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The 25 Best Fighting Games of All Time

Matt McIntyre

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The Best Fighting Games of All Time

Which are the best fighting games ever created?

Our list of the best fighting games of all time is made-up of classic arcade fighters, super slick modern one-on-ones, and everything in between.

It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste; however, we’ve included some of the most popular fighting games, based on sales, as well as games that have stood the test of time, receiving positive feedback from fans worldwide, year after year. So you should find something you like the look of!

Let’s get into it, shall we? Here’s a list of the 25 best fighting games of all time.

 

The 25 Best Fighting Games of All Time

The list of fighting games and figures mentioned below has been compiled from various sources around the web, such as Game Informer, Cultured Vultures & Heavy.

These are the 25 best fighting games of all time:

 

25. BlazBlue: Central Fiction

Best Fighting Games - BlazBlue- Central Fiction

BlazBlue: Central Fiction is a 2D fighting video game that was developed by Arc System Works and published by Arc System Works/Games in 2016.

It’s the fourth game in the BlazBlue series and is set after the events of BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma. The game is over 40 hours long and is the final game with Ragna as the main protagonist.

Upon release, BlazBlue: Central Fiction was met with generally positive reviews from several review websites and was released as a port to Steam in 2017.

 

24. The King of Fighters XIII

Best Fighting Games - The King of Fighters XIII

The King of Fighters XIII was developed and published by SNK Playmore and was first released in Japanese arcades in 2010.

A year later, ports were released for the Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Versions for iOS and Android followed suit shortly after.

It’s set after the events of The King of Fighters XI and is also the conclusion to Ash Crimson’s Story Arc, which began in The King of Fighters 2003. 

The game features all the characters from The King of Fighter XIII, including the two exclusive characters, plus an additional three new ones.

Following its release, The Kingdom of Fighters XIII received positive reviews from critics overall and was awarded “Best Fighting Game of the Year” by GameSpot.

 

23. Bushido Blade

Best Fighting Games - Bushido Blade

Coming in at number twenty-three on our list of the best fighting games of all time is Bushido Blade. 

The 3D fighting game was developed by Light Weight and published by Square and Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation in 1997.

Bushido Blade is a one-on-one armed combat fighting game that revolves around battles between two opponents in third-person.

There’s no time limit or health gauge during the battle; instead, the game chooses to focus on quality over quantity, meaning one well-placed punch will do the job.

The game was so well received that is sold over 380,000 copies in Japan upon release and became the 25th best selling game of 1997 in Japan.

 

22. Skull Girls

Best Fighting Games - Skull Girls

The twenty-second best fighting game of all time is Skull Girls. 

The 2D fighting game was developed by Reverge Labs and published by Autumn games in 2012. It was released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in North America, Europe, and Australia.

Players compete against one and other in teams of one, two, or three, trying to knock out their opponents or maintain the most health until the clock runs out.

Upon release, Skull girls received positive reviews from critics for things like gameplay mechanics and animation and became the highest-selling game on Xbox Live Arcade.

 

21. Killer Instinct

Best Fighting Games - Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct, the original, is a fighting video game developed by Rare and published by Midway.

It was released in 1994 as an arcade game and was later ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and Game Boy.

The aim of the game is to compete in an organized fighting tournament and deplete your opponent’s two life bars. Whoever manages to do that, wins!

It was one of the first fighting games to introduce “auto-doubles,” which allows players to press a sequence of buttons to make their character perform specific combos“Combo-breakers” were also included to defend against these attacks.

The game was a commercial success and gained critical acclaim, and was cited as “the undisputed king at the arcades” by Electronic Gaming Monthly.

 

20. Tekken 3

Best Fighting Games - Tekken 3

Tekken 3 is the third installment in the Tekken series and was released in arcades in 1997.

It made its way on to the PlayStation in 1998, and the original arcade version was re-released on the PlayStation 2 in 2005.

It’s a one-on-one fighting game where opponents fight to the death over the course of a few rounds. Tekken 3 introduced several of Tekken’s legendary staple characters, like Jin Kazama, Ling Xiaoyu, Bryan Fury, Eddy Gordo, and Hwoarang.

The game became the fourth best-selling PlayStation title after selling over 8 million copies worldwide and is often referred to as one of the greatest video games of all time.

 

19. Mortal Kombat X

Best Fighting Games - Mortal Combat X

Mortal Kombat X is the third installment in the Mortal Kombat video game series.

It was developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in 2015.

Like its predecessor Mortal Kombat, released in 2011, the gameplay consists of two playable characters battling against each other to the death. Players utilize their character’s unique attacks, skills, and combos to take down their opponent.

In the game, you’ll find a Story mode, Tower Mode, and Krypt mode, which all have individual features and challenges.

Praise was awarded to Mortal Kombat X for its game controls, overall gameplay, graphics, and storyline.

It won the “Best Fighting Game” at the 2015 Game Awards.

 

18. Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3

Best Fighting Games - Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3

Next up is the crossover fighting game, Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3.

The game was a collaboration between Capcom and Eighting and featured playable characters from both Capcom’s video game franchises and comic book series published by Marvel Comics.

It was released in 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and was a launch title for the PlayStation Vita in 2012.

Players put together a team of three characters to enroll in combat and attempt to defeat their opponents by knock out.

Some new gameplay modifications and playable characters have been added, since its predecessor, and it’s had several upgrades to its aesthetics.

It received positive reviews overall upon release and was commercially successful enough that a sequel, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, was released in 2017.

 

17. Fantasy Strike

Best Fighting Games - Fantasy Strike

Coming in at number seventeen is fighting video game, Fantasy Strike. 

It was released in July 2019 for Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch.

The game was developed and published by Sirlin Games and is based around a one-on-one style fight sequence.

Players choose a character and use various dedicated buttons to perform melee attacks, combos and super moves against their opponent. Your aim is to reduce your opponent’s health to zero to win each round, and you’ll need to win four out of seven rounds to win the game.

Upon release, Fantasy Strike received reasonably positive reviews, with praise directed toward the game’s ease of execution, meaning it’s one of the easiest fighting games to master in a short space of time.

 

16. Super Smash Bros: Ultimate

Best Fighting Games - Super Smash Bros- Ultimate

Super Smash Bros: Ultimate is a crossover fighting game developed by Bandai Namco Studios and Sora Ltd, and published by Nintendo in 2018.

It’s the fifth installment in the Super Smash Bros. series and follows the usual style of Smash Bros gameplay.

Players choose from a variety of characters and go head to head against their opponents until they’ve either knocked them out of the arena or knocked them out entirely.

It features several game modes, including a campaign for single player, a multiplayer versus mode, and over 80 playable characters.

After its release, Super Smash Bros: Ultimate received “universal acclaim” from critics and became the most pre-ordered game for the Nintendo Switch in the series.

 

15. Guilty Gear XRD REV 2

Best Fighting Games - Guilty Gear XRD REV 2

Guilty Gear Xrd is a fighting video game by Arc System Works, and part of the Guilty Gear series.

It follows on from the storyline of Guilty Gear 2: Overture and introduces seven brand new characters.

The game offers players a choice of four modes to work through, including Network Mode, Practice Mode, Battle Mode, and Story Mode, each one having their pros and cons.

Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 was met with favorable reviews upon release and became the 16th best-rated game for the PlayStation 4 on Metacritic, and the 131st overall!

 

14. Samurai Shodown

Best Fighting Games - Samurai Showdown

Samurai Shodown was developed and published by SNK in 1993.

It was developed solely for their Neo Geo arcade home platform and is the first installment in the Samurai Shodown series.

Set in the late 18th century Japan it goes against the grain of all the other fighting games of its time, as it focused primarily on weapon-based combat.

The game became renowned for its fast pace, powerful strikes, and slow motion, which was added to intensify damage, and Samurai Showdown is now world-famous for its “Rage” gauge.

 

13. Virtua Fighter 5

Best Fighting Games - Virtua Fighter 5

In thirteenth place, we have Virtua Fighter 5, the fifth and final installment in the Virtua Fighter series.

Virtua Fighter 5  is an arcade fighting game that was developed and published by Sega in 2006.

The game is about a World Fighting Tournament that features seventeen of the world’s best fighters battling it out to become number one.

However, the organizers of the tournament have other ideas in mind, so the fighters must also battle against the corrupt companies’ plans for world domination, using the ultimate fighting machine with human features, or see the end of the civilized world as they know it.

Upon release, Virtua Fighter 5 was met with critical acclaim and reached number 7 in the UK game sales chart.

 

12. Injustice 2

Best Fighting Games - Injustice 2

Injustice 2 is the sequel to 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us and was released in 2017 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a Microsoft Windows version being released later that year.

The game was based upon the DC Universe, developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

The main storyline centers around Batman and his attempt to resurrect society after the fall of Superman’s government.

However, Batman is quickly forced to consider freeing Superman from his imprisonment as a newly formed supervillain group, “The Society” arrives on the scene and threatens life as we know it once more.

Praise was given to the game storyline, gameplay mechanics, and in-game content.

Injustice 2 won awards for “Best Fighting Game” in 2016 from the Game Critics Awards, IGN, GameInformer, and GamesRadar.

 

11. The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match

Best Fighting Games - The King of Fighters 2002- Unlimited Match

Developed and published by Playmore, The King of Fighters 2002 is a fighting game that was produced for the PlayStation 2 in 2009.

Moving away from the previous 4-on-4 “Striker Match” format used in all three of the earlier games in the series, The King of Fighters 2002 returned to the 3-on-3 battle format, where players would fight to the death.

Unlimited Match brought new features like artworks and new stages, in addition to new characters and changes to the team roster. The game includes 66 characters in total, with 6 of them being closed as hidden characters.

In its first week of release, Unlimited Match sold more than 19,000 copies in Japan and received critical acclaim for its large number of playable characters.

 

10. Capcom VS SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001

Best Fighting Games - Capcom VS SNK 2- Mark of the Millenium 2001

Coming in at number ten on our list of the best fighting games of all time is Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium.

The game was developed and published by Capcom and is the sequel to Capcom vs. SNK. 

Just like its predecessor, Mark of the Millennium lets players select a team of fighters, from other Capcom and SNK games, and fight other opponents and teams in battle.

Some of the most notable improvements in the game are the fighting styles that have been incorporated from other games, like Samurai Shodown and Street Fighter III. 

Both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox version of the game received positive reviews upon release, whereas the GameCube version received pretty average reviews, according to Metacritic.

 

9. Dragon Ball Fighterz

Best Fighting Games - Dragon Ball Fighterz

Dragon Ball Fighterz was developed by Arc System Works and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment in 2018.

It was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows and was met with positive reviews upon release.

Dragon Ball Fighterz allows players to select three characters from a wide selection of the Dragon Ball franchise, and use them to defeat all three of their opponent’s characters to win the game.

Within its first week of release, Dragon Ball Fighterz shipped over a million copies worldwide and became the fastest-selling Dragon Ball title ever.

 

8. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition

Best Fighting Games - Super Street Fighter IV- Arcade Edition

Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is a fighting game that was developed and published by Capcom and is an update to Super Street Fighter IV. 

It was released in 2010 for the arcades and then ported to Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 3 in 2011, and the Xbox 360 in 2017.

Aiming to improve upon its predecessor, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition brings character enhancements to the game, such as character balancing and new EX moves.

It also sees the introduction of twin brothers Yun and Yang, who are two playable characters from the Street Fighter III series.

By December 2014, the game had sold over 1.1 million copies worldwide and was well received by critics worldwide.

 

7. Tekken 7

Best Fighting Games - Tekken 7

The seventh-best fighting game on the list is Tekken 7. 

Developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, Tekken 7 is the seventh installment in the Tekken series and the final chapter of The Mishima Saga Story. It was also the first game to make use of the Unreal Engine. 

Tekken 7 is set shortly after the events of Tekken 6 and focuses on events leading up to the final battle between Kazuya and Heihachi Mishima.

You’ll find several new elements in the game such as Rage Arts and the Power Crush mechanic, which are known to make the game more appealing to beginners, unlike previous titles in the series.

Upon release, Tekken 7 was met with critical acclaim and became a commercial success, selling over five million copies by the end of December 2019.

 

6. Soulcalibur II

Best Fighting Games - Soulcalibur II

Coming in at number six is Soulcalibur II.

The game was developed by Project Soul and published by Namco. It’s the third installment in the Soulcalibur series and the sequel to Soulcalibur.

It was released on the Namco System 246 arcade board in 2002, before being ported to the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox in 2003.

The games plot centers around the hunt for “Soul Edge,” a legendary weapon that’s been shattered into pieces. Any character that manages to find and reassemble all the pieces will gain immense power and control.

Soulcalibur II brings improvements in graphics and the game system, as well as introducing new characters.

Upon release, Soulcalibur II received critical acclaim, became a commercial success, and is now considered to be one of the best-selling third-party GameCube games ever.

 

5. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes

Best Fighting Games - Marvel vs. Capcom 2- New Age of Heroes

This crossover fighting game was developed and published by Capcom in the year 2000.

It was initially released in Japanese arcades and ported to the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, and iOS devices over the course of twelve years.

It’s the fourth installment in the Marvel vs. Capcom series and includes many characters from Capcom’s video game franchises and book series published by Marvel Comics.

In the game, players select a team of characters to try and knock out their opponents.

You can choose characters from the Marvel and Capcom universes and utilize the standard tag team game mechanics of previous installments.

The game includes three-on-three gameplay, a new character assist system, and a more natural control system.

Praise was given to its gameplay, visuals, and character roster, and it’s now considered to be one of the best games of all time.

 

4. Super Street Fighter II: Turbo

Best Fighting Games - Super Street Fighter II- Turbo

The fourth best fighting game of all time is Super Street Fighter II: Turbo. 

Developed and published by Capcom, it was released in arcades in Japan in 1994 and is the fifth installment in the Street Fighter II sub-series. 

Turbo is a competitive fighting game that featured new gameplay mechanics, like combination moves, super combos, and air combos.

This installment also brought a new secret character into the game, Akuma, who proved pretty popular as he went on to be featured in later Street Fighter installments and other fighting games by Capcom.

Super Street Fighter II: Turbo received a positive response from critics upon release and is now the oldest competitive fighting game that still has an active competitive tournament around the world.

 

3. Mortal Kombat II

Best Fighting Games - Mortal Kombat II

Mortal Kombat II is a fighting game that was released for arcades in 1993 by Midway.

It was ported later to home systems, including Amiga, Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, 32X, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), and various PlayStation consoles.

As its name suggests, Mortal Kombat II is the second game in the Mortal Kombat series, being the successor to Mortal Kombat. 

In this installment, you’ll see improved gameplay and extra varied finishing moves.

Mortal Kombat II received several industry awards and became an unprecedented commercial success.

 

2. Street Fighter III: Third Strike 

Best Fighting Games - Street Fighter III- Third Strike 

The second best fighting game of all time is Street Fighter III: Third Strike. 

The 2D fighting game was released for arcades in 1999 and ported to the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and Xbox over ten years, from 2000 – 2010.

It’s the second follow-up to Street Fighter III and runs on CP System III hardware.

This installment brings with it an increased character roster, with five new additional characters, and more tweaks to its gameplay mechanics rules.

Street Fighter III: Third Strike received positive reviews from critics and was ranked highly by the majority of game industry publications.

 

1. Super Smash Bros. Melee

Best Fighting Games - Super Smash Bros. Melee

Super Smash Bros. Melee is the best fighting game of all time.

The 2001 crossover fighting video game was developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the GameCube.

It follows on from the success of the first installment in the Smash Bros. series, Super Smash Bros., and features all the playable characters from the first game, plus additional characters from other game franchises.

It’s known for its popular multiplayer gameplay, which is often featured in several competitive gaming tournaments worldwide.

Super Smash Bros. Melee became the GameCube’s best-selling title, with an impressive seven million copies sold by the end of 2008, and has won “Game of the Year” and several other industry awards!

 

Summary

We hope you enjoyed our list of the 25 best fighting games of all time.

You can’t go wrong with a good fighting game, can you?!

We like to play a bit of Super Smash Bros. Melee and beat the living daylights out of Mario, or big Bowser, after a long day in the office.

It helps manage the stress levels, you know?!

Here’s a quick recap of the 25 best fighting games of all time:

  1. Super Smash Bros. Melee
  2. Street Fighter III: Third Strike
  3. Mortal Kombat II
  4. Super Street Fighter II: Turbo
  5. Marvel VS. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
  6. Soulcalibur II
  7. Tekken 7
  8. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
  9. Dragon Ball Fighterz
  10. Capcom VS SNK 2: Mark Of The Millenium
  11. The King of Fighter Unlimited Match
  12. Injustice 2
  13. Virtua Fighter 5
  14. Samurai Showdown
  15. Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2
  16. Super Smash Bros: Ultimate
  17. Fantasy Strike
  18. Marvel VS. Capcom 3
  19. Ultimate Mortal Kombat X
  20. Tekken 3
  21. Killer Instinct
  22. Skull Girls
  23. Bushido Blade
  24. The King of Fighters XIII
  25. BlazBlue: Central Fiction

What’s your favorite fighting game? Leave a comment below.

Matt McIntyre is a digital marketing consultant and certified marketing strategist. In a former life, Matt co-founded TWC Tailoring, a London based bespoke tailoring company. When he's not talking about business or marketing, you'll find him on a beach or by the pool.

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