Fighting Games

Humankind and Physical Contests

Fighting has been around for as long as there have been people on the Earth. You could say it’s the ultimate form of competition—that all other forms of contest are just more-or-less refined versions of physical combat.

After thousands of years, you’d think people might have tired of watching fights. One glance at modern entertainment shows you that we have not. From the gladiatorial bouts of the Roman empire to the often-lethal violence of early American Football and on to the present-day phenomenon that is mixed martial arts fighting, our appetite for violent contest has drawn huge crowds to the Colosseum and the octagon alike. The appeal is lasting and visceral—nothing quite gets the adrenaline flowing like a good fight.

The simplest fight, the one-v-one, has existed across time and cultures as far back as anybody can remember. It’s likely a part of who we are as human individuals. We all find ourselves in interpersonal conflict at some point in our lives and most of us find the conflict of others fascinating. Whether a duel or a debate, there is something compelling about two people struggling against each other, unsure which will prevail.

Fighting in Video Games

This most ancient of spectator sports was introduced into the world of video games as soon as we had enough pixels to begin to render fighters.

Sega released the first boxing game back in 1976 in the form of Heavyweight Champ. Despite being a black-and-white arcade game with an unusual boxing-glove controller, Heavyweight Champ introduced some features of the genre that we still see now, such as a side-on view of the two fighters and high and low attacks.

The game was a huge success in Japan, ranking third among arcade cabinets that year, and spawned a series of sequels and adaptations that lasted well into the home console era.

Fighting Games Come of Age

It wasn’t until the following decade, with the launch of Karate Champ by Technos Japan, that the one-on-one fighting game became truly popular worldwide. This 1984 arcade fighting game was a true fighting game and shared much of its DNA with the fighting games you can play today. It used a pair of joysticks to give players a choice of 24 moves and saw two karate fighters face off against one another. One fighter wore a red gi and other a white gi. It was a visual language that laid the foundations for the iconic titles to follow.

Enter the Street Fighter

You probably already know the name Street Fighter. It’s a franchise famous the world over and has had huge cultural impact. For many players, Street Fighter is synonymous with fighting games. It’s certainly one of the originals.

The first Street Fighter was released by Capcom in 1987. In its original form it wasn’t a commercial success, but it did introduce a slew of features that revolutionized the genre; button-based attacks, special attacks, the three-round fight and the energy bar—all innovations that became the bedrock of fighting games today.

Landing the Combo

The impact of Streetfighter II, launched as an arcade in 1991, was utterly staggering. It is one of the highest grossing games of all time, still to this day. The arcade versions alone generated $1.5 billion in gross revenue in just two years. That’s over $4 billion today, adjusted for inflation.

The gameplay was improved in the sequel too, with the introduction of combination attacks or “combo” attacks, which couldn’t be blocked if executed properly. It also introduced a plethora of new characters—six, along with the original Ryu and Ken—each with a distinctive visual and fighting style. These iconic characters resonated with fans and are still much-loved today.

The original Street Fighter may have established many of the rules of the fighting game, but it was this second entry that cemented the genre we’re now so familiar with, and it did it in a way that was wildly popular.

At the time, arcade gaming had hit a slump, with home consoles posing a threat. Street Fighter II massively reinvigorated the arcade gaming world by pushing person-to-person competitive play. The game fostered grassroots tournaments, which in turn drew crowds. Video gaming moved away from being a mostly solo activity where you pitted yourself against an arcade cabinet, to being like a sport. Suddenly there were video game spectators in groups. Suddenly you had a fandom. You can trace the origin of e-sports today back to those early days of arcade competition.

The Counterattack

Throughout the nineties, a series of games provided their own takes on the fighting game formula. There were 2D games like Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct and 3D titles like Tekken and Soulcalibur. All of them were classic fighting games, pitting players against a single opponent, computer or human controlled. While many were very well-received and became franchises in their own right, none could match the remarkable success of the game they were following.

The Legacy

Today there are more games on consoles owing their existence to those early fighting games than you could possibly count. There are the obvious, direct descendants that feature two opponents slugging it out, but there are also huge sub-genres—the platform fighter, the beat ‘em up, the party game and the brawler, to name a few. You could say that all of them are responses to Street Fighter II.

Fighting Games On Gamepix

Like all of our games here on Gamepix, our range of online fighting games are completely free, with nothing to download or update. Our free browser fighting games come in every flavor that the genre has to offer, from rigorous sports simulators to silly party games with physics to match.

Our fighting games are set in every environment you can imagine—some you may recognize, others you definitely won’t! Whether you want to spend a minute or a year, our browser-based fighting games will work on any device that has a web browser and are completely free for as long as you want to play.

Whatever type of fighting game you like, you will find something to interest you among the browser fighting games on offer here. So what are you waiting for? Pick a game, take your stance and face your opponent! Round One! Fight!


Are fighting games the hardest?

While many gamers say the dexterity and timing needed for complex button sequences makes fighting games the hardest, the reality is that all types of games can take a long time to master. With our free online browser games, you can try one of each and see for yourself.

Are fighting games popular?

Yes! Fighting games remain one of the most popular types of video game and we have a wide range of fighting games here on Gamepix.

What are the most popular fighting?