forcing them to limp slowly around the arena. Every strike counted in Bushido Blade, as in real sword fighting, and matches could end immediately or sprawl for several minutes as players maneuvered through the large, open environment. Defensive actions became important, as did using your surroundings to your own advantage — for example, luring your rival into a bamboo grove, where the slender trees could blunt the power of their swings. Bushido Blade was low on frills and presentation, but high on intensity. Unfortunately, neither the sequel nor spiritual successors like Kengo managed to capture the magic and unique style of this fighter, and I would love to see it reissued for PSN or something.
My choice takes me back to early 1993, when I worked at Mean Machines magazine in the UK. We had a Street Fighter II: Championship Edition arcade machine in our office, which we played it a lot. And I mean A LOT! To the point where we had to impose strict time limits on how long we could play games competitively during office hours, because our constant throwdowns were taking time away from us doing actual work.
Anyway, when Turbo: Hyper Fighting was released, we somehow managed to persuade Capcom UK to swap our Championship Edition board for this latest release - and it was brilliant. It was a faster and more refined version of Street Fighter II that introduced improved character balance, upgraded moves for many of the characters, and, for the first time, you could perform mid-air combo moves.
For me, this particular edition just packs a lot of memories, from our office competitions and friendly rivalries to staying late at the office just so I could practice at the game. Maybe I'm biased because I got really attuned to Turbo: Hyper Fighting's gameplay and original cast, but I think it's the best of all the Street Fighter II variants. The versions afterwards felt a little overly-tinkered with, and the new characters didn't really do much for me. But Turbo: Hyper Fighting just felt beautifully honed and fettled to perfection, and remains my favorite fighting game even today.
The culmination of the Street Fighter Alpha series is probably my favorite fighting game of all-time. There are other more technical fighting games. There are those with bigger rosters or better graphics. But if I had to be stuck on an island with one fighting game, it'd be Street Fighter Alpha 3.
From the moment Street Fighter Alpha/Zero was announced, I was onboard with the general look of the game and the included roster. As that roster grew, it started to add some great characters like Karin, Sakura, Guy, and Adon. Many of those characters have become a strong part of Street Fighter canon, more so than the cast of Capcom's adjoining fighter, Street Fighter III. (Capcom is getting better in that regard.)
Street Fighter Alpha 3 boasted 36 characters in its PlayStation incarnation, which at the time was an absolutely crazy roster for any game not named King of Fighters. Alpha 3 also added the Ism system, which allows players to choose a Super Combo style based on one of the previous SF games: A-ism for the standard Alpha style, X-ism for Super Street Fighter II Turbo, V-ism for variable custom combos like Alpha 2. The game was simply packed and I stress the PlayStation version, because it also included World Tour mode. World Tour let you choose and character and travel the SF world, fighting and unlocking character customization options. It was simply amazing.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 is my jam and you can pick up as a PSOne Classic right now. You'll thank me.
Street Fighter II was my first, but Soul Calibur will always be the first in my heart, mainly because it was one of the few fighting games I was actually good at.
When Soul Calibur arrived on the Dreamcast in 1999, it was a singular accomplishment - a better than arcade perfect port of an outstanding fighting game. Aside from being one of the most beautiful games of its era, it was packed with terrific single-player challenges and loaded with unlockables. You were never wanting for something to do in Soul Calibur.
My favorite thing about Soul Calibur, though, was how accessible it was to the lay fan. Its inputs were typically simple and easy to understand, and it was easy to find immediate success with characters like Kilik and Mitsurugi, who could swing their staff and katana with great effect. Once you really got into it, though, Soul Calibur's depth became apparent - its excellent parry system, its combos, and everything else.
To this day, Soul Calibur stands apart from the rest of the fighting game milieu as a fast-paced 3D fighter that uses its weapons to great effect. Fighting games have trended away from the Soul Calibur approach in recent years, and Bandai Namco sadly seems to have abandoned the series entirely in the wake of Soul Calibur V (the most recent release was a mobile game of all things), but there's still nothing quite like it. Honestly, I miss it.
Still, I will always have the hundreds of hours I invested into perfecting my combos with Sophitia, undertaking perfect arcade mode runs (without getting hit!), and putting Voldo in sexy poses in the in-engine opening cinematic. Soul Calibur was a singular accomplishment, and I doubt we'll ever see anything like it again.
My love of fighting games has always been reliant on the existence of actual people (in my immediate vicinity) to play them with—meaning I haven't really kept up with them for a little over a decade. So I'm afraid I'm going to have to default to Super Smash Bros., if only because it serves double duty as a comprehensive, interactive Nintendo museum. If, like me, you're rapidly aging and care a lot about classic gaming, every match this Nintendo feels like a pinata full of video game history just exploded. Sure, it helps that there's a solid game underneath, one that rewards Nintendo dorks hungry for the most references, but honestly, I've given up on any chance of ever being any good at Smash Bros. And that's fine: I'll allow myself to bask in self-indulgent Nintendo nostalgia every five to seven years, because, hey, it could be worse—it could be PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
The frequently overlooked and moderately reviled Super Street Fighter II for the SNES is the only answer a weirdo like myself can give.
Granted, my answer is based almost completely on emotion. I fully acknowledge it’s not hard to top Super Street Fighter II with Street Fighter Alpha 3, or with Super Street Fighter II Turbo (which Capcom hastily released in arcades when the first “Super” Street Fighter proved a mess).
But Super Street Fighter II for SNES kept me company when I spent a summer recovering from serious surgery, so I’ll always appreciate it for that. Besides, I’m one of those losers who prefers the single-player fighting game experience to the multiplayer experience, so I was a big fan of Super Street Fighter II’s graphics, sound, and story.
Speaking of story, Super Street Fighter II also introduced one of my cats’ namesakes, Cammy White. Regardless of our individual favourite fighting games, I think we can all agree that Cammy is cool (both the fighter and my cat).
But lately I’ve been thinking about how the US version of Super Street Fighter II changed Cammy’s past. In the Japanese version of the game, she was brainwashed and trained up to be an assassin under M Bison. In the English translation, however, Cammy’s “revelation” revolved around her being one of Bison’s lovers.
I’m still trying to figure out how the hell that switch even happened. I can’t even suss out the “why.” I guess it was forbidden to suggest a confirmed 16-year-old (read the instruction booklet!) killed people for a living, but suggesting the same 16-year-old regularly bedded with Hitler’s ancient mutant offspring was fine?
Okey-dokey, Nintendo. Whatever you like.