7 fighting games that should make an esports comeback

by Robin Mosley

The news that Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown would become an esports-focused game after Sega teased a Virtual Fighter x esports project last year surely got fans excited. By May 2021, we all were able to see a YouTube trailer with sharper graphics that reintroduced characters to new and old audiences.

Virtua Fighter 5 now has online competitive features as a central part of its game. There’s new tournaments and “round-robin style League Matches, private rooms supporting up to 16 players and an entirely new room UI improving communication between players …” according to Sega’s chief producer Seiji Aoki.

This reimagining of such a classic game made it clear that other older fighting games might have a similar opportunity for a comeback with either updated graphics, an expanded roster or built-in competitive play features. While it’s clear some fighting games will continue to be relevant no matter how old, reintroducing classics to newer consoles is a must.

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Here are 7 fighting games that deserve the Virtua Fighter 5 treatment.

Pocket Fighter

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Also known as Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, Pocket Fighter came out on PlayStation in 1997 as a children’s fighting game. All of the characters were small-sized versions of themselves, and when they were hit, gems rather than blood popped out of their bodies. It was cutesy, but you still needed some skill to know how to play the game. It wasn’t as easy as one would think just because it was for “kids,” but it definitely had the right look to entice novice players to pick it up.

This title really just needs a re-release on a newer console with built in competitive features, but there’s nothing wrong with expanding the roster either. It was a quality game that deserves another go.

Bloody Roar

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It has been 17 years since Bloody Roar 4 came out on PlayStation 2. It was the fifth and final game of the series, but truthfully, this game needs a serious revisit. Fans should have the opportunity to experience the original in all of its glory. With characters turning from human to their creature forms, or to a “Zoanthrope,” they could unleash powerful attacks. This title definitely would need an overhaul on the graphics, but would be the perfect place to start for a revival of the series.

Primal Rage

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Who could forget the post-apocalyptic fighting game, Primal Rage? Released by Atari Games in arcades in 1994, this game allowed players to choose from seven fighters like Diablo and Blizzard (arguably the most recognized), and fight using special moves. Ever the bloody game, the mechanics were fairly simple and had such a charm to them because of the strangeness of it all, like eating your worshippers or the claymation-esque design.

Revisiting this game (keeping the characters all dinos/animals) would be worth it especially because Primal Rage II got canceled almost three decades ago. Updated graphics, music and an expanded roster would be great for players.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2

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All right, it’s clear that the addition of this game on this list might be strange, but Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is one of, if not the best fighting games ever released. It deserves a re-release on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Though some could argue for an expanded roster, this game already had so many characters to choose from that really all this game needs is a release date.

What made this game so great wasn’t just the music and the fighting mechanics, it was also that you could truly mix and match fighting styles to tackle anyone’s main characters. Also, for newbies who’ve never played this game, it offers them the opportunity to obviously try it, but also the introduction to characters they might have never heard of otherwise.

Yes, Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 already happened, but let’s do it again, and soon.

Rival Schools

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Go ahead and bring this popular game back! Rival Schools came out on the PlayStation in 1998 and has some of the best fighting game music ever. Seriously, the music itself is worth the play, but the game was incredible. Even though we have the popular Akira Kazama from Rival Schools in Street Fighter V, it would be great to have a re-release of this game with all new graphics.

Although this game is considered the “cousin” or closely related family member to the Street Fighter series (it’s set in the same universe), it is still a game that can stand on its own.

Bushido Blade

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This very simple fighting game had only a few characters, but you had the ability to choose from several weapons. There was minimal music, but the ambience was great especially with the addition of natural sounds like water and birds, which made the gameplay very intense.

With one strike, it would be over for your opponent, so it was unlike many other fighting games where depleting the health bar was necessary to win. While Bushido Blade 2 and Kengo: Master of Bushido came out on PlayStation and PlayStation 2, the original is due for an upgrade in graphics. From a weapons system that focused on realistic weights to the blocking strategy, this game was truly unique.

Def Jam: Fight for NY

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Anyone who's played this game and loved it will understand why this one is on the list. Though Def Jam: Fight for NY seems like an out-there choice, it really was magical with its ability to combine hip-hop with the fighting game genre.

You had the option to play as any of the 60 or so players, including real rappers signed to Def Jam, and the game allowed players to choose their fighting style. More than anything, this game expanded on the wrestling style from Def Jam Vendetta and made it even better with the environment being a major part of the fighting mechanics.

It was unapologetically Black and hip-hop, and it was a great game. Although it might be difficult to remake if there are contractual issues, making a new one with all new characters from the brand could be just as good.

Lead image credit: Sony/Sega

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