Remembering the last generation: The best fighting games
As part of our on going farewell to the previous generation, this week we pick our favourite fighting games from the last generation.
Imran’s choice – Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
You’ve only got to look at the line-up at EVO (Evolution Championship Series) to see that one game has clearly dominated the last generation. Coming in at a time when fighting games were at an all time low, Street Fighter IV‘s release in 2008, was solely responsible for reviving a genre that many naysayers predicted had had its day. Its most current iteration, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is currently top dog at EVO and it’s not hard to see why. SSFIV combines old and new in powerful ways, resulting in a seamless fighter that felt new, yet somehow old school at the same time; refining and refreshing an old formula, but still retaining enough of that retro arcade feel you associate with any Street Fighter title. But what really sets SSFIV apart from the competition, is just how deep the game is, should you have the patience to discover its hidden depths. This is a hardcore game that requires a great deal of dedication. Whereas many 3D fighters are button mashing and air juggling exercises, SSFIV takes dexterity, reflexes and a lot of hard work to get good – taking upwards of a hundred hours to fully learn any one character. The sheer amount of potential combo links is mind boggling at times and players are forever discovering new ways of doing things they thought weren’t possible. If that’s intimidating for you, tough. The Street Fighter community is often seen as elitist and snobbish to outsiders because of its complexity and steep learning curve, so if you want to play something cutesy and easy to get into, play Super Smash Bros. instead. Street Fighter is the purist’s choice.
But all bias aside, the main reason I’m picking SSFIV is due to its impact on the genre as a whole. It sparked the grand revival of the mainstream fighting scene, produced gaming celebrities out of tournament players, and created online and local communities that simply put, wouldn’t have existed had it not been for Capcom’s seminal title. To paraphrase Sagat, “They call it the king for a reason”.
Honourable mentions: Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Blazblue: Continuum Shift, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Aman’s choice – Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Does the best fighting game of the last generation have to be conventional? Because my vote goes to Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Its predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Melee, was always going to be a difficult title to beat (it’s still really popular, 12 years after its release), but Brawl did this in my opinion. Well… at least for the most part. An expanded roster of characters (most notably, the inclusion of Solid Snake and Sonic) and an increased number of levels expanded the appeal of Nintendo’s love letter to its IPs. This was done while remaining true to what makes the Smash Bros. formula so great; polished mechanics and tight non-combo based controls ensure frantic, fast-paced battles while remaining entirely in control of the game.
Brawl does not come without its flaws. The Subspace Emissary campaign was not the most memorable; a very notable ‘tier’ structure with some characters overclocked to the point of cheating, while some characters were nerfed to the point of being virtually unusable (Captain Falcon, I’m looking at you); on top of this the Final Smash power-up was divisive, and the game suffered from a laggy online mode. But these weaknesses were compensated for by a diverse range of modes – a fun coin-converting mini-game, a custom stage builder, and an excellent section that provided short demos of classic Nintendo games. As a gamer that got into the vast majority of Nintendo IPs through Smash Bros, it’s nice to see the company providing a clearer path for newer gamers to do the same. Brand loyalty is rewarded with little references and a massive soundtrack ensuring for a wonderful experience.
Smash Bros. is a series that has a lot of heart and character; couple that with extremely tight controls and immensely satisfying battles, and you have an enduring formula for an excellent multiplayer fighter – one that does not necessarily face the pitfalls that your conventional side-on fighting games do. An absolute treat for local multiplayer (seriously, the online was awful), Super Smash Bros. Brawl is my choice for best fighting game of the last gen.
Honourable mentions: Tekken 6, Soul Calibur IV, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Neil’s choice – Dissidia: Final Fantasy
When fanservice is executed correctly, it can be a brilliant thing to behold. More commonly than so, however, it’s something that is pulled off in a poor fashion, and is only really aesthetically pleasing, if anything. So naturally when Square Enix announced Dissidia: Final Fantasy – a beat-em-up take on the Final Fantasy universe made to commemorate 20 proud years of the franchise, on the less-than-favourable Playstation Portable format – fans were worried.
In reality, it was a strategic beat-em-up with a clever and unique twist on the genre. It made use of RPG elements for both players who prefer a more calculated approach to battle, and also for nostalgic value. The roster consists of the main protagonists of the first ten titles and each respective character’s main adversary, so naturally, this excludes Vaan (DEM ABS). Excusing the sub-par and convoluted plot, it really is one of the few games that really caters to fans of the series, with a host of rearranged versions of some of the most loved music in the series (One-Winged Angel’s arrangement is probably the best version of the piece I’ve heard), and memorable locations from many of the games (FFIV’s Lunar Subterrane is a truly gorgeous arena, complete with the Crystal Palace looming in the background). However, the one defining feature of the game that tugs at the heartstrings of even the most iron-willed fanboy is the catalogue of signature attacks from the previous games. Never have I ever been overcome with such an overbearing level of nostalgia than when I used the evil sentient tree ExDeath to plunge the crooked clown Kefka Palazzo into the Void, all while fighting within the Planet’s Core from FFVII with FFV’s Clash on the Big Bridge playing in the background. Dissidia delivers for newbies and hardcore fans alike, and despite being restricted to the PSP, it does a stellar job of blending strategy and fighting into one compact title that’s well worthy of being classed as the best beat-em-up game of last gen.
Honourable mentions - Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Joseph’s choice – Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
This generation was a disjointed one for me. I never owned any of the consoles on offer, and therefore wasn’t able to play any genre for long enough to even consider contributing to either of the previous articles. But there was one genre that kept me coming back, and it was this one; arguably because no matter what creed, colour or walk of life you hail from, there’s something quite primal about getting to punch someone in the face.
Within that genre, one franchise was a constant theme throughout my time as a pseudo-gamer (apart from FIFA, but that barely counts). Picking anything else feels dishonest. Even if the likes of Tekken and Soul Calibur were easier to pick up, play and promptly dominate at; even if Brawl and Marvel vs. Capcom had the unparalleled chaos and appealed to the fanboy in me; even if I didn’t spend enough time with either BlazBlue or Guilty Gear to give them a proper chance, it always came back to this one.
Because I’ve spent hours on the game. I’ve had sessions where the demoralising “100 wins” was not above my HUD. I’ve challenged friends and strangers, tournament winners and button bashers and usually left with my ego more battered than my character on-screen. I have used this game to settle bets, celebrate success and work through heartbreak, and all for incremental improvement.
But I’m getting there: see for yourself.
The update’s out soon, too. I would curse Capcom for their nefarious policy when it comes to their sequels, but there’s no point: I know I’m gonna buy Ultra. You probably are too.
Honourable Mentions: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Smash Bros Brawl, Skullgirls
Manish’s choice – Soul Calibur IV
Any fighting game and series within the genre pretty much do what’s said on the tin really. That being said, there’s one game that stands out for me – Soul Calibur IV. Now, before you berate your screen whilst screw-facing at me, hang on; it’s actually a pretty good game.
Fans of the Soul Calibur series should know what to expect really, anything new wasn’t going to be anything revolutionary, but having said that, why fiddle with something that had a winning formula already?
Graphically the game was great, the best they’d come up with so far. The gameplay was very responsive, and had a complex yet easy(ish) to learn combo system. SC: IV features Story, Arcade, Training and Museum modes. A new mode called Tower of Lost Souls was also debuted, which I absolutely loved, and this was the main reason why the game had me hooked. The concept was simple, fight your way up the tower. But every time you finished one level, you felt like you HAD to play the next one; it’s brilliant. And with the character creation system from SC: 3 employed, you had to create a winning combination from your unlocks in order to beat particular levels. There are about 350 pieces of equipment to unlock, and the character creation system has hours on itself (I speak from experience), crafting endless/ridiculous combinations, sometimes purely for amusement. This meant a fighting game with a pretty high replay value, which was rare, and still is. There are several new characters depending on format, with each console featuring a different Star Wars guest character, and despite being a PlayStation guy, who would have wanted to play as Yoda over Darth Vader anyway? Taking your customised characters and playing others online was also hilarious, and a first for the series – and at the time, pretty revolutionary.
The game wasn’t without its faults though. The whole ‘Soul Gauge’ and ‘Critical Finish’ thing was just ridiculous, they were so hard and tedious to pull off and no one ever used them. Overall, it’s a gritty blood ‘n guts beat-em-up and you most definitely get your money’s worth. Highly recommended if you like your violence a little more refined.
Honourable mentions – Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Mortal Kombat, Tekken 6
AP’s choice – Tekken 6
It’s been nineteen years since the first Tekken entered my life, and ever since then I’ve been hooked on fighting games. Ever since then I have been in love with the franchise.Tekken 6 kept up that tradition. It gave me that same familiar feel; I could pick up the controller and absolutely hammer my opponent, learning new combinations as I progressed my way through, drawing me into the game. Along with this, Tekken 6 was an absolute stunner with breathtaking level designs – including a cameo appearance from Snoop Dog on his own level. Characters were designed with such attention to detail including their fighting style. Every martial art was available from animal form Kung Fu to Shaolin, Capoeira, Taekwondo, Catch Wrestling and CQC, it was endless. Ranking systems were introduced giving me even more reason to train my fingers, pulling off ridiculous juggle combos and give the enemy absolutely no chance of winning, using practice mode to get a move set right then testing.
Those are my reasons why Tekken 6 is definitely my pick of best Beat em up game of last generation.
Honourable Mentions: Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3, Soul Calibur V
So there you have it. Let us know in the comments section below if you agree/disagree with our choices and which fighting games you loved most from the last eight years. Next week we’ll be looking at our favourite action adventure games from the last generation so watch out for that!