Three and a half years ago, I wrote an article on Futurelooks outlining what I believed to be the top 10 best fighting games of all time. Well, a lot has changed during that time in the world of fighting games. Franchises have received plenty of new life and the genre has been largely revitalized. Some updates have been more successful than others, so let’s take a look at three of the biggest.
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
Clearly head and shoulders above the rest, giving the biggest boost back in the fighting game genre is Street Fighter IV. Not since Street Fighter II (and its series of incremental updates) have fighting games received this kind of attention. Street Fighter IV — released in July 2008 in select arcades and on home consoles in February 2009 — was positively brilliant, giving us the traditional 2D gameplay in a 3D-styled world. Gorgeous, addictive, and wildly deep gameplay made it a hit.
Then, it got even better with Super Street Fighter IV. The roster was expanded significantly (10 additions), each character was given a second ultra combo, and online gameplay was improved. I was perfectly fine with paying $40 for this update, which is really more substantial than what we got with SFII: Champion Edition, Hyper Fighting, SSFII: New Challengers, and so on.
However, I fear that with Arcade Edition, Capcom is starting down the same path as it did with Street Fighter II. We’re going to keep getting these incremental updates and it could be a very long time before we get a real Street Fighter V. In the meantime, we get Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. Sure, Oni and Yun are fun, but they’re hardly a whole new game.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Just as Street Fighter got a huge boost with IV, the sequel to Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had been a very, very long time coming. MvC2 is widely regarded as one of the all time greats and for good reason. MvC3 continues that tradition, but with slightly altered gameplay.
It may have have caused some hesitation from me at first, but Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has grown on me. It demonstrates that you can have a “simplified” game for the button mashers, but it also has enough depth for the more hardcore enthusiasts too. The action is incredibly frantic, but it’s not nearly as intimidating as MvC2. That, and Deadpool is just awesome.
Mortal Kombat (2011)
Here’s a franchise that has seen plenty of highs and lows. Midway went bust and it looked like Ed Boon was out of the job. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was terrible, doing away with real fatalities and completely changing the way we played the once legendary franchise.
Just as Street Fighter went back to its gameplay roots for SFIV, the Kombat folks did the same for the sequel simply known as Mortal Kombat. Also dubbed Mortal Kombat 9 and Mortal Kombat (2011), it brought back the darkly humorous, over-the-top gore. The new “X-ray” moves extend that concept.
And I think it works. Going back to a 2D plane was a great idea for this type of fighting game and the uninhibited violence is brilliant. I don’t know how I feel about the tagging, but it’s clear that Mortal Kombat is back.
The Future of Fighting Games
There was a solid decade there where it looked like fighting games had seen their day. Street Fighter III never achieved the same kind of mainstream appeal as Street Fighter II. Mortal Kombat started taking on a weird 3D spin and the gameplay suffered. We were left without true AAA titles that really caught the attention of gamers at large (and not just hardcore purists).
That has changed. Fighting games are back and I’m loving it. I can’t wait for Street Fighter X Tekken, Tekken X Street Fighter, and Super Street Fighter IV: Hyper Fighting Ultra Edition 5th Strike Turbo.