The fighting game genre is a type of video game that focuses on hand-to-hand combat between characters controlled by the players. Typically, players must use a combination of quick reflexes, button inputs, and strategic thinking to defeat their opponent. Fighting games often feature one-on-one battles or team battles and allow players to choose from a roster of characters, each with their own unique fighting style and abilities. The genre has been around since the early days of video games and has continued to evolve with advancements in technology and changes in gaming culture.

Throughout the years, numerous fighting game series have grown into successful franchises, and the following 10 are widely regarded as some of the best.

1. Street Fighter

The Street Fighter franchise is arguably one of the most well-known and widely popular fighting game franchises in history. It made its debut in arcades in 1987 and has since released over 25 different sequels and versions. Throughout its history, Street Fighter has become one of the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time.

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Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter helped establish many of the conventions that are now considered standard in one-on-one fighting games. As one of the earliest entries in the genre, the game has been lauded for its well-executed moves, the variety of characters and classes, and the level of skill required to master gameplay.

2. Tekken

When Namco released Tekken in 1994, it marked the company's entry into the fighting game genre. The game quickly made waves due to its impressive 3D animation that was not common in other fighting games at the time. In addition to its graphics, Tekken introduced several characteristics that have since become common in fighting games, and it has sold nearly 50 million units, making it one of the best-selling fighting game franchises ever.

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With the release of Tekken, the standards of fighting games were raised, and it signaled the decline of 2D fighting games. The series has since launched several sequels, spin-offs, and films, cementing its status as a sustainable franchise. One of the reasons for its popularity is its well-developed cast of characters, many of whom have made appearances in other franchises as guest characters.

3. Mortal Kombat

During the 1990s, parents in the United States were terrified of their children playing Mortal Kombat because of its use of bloody gore, fatalities, and death. Despite their disgust, the controversy only served to increase the game's popularity. Since then, the Mortal Kombat franchise has released 25 games, along with spin-offs, sequels, prequels, cartoons, comics, and live-action feature films.

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Mortal Kombat 11

The franchise's fatality system is one of its main attractions, allowing players to trigger a special cinematic by entering a series of moves and button-mashes within a specific timeframe. Fatalities have become the most popular part of Mortal Kombat, and with each new entry in the series, they become even more gruesome and violent. The combat moves, backstory, lore, and characters are also well-crafted and engaging to play and master.

4. Super Smash Bros.

Traditionally, fighting games have typically involved two players facing each other on a battlefield. However, Nintendo revolutionized this format with its Super Smash Bros. franchise, which debuted on the Nintendo 64 in 1994. Since then, the series has released five games, each more popular than the last, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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Super Smash Bros.

The franchise's biggest attraction is its diverse range of characters, drawn from nearly every Nintendo franchise. These include well-known characters like Mario and Donkey Kong, as well as more obscure ones like the Wii Fit trainer. Each character has unique signature moves, and they are vastly different from one another, resulting in a chaotic and unpredictable gaming experience every time a game is played.

5. Soul Calibur

SoulCalibur arrived relatively late to the fighting game genre in 1995, a full year after many other games on the list. Initially an arcade game, it later became available on home consoles. In the years since, the SoulCalibur franchise has spawned a dozen titles.

Soul Calibur

At its core, SoulCalibur is a great fighting game with engaging characters and rich lore. One of the franchise's notable strengths is its ability to release console-exclusive characters, making it entertaining to play different versions of the game on various systems. Over the years, characters from franchises such as Spawn, Star Wars, Assassin's Creed, The Witcher, Legend of Zelda, and more have made appearances, attracting fans from different franchises to spend hours playing whichever version of SoulCalibur they prefer.

6. The King Of Fighters

In 1994, SNK combined some of the best fighters from various games, including Ikari Warriors, Psycho Soldier, Fatal Fury, and Art of Fighting, to create The King of Fighters '94. Since then, the franchise has remained popular for years and released the most recent title, The King of Fighters XIV, in 2016.

The King Of Fighters

Despite the franchise's classic look, it has kept up with advancing graphics technology and remains a highly engaging fighting game. Additionally, the games feature intricate storylines that add to the entertainment value and keep players coming back even years after their initial release.

7. Marvel vs. Capcom

Before the release of Marvel vs. Capcom in 1996, it was not possible to have Capcom and Marvel characters battle against each other in fighting games, even though both character sets had previously appeared in their own separate fighting games. The inclusion of both character sets in the new game franchise was a game-changer for the fighting game genre, as players were now able to pit characters like Ryu against the Incredible Hulk.

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Marvel vs. Capcom

Although the game's popularity was initially driven by the inclusion of iconic characters, subsequent entries in the franchise improved upon the original and added highly technical controls, killer combos, and incredible moves. The franchise has continued to release new games, with the most recent one, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, launching in 2017. The game's popularity in esports remains strong, and its competitive gameplay ensures its longevity in the gaming world.

8. Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear, a franchise that has been around since 1998, is widely recognized for its intricate combos, cancels, and complex systems, which are also the very aspects that make it appealing and enduring. With more than 20 iterations released so far, the latest being Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 in May 2017, the game is famous for its exceptional graphics, immersive sound, and technical gameplay.

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Guilty Gear

What sets Guilty Gear apart from other fighting games is its high level of difficulty, attracting players who enjoy a challenge. While anyone can play the game, mastering it demands an extensive understanding of technical control, and those who achieve this level of expertise can excel in competitive and professional esports.

9. Dead or Alive

Tecmo introduced Dead or Alive in 1996, and since then, the franchise has spawned numerous games. The series' fast-paced combat system, featuring beautifully detailed 3D fighting, quickly gained a following among fans. Moreover, the game's inclusion of intriguing female characters contributed to its popularity. The franchise even had spin-offs that capitalized on the characters' sex appeal, such as Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, which had multiple sequels.

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Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive stands out from other fighting game series with its unique focus on counter-attacks, which is also one of the most challenging aspects for players to master. However, mastering attacks and counter-attacks can lead to highly competitive gameplay, making it one of the franchise's main attractions.

10. Samurai Showdown

Samurai Showdown is a fighting game series developed by SNK that originated in 1993 and has continued to receive updates and new releases, with the latest one launched in June 2020. The franchise is set in 18th century Japan and features a rich storyline and memorable characters that have spawned a significant amount of lore.

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Samurai Showdown

The Samurai Showdown games are renowned for their exquisite graphics and exceptional technical controls. The game's immersive world and captivating character designs attract players and keep them coming back to play repeatedly.

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