1. Power Stone
Powerstone 1 and 2 were released on the Dreamcast and in Arcades in the early 2000′s, there are few fighting games in my opinion that can top this wonderous bit of design. The Power Stone series is fun and simple, those are the biggest selling point of the series. Each character has their basic design but once they have collected a few gems they transform into a super version of themselves, the design makes you feel like you’re watching a Saturday morning cartoon, as soon as the powered up versions appear you definitely are. Wang Tang for example goes all Dragon Ball Z whilst Gunrock, a beef cake of a gentleman, turns into a giant rock monster for his super move.
There are no button combos in this game, there’s a couple of attack and then everything else is based on the luck of the draw as to what weapons you pick out of crates, vases and statues on the level. Any weapons you pick up can be mixed together in one of the sub menu’s unlocking new weapons in the game. This was before most people had the internet so there was a lot of sacrificing of good items to see if the combination of Giant Tuna and Umbrella did anything. Rubbing toghther a gun and a bomb creates a bazooka, a kitten and a leg trap creates a panther and finally an umbrella and toy hammer create a massive axe for you to wield. With four player action and a simple yet well polished design Powerstone 1 and 2 are great games that were majorly overlooked by most due to it only appearing on the Dreamcast and later the PSP.
2. Rival Schools [And Rival Schools 2]
Rival Schools: United By Fate was the first fighting game I was actually good at, I had played Street Fighter II since the early 90′s but Rival Schools was the first to grab me by the nuts and flip me twelve times to get my attention. Featuring a huge cast of 20 odd characters, none of which were just reskins. The control set was simpler than it’s Capcom brethren mainly just using a four button set up. Combos, specials and tag team moves were all easy to pull off but it was the timing that mattered. Capcom’s 3D fighters have always been pretty weak, the Street Fighter EX stuff especially was lacking in every way, but having seemingly taken a number of tips from Namco Capcom produced something that was just as good, if not better than Tekken.
Featuring a story based around corrupt teachers and schools the cast was made up of faculties and students from various education institutes in Japan and had them all knocking seven shades out of each other. Each school had its theme, the sporty school, the rough school and the ‘hard knocks’ schools all put out a team of 3 or 4 members. The story was in-depth, something rare for fighting games, and had some great Anime intro’s and outros. If you can find a copy for the PSone or the Dreamcast then play it! Though if you are looking for the sequel on Dreamcast then expect to pay over £60 ($90ish).
3. Marvel Vs Capcom
I shouldn’t need to explain why this is awesome but I will. Capcom has a huge back catalogue of games, just look through this list to see a handful, the problem is they have so many franchises that a lot of great characters fall by the side whilst Capcom concentrates on another exo-suit space shooter game like Lost Planet. Even someone like Mega-Man is under utilised these days so breaking out the classics for a game like Marvel Vs Capcom just excites every gaming fan boy. Then throw into the mix Marvel, a company with hundreds of obscure but great characters and you’re on track for the ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny.
And that’s just it, this whole series of Marvel Vs Capcom is fan service, all those obscure, and famous, characters from the two powerhouses coming together to be pasted on top of a Capcom solid move system of Quarter Circle Forward Punch to do something awesome. Deadpool for the win.
4. Saturday Night Slam Masters
Released in 1993 in the arcades and home consoles a year later Saturday Night Slam Masters is what all wrestling games should be. Early WWF games like Wresltmania had a similar game style of fighter/brawler but with Capcom’s finesse at the genre this game really stood out. It’s even better when you see character names like Biff Slamkovich, Jumbo Flapjack and Mike Haggar, yes that Mike Haggar, the moustached Mayor from Final Fight.
With 4 players in the arcade version this was a great machine and game that had so much going for it. The sequel, Ring of Destruction, upped everything from the original, art, control set and even had Zangief stood in the audience watching. If you’ve haven’t played this then dig out a copy from somewhere and get some friends round to try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Darkstalkers has always been my bit on the side, my dirty little secret. I’m not world class at Street Fighter but I can hold my own and more importantly I love playing it. Darkstalkers, for some reason, deservedly treats me like an absolute noob, I can’t do anything in that game, nothing works for me and nothing makes sense, but I still enjoy playing it. The characters like Anakaris, in the screenshot, Demitri are great fun to play as. Felicia and Morrigan are classic characters, and despite them being dressed like 18 year olds at Halloween are good fighters, it’s just a shame that they are designed that way as it means that the game can’t be broken out in polite company. This was Capcom’s attempt at creating a new non-street fighter franchise but the backing just wasn’t there from fans or Capcom itself. a few iterations have been and gone and a large failure of an HD reboot means this one is unlikely to return any time soon.