The fighting game genre has been around since the earliest days of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Mike Tyson’s punchout. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter brought it into the limelight in arcades and then to our homes on the SNES and Sega Genesis. The genre has evolved over time and yet still there sits a substantial percentage of us that find the greatest joy in the simple 2D fighters of days’ past. Whatever your favorites, the fighting genre is a classic and long standing tradition among gamers that brings them together to swear, drink, and break things in frustration because “he’s being cheap!”
The Xbox was marketed to a certain audience and in doing so was expected to have certain kinds of games, the fighting genre prominent among them. For a first time around, Microsoft did pretty well for itself, landing the Dead or Alive franchise through its technical superiority and other classics like Capcom vs SNK 2, with online features enabled. The Xbox live addition to many of these games took them to new places that fighting games had never seen; you can fight against people across the globe.
Dead or Alive Series
The Dead or Alive series first debuted on the Playstation console, a 3D fighter with an emphasis on its female lead characters’….abilities. It met with favorable reviews, but it was the sequel Dead or Alive 2 released for the Dreamcast that truly demonstrated the ability of the Tecmo team. The series was thereafter known as one in which graphical output and quality were the most important factors, Tecmo only releasing their trademark 3D fighter for the most powerful machine on the market, which in the case of Dead or Alive 3 and 4 were the Xbox and Xbox 360. As launch titles for both platforms, each game pushed the limits of graphical output, crafting some of the most amazing looking fight scenes in video gaming. And with the inclusion of Xbox Live play in Dead or Alive 4 and the remakes of Dead or Alive 1 and 2, the series has a solid home on Microsoft’s powerhouse.
Soul Calibur II
Soul Calibur II, released for all three major consoles by Namco was exactly what everyone had been waiting for. For all the poor souls who were left in the dust by Sega’s failed Dreamcast, now it was possible to play the sequel no matter which console was purchased. Xbox’s edition was particular impressive, with the best looking graphics of the three. The hours and hours deep weapon quests, and tons of playable characters with dozens of weapons made this one of the deepest fighting games ever at the time. Even now, Soul Calibur II is a joy to pick up and play right along side the newest offerings.
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance
When Ed Boon finally returned with the much awaited new Mortal Kombat, a fully 3D affair that could truly take advantage of the new age of console power, no one expected such a grand return to fighting glory. The bloody battles, fatalities and hundreds of unlockable options returned with the fifth entry in the series and one hell of a bloody good time. The Xbox edition, like many other multi-platform releases was beautiful and took full advantage of the hardware at the time. Unfortunately, without Live support it wasn’t much different than the PS2, but it sure looked pretty.
Capcom Vs. SNK 2 EO
Already released a couple of years earlier for the PS2, Capcom Vs. SNK 2 for the Xbox was special because it made available what fighting fans had wanted for years, online play. With EO, the same massively deep roster of fighters and unlockable secrets returned, but with the option of taking those fights online and try your hand against thousands of other fighters around the world. The game itself is a great game, though I’ll be honest; 2D fighters didn’t benefit well from the clunky Xbox controller design and stiff Digital Pad.