There are some days when unleashing a stream of plasma into oncoming hell-beasts simply isn't satisfying.
No, you need to see a sprite's blocky fists connecting with flesh rendered in 256 colours, and hear the sampled voice of an omniscient narrator shriek "SUPER COMBO" as you do it. These games are for those days. The punchy days.
Street Fighter II (1991, Arcade)
Redefined our thinking when it came to how many buttons a game should need. It had six, for six ways to punch and kick your opponent, plus pulling back on the stick made your character block. From these simple ingredients, a gluttonous feast for millions was prepared. Favourite character? Blanka. Always weirdly green electrocuting Blanka.
Streets of Rage 2 (1992, Mega Drive)
Great scrolling beat 'em ups such as Final Fight ruled the arcades, but Sega out-did them all with this. A Mega Drive exclusive, it had great characters, stunning music. Although it was a bit on the easy side, it was so much fun it stood up to repeat play.
More after the break...
International Karate+ (1987, C64, ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Atari ST)
It would soon be obliterated by the Street Fighter tsunami, but for a while, IK+ was as good as fighting games could get. The combat was a little weak with none of the combo action that would soon come, but there was plenty of innovation in the form of three-way bouts and backflips. The sound was ace, too.
Super Punch-Out (1995, SNES)
A boxing game, but given a silly makeover to avoid offending people too much with graphic scenes of eye gashes. It was smarter than it looked, too, offering some clever defensive play and blocking tactics that meant the crazed button-masher didn't always win.
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (1990, Atari ST)
A 22nd Century version of handball, you say? Sounds rubbish. But Speedball's perfectly balanced mix of violence, clever arenas and three-minute matches made it a real adrenaline rush. And boy, was it quick – after a bout of this, time seemed to move in slow motion.
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