It's time for our biggest showdown to date. Here are our picks for the best fighting games of all-time.
The fighting game is a truly special genre. A roster of characters, an abundance of moves, and the perfect way to establish some major skill prowess. There are dozens of incredible franchises out there, though everyone has favorite — one that none of your peers can best you in.
This week, we've taken a deep dive into our memories to pick out the fighting games that left their (often brutal) mark on us.
DBLTAP's Best Fighting Games of All-Time
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Noam: Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube may be the single greatest game ever made. It's certainly the best platform fighter ever made, absolutely sonning even the other entries in the Smash Bros. series. Sakurai can add as many characters, stages, bells, whistles, etc., as he wants; all they'll do is dilute the accidental perfection of Melee's mechanics.
What makes Melee special is its freedom of expression. The best players glide around stages like they're ice skating, dancing back and forth to outmaneuver their opponents and punishing any oversteps with combos they have to customize in the moment, reacting to their target's percentage, where they are on the stage, how heavy their character is, how they defend themselves using directional influence — and all this at a lightning clip. No other game offers such a wide spectrum of moment-to-moment options, on both offense and defense, and that allows player personality to shine through. This is why the game's grassroots esports community is going strong more than 20 years after the game's release. There's just nothing else like it.
Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring
Max: One of the most bizarre fighting games was one of the first I fell in love with. A 3D fighter that featured Final Fantasy VII characters? Check. A dungeon crawler that resembled Diablo among other minigames? Check, but why? Why not? By far one of the weirdest, but best fighting games from the PlayStation's library alongside other greats like Bloody Roar and Tekken.
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution 3
Suzette: No other game makes you feel like you're fighting in an anime like the Naruto Ninja Storm games. This series brings to life the show and pits you against the most iconic characters in these bright, beautiful, and highly-stylized, three dimensional battles. The open battlefields allows you to glide across vast distances the only way a weeabo can; by Naruto-running to your opponent. But approach too quickly and they might just disappear in a cloud of smoke, only for you to have realized too late they've teleported behind you for a spine-breaking kick.
This game combines all the fun tropes from the series with solid fighting mechanics, the highlight of which are definitely the Ultimate Jutsu sequences. These moves can only be pulled off when you have a full chakra meter and once triggered will launch you into an epic cutscene, the tone of which can swing wildly between comedic to pure nightmare fuel depending on the character. Unlocking your favorite characters from the show and discovering their Ultimate Jutsus is half the fun.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Brian: If you're young or old, a novice or veteran - no other game has as much to offer anyone to play. It's a perfect mixture of simple controls, but has extreme depths and complexity to the game. Want a sweaty competitive match? Final destination is calling your name. Want pure, unbridled chaos - turn on all items and high drops in Hyrule temple and it's anyone's game. Combine this with recognize-able characters from across not only Nintendo, but now across gaming - and you've got a fighting game for virtually anyone to love.
Alex: Let me take you back to the 90s. You've got a SNES. You spot an edgy-looking black cartidge with a weird cyborg man on the cover. He's got massive plasma blades for hands. What do you do? Immediately slam that cartidge straight into the system.
Killer Instinct was the first fighting game I ever picked up, and its weird cast of characters were unforgettable. We've got a werewolf, a skeleton with a sword, a man made entirely of fire, a heavyweight boxer — and those were the more normal ones. This game was something else and boy was I obsessed.
Special shoutout to that one guy who got a Black Orcid tattoo at E3 in 1995. I'm sure it totally withstood the test of time.
Ralston: As someone who has dabbled in playing an extremely wide variety of fighting games over the years, from the more traditional Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, Marvel vs. Capcom, Dragon Ball Z, Injustice and Naruto titles, to those that push the limits of the genre (e.g. WWE SmackDown vs. Raw, UFC, Lethal League Blaze and For Honor), the one I ultimately landed on was Soulcalibur IV.
Considering I also already nominated Super Smash Bros. Melee as my favorite Nintendo GameCube game of all-time, this pick was even more warranted in my eyes.
Building off of brief moments playing Soulcalibur II, Soulcalibur IV was the fighting game, again outside of Smash, that I played a ton of growing up. To this day, there's just something about the simplicity of Soulcalibur's 1v1, side-angle presentation and basic button layout that appeals to the tactical, Kilik-Ring Out fighter in me. With Soulcalibur IV, in particular, the game also boasted a nice variety of modes, including Story, Tower of Lost Souls, Museum and Character Creation that added great depth to the lore and overall experience. Did I also mention the game had a roster of 34 playable fighters including Yoda for the Xbox 360?!