Nintendo consoles don’t have a rep for being fighter-friendly. True, the Super NES set the bar kind of high with a flurry of classic fighters, spearheaded by the fantastic port of Street Fighter II. Actually, since this particular console port basically set off the fighting game craze, the bevy of one-on-one fighting action was more than any fan could have reasonably asked for. After the 16-bit generation, though, fighters on Nintendo consoles became fewer and farther between.
That’s not the case anymore. There are multiple fighting games on the fledgling 3DS, this despite the system’s relatively meager lineup of games overall. Could this be because of the relative ease with which these games can be programmed for or ported to the system, or is it the genre’s mild resurgence over the past couple of years? Or something else completely?
Now, there’s no surprise that Super Street Fighter IV appeared on the system as our first paragraph many sentences above referenced the very fact that its ancient ancestor was first on the Super NES. Street Fighter games have always had a place on Nintendo consoles, and only the N64 and original DS didn’t see one at all. What is surprising is how Super Street Fighter IV was clearly the king of the 3DS launch lineup hill. No other company, including Nintendo itself, put out a game that was even close.
That’s not the only fighting feather in the 3DS’ cap, either. How about this: it’s already hosted at least two fighting games for the first time in Nintendo hardware history. There’s never been a Dead or Alive game on a Nintendo system before. No, not even the “Beach Volleyball” spinoffs. I know, it’s hard to believe.
If you look at it, the last two games I mentioned are the second- and third-highest ranking games on the system in the Metacritic rankings, behind only The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. So, if you think that fighting games aren’t the cream of the crop on 3DS, well, then, you’re wrong.
There are other fighting games on the system, too, though perhaps none as top-of-mind in the gaming community. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is the sequel to a game by the same people that made Guilty Gear. And while it isn’t quite as high in the review rankings as some of the other games mentioned here, but it’s kind of a coup to have it on 3DS, if you think about it. There’s also Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion, an attempt to get the “Cartoon Cartoons” stars in a fighting game of their own.
Though Nintendo’s console may not be the natural home of fighters, they can prove popular given the right support. The GameCube version of Soul Calibur II outsold both the PS2 and Xbox versions thanks in no small part to the inclusion of The Hero of Time.
If you think about it, there are a few key fighting games on the Wii system, as well, Tatsunoku vs. Capcom is a console exclusive (as an aside, it’s likely to be the last game appearance of MegaMan Trigger, you know, EVER). It’s not on any other system. Yeah, it may not be as high-profile as Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, but it’s a unique and unusual fighting game that you can’t find anywhere else.
That’s saying nothing of the Super Smash Bros. series of games, which don’t fit into the traditional fighting mold. Despite being a completely off-center take on the traditional 2D fighting game, these have consistently been one of Nintendo’s strongest fighting representatives, and it’s not just because of the fan service. We’re expecting to see the first handheld entry in the series ever in the next couple of years, too.
And don’t forget the fighting games that didn’t make it across the Pacific. There’s two different Jump Superstars games that didn’t make to us fat, lazy Americans (and those not-as-fat, snobby Europeans, either) despite featuring our favorite cartoon heroes like Son Goku, Monkey D Luffy, Piccolo, Yugi Motou, Ichigo, and Kenshin Nomura, and we never got to play because of the licensing issues (which is a reason we almost didn’t get to play Tatsunoku vs. Capcom, either).
So, yeah, there’ve been a lot of fighting games on Nintendo systems of late. We shouldn’t be overly surprised by this fact, since, as we have stated above, the Super NES really ushered in the genre as a whole. But with the stong fighting game support the 3DS has seen, it’s gonna be interesting to see what other offerings we’ll see from the genre in the future.