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Fighting Games Then and Now

Defining Today's Fighting Games

When fighting games first arrived to video game consoles in the 1970s, they became very popular among teens and young adults. Fighting games all fit into the realm of combat video games in which users will fight in hand to hand combat in some sort of closed stage or restricted boundary area that makes conflict inevitable. Most licensed fighting games feature multiplayer modes, team challenges, or combat against the computer opponent. Also, most games will feature users playing the role of the characters. 

And, much like choosing a TV show on a streaming service, choosing the characters is half the fun. They are all set up to be nearly equal, so it really comes down to each players' personal preference and fighting style. Choosing a character also comes with important choices on weaponry. Did you want the fighter with the sword? Or the battle-ax? Fighting games have always been defined by these entertaining characters and epic combat moves, and their progression through history is tied largely through these. 

History of the Genre

Since the mark of fighting games has always been their entertaining and diverse characters, it only makes sense that the best-known games were centered around the characters. For instance, Street Fighter II was one of the most popular of the early games because of its fascinating, fun, and deadly virtual fighting personalities. The earliest boxing game, "Heavyweight Champ," was popularized because of its realistic style and real-life characters based on the boxing superstars of the time. 

These fighting games, however, had not quite made it to the home systems where people were still playing Pong and other classic games on in-home gaming consoles. Fighting games were popular in arcades throughout downtown malls and gaming stores. Instead of playing video games in their own homes, teens and young adults would make a social event out of it, and arcade fighting games became one of the premier video game genres of the early 1990s. 

Design of Fighting Games

As fighting games became more popular, a much larger focus was placed on their look and design. Typically, these games involved intense combat between two or more fighters. Some of these games were strict boxing, brawling, or martial arts, so the designers didn't need to worry about the design and animation of weapons. However, in games that used tools or weapons during the fights, designers had to take into consideration how each fighter interacted with their weaponry of choice, even diving deeper into the persona of the character. 

So, fighting games that utilized weaponry typically had a certain weapon for each character, giving the designers another storyline to expand on. Kind of like Thor with his famous war-hammer, each character's connection with their weapon of choice became an important and entertaining relationship. The designers also had to take into account how to let the player roam about on a virtual 3D stage while trapped inside a 2D screen. Early games were played in a two-dimensional environment until many PS1 games broke the 2D wall and began allowing for side-step maneuvers. 

Famous Franchises of the Genre

As the design of these fighting games became an art platform for game creators, some famous fighting game franchises were born. "Fatal Fury: King of Fighters," for instance, took gaming to a new level by allowing players to move side to side during combat, seemingly moving backward away from or forward toward the user. Other power franchises of the 1990s included "Tekken" and "Super Smash Bros," which some would argue are two of the ultimate fighter games in all of the ESports. 

In fact, the "Street Fighter" franchise, as aforementioned, seemed to serve as a guide to the whole genre, defining its success in the early days of arcade play. As in-home console games became more popular, Mortal Combat's finishing "Fatality" move became famous after the first was released in 1992. Along with these famous franchises of the 90s, the "Dead or Alive" series was released and still remains popular in the 2010s on modern consoles. 

Competitive Online Game Play

While fighting games made their way to home consoles, these consoles were slowly making their way to the Internet. Eventually, these consoles allowed for online gaming, so users began to play interactive games versus each other, both on the gaming console and the computer. Users now can see a list of their friends who are online and join any fighting arena together as long as they are playing the same game at the same time. 

Just like in multiplayer shooting games, users can team up to take on fighting challenges or simply duel each other until a victor emerges. These online matches are made even more entertaining by online chat features that allow users to talk trash in versus mode or talk strategy in collaborative team events. When online gaming was introduced to fighting games, the original arcade, social experience once again returned to the genre. 

Fighting games have come a long way since the arcade days, but the popularity of the genre has clearly never dwindled. Although other genres are becoming popular as well, online game play capabilities have only enhanced the fighting game arena.