Over time, many gaming franchises have come and gone, sometimes without notice. One of most competitive genres for developers to break into is that of fighters, as many staples have been ongoing for more than a decade, crowding out younger IPs.
Evolution and trying new things are a large part of the gaming landscape, but new does not always mean better, especially in a genre that has fans who can stay loyal to one game for a very long time. With Evo 2018 gone and to honor some of the great fighting franchises that have lost to the heavyweights such as Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat, OnlySP has made a list of titles that deserve another chance to claim a spot in the limelight.
Released on the PlayStation in 1997, Bushido Blade focuses on a realistic fighting system, forgoing life bars and special moves in favour of tactics and strategy, where one well-placed hit can end a match.
Bushido, the Samurai code of honor and rule set that warriors would live by, influenced the game’s content, as each character can wield various weapons that were used in Feudal Japanese combat. Battling was unique for the time; many games such as Street Fighter and King of Fighters focused on beating an enemy until their health dropped to zero, but, in Bushido Blade, a strike to the legs can cause an enemy to limp, restricting movement, and a hit to the head can end a match instantly. Matches have no timer and last until a competitor succumbs to their injuries or is dealt a lethal blow.
Due to the way combat is handled, a greater emphasis is given to spacing and range, as players using a longer weapon holds a reach advantage over the enemy, yet can easily lose to better strategy or baiting. Each character has a signature weapon, but all weapons are usable. The series would later have a spiritual successor, titled Kengo: Master of Bushido, which lost what made the original games so impactful.
If the series was to be revived, the combat might work similarly to that of For Honor, with an emphasis on stances, fakes, and strategy over unblockable attacks and arcady mechanics courtesy of its sim-like nature. The series would certainly thrive on modern systems thanks to its consistent commitment to the historical source material.
Bloody Roar began in arcades in 1997 under the name Beasterizer, featuring characters that could transform into anthropomorphic creatures with improved capabilities. The game was later ported to the PlayStation in 1998 with the new title of Bloody Roar. Several sequels followed, the last of which, to date, was 2003’s Bloody Roar 4 on the PlayStation 2.
The series is known for having a roster of characters whose play styles vary greatly; for instance, Stun is a brawler who can transform into an electric beetle, while Long is a martial artist who specializes in long combo strings and can change into a tiger. The game plays in a 3D space akin to Dead or Alive with breakable walls opening areas in the stages to expand the fighting area.
Turning into a beast is not something to be done at any moment, but works best with strategy; transforming at the right moment can provide the upper hand needed to win a round. The combat is quick and fluid—among the best in fighting games of the time. Similarly, battles have arcade stylings and are over-the-top, but play with a realistic fighting style that, combined with combo enders and special moves, create a cinematic feel.
Bloody Roar shines thanks to its variety of characters and accessible gameplay that contains a surprising amount of depth and character, which results in a unique feel for a fighting game. If Bloody Roar was to continue as a modern fighter, the possibility exists for it to be a more cinematic and visually impressive game with great combat would be sure to impress players.
Virtua Fighter released in arcades in 1993 and was the first fighting game to have 3D graphics, starting the movement that would bring titles such as Tekken to the market.
The series has always been known for remarkable depth, despite the simple controls of the original game. Each character can be played in a multitude of styles, offering players multiple approaches instead of settling on any particular fighter. While Tekken may be known for having a deep fighting system, Virtua Fighter is argued by fans and people in the fighting game community to be even more complex due to better character balance and multiple options to play each fighter.
Before Sega put Virtua Fighter on ice during the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 era, the series was known for having a competitive tournament scene. The franchise is not friendly to button mashers, but rewards thought and execution, while still offering many ways for new players to have fun and perform well.
Virtua Fighter offers considerable depth, focusing on grounded hand-to-hand combat based on martial arts (with the exclusion of projectile and super attacks), creating a tense battle of skills. The series has an average roster size, but makes up for it in gameplay variety, with each character featuring a distinct style. With modern technology, the Virtua Fighter series could shine thanks to improved hardware smoothing out the gameplay while offering developers the opportunity to create more in-depth movement systems to complement the combat systems.
Darkstalkers was developed by Capcom and released in 1994 for arcades, reaching the PlayStation two years later.
Unlike many other fighting games that focused on specific martial arts for each character, Darkstalkers aimed to make each character feel unique. Compared to its contemporaries, the series focused heavily on style.
While most characters in fighting games feature standard dash-and-run or use jumps to close distance, Darkstalkers changed that. The series’s famous succubus Morrigan (also appearing in the Marvel vs. Capcom series) instead flies, making air combos easier. Dimitri, a vampire, teleports to avoid attacks.
Similarly, arenas have more flair than the norm, as battles could take place in a variety of locations, from the side of a building to a moving train. The chain combo mechanic (linking weak attacks into strong or special attacks) was introduced in the game, changing how Capcom would treat its future fighting games thanks to better combo potential.
Guilty Gear by Arc System Works draws inspiration from the way Darkstalkers treats characters, creating a unique freestyle fighting system that lets the player play each character in multiple different ways. Akin to Dimitri in Darkstalkers, the Vampire Slayer in Guilty Gear also teleports for their “dash” instead of running. A modern Darkstalkers could be akin to Guilty Gear, but with more emphasis on the supernatural and ultimately a different play style to make a unique experience.
Power Stone was released in arcades and Sega Dreamcast in 1999. The game was known for its open arena combat focusing on free movement and environmental interaction.
The ultimate selling point of the game is collecting three gems to transform into a super version of the character, enabling players to perform special attacks. Rather than depth to its combos, the title instead focuses on an arcade-styled beat-’em-up combat system that has players worrying about distance, obstacles, and items that would appear.
The 2000 sequel, Power Stone 2, added more characters and changed how arenas worked; instead of a small box with obstacles and traps, maps change over time. As in Super Smash Bros., stages move, and players must fight to avoid incoming obstacles and not fall behind otherwise they will take damage helping the enemy win.
What the Power Stone series lacked in depth for combos, it made up for in environmental interaction and arcade-influenced party-esque fun that had players running around in stages for items and fighting over gems, creating a game unlike any other. Were the series to return, the titles would be able to handle more depth to the combat along with larger, more complex arenas and more varied items to create an ever-changing battlefield.