I've been spending a lot of time in Quora, a questions and answer site. While it initially sounds a lot like Stack Exchange, the Quora community makes it feel very different. It probably also has something to do with the way the feed works, which gives it the air of a social media site. Anyway, I have decided to repost some of my content here, as there's no telling if for some reason Quora decides to delete or change the content and I don't want to lose it.
The following is my opinion only.
As that list is written, my choice for best is Virtua Fighter easily. Let’s compare:
Virtua Fighter was a revelation at the time. Great, smooth graphics (arcade version; the Saturn VF had many graphical glitches) and possibly the first interactive real time rendering of human characters. Easy, intuitive controls that nonetheless allowed a plethora of options. Classic character design that helps the player identify the differing fighting styles to help choose a favorite. The 3D arena implementation was a bit of a disappointment as I did not enjoy ring outs.
Tekken is a close second, but it is simply not that intuitive to play and just felt oddly clunky. Character design was a big hit or miss, though its textured polygons looked quite good for the time. You could see the potential, but I don’t think that it captured magic with its first installment. The 3D arena implementation was odd, what’s with the endless fighting arena.
Dead or Alive is an odd creature. The breast bouncing effect was just hilarious and definitely not sexy, but it played very similarly to Virtua Fighter, which worked in its favor. Like Tekken, the pieces are there for a great game but it doesn’t fully gel together. The countering system was just too easily abused for its own good, but the danger zone concept was wonderful and possibly my favorite implementation of the 3D arena.
Mortal Kombat hasn’t aged well. The first release was an interesting counter to Street Fighter II that was fun to play, but the lack of depth soon became apparent. Great start to an American fighting game franchise though, of which there are very few and still not a bad play.
Street Fighter has aged far worse than Mortal Kombat. It’s hard to believe that this game has spawned such a successful franchise as just about everything about its gameplay has aged so terribly. Anyway, I would only recommend playing this game for historical reasons.
Of course, that’s just the individual first installments. If I were to compare the series, my pick for the best is easily Street Fighter. Here’s why:
Of all those series, not all of them have evolved comparably. Virtua Fighter, which started with a bang is a shell of its former self. Its characters have become guest characters in Dead or Alive and Sega has no clue on how to continue the series. RIP Virtual Fighter. Virtua Fighter 2 was an amazing game; easily my favorite 3D fighter, but it has never been given a proper follow-up as I don’t feel that the other sequels capture its wonderful design. That’s not to say that they are bad games. They’re not; they just don’t make them anymore, and if they do another one, there are certain repetitive issues that they need to work on.
Oh poor Tekken. I have no idea what’s happened to this series. The first game had glimpses of genius and the first two sequels certainly improved the title. However, part 3 introduced a certain level of odd humor that the series hasn’t recovered from. It just kept getting campier and campier, introducing more and more oddball characters and convoluting the rules as it went along. I consider Tekken Tag Tournament as the epitome of the series and it’s gone downhill from there.
Dead or Alive understands its place in the world. The counter system has been tamed and got tweaks with every installment. They have worked on the danger zone concept until they have pretty much captured the epitome of what a fighting arena can be. This series has quite simply mastered the art of offering fun playing environments that don’t thrash the balance. The girls have become more realistic, toning down their exaggerated figures yet becoming more graceful and beautiful. Many gamers still give this series a wide berth. That’s their loss IMO.
Mortal Kombat is possibly the least consistent series. Part 2 was lots and lots of fun. To heck with the balance; it was just great! Part 3 was also fun, but the deterioration began. Then came the slew of sequels that almost ran this series into the ground. However, there was magic here, and it all returned with Mortal Kombat on Xbox 360 and PS3. The latest releases, Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat XLdefinitely know what they’re doing. Not only did they fix the gameplay issues and made the base fighting engine much more enjoyable than it used to be, they introduced what is simply the best single player offering of any fighting game title mentioned in this topic (personally, I think Arc System Works offers comparable single player experiences, but their games are not mentioned here). All around a great revival of a series that almost disappeared. Let’s hope they keep it up!
Street Fighter, dear Street Fighter. Let’s all forget your first release; it was just an interesting footnote in the history of a franchise that truly started with its sequel:Street Fighter II. What a game! It still plays great! Very nice try at balancing with a cast of 8 asymmetric characters. It has also spawned an insane amount of great playing and great looking sequels, prequels and sidequels(?). Staying mostly 2D with hand drawn artwork as even its old installments still tend to look good (the EX Plus Alpha titles have graphics that have aged about as gracefully as those of the older Tekken’s though, but these are not hand drawn). Its latest release had trouble because of poor single player content but its balance is still spot on! In fact, I consider Street Fighter V an interesting case study in what gamers really care for. As a community, we usually say that gameplay is king, yet when provided with what is possibly the best distillment of gameplay out there, many were instead proclaiming that content is king. Interesting debate for another post.
Anyway, excuse the long post. I am passionate about my fighting games :)