Fighting games tend to be those that feature opponents in close combat and usually fist to fist. Whenever someone mentions a fighting game, popular ones such as Street Fighter 2 by Capcom and Streets of Rage by Sega come to mind. You can find many remakes of best fighting games free online.
In a player vs player genre the characters usually have equal powers and abilities and therefore the focused element becomes skill in controlling your characters moves and movements and outwitting your opponent. Where as in a side scrolling beatem up your character possesses supremer powers and moves to help overcome multiple opponents at once.
The difference between Street Fighter Games and Streets of Rage Games is that the former is a player vs player face off, where as the latter is a side scrolling screen beatem up. Both have their charms and fan bases, both also have a lot of similarities. Player vs player fighting games tend to be more 'player' orientated and side scrolling screen beatem ups have more of a storyline to go along with the characters.
Heavyweight Champ is arguably the first ever fighting game introduced back in 1976. Many people say it had no influence on the crop of games that appeared in the 80's and 90's, so it's role in the genre is pretty much a minor one. It featured a pair of boxing gloves a player would wear to control the boxer and punch opponents.
The Street Fighter 2 game, as covered in the Street Fighter Games category is considered the mother of all fighting games and the genre's true golden star. After the success of Capcom's top fighting gem, many more games started to appear in arcades and on home video consoles with the peak of this genre being around 1995.
Other fight games franchises include Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter, tekken and the previously mentioned Streets of Rage.
Some people like to distinguish between static screen fighting player vs player games and beatem ups, but we believe them to be interelated enough to group all the games under one category...
If we cover player vs player fight games first, these tend to involve 1 player against another and include many visually stunning and powerful martial arts moves. Predominatly players would use hand to hand combat although a few games will also feature hand weapons such as cleaves and claws. The player vs player fighting game is mainly set in a 2d screen environment, even with the graphic enhancements of more recent video game consoles, the game developers have opted for a 2d view of the fights, simply because it is the most effective and enjoyable way for 2 players to fight each other.
So as in the Virtua fighter games, players appear in a 3d environment, but the view of the game is very much a 2d plane.
The environment to which the players can move is very much restricted, with some of the earlier games using one static screen. Street Fighter 2 introduced a slightly longer screen, where players had additional space to move back and forths. Even so the environment was no more than 2 full screens in length.
A players fighting moves and combos usually feature 3 basic moves that can be performed standing up in a normal fighting position, crouched down or jumping in mid air. Other than these, special moves could be performed using a combination of buttons. In Street Fighter 2, each player had 3 special moves, as well as a couple of throws, one over the shoulder and another rolling throw from falling on the floor and using your foot to launch the player over your body.
Midways Mortal Kombat which was launched in 1992 for the arcade also incorporated 'fatalities' into its game play. These involved not only defeating your opponent, but killing them in a gruesome fashion, such as yanking the players heart directly from their chest. This addition proved extremely popular with fighting games fans.
Player vs player fight games would on average have a collection of 10 characters in which to play as. Each character would have a different fighting style and a different set of special moves. In Street Fighter 2 many of the characters were different, but a few had similar or if not identical moves. Ryu and Ken were identical in every way except their appearance. Guile also shared a similar fighting style to Ryu and Ken. Compare these characters to a character like Zangief, a Russian wrestler who pretty much uses brute force, bare hugs and throws and you have a complete contrast in styles.
Before we look into further detail at the most popular player vs player games to reach the market. Lets take a look at the beatem up genre.
Where as the player vs player sub genre involves one on one combat, the side scrolling fighting game (or beatem up) involved multiple opponent combat.
The general idea being, you would control a character who would face many enemies, usually of an inferior ability. In order to progress throughout the game, you would have to dispose of these enemies to advance further along the screen. Usually the game design would involve static environments which would only allow you to advance sideways only once a certain amount of enemies alloted to that particular screen had been defeated.
Side scrolling fight games would usually allow multiple players to team up against gangs and armies of opponents, which would make the experience even more entertaining.
Players would be able to pick up many objects in which to use against their enemies, with classic objects being, baseball bats, drain pipes, knives and even guns. Usually it would be impossible for 2 players to hurt or fight each other.
Beatem ups would usually have a fairly simple plot or storyline, with the classic being, a main character's girl friend being kidnapped by an evil gangster with you having to make a perilous journey through many different landscapes in order to rescue her, with the final and hardest fight being against the final boss. For example in Streets of Rage 2 after relentlessly beating your way through many streets, bars, jungles and complexes you faced Mr Big (& his whopping Machine Gun!) on the top floor of a skyscraper.
With beatem ups, each stage would usually feature an end boss as well, who would be far more powerful than all the other enemies you have disposed of throughout the stage. What you would then find is that these bosses become regular enemies in later stages. This is classically done in all the Streets of Rage games.
Kungfu Master is considered the first ever beatem up to be created and was brought out in 1984 by Irem. This game didn't have multiplayer capability and featured very simple martial arts moves. Simply being a kick and a punch, either standing normally, squatting or jumping. This game is still very enjoyable and worth downloading from one of the many emulator and rom sites out there.
Further enhanced beatem up's followed in the arcade including Double Dragon in 1987 and Final Fight in 1989.
If we look more closely at the following key fight games for both sub genres:
This game was originally created by two independent game designers before being picked up by Midway Games for release on several home video consoles. Ed Boon and John Tobias designed Mortal Kombat for the arcades and it received instant success due to its variations compared to many other fight games including - Street Fighter. So what made it different enough to stand out and make head way in a overcrowded category?
The graphics compisition featured more realistic characters that appeared more human than the cartoon drawn characters of Street Fighter.
It's fatalities were hugely popular, being able to kill your opponent in a bloody and gruesome fashion rather than simply defeating your opponent provided fans with even greater satisfaction when victorious in battle.
The characters special moves were very unique. For example Scropion and Sub Zeros moves involved shooting a dagger ended rope at their opponents that would pierce their body and then they would drag them over to where they were standing. Also the players had life like voices with distinctive expressions when performing their moves such as get over here and come here!.
This game was considered revolutionary when it was released in 1993. The game uses quadratic rather than polygratic graphics and aimed for fighting realism in its character's moves and movements.
Virtua was made part of the game title to indicate the games 3D environment and characters. It was originally released on the arcade and then ported to the Sega Saturn.
Released in 1994 for the Sony Playstation, Tekken was one of the launch games for the console and was a huge success for Sony.
One of the earliest 3d fighters, the game took great inspiration from Sega's Virtua Fighter game.
Tekken featured several options to adjust the game's time length and number of rounds. It's fighting platform was more intuitive than previous fighting games with many moves learnt from studying a players response to button and directional keypad movements.
Tekken featured some very memorable characters including:
Released in 1984 by Irem, Kungfu Master is considered the first fighting game to ever be made. It was the true driving force behind subsequent popular beatem ups such as Double Dragon, Final Fight and Streets of Rage.
Playing as a martial art expert named Thomas, your mission is to save your girlfriend Sylvia, who has been kidnapped by Mr X. You have to fight your way across 5 different side scrolling levels to rescue her.
Unlike later beatem up or side scrolling fighting games, Kungfu Master allows you to move back and forth along the screen at will and throws an endless supply of enemies at you, even when facing each level's boss - this can prove very tricky to handle.
The first boss is a bog standard guy armed with a stick. If he is a kungfu expert its hard to tell, he has one move which is to whack you with his stick!
The second boss throws a couple of boomerangs at you, this may sound easy enough, but when you consider you still have enemies coming up your rear end, it does prove quite a challenge.
The third boss is a huge blond giant, the fourth a black magician and the last boss is Mr X himself. Mr X is very difficult to beat so be prepared to play the game many times before even coming close to completing it.
The successor to the early beatem up Renegade, Double Dragon follows a similar plot to Kung Fu master. You must rescue your girlfriend from the clutches of an evil boss.
Playing either as Jimmy or Billy Lee you must fight your way through 4 stages, each with an end boss in order to rescue her (Marian).
Double Dragon like Kungfu Master was originally released on the arcade and then later ported to video game consoles. It had many sequels, some proving equally as successful as the original.
Double Dragon was one of the first games to feature multiple objects that could be used to beat enemies with, such as throwing large boxes, boulders and using knives.
Final Fight was released in 1989 by the same makers of the Street Fighter games - Capcom. The specific game engineers who worked on Final Fight were later the creators of the Street Fighter games.
The plot is slightly different to that of Kungfu Master and Double Dragon. Here the ruling gang of the make believe city (Metro City) have kidnapped the newly elected Major's daughter (Jesicca). The Mayor who is a former pro wrestler sets out to rescue his daughter having refused to fold to the gang's demands. Together with Jessica's boyfriend who is a martial arts expert, the Mayor (Mike Haggar) must fight his way through many levels of goons, street brawlers and bosses to rescue Jesicca.
The memorable Mega Drive series of fight games was well renowned for its funky music as much as its game play and diversity of enemies.
It was released 2 years after Final Fight in 1991 for the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive). Streets of Rage has been accredited by many, as the pioneer of the beat em up side scrolling fight games. There were 3 games in total in the series, with the 2nd arguably being the most remembered (I still to this day can't believe my brorther and I chose Echo of the Dolphin over this game!).
In the first game, the character has back up support in the form of a police car that will come along and shoot a napalm rocket down at all enemies on the screen, this idea was inspired by the Golden Axe arcade title which featured a variety of similiar magical 'call to' attacks.
The game had an optional facinating twist to the end. If both players reached the end boss, he would offer both of them a chance to join him. If one said yes and the other said no, then both players would fight until the death. If the player who said yes wins and then turns down the boss once more, he must then fight the boss. If he prevails, the game would have an evil conclusion.
Adam Hunter a boxer, Axel Stone a martial arts expert and Blaze a judo expert, all of which are ex cops. In the sequel to Streets of Rage, Adam is kidnapped and 2 different characters can be played in addition to Blaze and Axel, these are Max - a pro wrestler and skate - a small kid on skates who is Adams younger brother and mixes break dancing moves with kungfu.
All the free online fighting games you can find under this category offer many hours of fun and we will be continually expanding this category at Games Lunatic. If you have any suggestions of which games to add, please get in touch, otherwise enjoy playing fighting games now!