I remember visiting the arcade frequently as a kid whenever I had some spare change. This was 1993 and back then, the arcade is probably the only place where you can hang out with your friends and brag about your gaming prowess. And in every area of the arcade, there is always that one special place where kids would huddle behind two players duking it out with the sounds coming from the buttons and the loudspeakers of the arcade machine. It was the arcade area where fighting games are placed and these games attracted kids like bees to a field of flowers.
Fighting games were all the rage back in the day. This is when consoles like the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, and the original PlayStation were in their prime. In every household, you will never see a boy not owning a Street Fighter 2 game. Even in the new millennium, fighting games are still as popular as ever. You have the Tekken series, Bloody Roar, Soul Calibur, and the infamous Mortal Kombat series.
So how did fighting games came to be? And when exactly did they gain popularity?
Karate Champ – The Great Grandfathers of Fighting Games
According to Wikipedia, the very first video game to feature fist fighting was Heavyweight Champ. Released in 1976, the game was from a side to side viewpoint with the “fighters” as monochrome sprites. It wasn’t until 1984 that the very one on one fighting game was introduced. “Karate Champ” was produced by Technos Japan and it became very popular that a separate arcade game was developed; this time, it gave players the ability to “fight” with each other. This was the start of a long line of popular video games that would take the world by storm.
Yie Ar Kung Fu: The Great Predecessor of Karate Champ
After Karate Champ was “Yie Ar Kung Fu”, a popular video game that featured antagonists using different styles of martial arts. I personally loved it when I was still a kid and would spend hours devising ways to defeat each opponent as fast as possible. Then in 1987, the video game that solidified the genre “fighting games” was born. Japanese gaming company Capcom released “Street Fighter” and it was the first fighting game that featured hidden attacks.
Don’t Forget About Street Fighter And Mortal Kombat
Four years later, “Street Fighter II” came out and it marked the evolution for every fighting games that came after. It was also the first fighting game made available for home game consoles.
Mortal Kombat became memorable for everyone because when it was ported to home gaming consoles, parents were frightened when they saw their kids playing the game for the first time. The sight of graphic violence and blood on their television screens was enough for hundreds of angry parents to voice out their protests against Midway Games. Of course, the more the parents protested about the game, the more popular it became to kids.
More fighting games were introduced during the 90s. “Battle Arena Toshinden”, a Sony PlayStation game is credited as the very first “3D” fighting game. While Sega’s “Virtua Fighter” was in 3D, the fighting style was actually done in 2D. It was only with Battle Arena Toshinden that the side-step movement was introduced, thus giving the 3D feel.
In 1994, Namco released “Tekken”, perhaps one of the most popular 3D fighting games of all time. Man oh man did kids loved it. Every arcade stations have several Tekken machines and they are always full. A few years later, however, the popularity of fighting games started to wane. This is because of the repetitive gameplay that most fighting games have. All you do is smash buttons, hoping that the secret combo would kill your opponent and that’s it. Compared to other game genres, the gameplay factor for fighting games is relatively low.
However, this does not mean that fighting games will be disappearing soon. There are dozens of E-sports tournaments all over the world that invite competitive players who are into fighting games and sponsorships for this game category is alive and kicking!