We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

When it comes to computer games, there's no doubt that fighting games are among the most popular, but which titles are best? Is it state-of-the-art, brand-new games or classic titles?

We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1989 and 2009. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the last 20 years.

20: WWF No Mercy, 2000 [N64]

In the glory days of the WWF, everyone knew the Rock's stage music by heart and Mankind was still considered the craziest wrestler in the ring.

WWF No Mercy's incredible arcade gameplay brought everyone's favourite wrestlers together in some of the best matches to hit a home console, achieving a perfect mix of action and grappling techniques.

With the create-a-wrestler mode, detailed storylines and extra content, WWF fans could play this game inside-and-out for years and never get tired of squared circle.

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19: Virtua Fighter, 1993 [ARC]

Virtua Fighter was a landmark title in several ways. Before this game, polygon graphics were as common as moon landings and flying cars.

When it hit arcades (and the Sega Saturn in 1994), gamers around the world were amazed at the revolutionary graphics and the realistic fighting system.

By today's standards, Virtua Fighter may look hilariously blocky, but the combat is just as crisp as it ever was. Anytime people talk about 3D fighting games, remember that this one was the title that started the trend.

NEXT PAGE: Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

18. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves, 2001 [DC]

By 1999, the Fatal Fury series had long since lost much of its spotlight to the more famous and memorable King of Fighters series.

However, there was one last title that would retire Fatal Fury in style - Mark of The Wolves. This game's incredibly deep gameplay was almost upstaged by mind-blowing 2D pixel animation that was fluid, colourful and above all else, undeniably flashy.

When Mark of the Wolves eventually hit the Dreamcast in 2001, SNK fans had a permanent title that would forever secure Fatal Fury's status as one of the best classic fighting game series in history.

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17: Def Jam: Fight For NY, 2004 [GC, XB, PS2]

Sporting a roster that included the likes of DMX and Ludacris, Def Jam Vendetta surprised the entire gaming industry with a complex fighting system that took advantage of environmental weapons and customisable abilities.

Def Jam: Fight For NY took its predecessor's gameplay and pumped up the volume with an incredibly well written story, along with new fighting mechanics that made use of styles like kickboxing and martial arts.

The production values in Fight For NY were second to none, either, with each rap icon giving a stellar performance marked by realistic voice work.

NEXT PAGE: WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

16: WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, 2005 [PS2]

With every new WWE Smackdown game, the wrestling systems either take one step forward or two steps backward.

Here Comes the Pain was the standout title in the series, achieving an almost perfect mix of speedy gameplay and technical move sets. Arguably, the best feature of this game was the main Season Mode, which introduced multi-year storylines that would change depending on which belts you retained in your career.

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15: Guilty Gear X2, 2003 [PS2]

If every fighting game has a distinct personality, the Guilty Gear series is the kid that sits in the very back of the classroom wearing leather jackets with metal spikes, rocking out to hardcore metal.

Building on the first game's success, Guilty Gear X2 sported a bigger roster, a bolder soundtrack and the series' trademark graphics that looked extraordinarily slick for a 2D fighting game. Guilty Gear X2 just oozed style. In fact, the game was so good, it was released three different times in no less than three years.

NEXT PAGE: Capcom vs SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

14: Capcom vs SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium, 2001 [PS2]

Capcom vs SNK 2 is widely considered the ultimate fighting game for fans of those retro, old school games that used to dominate the arcade scene.

Not only was the lineup from Capcom vs SNK more than doubled with 40 plus characters in the mix, but the new 'Groove' and 'Ratio' systems also added a lot of variety to each fight.

If you wanted to boast your fighting skills with a 3-on-1 match, this game really let you put your money where your mouth was. Hey, where else can you pit Ryu against Rock Howard?

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13: Super Smash Brothers Brawl, 2008 [Wii]

Super Smash Bros Brawl wasn't just a dream match sequel to Smash Melee, but it was the reason that several people renewed their hunt for the still elusive Nintendo Wii.

Finally extending past the classic Nintendo canon, Super Smash Bros. Brawl also had huge cameo appearances from Konami's Solid Snake and Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, which just made the 35 character roster even bigger news.

Whether you loved or hated the new Smash Ball, this new Super Smash title was still a huge draw for Nintendo fans.

NEXT PAGE: Killer Instinct and X-Men vs Street Fighter

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

12: Killer Instinct, 1994 [ARC]

Even though the Super Nintendo launch didn't quite live up to the hype, the original arcade version of Killer Instinct was one of those games that gamers saved their pennies for.

Midway and Rare made a huge impact with this unique and addictive fighting game, which was so popular that it created its own gaming in-jokes. Ultra Combos, Combo Breakers and No Mercy moves were just a few of the game's elements that kept people coming back for more - if any game needs a remake, Killer Instinct is overdue.

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11: X-Men vs Street Fighter, 1996 [ARC]

Capcom had already had massive successes with X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes, but no one could have anticipated the huge impact that would be created when elements in these titles were mixed together in what would be the first of many 'vs' games.

What made the game even better the inclusion of the two-on-two tag team system that allowed players to mix and match characters from Street Fighter and X-Men, meaning that for the very first time, you could pair the likes of Rogue and Cammy to take on huge heavyweight beasts like Zangief and the Juggernaut.

NEXT PAGE: Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

10: Power Stone, 1999 [DC]

Power Stone was probably the first video game that let players not only fight in a full 3D arena, but they could do so with up to four people joining in on the fun. The Dreamcast port was a picture perfect copy of the arcade game, which made it a serious competitor to Super Smash Bros.

Interestingly enough, the titular Power Stone had a 'Smash Ball' like concept that actually worked really well with the gameplay, which helped in creating even more memorable on-screen chaos.

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9: Mortal Kombat II, 1994 [GEN, SNES]

Mortal Kombat II was one bloody game, and it was made even better by the fact that console version didn't need any stinking codes in order to unlock the bloodshed.

If you wanted gore, this game gave it to you with no red tape attached. Although this MK title was ported to almost every system that existed, the SNES and Genesis versions packed an load of Easter Eggs and special cheats that kept us coming back for more.

NEXT PAGE: Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the last 20 years.

8: Street Fighter III: Third Strike, 2000 [DC]

When Street Fighter fans want to get technical, they get this game to prove their point. Coming into port after a long list of remakes, Street Fighter III was the first completely new game to hit the series main cannon in ages. Even better, the 2D animation was vastly improved, and so fluid that it made grown men weep.

Even though a lot of SFII's lineup was missing, Third Strike's debut in 1999 hit the perfect number of newcomers and veterans with Chun-Li (massive, silky thighs included), Makoto, Q and more. Of course, new stages, endings and tweaked combat just added to the perfection, which is why many people refer to Third Strike as the best 2D fighter around.

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7: Virtua Fighter 5, 2007 [360, PS3]

If Street Fighter III was one of history's most technical 2D fighters, Virtua Fighter 5 was its 3D equivalent. For once thing, the graphics were insane. Keep in mind, arcade graphics in fighting titles are usually powered by magic and witchcraft, so it was a huge surprise to see that the PS3 and X360 ports of Virtua Fighter 5 were just as good as the original product.

Added with a criminally robust online tournament system via Xbox Live, you could actually bring the arcade home and save your precious quarters, and for a short time, nothing in life mattered but getting your chosen characters to 10th Dan.

NEXT PAGE: Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros. Melee

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

6: Street Fighter IV, 2009 [360, PS3]

Many fans thought the idea of another 3D Street Fighter was blasphemy, and judging by the less-than-popular EX series, the pitchforks and torches had every right to go up.

Luckily, Yoshinori Ono has some of the biggest brass balls on the planet, because Street Fighter IV turned out to be everything SFII should've been and everything that SFIII wasn't.

Even though the graphics were crafted in glorious 3D, the gameplay remained faithful to the memory of SFII's addictive 2D combat. In fact, it was so faithful that people who hadn't picked up a Street Fighter game in 15 years still found themselves right at home.

Games downloads and forum

5: Super Smash Bros Melee, 2001 [GC]

The Nintendo GameCube isn't something that you'll see at too many fighting game tournaments. However, 2001 was the year that you needed this system, especially if you wanted to play the best damn Nintendo fighting game yet.

Super Smash Melee is the GameCube's best selling game, and with a mountain full of characters, tons of modes and boss battle scenarios, as well as those nostalgic Trophies that you could collect, fans of any Nintendo series got everything they wanted from this masterpiece.

Oh, and as a side note, just make sure you listen to the music in this game, too. It's almost as good as the voice acting, which brings the characters to life in awesome detail.

NEXT PAGE: Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

4: Marvel vs Capcom 2, 2000 [DC]

Spider-Man versus the Hulk: Been there. Wolverine taking on Juggernaut: Done that. Mega Man teaming up with Captain Commando and Jill Valentine to clash fists against Venom, Doctor Doom and the Sentinel?

Back up. Yes, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 can legitimately called the most insane mash-up of fighting game characters in mankind's short history, and we're damn glad that it's being released on PS3 and X360.

Seriously, short of an arcade cabinet, you can't find this thing on home consoles anymore, so the new downloadable version of this badass brawler is going to blow the internet up.

Games downloads and forum

3: Tekken 3, 1998 [PS]

It's one thing for fighters to perform in 3D, but doing it right is something else entirely. Even after all these years, Tekken 3 is still a golden standard for 3D combat, which is proven by the fact that the gameplay in the Tekken series hasn't changed much from the third installment (nor has it needed to).

Heck, that's just a testament to how good this fighter is, especially considering the wide range of characters. Also, Tekken 3 made it tactically sound to actually use the 3D movement in the game, letting players roll and sidestep away from attacks with ease, use knockdowns, escape from tackles and stuns, juggle opponents in mid-air, and chain together throws.

Plus, you could play a special beach ball mode. And it was awesome.

NEXT PAGE: Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo


We've rounded up the 20 best fighting games that were released between 1998 and 2008. From hip-hop brawlers to free-for-all melees, these titles are the most important fighting games to hit the industry in the past 20 years.

2: Soul Calibur, 1999 [DC]

Weapons combat in fighting games owes everything to Soul Calibur. Not only was this the most popular game on the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast, but also the graphical might of Soul Calibur was second only to the gameplay, where simple-to-learn but hard-to-master swordplay proved to be wildly innovative.

Thanks to this game, we've been treated to a long list of awesome sequels, but Soul Calibur laid a real groundwork for fast, powerful 3D combat that had literally no flaws, as well as some of the most jaw-dropping visuals seen on any home video game system to date. Besides, who could imagine a world without Taki, Ivy Valentine, and good ol' Sophitia? We don't want to live in that world.

1: Street Fighter II Turbo, 1993 [SNES]

In the 1990s, nothing was as popular was Street Fighter. The franchise had movies, cartoon shows, and action figures that looked horribly deformed when compared against the real Street Fighter crew.

But that entire issue aside, the base of this phenomenon, Street Fighter II, was so hot that it was lighting people on fire. Street Fighter II Turbo may have been the third remake in the SFII lineup, but it had all the features that hardcore players wanted.

Now, the game's speed could be cranked up to 11, new artwork had been carried over from ground-breaking Champion Edition (as well as the ability to pick the same player), the Shadaloo bosses were still playable and new moves were added to the mix. Even Chun Li had a freaking fireball.

  1. These were the best games between 1989 and 2009
  2. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and Def Jam: Fight For NY
  3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and Guilty Gear X2
  4. Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium and Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  5. Killer Instinct and X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  6. Power Stone and Mortal Kombat II
  7. Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Virtua Fighter 5
  8. Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Bros Melee
  9. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tekken 3
  10. Soul Calibur and Street Fighter II Turbo