The Brief History of Fighting Games (1970s to Present)

The fighting game genre has been a staple in the world of video games for decades. From classics like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat to modern hits like Tekken and Super Smash Bros., fighting games have always had a special place in the hearts of gamers. But how did this beloved genre come to be? In this article, we’ll explore the history of fighting games, from 1970s to the present day.

History of Fighting Games

Popular Genre in the History of Fighting Games

1) The Kung-Fu Craze of the 1970s

The 1970s were a time of great cultural change and one of the biggest crazes of the era was the popularity of kung-fu movies. These films, which were imported from Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, featured fast-paced action and impressive martial arts moves. Many young people were inspired by these films and wanted to learn kung-fu themselves. This led to the rise of martial arts schools and a growing interest in martial arts in general.

History of Fighting Games

2) The First Fighters

In 1976, a company called Taito released a game called “Heavyweight Champ,” which is considered by many to be the first fighting game. The game was a simple boxing game, but it set the stage for future fighting games. In 1984, the game “Karate Champ” was released, which introduced the concept of one-on-one fighting games. The game featured two fighters facing off against each other in a karate match, and players had to use a joystick and buttons to perform different moves.

History of Fighting Games

3) Enter the Franchise

The release of “Street Fighter II” in 1991 changed the fighting game genre forever. The game introduced a cast of colorful characters, each with their own unique fighting styles and special moves. The game also introduced the concept of combo attacks, which allowed players to string together multiple moves to create devastating attacks. “Street Fighter II” was a massive success, and it spawned a franchise that continues to this day.

Other franchises soon followed, including “Mortal Kombat,” which introduced the concept of “fatalities,” special finishing moves that allowed players to kill their opponents in gruesome ways. The “Tekken” series introduced 3D graphics and a unique fighting system that allowed players to move around in a 3D space.

History of Fighting Games

4) Decline and Rebirth (2000 and Beyond)

By the late 1990s, the fighting game genre had become oversaturated, and many gamers were getting tired of the same old formula. The genre began to decline, and many companies stopped producing fighting games altogether.

However, the genre experienced a rebirth in the early 2000s with the release of “Marvel vs. Capcom 2” and “Super Smash Bros. Melee.” These games introduced new gameplay mechanics and attracted a new generation of gamers.

Today, the fighting game genre is stronger than ever, with franchises like “Street Fighter,” “Mortal Kombat,” and “Tekken” still going strong. Newer franchises like “Dragon Ball FighterZ” and “Injustice” have also become popular with gamers.

History of Fighting Games

5) Shadow Fight Series and More

While the history of the fighting game genre is undoubtedly rich and diverse, it’s worth highlighting one of the newer additions to the genre: the Shadow Fight series. Developed by Nekki, the series stands out for its unique blend of fighting game mechanics and role-playing game elements.

The Shadow Fight series debuted in 2011 with the release of the first game in the series, which was a Facebook game. Since then, the series has grown in popularity and acclaim with the release of several sequels across multiple platforms, including PC, mobile, and Nintendo Switch.

The series’ signature mechanic is its use of shadows, which serve as the primary visual element in the game. Players control a shadow fighter who must battle other shadow fighters to progress through the game’s story. The game’s combat system emphasizes timing and precision, with players having to carefully time their attacks and blocks to defeat their opponents.

In addition to its combat system, the Shadow Fight series also features a robust leveling system that allows players to customize their fighters with new weapons, armor, and abilities. This RPG-style progression adds a new layer of depth to the series, making it stand out from other fighting games in the genre.

What is Shadow Fight?


The history of fighting games is a rich and fascinating one, with many twists and turns along the way. From the kung-fu craze of the 1970s to the modern-day esports tournaments, fighting games have come a long way. While the genre has had its ups and downs over the years, it remains a beloved part of the video game industry, and it will likely continue to entertain gamers for many years to come. With new games like the Shadow Fight series bringing fresh and exciting ideas to the genre, it’s clear that the fighting game genre will continue to thrive for years to come.

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