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If you grew up in the 90’s, you probably heard about Street Fighter II or even had time to plug away at it in your local arcade.  SF2 was designed as a fighting simulation and featured characters with amazing abilities.  Though playing against the computer was a challenge in and of itself, the game shined when it came down to two players matching wits against each other.  I remember watching these ridiculously skilled players waiting in line to play the winner at the arcade.  Fighting games truly brought about the sense of competition and prestige to those who had what it took.

Originally based on Arcade machines, it’s no surprise that fighting games are now predominantly based on console.  That’s because console machines most readily emulate an arcade feeling, and furthermore a game controller with 7 or 8 buttons is all you’ll need.  Fighting games just don’t feel right on PC.  You need to be able to mash buttons and scream out loud as you bash your opponents!

Though originally based in a 2D environment, most modern fighting games now feature fully interactive 3D environments with multiple rooms/levels.  You can now be engage in a fight that could spill out from rooftops and into cafes and shops.  Of course, there are more ridiculous environments out there like astral planes and haunted caverns, but the point is that players now have an unprecedented freedom of movement that opens up many new tactics and techniques.  In general, the 3D view rotates to maintain the two players on either side of the screen.  You can move into, or out of the screen in order to sidestep an opponent’s attack.

There are several key fighting franchises out there, each offering a unique blend of fighting and characters.

Capcom is an old-school favorite with many titles in its popular Street Fighter series.  It’s received so many sequels I can’t even name them all.  The cool thing about Capcom is that they’ve remained committed to the 2D view with cartoon-like graphics rather than switching to the modern 3D view with fully constructed player models that are motion-captured.

The Dead or Alive series has received a lot of attention because of its ridiculous action and sumptuous fighting vixens.  In a bit of a tongue-in-cheek move, Tecmo released Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball.  Though not technically a fighting game, it did feature all of the female characters of the DOA series in skimpy bathing suits.  DOA is available only on XBOX.

Super Smash Brothers is the light-hearted fighting game developed by Nintendo.  The great thing about this game is that the controls are simple to learn and the entire Nintendo cast (reaching all the way back to Mr. Game and Watch) makes an appearance to unleash pure carnage on the Gamecube.

Tekken is a more serious series developed by Namco.  It’s received about 4 sequels and boasts beautiful graphics and hard-hitting action.  This great series is exclusive to PS2.

Of course, Virtua Fighter pioneered the move to 3D fighting games.  Originally for the Sega 32X and Sega Saturn, it would later receive three wildly popular sequels on both console and arcade.  Now that Sega no longer creates console systems, they publish this series through the PS2.

One of the only cross-platform fighting games that have received widespread acclaim is the Soul Calibur fighting series. While still a young franchise with only one sequel, each system’s version of Soul Calibur featured one unique character related to it, increasing the value of the game to its prospective owners.  For Gamecube, the featured fighter was Zelda.  On XBOX, it was Spawn.  For PS2 it was one of the Tekken fighters.  Soul Calibur is more a weapon fighting game while the others are all hand-to-hand.