The fighting game genre was loved in the arcades in the 80s and 90s, and it seemed like every other title that was released involved a plot where some nefarious criminal needed to be taught a lesson.
So, when coin-op giants Sega released their third major console, the Genesis, in 1989, it was the perfect platform to bring those games into the home. The company’s first 16-bit home console was a huge success, delivering gamers a truly authentic arcade experience. It was reflected in the sales as almost 30million units were sold. The games flew off the shelves just as quick, and the love of the beat ’em up continued right through the Genesis generation. Five of the top ten selling games of all time on the system were from the genre, highlighting how important those fighting titles were for the Genesis.
However, while that handful was notable, others didn’t have as much commercial success but were revered by gamers. So we’ve compiled our list of the best fighting games that were released for the console.
Mortal Kombat was so brutal that it caused other game console manufacturers to offer a watered-down version to consumers. However, the Genesis didn’t suffer the same fate as the whole arcade experience did make it into the home, albeit with a rating of ‘M’ from the ESRB. With vivid red blood flying across the screen when the assailants struck each other and ‘fatality’ finishing moves just as savage as it sounds, the one v one battles have gone down in legend with gamers.
Streets of Rage 2
This side-scrolling beat ’em up is one of the best titles released on the Genesis, and it’s loved to this day, with versions being released in the last few years as an indication of its lasting legacy. Two players could team up to battle on the streets of Wood Oak City to free the neighborhood of Mr. X and his henchmen. The music package, graphics, and control system all came together to make a game worthy of the arcades, and it had nods to other titles in the genre and movies. It’s a classic for all the right reasons.
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
This game wasn’t met with open arms so much in the U.S. but in Europe, it was loved. It’s a classic title that slipped by people and was released around the time of the biopic of the much-loved martial artist. Bruce Lee was a popular character for gamers before this title’s release; he’d been immortalized in 8-bit on home computers, with Bruce Lee (the game) being first released in 1984. After that, appeared on the Genesis, and his legend lives on today in gaming. There’s an online slot from Foxy Bingo titled Bruce Lee, which also features the fighter’s iconic imagery. He is front and central to that title, and he’s appeared as a side character in many others. He also appeared in the EA Sports UFC series, but it’s this Genesis title that features the great fighter that is still a massively underrated title.
This boxing title is excellent, and it features legendary fighters like Joe Frazier, Rocky Marciano, and Muhammad Ali with digitized versions of their trademark taunts, quotes, and more. It was compatible with the six-button controller released with Street Fighter II and allowed for more attacking options for the player. Boxing games were largely cartoony in style at this point, so Greatest Heavyweights was not only one of the better games, but it was one of the most visually authentic to the sport too.