20 Best Fighting Games of All-Time: The Ultimate List

top best fighting games

Looking for some good fighting games to play? We’ve got you covered.

Nothing beats a badass fighting game, and while the Street Fighter series mostly reigns supreme when it comes to tournaments and professional gaming, there are a ton of other great fighting games to play.

Everyone has their own favorite fighting games, and I promise you that mine is probably a lot different than anyone else’s best fighting games list. There’s no scientific way to prove which game is the best, unless we used Metacritic’s user rating (and, that’s boring as hell).

So, ignoring what Metacritic says about our top fighting games, here are what we consider to be 20 really good fighting games — the best ever made.

20. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

Best fighting games

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Vita
Developer: Capcom

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is what the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 should’ve been, as it included 12 more fighters than the original release. The line-up includes a wide variety of classic Marvel characters, including Doctor Strange, Deadpool and Iron Man, as well as some of the token, lesser-known characters like Rocket Raccoon — before the whole Guardians of the Galaxy explosion of last year — and Ghost Rider.

And as far as Capcom is concerned, it obviously features some of Street Fighter’s finest, but also great characters from other Capcom games such as Chris Redfield, Haggar, and Viewtiful Joe. While the game was light on modes to play, the bread-and-butter you versus a friend mode is what made the game so good. The characters had crazzy special combos and moves that provided for a visually stunning display of awesomeness.

Buy ‘Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3’ here

 19. Street Fighter X Tekken

Street Fighter x tekken

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PlayStation Vita
Developer: Capcom

This isn’t one of the commonly discussed games when talking about the best fighting games, but I personally loved what Street Fighter X Tekken did. The art design was a perfect blend of the two worlds, as it was vivid and well-animated. It shipped with a ton of options and online modes. Sure, Balrog was still useless, but the rest of Street Fighter X Tekken was a successful mash-up that everyone feared would have been a complete dud. Of course, it does feel like it caters a bit more to the Street Fighter fans than the Tekken ones, but the gameplay, itself, is well-balanced.

Buy ‘Street Fighter X Tekken’ here

 18. Street Fighter Alpha 3

street fighter alpha 3

Platforms: PSone, Arcade, Game Boy Advance, PS2, Saturn and Dreamcast
Developer: Capcom

Street Fighter Alpha 3 remains one of the highest rated titles in the franchise to date, as it breathed new life into the fighting game world back in the late 90s. It shipped with over 28 characters, plus a ton more that were available only on GBA. It also included a new way to throw as well as Air Recovery. It added three new characters to the franchise — Karin, Cody, and R. Mika. It was fast-paced, colorful, and the new combo system plus the plethora of characters to play made it one of our favorite fighting games to date.

Buy ‘Street Fighter Alpha 3’ here

 17. Super Smash Bros.

Platforms: 3DS, Wii U
Developer: Sora, Bandai Namco

I hate to include a game that is still in its infancy as far as its release date is concerned, but it’s undeniable that Super Smash Bros Wii U is a formidable fighting game, and is already being considered the best Smash Bros. game in the franchise. It currently holds a 92 on MetaCritic, with a User Score of 9.0. Everyone praises its paint job, and it has tons of content and fantastic gameplay. It ships with over 35 characters already available to play, with 12 more unlockable characters and even DLC characters planned. With a robust line-up of Nintendo’s favorite characters, Super Smash Bros. Wii U has already captured our hearts.

Buy ‘Super Smash Bros. Wii U’ here

 16. Injustice: Gods Among Us

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, PS4, Mobile
Developers: NetherRealm Studios

Although it’s not listed among the favorites of many other fighting game-lovers, Injustice: Gods Among Us will forever remain one of my favorite titles of the 360/PS3 era. It’s a game that is equal parts fun and equal parts frustrating. It was generally appreciated by critics, although not many rated it above a 85/100. There’s a great deal of content and modes, but the online stability was (and still is) a nightmare. Still, the core game itself — player vs. player — is absolutely badass, taking DC’s finest and most furious heroes and villains and bringing them to the genre.

Buy ‘Injustice: Gods Among Us’ here.

 15. King of Fighters XIII

king of fighters

Platforms: Arcade, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mobile
Developers: SNK Playmore

King of Fighters is a fan-favorite franchise in the world of fighting games, and the best iteration came in the form of The King of Fighters XIIIwhich won many awards from numerous fighting sites around the web, and was even nominated for the 2011 Spike VGAs. It shipped with over 35 characters, with more added as DLC, and they were divided up into teams. The gameplay and speed of the game closely resembled that of Street Fighter IV, but it carved out its own niche in the genre with its difficulty to master the game. It looked beautiful and had its own stylized animation.

Buy ‘King of Fighters XIII’ here

 14. Super Smash Bros Melee


Platforms: GameCube
Developers: HAL Laboratory

While Super Smash Bros Wii U will likely make its way higher on this list in the future, it’s not ready to overtake the best in the Nintendo franchise, Super Smash Bros Melee. SSBM provided a style of gameplay fans of the game had never seen before in its history, as health was displayed as percentages instead of a health bar, and inflicting the most damage to your opponent doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve won. Instead, players are tasked with forcing ring-outs for victories utilizing their abilities. SSBM shipped with 25 playable characters, again, including some Nintendo favorites.

Buy ‘Super Smash Bros Melee’ here

 13. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown

virtua fighter 5 final showdown

Platforms: Arcade, PS3, Xbox 360
Developers: Sega AM2

Virtua Fighter 5 provided the best bang for your buck upon its initial release, as it only cost $15 at launch. But, it wasn’t a one-trick pony in the form of a cheap game. Instead, it took hours upon hours of game time to master, with endless possibilities for combos. It had a lot of depth, which was incredibly surprising since it felt like a rushed release. Still, it’s the definitive version of VF5, as it added new modes, arenas, and customizable character items, and naturally, new characters.

 12. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

best fighting games

Platforms: Arcade, Saturn, Genesis, SNES, GBA, Nintendo DS, PS2, PC
Developer: Midway Games

I was such a big fan of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 simply due to its large roster of so playable characters, both old and new. I could go into the new mechanics and better graphics, but it was the huge list of characters that made it badass, including Cyrax, Kabal, Kano, Nightwolf and Smoke. It generally didn’t receive well, but I personally thought it was one of the best Mortal Kombats to hit shelves, again, mostly due to the cool new characters.

Buy ‘Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3’ here

 11. Primal Rage

Platforms: Arcade, PlayStation, PC, Genesis, Saturn, Game Gear, SNES
Developer: Atari, Bitmasters

Forget humans or super-powered humans, how about fighting with badass beasts! Of course, I mean super-powered beasts. Primal Rage was THE game to find at your local arcade before making its way to Genesis, PC, PlayStation, Game Gear and SNES. In the game, you’re able to eat your enemy’s worshipers as you’re fighting to regain health. The original special moves mechanic of Primal Rage was also different than other games in the genre, as you’d hold down buttons simultaneously and then move the joystick (as opposed to the Hadouken-esque controls of today’s fighters). But Primal Rage’s enjoyment came more from the concept of the game — that you were fighting as beasts — rather than the actual gameplay, which grew pretty stale quickly. It never got a sequel — at least Primal Rage II was never released — but I’d love to see a Primal Rage update for our shiny new generation of consoles.

Buy ‘Primal Rage’ here

10. Killer Instinct (original)

Fighting games

Platforms: Arcade, SNES, Game Boy
Developers: Rare (Rareware at the time)

Sure, there’s a shiny new polished Xbox One Killer Instinct game, and that’s fun, but the original Killer Instinct was GREAT. Its characters were unique and generally fun to play, and the fast pace was unmatched by any other fighters of its time. If you didn’t spend hours trying to perfect Ultra Combos, and knock Orchid off of a high-rise building, you weren’t gaming right. Sure, Killer Instinct borrowed elements from Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, but it combined them in a way that made the game feel unique somehow. But its best element was definitely its colorful and unique roster, which provided for different styles of gameplay that every gamer could relate to.

Buy ‘Killer Instinct’ here.

 9. Blazblue: Calamity Trigger


Platforms: Arcade, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, PC
Developers: Arc System Works

One of the best elements of Blazblue: Calamity Trigger was that it could go up to five rounds, instead of the standard three rounds. Of course, that’s not all that Blazblue is about. It’s unfortunate that it shipped with just 12 characters, as a more robust roster would have made the game higher on this list. The gameplay has quite a great deal of depth to it, its anime-style graphics looked great, and the online matches rebels work flawlessly. Had it not been for Street Fighter IV releasing the same year, Blazblue: Calamity Trigger might have become much bigger than it did.

Buy ‘BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger’ here.

 8. Tekken 3

Tekken 3

Platforms: Arcade, PlayStation
Developer: Namco

Tekken 3 is the game that got me hooked on the franchise, as it brought a significant amount of improvements to the franchise, like less-blocky graphics and better animations. It brought 15 new characters to the game, as well as a quicker fighting style. But what Tekken 3 did best was place added emphasis on the third axis, allowing for sidesteps. Tekken 3 is widely regarded as the best game in the franchise, as it holds a 96 out of 100 on Metacritic and frequently appears on the “best of” lists regarding the PlayStation era.

 7. Mortal Kombat II

Mortal Kombat 2

Platforms: Arcade, SNES, Game Boy, Saturn, PlayStation
Developers: Midway Games

For me, Mortal Kombat II was my first taste of the brutality that is the Mortal Kombat series, and I’m hoping that Mortal Kombat X will bring the series back to MKII’s greatness. It marked the debut of many iconic Mortal Kombat characters, including Jax, Kitana, Kung Lao and Baraka. Of course, classic characters made a return, such as Johnny Cage, Raiden, Scorpion and Sub Zero. It also brought brutal fatalities, and those cutesy non-violent special moves that made us laugh. If I wasn’t busy playing Super Street Fighter II Turbo, I was playing MKII.

Buy ‘Mortal Kombat 2’ here.

 6. Street Fighter Alpha II

best street fighter games

Platforms: Arcade, SNES, PlayStation, Saturn, PC

Developer: Capcom

It was the first introduction of Rolento, a quick and agile fighter that was second-to-none, and Sakura, Ryu’s fangirl. Street Fighter Alpha II was very well received, and Sakura and Rolento both quickly became fan favorites in the Street Fighter franchise. Now that Rolento has been included in Ultra Street Fighter IV, Alpha II has lost just a little of its value. But, upon its initial release, it was widely considered a fantastic fighter.

Buy ‘Street Fighter Alpha 2’ here.

 5. Soul Calibur IV

Soul Calibur iv

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Project Soul

Soul Calibur IV is the most complex game to master that I’ve ever played, which is why it was such an enjoyable game to spend time with. To this day, I’m still pretty god awful at it, but that doesn’t take away from how much I love it. The ability to fight as iconic Star Wars characters Yoda and Darth Vader pretty much made Soul Calibur IV great. It also added two new characters, king Algol and Hlide, to the Soul Calibur roster. The graphics were second-to-none at the time, and the ability to play online allowed you to play truly challenging opponents, instead of constantly dominating your little brother in couch multiplayer. The online inclusion meant that you were constantly challenged, requiring you to better your skills with practice. Plus, Yoda’s Jedi Master Combo looks like something right out of the movies.

Buy ‘Soul Calibur 4’ here.

 4. Tekken Tag Tournament

Tekken Tag Tournament

Platforms: PS2, Arcade, (PS3 in HD)
Developer: Namco

It’s been nearly fifteen years since the initial release of Tekken Tag Tournamentand Namco has yet to top it. The graphics were top of the line at the time, and it made the game and the character moves look absolutely fantastic. The game contained a plethora of characters (over 35), including many Tekken 3 characters such as Eddy Gordo, Panda, and True Ogreand also many from Tekken 2, like Alex, Baek Doo San, and GanryuTwo new characters were introduced, but they were just twists on other players that already existed (sort of like Evil Ryu from SF). Not only will it remain a favorite among fighting game fans, but it was also one of the top PS2 titles in general.

Buy ‘Tekken Tag Tournament’ here.

 3. Super Street Fighter II Turbo


Platforms: Dreamcast, SNES, Game Boy Advance
Developer: Capcom

The game that first brought out the competitor in me was Street Fighter II Turbo for the SNES. It was face-paced fighting that took skill and practice to master, but when you did master it, nothing was as gratifying.

Defeating my cousins over and over again in my living room every time they would visit is one of the most cherished childhood memories of mine, and I just wanted to keep playing while they all wanted to go outside and play football. It added powered-up Super Combos into the Street Fighter mix, forever changing the franchise’s landscape and influencing future titles. It also had an adjustable speed setting for the first time in the series, and added the ability to perform Air Combos on opponents in mid-air.

Those looking for good fighting games with simple but deep mechanics, then you should definitely play Street Fighter II Turbo.

Buy ‘Street Fighter II Turbo’ here.

 2. Marvel vs. Capcom 2

Platforms: Dreamcast, Arcade, PS2, Xbox
Developer: Capcom

It’s tough to throw Marvel vs. Capcom 2 at number 2 on this list instead of number one, but it IS nearing 15 years old (so don’t complain about it not being number one in the comments..mmmkay). The character list was absolutely epic if you happened to be a fan of both Marvel and Capcom, having over 50 playable characters. Captain America, Spider-Man, Hulk, Gambit and many more Marvel characters were included, as well as Capcom’s Mega Man, Ryu, Chun-Li and Jill Valentine. It has the most inclusive roster of any fighting game to date, and it played like Turbo II Remix but more fluid. Not only is it the best crossover fighting game, it’s the best Marvel video game to date.

Buy ‘Marvel vs Capcom 2’ here.

 1. Super Street Fighter IV

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 3DS, Arcade
Developer: Capcom

Forget the rest, Super Street Fighter IV is the best fighting game to date. Capcom created the ultimate in fighting game styles, especially when it came to visual presentation. SSFIV’s 3D backgrounds and character models play on a 2D plane for a unique visual effect, and the special moves were well animated, as well as colorful.

There are 35 characters available, two of which are brand new to the franchise (Juri and Hakan). The online mode is better than the original, and it came with balancing tweaks that made the game way more enjoyable. The Ultra version of SFIV is still working out the balancing kinks, and is too derivative of Super Street Fighter IV to include it in this list. So, Super Street Fighter IV currently stands as the best Street Fighter game, and therefore, is the best fighting game ever made.

Buy ‘Super Street Fighter IV’ here.

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