It’s no secret that I’m the resident fighting game guy here at The Lifecast. I’ve been playing fighting games for as long as I can remember. There are a lot of well-loved fighting games that simply haven’t gotten their time to shine the past few console generations, and they really deserve to get a new game. So many fighters have become almost entirely forgotten by developers. And in a time right now, in the wake of beloved games such as Street Fighter and Marvel Vs. Capcom being hated by fans and competitors alike for not retaining the spirit of its predecessors, I think it’s time a new game get its time in the spotlight.
5. Bushido Blade
I like to refer to Bushido Blade as a fighting game that everyone loves but nobody has played. Everyone praises the game for its body damage system and innovations made for the genre, but most seem to have not played it despite talking it up. Kind of like Citizen Kane in that regard (did I actually just find a similarity between Bushido Blade and Citizen Kane?). As someone who has played it, I can vouch: It’s a pretty great game, and deserves to come back. It is the only fighting game I’ve ever seen to be founded almost entirely in realism. Most hits will instantly kill an opponent, and as a result, pretty much the entirety of Bushido Blade is neutral game, with huge reward if you win it. You can also sever or disable your opponent’s various body parts to help you gain an advantage in combat. Each weapon has its own set weight and size made to realistically resemble the proportions of the weapons in real life, and the only combos in the game are follow-up strikes that would naturally flow out of the first strike of the weapon. In a time where fighting games are really trying to become as accessible to as wide an audience as possible, a game like Bushido Blade which focuses almost entirely on strong neutral game would be able to not only bring a lot more people over to the FGC, but provide a fun and unique fighting game experience for everyone who plays it.
4. Rival Schools
Rival Schools is a 3D team-based fighter on the PS1, released in 1997, and is definitely a black horse among Capcom fighting games. Many would compare it to Marvel Vs. Capcom, but to say it’s similar is quite the stretch. Your team is composed of two characters, but only one of them does the fighting. The other only comes in for a team-up attack once you’ve built up enough meter, and at the end of the round, you’re allowed to either stay as your character, or switch to your partner. Any form of team synergy is based entirely on your team-up attack, and what weaknesses your main has that your teammate can cover in round 2. It allows for a lot of really awesome mind games between matches. Take this unique system into mind, and then take a look at the fact that this game also has some of the coolest character designs in any Capcom game accompanied by a slammin’ soundtrack, and you’ve got one of the best fighting games on the PS1. Luckily for us, there is a sliver of hope for the return of Rival Schools, as Hideaki Itsuno has been wanting to continue the series. Hopefully we’ll get to see a long-needed Rival Schools 3 in its full glory some time soon.
3. Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE BEST GAME ON THE WII
Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom released on the Wii in 2010, just before I started getting into fighting games competitively. I had initially bought it because I loved Gatchaman and Tekkaman Blade (and still do), but a lot of what I loved about it happened after I returned to it a few years after I got into more fighting games, and noticed just how elegant and well-made this game was. The combos are hype, the music is incredible, it’s one of the best looking games on the Wii — even standing up to some of the HD games at the time in terms of looks — not to mention a great roster with a healthy balance of both fan-favorite and lesser-known characters. The game feels like a sort of middle ground between Marvel Vs. Capcom and Capcom Vs. SNK in terms of physics. You’re not so heavy you stay stuck to the ground, but you have enough weight to you to not feel like you’re flying. And not to mention Baroque mode, which is probably the best “X-Factor” style mechanic in fighting games. By pressing the partner button and an attack button to sacrifice the red health in your gauge, this enables higher damage and longer combos for as long as you keep the combo going.
Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom is an amazingly made fighting game. And while I’d be all for a TvC2, I’d be just as much for this game instead being looked at as a template for all Vs. games to come.
2. Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness
Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness is better known as “The game Jin Saotome is from”. As one would expect, one of the most hype characters in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 is also from an incredibly hype fighting game on the PS1. For the time, it played like a standard 2D Capcom fighter, but with a ton of potential customization to your own distinct playstyle. Each individual mech you can pick has multiple variants which change its arms, legs, etc. to give it different attacks, movement options, etc. Each of these options act as changes to an archetypal robot, of which there are many. The general idea for finding a characher is finding a mech whose style you enjoy, and then seeing which of the variants fit you the best. Or you could be like me and instead of matching your style you just picked the one you think looks the coolest. This kind of setup created a roster of characters that could more or less be tweaked to your own playstyle. If you find a character you like, you can also use the other variants to cover for your weaknesses while still feeling familiar with them, since they’re all variants of the same core robot. You can buy Cyberbots as a PS1 classic on PS3, but just imagine what the possibilities could be for a new Cyberbots today. With how far mecha games have come with customization, it would be awesome to see this core idea taken to the next level.
1. Every SNK Fighting Game
SNK is no stranger to making amazing fighting games. Samurai Shodown, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Fatal Fury, and The Last Blade are only a few of the well-beloved series that SNK has made over the years. Back in their prime, SNK was pumping out these games like they were nothing, and all of them felt incredibly good to play. Each game brought something different to the table while all still having that distinct SNK feel to them, ultimately connecting all of them into this huge family of fighting games. The reason these games need to come back is quite simple: They absolutely OOZE personality. Along with being well-designed games — Samurai Shodown being my personal favorite — they have some of the coolest and most lovable characters in all of fighting games. Mai Shiranui, Terry Bogard, Haohmaru, Butt, Blue Mary, Moriya Minakata, the list goes on and on. We’ve gotten rereleases of most of these games on various systems, but that’s not enough. We need brand new games in these franchises. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to see SNK return back to its glory days.