Fighting Games - a walk down memory lane

5 April 2021

Karate Champ

 The first successful fighting game was Karate Champ, released in 1984 and available in arcades.

 The game took you through a Karate tournament with 11 different opponents of varying skill, which you had to defeat twice before progressing. It was noticeably calmer than today's games, with much less focus on blood and gore.‚Äč 

The Way Of The Exploding Fist

Despite having quite possibly the best name of any video game ever, The Way Of The Exploding Fist was a somewhat quiet game, similar to Karate Champ, which Beam Software released in 1985.

Unlike Karate Champ, The Way Of The Exploding Fist was punishingly challenging. To finish the game, players needed to beat every level twice, and a single loss would send them back to the beginning.

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior

 Released in 1987, Barbarian was similar to Karate champ and The Way Of The Exploding Fist, but with the addition of swords and some extra violence - you could decapitate your opponent to end the round.

Barbarian's promo posters and cover featured scantily clad men and women, which would likely raise a few eyebrows in the current day but was (arguably) era-appropriate. 

Street Fighter I

 While Street Fighter I will always be overshadowed by its sequel, the game helped move the genre into the global spotlight.

Street Fighter I introduced features that designers later included in other fighting games, like six-button controls giving players more move possibilities.

Street Fighter I's most significant contribution to the genre was special attacks, allowing players to launch high damage attacks by pressing buttons in a preset sequence. The developers never publicly released the sequences, so players would have to discover them on their own.  

Mortal Kombat

 While not for the faint-hearted or gore averse gamer, the Mortal Kombat franchise offers an array of hilariously fun games.

Developers originally intended the game to focus on film star Jean Claude Van Damme, but that idea fell through, although the character 'Johnny Cage' is supposedly based on the actor.

Mortal Kombat is similar to other fighting games like Street Fighter, but with some gruesome extra features. Players can perform ruthless murders, called 'fatalities' to kill their opponents in a variety of ways, including pulling their spine out or setting them on fire.

Mortal Kombat has gone from a popular video game to a global media franchise, including arcade and console games, animated films, comics and novels. While the franchise is undeniably successful, the recent games lag a little behind others in the genre.
Mortal Kombat 11 is the fifth most popular fighting esport in 2020. 


The first Tekken game hit the shelves in 1994 and was immediately successful, particularly in Japan and other parts of Asia.

The critical difference between Tekken and most other fighting games is its 3-dimensional gameplay, allowing players to dodge incoming attacks by sidestepping. While some games like Soulcalibur also feature a 3-dimensional fighting system, plenty of series like Street Fighter choose to keep their games in a classic 2-dimensional style.

Tekken maintains a cult following and is the fourth most popular fighting esport in 2020.  

Super Smash Bros

 Released in 2002 by HAL Laboratory, Super Smash Bros is a crossover fighting game franchise, with characters from various Nintendo games like Mario, Pikachu and Donkey Kong.

The controls are much more intuitive than other games in the genre, making the game easier to pick up. The lack of gore and blood also makes the game more kid-friendly.

Soon after Super Smash Bros Melee's release in 2001, the game became a popular esport, with international tournaments regularly carried out. As of 2020, Super Smash Bros is the second most popular esport in the genre. 

Street Fighter 2

 We can't talk about classic fighting games without going on and on about how astounding Street Fighter II was. The iconic game was an immediate success and widely hailed as a genre-defining game. Capcom released the game in 1991, selling 200k arcade units and over 15 million software units worldwide.

The game featured an exciting array of playable characters, including Japanese Karate master Ryu, Russian muscle man Zangief and American boxer M. Bison, aka Balrog. Each character had a different style for players to learn.

Street Fighter II influenced every game in the genre coming after it. Even now, you can see the game's distinctive design features and fighting style in other games in the genre like Tekken, SoulCalibur and Mortal Kombat.

The franchise remains popular today. Street Fighter V is currently the third most popular fighting game esport with tournaments regularly played in Asia and North America. 


The 2D game Brawlhalla was developed by Blue Mammoth Games for game consoles and released in 2014. Unlike its competitors, Brawlhalla is free to play, with nine characters free to use on a weekly rotation, so new players can try out the game without spending a penny. There are now 54 characters, each with a unique fighting style, that can be purchased from the in-game shop.

The game is already dominating the esports scene, taking the number one spot in 2020 and boasting over 50 million players. The 2021 esports season will feature a total prize pool of over $1 million, which is impressive considering the game's only been out for six years.

 While fighting games and esports aren't currently quite as popular as other genres like first-person shooters and MOBAs, they have a hardcore dedicated following. As fans worldwide continue watching and competing in international tournaments, fighting games will always have a place in the gaming and esports worlds.

If you're interested in earning money in gaming tournaments, you can register for the beta below.

Register for the prototype

The next step on our roadmap is to ask for your help. We want to hear from you what works and what does not, which features are more important to you and which ones are lacking. In short, we need your guidance.

To facilitate this, we are creating a beta of our platform and are looking for a thousand pioneers to put it through its paces. We will expect a lot of feedback and suggestions from these pioneers over the next two to three months. However, these pioneers are not volunteers, when we launch each pioneer will have bestowed upon them 10,000 edifyqs.

If you see yourself as a pioneer, register for the prototype and explore the future.

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