Best Fighting Games of All-Time – Legendary Brawls That Defined Gaming

Top 10 Best Fighting Games of All-time


Best Fighting Game



Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike



Guilty Gear Strive



Tekken 7



Dragon Ball FighterZ



The King of Fighters XIII



Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3



Killer Instinct (Xbox One)



Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown






Mortal Kombat (2011)


Best Fighting Games of All-time

Explore the world of intense combat, lightning-fast reflexes, and iconic characters as we dive into the realm of the ‘Best Fighting Games of All-Time.’ These games have left an indelible mark on the gaming landscape, captivating players with their intricate mechanics, unforgettable battles, and competitive spirit. Join us on a journey through the top contenders in the fighting game genre, where every punch, kick, and combo tells a story of skill and strategy.”


1. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (1999)

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is widely regarded as a legendary title in the fighting game genre. Released in 1999, it marked a significant departure from its predecessors by introducing a parry system that allowed players to counter any attack, adding an unparalleled level of depth and strategy. The game features beautifully animated sprites, distinctive character designs, and a memorable jazz-inspired soundtrack. Notably, it was the game that gave birth to the iconic “Evo Moment 37,” where Daigo Umehara executed an astonishing parry sequence that remains one of the most iconic moments in competitive gaming history. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike boasts a diverse roster of characters, each with unique movesets, making it a favorite among hardcore fighting game enthusiasts.

2. Guilty Gear Strive (2021)

Guilty Gear Strive is a modern masterpiece that has taken the fighting game community by storm since its release in 2021. Developed by Arc System Works, this title has garnered praise for its stunning visuals, top-tier animation quality, and exceptional character diversity. Strive incorporates the best rollback netcode in the business, ensuring smooth online matches and enhancing its appeal to both casual and competitive players. The game strikes a balance between accessibility and depth, making it accessible to newcomers while offering veterans a plethora of complex mechanics to explore. With a compelling story mode, detailed tutorials, and an eclectic cast of fighters, Guilty Gear Strive has firmly established itself as one of the top-tier fighting games of the modern era.

3. Tekken 7 (2015)

Tekken 7, released in 2015, stands as a testament to the longevity and excellence of the Tekken franchise. Known for its intricate 3D movement system, diverse character roster, and deep combat mechanics, Tekken 7 offers an unparalleled level of complexity within the fighting game genre. It improved accessibility without sacrificing depth, transitioning back to 1v1 battles from the 2v2 format of its predecessor while retaining the complexity of individual characters’ move lists. Tekken 7 introduced Rage Arts and Rage Drives as exciting comeback mechanics, enhancing the game’s strategic depth. Furthermore, its slow-motion finishers have added dramatic flair to competitive matches and have given rise to unforgettable moments in esports tournaments. Tekken 7’s perfect balance of attracting new players while maintaining its hardcore fan base has solidified its position as one of the greatest fighting games of all time.

4. Dragon Ball FighterZ (2018)

Dragon Ball FighterZ,” released in 2018, stands as a testament to the successful fusion of the beloved Dragon Ball universe and the fighting game genre. Developed by Arc System Works, known for their prowess in crafting visually stunning fighters, FighterZ offers a visually arresting experience. The game’s 2.5D graphics faithfully recreate the look and feel of the anime, with character animations and vibrant special moves mirroring iconic moments from the series. Beyond its captivating visuals, FighterZ boasts a robust roster featuring an array of fan-favorite characters from the Dragon Ball series, each with unique abilities and move sets. This diversity ensures that players can find a character that suits their playstyle, whether it’s the Saiyan powerhouse Goku or the android assassin Cell. The gameplay itself strikes a delicate balance, catering to both newcomers and competitive veterans. It employs an accessible auto-combo system for newcomers, making it easier to pull off flashy moves, while offering depth and complexity for those seeking high-level play. The addition of “Dragon Balls” in matches adds an extra layer of strategy, introducing a dramatic comeback mechanic and staying true to the anime’s spirit. Moreover, FighterZ has garnered a strong competitive community, with regular tournaments and updates, cementing its place as one of the best fighting games of the modern era.

5. The King of Fighters XIII (2010)

Released in 2010, “The King of Fighters XIII” is a standout entry in the long-running King of Fighters series, celebrated for its intricate gameplay and breathtaking 2D sprite-based visuals. SNK Playmore painstakingly crafted the game’s pixel art, resulting in some of the most detailed and expressive character animations ever seen in a fighting game. This dedication to visual excellence extended to the backgrounds and move effects, making every fight a visually stunning spectacle. Beyond its aesthetics, KOF XIII refined the series’ gameplay, offering a satisfying blend of accessibility and depth. The game introduced the “Hyper Drive” system, allowing players to execute extended combos and showcase their strategic prowess. With its large roster of characters, each possessing unique move sets and intricate combos, The King of Fighters XIII provided a rich and rewarding experience for fighting game enthusiasts and competitive players alike. Its legacy endures as a title that upheld the essence of classic 2D fighting games while embracing the technology of the modern era.

6. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011)

“Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3,” released in 2011, remains a beloved title in the fighting game community, renowned for its frenetic gameplay and iconic crossover battles. Developed by Capcom, this installment expanded upon its predecessor by introducing new characters, stages, and gameplay mechanics. The game’s roster featured a diverse array of characters from both the Marvel and Capcom universes, inviting players to assemble dream teams and engage in electrifying tag battles. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 emphasized fast-paced action, with players able to chain together devastating combos, hyper combos, and team-based maneuvers. This accessibility to flashy, over-the-top moves made it appealing to both casual players and competitive fighters. The game’s multiplayer mode and the introduction of the “X-Factor” mechanic, which boosted a character’s abilities in dire situations, added layers of strategy and excitement to matches. Its vibrant and chaotic battles, combined with its enduring appeal in the tournament scene, have solidified Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s status as a classic in the fighting game genre.

7. Killer Instinct (Xbox One) (2013)

Released in 2013 as a reboot of the classic fighting game franchise, Killer Instinct for the Xbox One marked a triumphant return for the series. Developed by Double Helix Games and later Iron Galaxy Studios, the game revitalized the iconic fighting title with a fresh, modern twist. What set Killer Instinct apart was its impressive integration of rollback netcode, making online play incredibly smooth and responsive. This innovation earned it praise among the competitive gaming community. Killer Instinct also introduced the remarkable Dojo mode, a comprehensive training tool that not only taught players the ins and outs of the game but also served as an excellent resource for learning fundamental fighting game mechanics. With stunning visuals, a killer soundtrack by Mick Gordon, and a diverse roster of characters, Killer Instinct proved that it was more than just a Mortal Kombat imitator, carving out its own unique place in the fighting game genre.

8. Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown (2021)

Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown arrived in 2021, breathing new life into Sega’s legendary 3D fighting game franchise. Originally known for pioneering the 3D fighting genre, Virtua Fighter returned with a rebuild on the Yakuza’s Dragon Engine, optimized for modern consoles. The series’ hallmark grounded martial arts, intricate movement, varied attack and counter options, and iconic characters remained intact and were further polished in Ultimate Showdown. The game also excelled in enhancing its online features, making it a go-to title for competitive players. Virtua Fighter 5’s gameplay remained true to its roots while distinguishing itself from other fighters, offering an exceptional experience for fans of 3D fighting games and the genre as a whole. With its deep mechanics and characters that appealed to both seasoned players and newcomers, Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown made a significant impact in the fighting game community.

9. Skullgirls (2012)

Skullgirls, released in 2012, stands as a testament to what an indie fighting game can achieve. Developed by Lab Zero Games, it caught players’ attention not only with its unique hand-drawn art style but also its highly flexible fighting game system. Each character in Skullgirls boasts a multitude of combo routes, and players can choose between playing as a solo character with increased health and damage, a balanced duo team, or a squad of three characters for extra assists and combo opportunities. This versatility in character selection added depth to the gameplay. Moreover, the memorable character design, art style, and a smooth gaming experience contributed to the game’s enduring popularity. Skullgirls demonstrated that even smaller studios could create a fighting game with remarkable depth, providing a fresh perspective in a genre typically dominated by larger developers.

10. Mortal Kombat (2011)

Mortal Kombat (2011), also known as Mortal Kombat 9, marked a pivotal moment in the franchise’s history. Developed by NetherRealm Studios, it served as a reboot, not just for the series’ storyline but for the entire essence of Mortal Kombat. The game stripped away the excessive gimmicks of its predecessors, returning to the core of what made Mortal Kombat famous: brutal kombat. Gone were modes like Puzzle Kombat and Motor Kombat, replaced by a back-to-basics approach focused solely on the visceral fighting experience. Mortal Kombat 9 featured an exceptional story mode, a treasure trove of fan service, and reworked mechanics that laid the foundation for future games. While it may not have been the most balanced fighting game, its imperfections became part of its charm, endearing it to many fans who still prefer it today. Mortal Kombat 9 not only revived the iconic fighting series but also set it on a path of renewed success and innovation.

What Impact Did These Fighting Games Have on Competitive Play?

The impact of fighting games on competitive play has been profound, shaping the way players approach esports and competitive gaming as a whole. These games have not only created vibrant competitive communities but also influenced the broader gaming landscape in several ways:

Fostering Competitive Communities:

Fighting games have nurtured tight-knit and passionate competitive communities. Local arcades, online forums, and tournaments became hubs for players to gather, share strategies, and test their skills. This sense of camaraderie helped lay the foundation for competitive gaming communities.

Popularizing Esports Tournaments:

Games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat played pivotal roles in popularizing competitive gaming tournaments. Events like EVO (Evolution Championship Series) have become internationally recognized, drawing thousands of players and spectators. These tournaments have elevated fighting games to a global stage and provided players with opportunities for recognition and sponsorships.

Technical Skill and Strategy:

Fighting games demand a high level of technical skill, reflexes, and strategic thinking. Players must master complex move sets, execute precise combos, and adapt to opponents’ strategies. This level of depth and complexity set a precedent for the competitive gaming scene, emphasizing the importance of skill development.

Balancing Act:

Game developers often fine-tune and balance characters and mechanics based on competitive feedback. This approach has encouraged ongoing dialogue between developers and players, ensuring that the competitive scene remains engaging and competitive.

Global Competitions:

The competitive fighting game scene transcends borders. Players from various regions and cultures come together to compete, fostering a sense of international unity within the gaming community. Iconic moments like Daigo Umehara’s famous parry in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike at EVO 2004 became legendary worldwide, transcending language barriers.

Influence on Game Design:

Fighting games have influenced the design of other competitive titles. Concepts like frame data analysis, hitbox hurtbox interactions, and mind games have found their way into other esports genres, showcasing the impact of fighting games on game design as a whole.

Streamer and Content Creation:

Competitive play has spawned a generation of gaming content creators and streamers. Many competitive players, such as SonicFox and Maximilian Dood, have transitioned into successful content creators, further expanding the reach of fighting games to wider audiences.

Accessibility Initiatives:

To grow their competitive scenes, fighting game developers have initiated accessibility efforts. Features like rollback netcode, improved training modes, and tutorials aim to attract new players and lower the barrier to entry for competitive play.

Fighting games have left an indelible mark on competitive gaming by fostering dedicated communities, popularizing esports, emphasizing technical skill and strategy, and influencing game design and content creation. Their impact continues to shape the ever-evolving landscape of competitive play across various gaming genres.

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