The gaming industry has developed drastically in the last 30 years, focusing increasingly on delivering powerful graphics and fluid gameplay; it wasn’t always like that. Back in the 1990s, games were much simpler and less intricate. However, those were decisive years for the industry, and it was the titles from that age that paved the way for modern video games that make you happy and uncover hidden talents.

In particular, fighting games played a particular role in developing the gaming industry. In this article, we will list some of the most iconic franchises that went down in history for revolutionizing combat games and inspiring many of the modern games of the same genre.

Street Fighter II (1991)

Street Fighter II will surely be preserved forever in the memory of avid fighting-game fans. Initially released in 1991 for arcade systems, SFII was a sweeping success with its innovative features such as the choice to utilize special combos, specific to each player. Fans could choose between eight different characters with different nationalities and fighting styles. Yet, Ryu and Ken were regarded as the primary protagonists.

Four other main series games were released after SFII, as well as various spin-offs and crossovers. However, the success of the franchise transcended the gaming community and has gone on to be continuously referenced in numerous songs and TV shows, also spawning its own movie and major eSport competitions.

Branching out into other sectors of the entertainment industry, SFII inspired slot games, such as Street Fighter™ II: The World Warrior Slot, which adopted the original nine-bit adventure style of the franchise and all of the kung fu drama. Designed with the nostalgia of the original series in mind, this game gives players a sense of the franchises’ atmosphere on a new medium.

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Overall, SFII was estimated to have made $10 billion and was popularly renowned as the best-selling fighting game in history until 2019. It remains, to this day, one of the most influential games of all time in the combat style genre.

Mortal Kombat III (1995)

Since we’re talking about classics, it would be impossible not to mention the third game in the Mortal Kombat franchise. Released in 1995, Mortal Kombat III arrived with many upgrades. The highlight was the famous combos, an innovative technique launched in SFII. Additionally, characters were also equipped with the ability to run, whilst generally possessing a larger range of finishing moves, including the ability to transform into an animal to finish off the opponent.

However, not everything went as well as planned. Outstanding characters, such as Kitana and Scorpion, were left out of the new title, which resulted in the release of another version, in the same year, full of updates: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.

Loved by some and not so much by others, the controversial changes gained fame and became part of the history of an iconic game that marked a generation and a franchise that is headed for its 12th installment.

Tekken III (1997)

Tekken III is also a top choice among fight game fans. First released in 1997, the third title in the Tekken franchise broke sales records and is, to date, the seventh best-selling game in PlayStation history. 

Tekken III featured innovative finishing blows. Additionally, the game featured 22 fighters, including new names that would remain in the series for years to come, such as Jin Kazama and Ling Xiaoyu, and introduced two new gaming modes, Tekken Force and Tekken Ball. The game became a huge phenomenon and sold an impressive 7.16 million copies, remaining relevant to this day. This is evidenced by the fact that the series is developing a new title, which is still yet to be officially announced.

Every gaming enthusiast should make it their priority to play these classics at least once: these 90s game-changers are the foundations for some of the most prolific games of the modern era.