There are so many good characters, so it was hard to decide for me. Suiko Enbu Fuun Seiki’s Hu San Niang and the rest of the Groove on Fight cast is really original too. Picked the best out of the games I play.
UPDATE: This is as finished as it’s going to be. I’ve rambled far too long on this subject, but if I ever get a blog going I might revise this someday for shits and giggles.
The GI list, like most top 10 character magazine lists, focuses more on how iconic the characters are rather than how significant they are mechanically. These lists are all subjective, of course, and I think this one’s really not that great because it passes up certain characters that might be considered “too obvious” to the hyper-casual fighting game player, but without a really well-versed knowledge in more obscure fighting game characters from more obscure titles and the various interesting things these characters could do or tried to do through their design. (I do wonder how the hell Gen-An made it into that list, though; I don’t read GI or any print game magazines anymore. I think Chun-Li and Sentinel are good calls, though, but I really don’t think Akuma merits #1.)
I know nobody really reads list threads (a good idea in general), but I always like thinking about what my top ten fighting game characters would be in terms of overall design significance (both visual and mechanical). In no particular order:
ST Dhalsim - One of the most versatile and visually unique characters ever freakin’ conceived. Sim is one of the main reasons I prefer Capcom’s SF character designs over most of the KOF designs, he’s just so out there and yet so memorable, and he has a bizarre fighting style (both in terms of move design and how he’s actually played) that doesn’t really compare to very many other characters at all. He’s a freakin’ fire-breathing Indian mystic (now there’s a nationality you don’t see very often in ANY video game!) with elastic arms, a floaty jump, crazy drill moves, and the ability to breathe fire and teleport. There’s no way Dhalsim will ever be mistaken for ANY other video game character anywhere. I list ST Sim because he’s historically one of the most powerful versions of Sim out there, he can control pretty much all ranges very well against many characters and he has a wide variety of offensive and defensive tactics. When Sim’s played well, Sim LOOKS very slick, moreso than many other characters played at the same level. You don’t need a trained eye to raise an eyebrow or two at a clutch drill catch or a sneaky noogie setup. That drill alone – the ability to alter his velocity (in the true physics sense, both speed AND direction) on demand – is a fascinating goddamn move. Yoga for LIFE.
Chun-Li - Easily the most significant female fighting game character ever created. Her design alone is quite commendable; she’s played convincingly as strong and capable, with goofy moments (her girlish little victory hop) that don’t undermine her as a complete ditz. Her outfit is memorable without relying too much on skank factor, her fighting style looks good visually, and perhaps most significantly, moreso than many fighting game females, she’s BUILT like she could actually friggin’ fight. Seriously. I really respect that Capcom’s designers aren’t afraid to keep Chun Li ripped as fuck, because despite what your personal preferences may be for too much muscle on a real woman, Chun Li actually LOOKS like she has the muscle to punch a huge guy like Gief in the chest and make it hurt. You don’t really see a lot of that these days, particularly with the onslaught of girly-ass doujin games like Melty Blood where everyone’s built like a 12-year-old and the focus is on being cute (pandering) rather than being creative. She also has a much more memorable body type than many female characters (good ol’ thunder thighs), which is an important element of good character design.
Her design and personality stick out most in players’ minds, casual or otherwise, but I include her in my list (no particular version) because she’s also been a MECHANICALLY solid character ever since her inception. I really can’t think of any game where Chun hasn’t been at least mid tier, with her average usually gravitating towards upper mid-tier (even in non-Capcom games like SvC: Chaos!). She’s got strong fundamentals with the combination of her fast footspeed and fast basic attacks, allowing her a strong foundation to build on (or in games where she’s not so great, fall back on) with great success. Some of her specials have been hit-or-miss (well, mostly SBK, which has always been pretty “eh”), but ever since 3S/CvS2 Chun they seem to have really found a good synergy between Chun’s spacing-oriented specials (axe kick and Kikoken specifically) and her always-solid normals. Bottom line, Chun kicks ass.
Iori (pre-KOF XII) - Personally, I hate the guy’s personality; I think he’s one of those characters that’s only really cool if you’re, like, 15 years old or hold on to certain sensibilities from when you were 15 years old. But that’s neither here nor there. I put him on this list because while I really don’t care for his aesthetics/personality (how the hell does he not trip with that dumb belt between his legs? Why can’t I exploit that with a hook or a low grab or something?), I gotta commend his mechanical design. He is the Chun-Li of KOF, he’s pretty much guaranteed to be at least upper-mid tier in every game he’s in (including, like with Chun, crossover games! N-Iori in CvS2 is nothing to scoff at…) because he’s got strong-ass fundamentals with a special-move toolset that’s an excellent complement. He plays the KOF fundamentals exceptionally well; he’s got good jumping normals for both poking and starting combos off a low jump, and he can really work the down-B, down-A game thanks to his forward + A, allowing him to convert light hitstun off a low attack into heavy hitstun for combo into anything on demand. He can zone well with his fireball and his backdash back+B, he can cross up well with back + B for easy-ass combos, his super is good, his uppercut is decent, his light rekka is a good poke, and his command throw further expands his already deadly offensive fundamentals. The '98 wiki says it best:
And it’s all fucking true. I hate the guy (REALLY hate the guy, actually), but I’m forced to give him props where props are due. Iori is easily one of the best-designed characters ever in a 2D fighter. I list pre-KOF XII Iori because I think the jury’s still out on whether or not he’ll ultimately prove more successful than “Old” Iori (probably not).
Sentinel (MvC2) - This one Game Informer got right. There’s a lot of fascinating intentional and unintentional mechanical bullshit in Marvel, but I don’t think anybody in that game took advantage of the totality of that BS moreso than Sentinel. Sent may not be infallible against teams that can lock him down/out, but his mere presence adds so much to any team he’s on that it isn’t even funny. His combos are buff as hell and lead easily to devastating resets and unblockable setups. (The air dp+P Rocket Punch was always one of my favorite moves because of its buff-ass combo extension + knockup; it was like a little bit of Guilty Gear in a Capcom game.) He’s deceptively fast and safe for such a huge character thanks to fastfly/unfly (this was the part that always fascinated me most about Sent), and thus he’s strong on point. But it’s in the support role where he really shines; Sent is just as obnoxious off point as he is on point. His drone assist is probably the best assist, PERIOD, in the game (it fills reset combos, it fills ground combos, it covers dash-ins, it extends chip patterns, and it even refilled your drink for free until somebody caught that in the loke test), his projectile assist synergizes well with Magneto, and if there was ever a character to DHC into with ANYBODY, it’s Sent. Like a faithful pet, at the mere press of qcf + KK during somebody’s air super, Sent is always there waiting faithfully at the bottom of the screen (meter permitting) to make your opponent’s life even more miserable than when your combo first started. Sent is like Jacob in GTA4, he’s ALWAYS got your back. Would that we all could have such 11-foot-tall mechanical friends.
Clark (KOF) - My praise of Iori was pretty backhanded, so here’s a character from KOF I actually like. I think Clark’s a cool character in his own right because he presents himself as such a cool customer at first glance with the Terminator shades and the baseball cap with his stony face and square jaw, but as we can tell from his jubilant “HEY!” when he lands a Frankensteiner (if you don’t follow up with Flash Elbow, for shame!) and the thumbs-up during his super throw, Clark really loves to showboat just as much as the people playing him do. He’s very much in tune with the attitude of people who play KOF (or any fighting game, really) on the competitive level; he’s there to win, but he’s there to have a good time doing it, and when he gets a good open look, you know he’s gonna work the crowd. Plus, you gotta love a guy whose anti-air super throw involves exiting and re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. NASA might wanna look into heat-shielding derived from Clark’s thighs.
Clark’s a solid character mechanically, but I mostly like him because he sort of embodies what I think is best about KOF – its grappler design philosophy. KOF was the first fighting game franchise of note to get away from the Zangief grappler archetype and popularize high-mobility command-throw-based characters, and Clark’s probably the best example of that philosophy’s application. He takes a lot of focus to be successful with because he doesn’t have big single-hit damage while working his way in the way Gief does, but in exchange he’s got tools like running, faster walk speed, and jumping CD knockdown to allow him to make different use of the same defensive gaps that a slower grappler would be looking for. He trades damage for speed fairly evenly, and thus he and similarly styled grapplers (particularly Shermie) offer a meaningful alternative to the traditional lumber-to-victory grappling approach. Too bad Napalm Stretch sucks. His new command dash + Melty-Blood-style comboable air throw in KOF XII seems like a good design decision.
Rolento (CvS2) - I was kinda racking my brain trying to decide who would qualify for “best guy/gal who jumps around/off of walls a lot” or “best ninja” until I remembered CvS2 Rolento. While he’s not technically a ninja like Mai or Ibuki (or even a Spanish Ninja like Vega, or an AMERICAN NINJA like Chipp or Galford), I think Rolento’s probably the most “ninja” character ever in a 2D fighter, in terms of slick moves with an emphasis on tricky hit-and-run gameplay. The command jump component of his air knife throw allows him to play a much safer and trickier geometry game than many similar air “kunai” moves; since the jump goes up and down so fast, it’s a lot safer to check height than if you could just tigerknee the air version (you can mash P/K and launch the knife super-low if you’ve got them cornered/sure they won’t jump, or at long range you can wait a bit and toss the shallow-angle knife at the jump peak to cut off THEIR jump. And of course, it’s a ground move, so you can buffer it off of ground normals and work it into blockstrings!). His command jumps are fun, his air pogo -> CC activate shenanigans are fun and cool-looking, he’s got easy ground combo filler with his rekkas, and he’s basically got no end of ways to hop around at various arcs and speeds to bait shit or fly in and start the party (the party usually being a CC). Good CH fishing with CH standing jab -> d + MK link, good guard bar damage/poking with c. HP, good slide, good times with Rolento’s normals. And when you win, you get to watch his army of El Gados stab the air. Rolento is dirty as fuck and I fuckin’ love him.
Faust (GGXX) - The list is getting a bit Capcom-heavy, so I wracked my brain trying to think of which Guilty Gear character I’d add to the list. It was tough because I haven’t really played GGXX since #Reload, but I think Faust qualifies as the most mechanically and visually memorable character in all of Guilty Gear.
First things first – even by Guilty Gear standards, this guy is WEIRD. He’s like 9 feet tall at his full height, but his neutral stance is a Blanka-like crouch that puts him a little below eye level with Sol, and when he crouches he is the shortest character in the whole game (I think, I don’t know for sure). And yet a great deal of his attacks have him rearing up to his full height, flinging himself forward, or both at the same time. Faust’s hitboxes are all over the goddamn place, at every height and every depth. And let us not forget that he’s a nine-foot-tall doctor wielding a gigantic scalpel with a paper bag on his head, whose fighting style revolves around old-fashioned manga sight gags! He flies on an umbrella like Mary Poppins! He launches you into the air with a vigorous tongue lick and extends his juggles by stabbing you with a gigantic syringe! He swims through the ground to stab you in the asshole if you pick the wrong treasure box! And in the rare event you land his instant kill, he either gives you an afro (EX Faust/GGX Faust) or causes a nuclear explosion! Sure, this is a game with a yo-yo wielding underage boy who dresses like an underage girl in a nun habit with a killer teddy bear and a gigantic handcuff for a belt, but still, that’s fuckin’ OUT THERE!
And then of course there’s his weird-ass applied fighting style. If players like ElvenShadow and RF (you can tell how hip I am to the GGXX scene, namedropping fuckin’ RF, whaddup) are any indication, applied Faust is like Dhalsim on acid. You’ve got a crazy cartoony Dhalsim Drill, spinning merrily through the air to cut off various angles. You’ve got candy, donuts, hammers, bombs, meteors and wind-up Potemkins/Robo-Kys flying everywhere. (It’s worth noting how effective Faust’s completely random item chuck is due to how well it’s structured within the rest of his poking patterns. I’m trying my best not to make a cheap shot at Smash here…tee hee, items) You’ve got pole-vaulting, happy flowers, the occasional scalpel lunge into Scorpion grab, springy noises, all while hooting and hollering like Daffy goddamned Duck. I have never played Faust while high, but he’s so weird to begin with I imagine Faust on acid/salvia/whatever would look like playing…3S Chun I guess. Something so inherently bizarre has got to invert in hallucination to something unbearably boring. God, I love Faust.
Faust should actually probably be higher on this list, hence the “no particular order” disclaimer. Maybe I’ll swap some people around later.
Bulleta/B.B. Hood (Vampire Savior) - I wanted to get a DS character on my list, but I’m ass at VS and I only play boring characters like Q-Bee, so I don’t really feel qualified to comment on weirdos like Aubath and Lei-Lei. B.B. Hood, on the other hand, I can kinda wrap my brain around, and she’s definitely my favorite Vampire character.
For those who know even less about VS than I do, her applied playstyle in VS runs counter to what you might expect from a quick run through her movelist in practice mode. She has a ghetto high-Tiger/low-Tiger/Rai Oh Ken set of charge projectiles, but those aren’t really the focus of her game. With the flexibility of jump actions (being able to attack after chicken guard and whiff air chains for meter building/fishing for a hit) and the utility of chain combos + the general speed of dashes and air dashes, VS is a very rushy game, so Hood tends to get a lot more mileage out of rushing jabs and close-range chain combos than she does playing the projectile game (which is kinda ass in VS anyway). She does have some interesting normals, though, given the speed with which she can re-deploy her HK land mines after they despawn and the multi-hit properties of her HP machine gun attacks. Her supers are really awesome, though, with the squad of huge 17th-century Germanic hunters popping from behind the blind to fire missiles, the pounching machine gun attack with the exploding apple bomb at the end, and of course the torrent of sentimental tears for dear Granny when she does her super throw.
Hood’s real charm is in her aesthetics. There’s no end of fun to be had whooping somebody’s ass as a frolicking twelve-year-old girl with a machine gun and various high explosives, especially when she’s pitted against demons, vampires, succubuses (I don’t know much about Latin but I think “succubi” is grammatically incorrect), Frankenstein’s monster, and whatever the hell Jedah is (besides a crazy guy who lives inside a uterus). I think she’s a very effective counterpoint to the more “monstrous” characters in VS; she’s not particularly grotesque (not so much Jedah blowing his own head off as Victor and his Ren-and-Stimpy ass attacks, or Q-Bee’s throw where she dies and a new Q-Bee pops out of the cocoon she snared the opponent is), but she’s certainly zany enough to fit in.
And let’s face it, Hood is a fuckin’ G. She smokes, she’s paid off for her hits by the Yakuza, and she gets that scary-ass look in her eyes when she does a forward dash in/her HP attacks. And yet she seems so innocent at first glance, with the puppy dog and the butterflies and the flowers when she crouches and the picnic basket full of explosive ordnance. I guarantee you she’s from a little gingerbread house on a gumdrop hill smack dab in the middle of COMPTON (city of). Hood should have a super throw where she sheds tears for Eazy-E instead of her grandma, she’s that legit. Never has kicking ass been so adorable, and not in the creepy Arcana Heart way, either!
M. Bison (Dictator) (SF4) - I know anybody who ever played A-Bison in CvS2 will be raising their eyebrows on this one, but hear me out.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat – Bison is a drug lord with the power of flight. If you don’t think that’s awesome, you need to get your head examined. He was one of the earliest 2D fighting villains, to be sure, but along with Heihachi and Rugal he’s still head and shoulders one of the most evil (and by logical extension, the most awesome, because for me E necessarily implies A.). He’s clean-cut, looks awesome in those armored jackboots of his, and is built like a tank for a guy who’s not that much bigger than most of the SF cast (excluding Alpha Bison, the steroid freak that he was). He’s pretty threatening to begin with, but pretty much no part of Bison is more menacing than that awesome face of his. Bison only has two expressions: that tight-lipped scowl of his as he leaps into the air to work his magic, and that shit-eating grin when he seals your fate. These are the only two faces he ever needs to make, as they are powered by his massive ballchin. (Then again, pretty much everybody had a ballchin in ST. Even Chun kinda had a camel toe chin going on…) He keeps a really tight stance, which has a nice visual impact; he looks like he’s constantly tensed to unleash sudden fury (which plays well into his charge-character mechanics, where you’re often tensing down and/or back on the joystick!), and he really looks natural when he suddenly bursts into the air for a headstomp or a Devil Reverse. Bison really seems like a character who’s well-designed to bring out the sadistic instinct in the people who play as him; the player’s hunger for the satisfaction of victory syncs up well with Bison’s desire for the crunching sound of your opponent’s head underneath his boots.
Mechanically, Bison’s really fleshed out over the years. Linear, aggressive moves like Knee Press, Psycho Crusher, and Head Press were cool enough, but the evasive moves he gained later on like Devil Reverse and his teleport have really added an element of slickness to his brute-force MK/HK poking. This is the reason why I think SF4 Bison is more mechanically fascinating than CvS2 Bison; while A-Bison was more of a brute-force aggressive character, SF4 Bison is much more evasion/mobility-oriented; A-Bison wasn’t all that big on slickness outside of finding a tricky time for a CC activation. SF4 Bison could use a more expansive range of Ultra setups, to be sure, but with stuff like his fast dash, neutral-frames LK Knee Press, his much-improved teleport, and his decent Devil Reverse + the EX version invincibility, he has a kind of slippery quality to him that CvS2 Bison didn’t really have. In this respect I think he’s a lot closer to the “true” essence of Bison as a character design, as devious as he is brutal. I think he’s got a ways to go, but depending on what they do to him in the inevitable SF4 Dash/Champion Edition (quit giving us blueballs and announce it already, Ono!), I think he has the potential to be the pimpest Bison on record.
ST Ryu - This list is brushing the character limit, so I’ll make this quick. We all know how iconic Ryu is visually, but I think mechanically he was really at his peak in ST; a deceptively simple character who’s at least a little comfortable at any range, at any speed. Maybe it’s mostly the old and simple game he’s in, but ST Ryu strikes me as one of those rare, happy occasions when a character’s conceptual design (what the designers thought he should play like) really seems to sync with the character’s practical application (how he’s ACTUALLY played by good players). He has no real blowout matchups in his favor, but he can’t really BE blown out either, he’s played seriously (not as a gimmick/counter-pick) at the very highest levels here and abroad, and depending on the opponent (player and/or character), he can hold his ground at pretty much any point on the screen, even against characters like Dhalsim who can quickly lay claim to large parts of the screen and punish his fireballs from long range. Plus, he has fun shit like f + HP. Love that move and its whoosh factor.
People who I think didn’t quite make the list:
Urien (3S) - We all love Aegis Reflector shenanigans and copious Chariot Tackles, but when he doesn’t have meter I think Urien’s kind of an unremarkable character (mechanically). He dashes around, he pokes, he looks for the odd headbutt, but until his bar lights up, he’s not really particularly threatening or fascinating. Visually, I think his design’s all right, I respect the fact that he rivals Mai for how well he wears a thong. He just doesn’t have the “holy shit, that is AWESOME” factor of a kooky design like Dhalsim or Faust for me, though. Bonus points for god-tier win quotes (“Look! Your cells have betrayed you to serve me!” “How dost thou suck? Let me count thy wounds…1, 2, 3…” “That’s right, kneel before me!..How do you like the view now?” A very important question, given what he’s wearing!) Kill, crush, crush, etc.
Tager (BlazBlue) - I think it’s a little early to be considering Tager for truly-great status given the relative youth of BlazBlue, but I think his mechanical design shows particular promise. Visually, he’s a little too standard-anime for my liking (although the goggles are pretty cool), but I think he’s perhaps one of the conceptually strongest heavy grapplers ever conceived. Potemkin may have buffer combos, but I think Tager’s toolset will ultimately prove a lot more ingenious for helping him win his problematic matchups (read: characters who can zone him) than many previous grapplers. Sledge projectile autoguard is genius, Voltic Charge speed + autoguard is a bit more marginal but very clever, and magnetism in general is truly a step forward for grappling in general. You still gotta work to magnetize the opponent, and you often have to make sacrifices to get them magnetized, but when you do, Tager becomes a much scarier character against characters that would otherwise be able to get a drink while they lock him out/run the fuck away.
As for the Melty Blood comment, that was a cheap shot and that wasn’t a terribly serious jab (2A) at it, so don’t take it too personally. I think Melty Blood’s a pretty decent game, and it’s definitely a lot less offensive to me than many doujin games (although its source material is painfully offensive in that it’s pretty fuckin’ dumb), but I’m a petty kinda guy and I make it a semi-sarcastic point to only play male characters on the rare occasions I play it (mostly as a protest against Akiha…fuck that bitch, I’m picking Nero and you’re going to eat CROW).
^ Please Finish, pretty good read ;), Lists are opinions, but this is certainly nice
Also certainly agree with Chun Li, even aside from her character, her story was compelling and believeable, I remember when I was 4-5 and beat Street Fighter and saw her ending, I was amazed, that such a hard topic (Hey I was 4-5 8P ) like death was shown.
So in all regards, she was the first lady that kicked ass, had purpose, and certainly was attractive :), in the video game sort of way.
They are joking saying Genan is best SS character, he was at the bottom in nearly all character popularity polls for those series, and himself looks retarded, and made for fun factor only; plus his storyline never made any impact on SS serie.
Best character produced by Samurai Shodown is Asura hands down
I think this has been the first time I’ve ever enjoyed reading someone’s favorite’s list(joke lists excluded).
If it had gone all the way down to ten, I would have read it. ST Sim ftw!(Before I played more serious, I used to think Sim was slow and crap, but high level Sims are crazy and actually make him look fast.)
Melty Blood does not pander to being cute. It’s got a joke character or two for shits and giggles, and two ‘lolis’, but the character designs in MB do not apply themselves to ‘girly ass’ anything. I would argue when the last time you saw any of the character designs in MB in another game, but that’s been a lost cause since forever. Please don’t become like the rest of SRK by just lambasting the game like it diseased Japan with its inception.
Take that shit to Arcana Heart instead (though I love that game as well, the character designs are atrocious and 100% pandering to what you’re talking about).
It is true. I have never seen such a verastile annoying bitch ass bastard like Iori. Even if it’s a weak Iori player he’s still a bitch to fight. He does EVERYTHING. Fuck, I’d even call him the greatest Jack of Trades.
Yoshimitsu is definitely one of my favorite characters within the fighting game genre. Not only is his character design unique, but his appearance also changes from game to game, unlike most other fighting game characters, who always tend to wear the same clothes no matter what game they’re in.
In addition, his fighting style is also very different. I love how his fighting style contains many odd and comedic elements (flying with his sword, committing seppuku, using his sword as a pogo stick, etc.). He may not be as popular as Jin Kazama, but Yoshimitsu is definitely one of the characters that give the Tekken and Soul Calibur series their personalities.
Baiken from Guilty Gear is another one of my favorites. Who wouldn’t love a one-armed, one-eyed, swordsWOMAN, who uses everything from her sword, to a “doormat”, to fireworks? Her character design manages to stray from many of the stereotypical elements common in female game characters, but yet still remains beautiful in her own way. For instance, she doesn’t have a perfect body (lost an arm), she has a scar on her face where she lost one of her eyes, and she has a very rugged, almost male-like personality.
Almost everyone from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure also deserves mention. When I played that game ten years ago, I was stunned by how different each of the characters were. My respect for the game/manga even further increased as I learned that many characters and moves from Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, King of Fighters, and so on, were inspired by characters from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. It’s funny, JJBA has been influencing the fighting game genre even before it was made into a fighting game.