Fighting Games: A Brief History Of The Genre

Here’s a brief history of the fighting games genre.

Fighting games weren’t always a popular genre, as the first game of the type was Heavyweight Champ in 1976. If you don’t remember it, it’s probably because it wasn’t that great of a game. It wasn’t until almost 20 years later that Capcom take the concept of “rock paper scissors” and applied it to a game featuring a collection of characters, each of which having their own fighting style. The first time the “rock paper scissors” concept was used was in Mega Man, the highly popular sci-fi hit starring the titular blue bomber.

If you haven’t heard of Capcom’s first foray into the fighting game genre, you may not have ever visited an arcade. Street Fighter II, the sequel to the game that introduced secret special moves, was such a huge hit that it became the godfather of fighting games and even spawned the fighting game community. Street Fighter II was so popular in fact that it had spawned several updates, up to and including Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which may have seemed like an original idea, but by then the series may have been copying someone else.  There was even a joke among the fighting game community that Capcom had forgotten how to count to three after so many updates to what was a major contender to the title of “king of the fighting games.”

Mortal Kombat was Midway’s entry into the fighting game genre, and it wasn’t even meant to be a major game. Mortal Kombat was just dropped in between bigger sports titles, but its use of digitized graphics of live actors and “blood” made it an instant rival for the success of Street Fighter II. After that, you just weren’t “cool” if you didn’t know all of the Fatality moves, basically brutal ways to finish your opponent off after you’ve beaten them.

Finishing moves became a new fad, possibly inspiring “super combos” in Super Street Fighter II Turbo and nearly every fighting game from that point on, bringing the “sudden death” experience to a whole new level.

After the invention of more powerful consoles, however, arcades began to die off, only remaining profitable in major theme parks like Disneyland and Disney World. With the arcades went the first wave of fighting games and their popularity has wavered ever since.

What do you think of the rise of the fighting game genre?  Check out how fighting games almost came back in 3D, right here on The Inquisitr!