12 Forgotten Fighting Game Franchises Source: YouTube

Every year the world’s top fighting game players gather to battle for supremacy at the annual Evolution Championship Series (EVO for short). And while fans clamor to see the best of the best face off in all the long-standing competitive fighters like Street Fighter, Smash Bros., and Mortal Kombat, it’s got us thinking about all those fighting franchises that have fallen along the way. Sure, most of the games on this list would likely seem pretty tame and clunky when compared to the flashy fighters in circulation today, but many of them, at one time or another, represented the pinnacle of console and arcade gaming. And regardless of how well some of them have aged, you’ll probably want to dust off your old fight stick after you recognize a few treasures that have long since retired from the forefront of fighting games.

12. Clayfighter

Even though Clayfighter might not have been the biggest breakthrough for the fighting genre, its wacky character designs and cool claymation style made it a pretty fun oddity. It was always meant to be more of a cheeky parody of traditional fighters than it was a serious game (where else would you get the chance to see Santa Claus get beat up by a fat Elvis impersonator?), and for that it will always have a special place in hour hearts.

After ClayFighter 63 1/3 was delayed for what seemed like an eternity, it eventually came out and disappointed a lot of fans who were expecting something a little better from a Nintendo 64 title. And despite the more polished ClayFighter: Sculptor’s Cut which came out as a Blockbuster exclusive rental, the series had lost a lot of traction. There were even plans to release an updated version for the WiiWare a few years ago, but that fell through likely due to lack of interest. Source:

11. Eternal Champions

When Eternal Champions first hit the Genesis back in 1993 it was a pretty big deal. The game had a sweet comic book look and cool story about a group of “eternal champions” that were hand picked from different time periods and brought together to restore balance to the universe. Of course, that balance can only be restored through a tournament of brutal one-on-one combat.

Honestly, Eternal Champions wasn’t even very good. The hype surrounding the game was just so big that everyone figured they had to say it was good to justify the $50 they paid for it. The sequel, Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side and subsequent spinoffs Chicago Syndicate and X-Perts didn’t fair much better. In the end Sega decided to just drop the franchise to help make room for the Virtua Fighter games. Source: YouTube

10. Mace: The Dark Age

Any fighting game fan who owned a Nintendo 64 can probably remember renting Mace: The Dark Age from their local video store at one point or another. The game was developed by Atari and looked a little like a cross between Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur. It featured a bunch of medieval warriors fighting for control over the legendary Mace of Tanis which imbues its wielder with immeasurable power. There were also plenty of cool characters to choose from including a wicked executioner, a hell-knight, a zombie crusader, and a steampunk dwarf.

Although the game looked fantastic it never really caught on, and, since it was only ever ported to the Nintendo 64, a system that was never known for its stellar fighting games, Mace: The Dark Age was never heard from again. Source:

9. Time Killers

Everyone always talks about the over-the-top gore and brutal finishing moves from the Mortal Kombat games but no one ever seems to remember this other violent 2D fighter that came out around the same time.

The story of Time Killers involved fighters from across history gathering together to battle it out for the chance to become an immortal god. Players are able to attack using all four of their characters limbs, which is useful considering that at any time both your arms can be cut off and you’ll be left with no method of attacking other than pitiful kicks and headbutts.

Although the arcade version was a lot of fun, the only console port was a crumby version for Sega Genesis that had muddy graphics and awful controls. Maybe that explains why Time Killers seemed to abruptly disappear from gamers’ memories. Source: YouTube

8. Fighting Vipers

A lot of people might consider Fighting Vipers to be nothing more than a Virtua Fighter clone, but in a lot of ways it was actually better. The thing that really set Fighting Vipers apart was the inclusion of armor and juggling combos. By using the walls to your advantage, you could strategically bounce your opponent off them and rack up some serious air combos. The armor system also added another level of strategy to the game because it meant skilled players could find ways to effectively block and counter opponents who thought they could win just by charging in and mashing buttons. The Sega Saturn version of the game was also one of the first fighters to include playback and training modes so you could actually take the time to learn all a characters moves and get better with them—something that’s become standard in nearly all competitive fighting games since. Source:

7. Bloody Roar

If you were ever a fan of the Animorphs series of books, then chances are you were all over Bloody Roar when it was around. This game pretty much invented “beast mode” by giving players the awesome ability to transform their character into animal form right in the middle of battle. Though the regular combat is still solid, once you “unleash the furry” the fighting becomes a total blast as you rip, slash and stomp your opponents using teeth, claws, or even giant bunny feet.

Bloody Roar was always a game that should have been much more popular than it was. It just was never able to get out of the shadow of less over-the-top and more technically sound 3D fighters like Tekken and Soul Calibur. Source: YouTube

6. Primal Rage

If you take Mortal Kombat and replace all the fighters with dinosaurs and giant primates, you’ll have a pretty good impression of what Primal Rage is all about. Although the controls and fight mechanics were pretty basic, this is the only game where each playable character came with their own faithful following of little human worshippers who you could devour mid-match for a quick health boost. And let’s not forget those hilariously awesome fatalities where you can do things like literally punch your opponents brain out, or urinate acid on their corpse until there’s nothing left but a steaming pile of bones. Source:

5. Battle Arena Toshinden

After the success of Sega’s Virtua Fighter games a lot of developers started jumping on the 3D fighter bandwagon. Battle Arena Toshinden was Tamsoft’s entry into the category and it was revolutionary for being the first fighting game to feature a definitive side step move that allowed players to dodge projectile attacks and effectively counter.

The fan favorite in the series was Battle Arena Toshinden 3. In addition to a massive roster of characters, Toshinden 3 had vastly improved weapon combat mechanics and precise move execution. Unfortunately, by the time Toshinden 4 rolled out on the Playstation 1, the gameplay and graphics couldn’t quite measure up to the emerging Soul Calibur franchise, which eventually rose to become the undisputed champion of the 3D weapon-based fighters. Source:

4. Saturday Night Slam Masters

A number of Capcom games feature overlapping characters. For example, there’s Sakura who appears in Rival Schools, and then you’ve got Final Fight‘s Guy and Cody who keep popping up Street Fighter games. Eventually someone came up with the idea of making a game featuring retired wrestler and Final Fight mayor Mike Haggar and that’s how we got Saturday Night Slam Masters. The game was actually quite a bit of fun and played a lot like a royal rumble version of Final Fight. One of the best features was a game mode called tag team tornado which essentially turned things into a four-player smackdown.

Sadly, rather than upping the ante with the sequel, the gameplay for Ring of Destruction – Slam Masters 2 seemed to take a step back and feature only one-on-one combat that felt very derivative of Street Fighter. Fans would probably be doing back flips off the top rope if Capcom were to bring this series back and include some of the other characters from their wrestling roster like Zangief, Mika, Hugo, Poison, El Fuerte and Hakan. Source:

3. King of the Monsters

The concept of this game is brilliant, with giant monsters fighting it out in a huge city that serves as their personal wrestling ring—complete with electric power lines that act like ring ropes to keep the action contained. The creatures even perform classic wrestling moves like body slams and pile drivers that can be used to wear health bars down before going in for the three-second pin.

We can’t tell you how satisfying it is to stomp your way through a crowded city smashing bridges and picking up buildings to use as weapons against your equally monstrous opponents. It’s really a mystery why SNK has never rebooted this awesome franchise, especially with the popularity of Kaiju movies like Pacific Rim and Godzilla making a comeback. Perhaps it has something to do with the appearance of playable characters that are obvious copyright infringements of King Kong and Ultraman.

Although SNK did make a King of the Monsters sequel shortly after the release of the first game, it was a side-scrolling brawler and nowhere near as much fun as the original fighter. Source:

2. Bushido Blade

At a time when fighting games seemed to be constantly one upping each other with an ever-increasing assortment of superhuman power-ups and jazzy magic attacks, Bushido Blade took its gameplay in a much more realistic direction. Rather than following tradition and displaying the health bars of each player on screen, Bushido Blade gives you no combat info. Striking an opponent on the arm can render them unable to use their weapon, while a cut to the leg can leave one with severely hindered mobility. And, with the right approach, a well-placed strike to the head or neck can end a match in an instant.

Once you learn that you need to exercise a little caution and not just charge in swinging wildly all the time, defeating opponents in Bushido Blade becomes an extremely fun and gratifying experience. Source: YouTube

1. Power Stone

Not only was Power Stone one of the Sega Dreamcast’s best titles, it’s one of the finest party experiences in all of gaming. This inventive fighter merges conventional fight mechanics with an interactive 3D environment where random items constantly drop out of the sky and can be used to give you an advantage in battle. Though most of the characters handled more or less the same on the outset (save for differences in speed and strength), the really fun part was being the first to collect three power stones and transform into a suped-up version of your character complete with a full range of devastating new attacks.

The sequel was especially chaotic with the addition of four-player matches and the introduction of new stages with constantly changing features like usable turrets and traps that could be set off. If Capcom ever decides to resurrect the series, think of how amazing it would be if they included some their other popular characters like Mega Man, Strider or Phoenix Wright. No one’s really holding their breath, but we’re never going to stop dreaming. Source: YouTube

Wes Walcott

Wes Walcott

Wes is a devourer of media. He ravenously consumes podcasts, books, and TV shows with seemingly no regard for review scores or subject matter. If encountered in the wild, Wes is said to respond positively to verbal cues relating to X-Men or the SNES. The subject can be easily captured and tamed using Transformers or Gundam models.