Sega’s Heavyweight Champ introduced hand-to-hand combat to arcade video gamers for the first time in 1976, and, let’s be honest, it was crude.
Using plastic boxing gloves and forward thrusts, the player controlled two chubby pugilists in stripey underwear. They were all dressed in the same outfit.
Other games by well-known designers and developers didn’t fare any better, and those that tried emerging technologies like analog handles and vector-based graphics failed miserably because the equipment either kept malfunctioning or the technology proved too unstable.
In 1984, however, a Japanese arcade stonker named Karate Champ was given to gamers, which depicted karate fighters competing in a conventional tournament in their martial wit.
Twin joystick controllers allowed players to conduct a variety of kicks and punches, and the game added a number of popular tropes, such as three-round battles and a timer, into the game. One of the bonus rounds allowed the fighters to punch a bull in the face, which was considered unusual at the time and is still controversial today.
An even more popular game, Konami’s Yie Ar Kung-Fu, was out a year later and pitted players against a wide variety of computer-controlled foes.
It was one of the most popular games of the mid-80s since players had their own lethal weapons, such as throwing stars, nunchucks, and chains to use against their opponents.
When the scuffles spilled into the family room
Some of the biggest hits of that decade were Karateka and International Karate by renowned British coder Archer Maclean for the Apple II and ZX Spectrum, Way of the Exploding Fist by Aussie studio Beam Software and created for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, as well as Barbara in 1987, which was based on the infamous Barbari fighting game.
This game from the 1980s was a tremendous hit for obvious reasons: you could sever your opponent’s head off, and there were warriors in loincloths and bikinis.
The fighting game Street Fighter II is one of the most significant of all time.
Capcom’s Street Fighter II debuted in 1991, kicking things up a notch. When it was ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System about a year later, the game sold a respectable 6 million copies thanks to its distinctive fighters and special moves, which can be accessed by button presses and joystick rotations.
Midway’s Mortal Combat, a nasty and extremely violent game that employed digitized images culled from real footage of actors, followed this new combat experience. Similar to Street Fighter, players may kill their opponents by smashing their heads off their shoulders, pulling their spines out, or putting them on fire, which was a brilliant innovation.
No one, including anti-violence activists, thought this was a funny idea, regardless of how funny it sounds. Mortal Kombat’s graphic violence was extensively censored for the Super Nintendo by Nintendo, although Sega left it in for the Mega Drive. Guess which was the most popular product!
Graphics technology in three dimensions (3D)
It was Yu Suzuki, Sega’s head of design, who came up with the concept for and oversaw the development of Virtua Fighter, which debuted in arcades and on the Saturn in 1993.
The game included soaring cameras, complex settings, and polygonal fighters, all based on real-world disciplines. While this was going on, Namco, Sega’s archenemy, was working on Tekken, a 3D fighting game.
The game, which Sony thought would be ideal for its new PlayStation device, made its way to Japan in 1995, bringing with it an innovative control scheme, stunning visuals, and some seriously cool characters. More than 45 million copies of the Tekken series have been sold worldwide.
Darkstalkers and the Marvel vs. Capcom series were among the many Street Fighter spin-offs that appeared during this time period, and Japanese firms created the King of Fighters and Guilty Gear series.
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Today’s fighting games
One of the oldest gaming genres, fighting games continues to be extremely popular today. Players compete all over the world in global tournaments and annual professional events using brands like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Soulcalibur available from gamerbolt.com.
It’s unclear what this tells us about current culture, but the fighting game is here to stay, even if provocative and gory acts of violence and scantily dressed warriors are a thing of the past.