My Top-10 Characters from Fighting Games

Fighting games have a lot of appeal for me personally. They’re fun, fast-paced and often feature a memorable and fun cast of characters. In this list I wanted to highlight three of my personal favourite characters from fighting games.

And yes, while some of these characters have made it on the list on the credential of being “fun to play as”, I’m generally looking for various different and interesting character traits. An honourable mention goes to the White Gi Guy from International Karate for being one of pioneering figures of this genre and also one of the first ever playable fighting game characters.

Let’s get on with the list…

10. Ryu & Sagat

One of the big problems I had with this list was figuring out how to have as many Street Fighter characters on without having them completely over-saturate the list. Another problem was how to get Ryu on the list on any reasonable merit without losing another potential cool character from the list. Finally, I just had to go with this combination.

So firstly, Ryu had to be on the list – not because I think he’s a particularly cool character. Actually, he’s quite horrendously clichéd character now that I think about it. I can’t help thinking of him whenever martial arts are brought up. White gi, red headband… the guy frickin’ Japanese to top it all of. However, Ryu is my “measuring pole” character for any Street Fighter games. He has the most balanced move-set and the easiest special moves. You can tell a lot about the quality of any Street Fighter game just by how long it takes you to beat the game as Ryu.

Sagat, in my view, doesn’t get nearly as much recognition. This was the bad guy of the first game in the series. He’s a tall, menacing, towering hulk with an eye-patch and massive scar across his chest. Sagat gives me the heeby-jeebies, but I also love playing as him. He and Ryu have one of the most genuine video-game grudges of all time. And sure, his move-set is essentially just a rip-off of Ryu’s, I still like the guy.

9. Brocken

Though I’ve played my share of SNK fighting games, for some reason I don’t feel as attached to them as some other fighters. Also, I think a few of them, while very SF like in their design, aren’t nearly as rip-offy as some people make them out to be. However, there is no excuse for a little title for the Neo-Geo called World Heroes, where the only solace is the fact that SNK didn’t actually make the game.

I think World Heroes is about the most plain-as-day Street Fighter rip-off I’ve ever seen. The game, featuring fighters from different time-periods, effectively has its own versions of Ryu & Ken. There’s a Hulk Hogan wanna-be with pretty much an identical move-set with Zangief. There’s a hippy-ish Rasputin character who reminds me of Dhalsim. And even before Street Fighter procured his image, World Heroes already had their own character based on Bruce Lee.

With Brocken, he may first be lead to believe he’s supposed to be the M. Bison of this game (he even kinda looks like him). However, once the fighting begins, you’ll realise that he’s actually a cyborg with stretching joints, electrical fingertips and missiles up his arms. So yeah, Brocken is sort of a weird hybrid of Dhalsim, Blanka and the Terminator – but he’s easily the most fun character to play as in this game. In his shameless rip-offiness, he’s actually the most original character in the game and that alone made him worthy of inclusion.

8. Glacius

Here’s a character and a game that I wish would have more recognition. Killer Instinct was another game whose characters I wanted to feature more prominently, but here I decided to settle for less and show off characters I think people overlook too often. Glacius is a perfect example, he’s a peaceful ice-alien who crash landed on Earth and was forced to fight in the K.I. tournament by those ass-hats at Ultratech Corporation.

Glacius is just a cool guy (no pun intended). Firstly, he can change the shape of his body with almost no limitations. He can stretch it, sort of like Dhalsim but not as extreme. His arms can transform into a deadly spike or a pair of axes if he wishes. And his best, and definitely my favourite move, is transforming into a puddle, charging the enemy and hitting them up with an uppercut as he returns to his humanoid form from the floor.

Also, while I’m not the biggest fan of techno-music, I’ve always loved Glacius’ low-key techno theme songs. Here’s hoping that the K.I. franchise may one day return from video-game obscurity and perhaps one day we could witness a Glacius vs. Sub-Zero death match.

7. King

Like I said, the SNK fighting games aren’t really my go-to titles, but they do have a lot of quirky and off-beat characters. King from the Art of Fighting series (as well as King of Fighters) is one such example. If your lifestyle choices involve cross-dressing, there’s two ways to go. You can either be a gaudy drag-queen or you can be like King and do it with style.

King works as the bouncer at a restaurant and it’s not untill you manage to finish her off with a move that causes her clothes to explode, that she is revealed to be a woman… or unless you’re completely clueless, her voice was a pretty dead give-away as well. However, I like King. Her reasons for dressing up as a man aren’t made very clear, but she actually wears a suit with confidence and she can still kick serious ass while doing it.

And maybe it’s just me, but for some reason I found it a lot less creepy to be fighting a man (meh) who turned out t0 be a woman, rather than a woman who turned out to be a man (damn you, Capcom).

6. Dhalsim

The first time I ever played Street Fighter II was on my friend’s Amiga computer, with no sound and using a black and white television as the monitor. Even then, Dhalsim really stood out as one of my favourite characters from the whole game. My friend introduced him simply as a medicine man and I knew he could stretch his body all around… and to be perfectly fair, that’s all there really is to Dhalsim.

However, I’m sure everyone enjoys having a round or two with this stretchy guy who not only stretches and levitates but also breathes (Joga) fire. I’ve also always loved the idea that Dhalsim’s fighting style actually is just Yoga, but taken to the extreme. Dhalsim is just a quirky guy with his funny victory dance and bizarre super-human abilities.

This list wouldn’t have felt complete without him. He may not be the most important character to the over-arching storyline of the Street Fighter franchise, but he’s an instantly recognisable and memorable figure from the games. And one of my earliest favourite fighting game characters to boot.

5. Sheeva

Sheeva was deservedly the number-1 on my Hottest Chicks from Mortal Kombat list. However, there’s more to Sheeva besides her being super hot. I think she’s one of the most criminally under-used characters from the franchise. Introduced originally in Mortal Kombat 3, she was not only first the playable Shokan character, she was also my first experience playing as a female “heavy”. And top of it all, she was just really fun to play as.

Sheeva was a character who showed that just because she could probably bench-press a house, she didn’t have to be a sluggish tank like Zangief. She had some useful special powers and I got pure enjoyment from beating the crap out of my opponents with all four of her hands.

Plus, while she’s had an unfortunate history of siding with the bad guys, you also have to admire her dedication to the future of her species.

4. Cinder

Sometimes I play Killer Instinct just to test my skills, but other times I just want to tear sh*t up and no-one let’s me do it more efficiently and more brutally than the Human Torch’s evil step-cousin, Cinder.

Cinder was originally a criminal who was genetically manipulated by the proverbial donkey-barets at Ultratech into a living, breathing flame. Cinder fights for the simple and unapologetic goal of a “get out of jail free” card and he doesn’t care who has to “cinder ’em” in order to achieve that goal.

So yeah, Cinder is definitely not the deepest character from fighting games or even from KI. He makes it this high on the list on simply being the most fun character to play, for constantly being on fire and for having my favourite stage theme from the first game. ‘Nuff said.

3. Bo Rai Cho

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was really the game that turned me into a full-stop Mortal Kombat fan. One of the many reasons included its unique fighting style system and its colourful cast of new characters fighting against the old MK classics.

Unquestionably the character who stood out the most was Bo Rai Cho. Now, he may appear like a drunk, fat slob – that’s just because he is a drunk, fat slob. But he’s also an ancient Martial Arts master and more importantly Liu Kang and Kung Lao’s sensei.

But of course, the talents for which Bo Rai Cho is best remembered for (besides his bitching Drunken Style and beating people up with a walking stick) are his utilisation of flatulence and vomit as weapons in combat. Bo Rai Cho can propel himself into a deadly velocity by breaking wind and his barf-puddle will also cause any enemy to severely slip up. Bo Rai Cho is a half-standing testament that in the world of one-on-one fighting appearance, smell, personal hygiene or sobriety do not matter.

2. Elena

Street Fighter III was a delightful surprise when I played it for the first time a little while ago. I was genuinely impressed by its gameplay and graphic look. I was also surprised how memorable and likeable the cast was even with many of the big names of the franchise being noticeably absent from the game. Best of all, I discovered a character who not only satisfied my thirst for gratuitous fan-service but who was also fun to play as.

Elena can be best described as the opposite of Balrog. Instead of a muscle-bound,  grinning boxer who doesn’t know how to use his legs and rips his shirt off at the end of a match, Elena is a total babe with a great attitude who uses only her feet and rewards a match victory with an awesome one-hand hand-stand. What makes Elena so likeable is her mentality where she considers all her opponents as friends and fighting as sporting activity.

And yes, she’s really hot too. However, Elena is a slightly weak character who will get hurt easily which is her only bad point. Beyond that, she is absolutely my favourite character from Street Fighter III and even a possible runner-up from the whole franchise.

1. Scorpion

Okay, this one might be about the most predictable pick of all time for a number-1, but Scorpion simply can’t be beat in my book. A revenant ninja with a mean streak a mile wide, a near endless supply of cable for his spear attack and one of the most iconic catch-phrases alongside “Hadouken”:

“Get Over Here!!”

Scorpion is my absolute go-to character in any Mortal Kombat game. I don’t think I’ve truly experienced any MK game, unless I’ve played as Scorpion in it (and with that, I’m not bad-mouthing the original versions of MK3). Also, I think his personal quest for vengeance in all its pyrrhic and often tragic glory is one of the narrative linchpins of the whole MK saga.

On top of that he’s a kick-ass Ninja who wears yellow. You gotta be a badass if you’re gonna go with yellow as your signature colour. Scorpion, I salute thee.