PlayStation fighting games
|

Top 10 PlayStation Fighting Games

Last Updated on March 1, 2024

Fighting games are a genre that’s near and dear to me. I’ve competed in Tekken tournaments and have followed the scene for decades. My love of fighting games started on the Playstation, where there are so many titles in the genre it’s hard to keep up. I played some weird stuff when I was a kid, so here are my top 10 favorite fighting games on the PlayStation.

I’ve ordered these titles with my favorite at number one, but I’d recommend any of these to a fighting game fan.

#10 Battle Arena Toshinden

Top 10 PlayStation Fighting Games
Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

Battle Arena Toshinden is a solid 3D fighter with a diverse roster and a banging soundtrack. As this game was a PS1 launch title, the visuals are basic, but the combat is surprisingly responsive. 

While Battle Arena Toshinden is a little light on additional modes, the arcade mode is fun, and Gaia is a terrifying and formidable final boss. When you beat the game with any character, you unlock their ‘Desperation move,’ which is utterly broken, but I spent hours collecting these for everyone.

I couldn’t gel with the roster in future Battle Arena Toshinden games, and the series met an unfortunate end with its 4th installment in 1999. 

#9 Unholy War

Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

It may be a bit of a stretch to put Unholy War on a fighting game list, but it ticks so many of the same boxes, and I’ve always treated it like one. Unholy War is a bizarre game by Crystal Dynamics where multiple characters battle in a fully 3D arena. 

The size of the environment allows for tactics you simply can’t employ in a traditional fighting game, and I love the quirky cast. Razorfane, for example, is a stylish blade-wielding machine, and Prana is a Goblin (pictured).

The Strategy mode even injects tactical elements into the mix as you traverse a tiled board, carefully picking opponents. I’ve never played anything like Unholy War, and it’s a unique title with clever ideas.

#8 Kensei: Sacred Fist 

Top 10 PlayStation Fighting Games
Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

I rented Kensei: Sacred Fist more than any other game from the video store. On the surface, Kensei looks like a generic 3D fighter, but I love the ‘no frills’ grounded approach to combat.

I also enjoy Kensei‘s unique approach to defense. Blocking is done by holding a button, and your fighter bobs and weaves out of the way instead of just holding their arms up. There’s also a bizarre racing mini-game that plays death metal in the background. I’m not kidding.

The roster is unremarkable, which may be why we never got a sequel, but this Konami fighting game has a lot to offer.

#7 Dead or Alive

Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

DOA is famous for its hilariously silly physics, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love old-school Dead or Alive. The first game felt like a competitor to Tekken 2 with speedy, responsive 3D combat. 

Team Ninja created an iconic roster of fighters, and any fighting game fan knows who Kasumi, Hayabusa, and Jann Lee are. The series is dormant now, but the original proved it had staying power in a highly competitive genre.

#6 Bloody Roar 2 

Top 10 PlayStation Fighting Games
Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

Hudson Soft’s Bloody Roar is a unique 3D fighting game where characters can turn into animals like foxes and tigers. It’s as crazy as it sounds, and the combat is visceral and fast-paced. 

I thoroughly enjoy the original, but Bloody Roar 2 improved the formula in every way, boasting better graphics, more characters, and fantastic, tight controls. There’s also a story mode that tells some intriguing and sometimes downright depressing tales. Sadly, the series lost its way after Bloody Roar 2 with some poor fighter designs and just couldn’t make its mark on the PS2.

#5 Street Fighter EX2 Plus

Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

Goofy name aside, Street Fighter EX2 Plus has a tremendous roster and is the prequel to one of my favorite PS2 fighting games, Street Fighter EX3.

This 3D-style iteration of Street Fighter is notably slower than many of the 2D games. While I love fast-paced fighters, EX2 Plus offers a refreshing change of pace. The graphics are superb, and the superattacks are among the most visually striking I’ve seen on the PlayStation. The character selection is a mixed bag, and fighters like C. Jack, who uses a baseball bat, can’t hold a candle to the classics. Still, I think the good outweighs the bad, and I’ve spent dozens of hours on the EX series.

#4 Bushido Blade 

Top 10 PlayStation Fighting Games
Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

Bushido Blade is a unique fighting game. There are no health bars, and one well-placed sword thrust can win the game. My favorite part of this title is the unwritten ‘honor’ code. If you fight dishonorably, the story mode abruptly ends in the middle.

Playing honorably is tough, but you’re treated to a cutscene for your efforts, and every weapon makes combat feel entirely different.

The ultimate test in Bushido Blade is the Kumite mode, where you must defeat 100 opponents in a row. I could never beat this as a kid, but the music is so good I didn’t mind wasting hours attempting it.

#3 Mortal Kombat Trilogy

Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

I’ve always preferred Tekken and Street Fighter to Mortal Kombat, but it’s hard not to appreciate Mortal Kombat Trilogy. This entry in Midway’s bloody fighting series boasts a roster of 36 characters and feels exceptionally responsive, but it’s not quite the best PlayStation fighting game.

The visuals are an acquired taste, but there are lashings of juicy gore, and the game feels like a celebration of the franchise. I reviewed the original Mortal Kombat on the Sega Megadrive, and it’s incredible how far the series has come

I love how deceptively complex this title is. Each character has special moves but also Fatalities, Brutalities, and Animalities; the list goes on. This is a game where a guide is required, but if you enjoy deep fighting games, this is an exceptional brawler.

#2 Rival Schools 

Top 10 PlayStation Fighting Games
Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

Rival Schools is a pretty expensive game these days and is another one I rented a lot when I was younger. This title is a rarity as it comes on two discs. One is faithful to the arcade, while the other has a generous assortment of modes, including lessons.

I’m a sucker for 3D fighting games, and sidestepping your opponent’s attacks is wonderfully satisfying. Rival Schools has a massive roster of 25 characters that all feel completely different, and there are even tag moves. 

Back in the 90s, it was like Capcom could do no wrong, and they proved it once again with Rival Schools

#1 Tekken 3 

Top 10 PlayStation Fighting Games
Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

Anyone who grew up with a PS1 probably saw this one coming, but Namco really came out swinging with this one! Tekken 3 is leagues ahead of its predecessor, with buttery smooth combat, gorgeous visuals, and a soundtrack that demands you turn your speakers up.

This title has it all, from a charismatic cast that still exists in modern Tekken to robust single-player modes. Tekken Ball and Tekken Force are fun distractions from the stellar fighting, and every character has a unique FMV ending. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing Tekken 3 over the years, and I doubt I’m finished – it truly is the king of PlayStation fighting games.

Weekly newsletterGet the latest retro gaming news in your inbox

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

One Comment