We’ve all been exposed to a variety of martial arts movies, but when it comes to the world of video games, there is a relatively small selection. Nonetheless, nothing beats a good old-fashioned martial arts video game, and we look at the top 5 of this particular genre.
Five Amazingly Fun Martial Arts Video Games
System: Arcade Game
This isn’t strictly a martial arts game and falls into the ‘beat ‘em up’ category, but it is one of the most controversial and celebrated video game franchises in history. Combat games were relatively mild until the first Mortal Kombat arrived on the scene in 1992 with its gory ‘fatality’ finishing moves and general bloodiness. There have been no less than 12 Mortal Kombat incarnations, but none had the initial impact of the original.
System: Atari 800 XL, Commodore 64
The graphics look laughable by today’s standards, but it was 1983 and available on the Atari 800 XL! Yet this video game was a big hit, selling over 1 million copies, and featured a mixture of fighting and platform game genres. The goal over the 20 levels was to discover the secret of immortality and featured some excellent fighting moves and animation for that era. It is also one of the first martial arts games ever made and merits an inclusion in this list.
System: Arcade Game, Nintendo, PlayStation, Sega Saturn
This 1988 classic was initially only available in the arcades but eventually made its way to Nintendo. Those who have watched Bruce Lee’s Game of Death may recognize the goal: you fight karate experts through 5 differently intense levels in order to save the hero’s kidnapped girlfriend. As well as taking on martial arts experts, you also had to dodge knives and fireballs before meeting and defeating end-of-level bosses using spin kicks and other moves.
System: Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
This game almost didn’t make the cut as it was originally named Black Lotus, was changed to True Crime: Hong Kong, and then got cancelled by Activision. Luckily, Square-Enix stepped in to save the game, and this proved to be a blessing! It received rave reviews and is deemed to be one of the very best open world games of the last few years. The focus on plot and characters give it a cinematic feel, while the innovative combat system is a joy to behold. The controls are easy to master, and the finishing moves are suitably devastating. From the ashes rose Sleeping Dogs, and it deserves to be hailed as one of the best martial arts games ever.
System: Arcade Game, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo
Capcom’s Street Fighter series is arguably the most famous combat and martial arts video game of all time, and has spawned some of the greatest games ever. It features a cavalcade of great characters each with a unique back story, with the series first coming to international attention in 1987. We’ll draw a discreet veil over the truly awful Hollywood movie attempt and focus on the brilliant video game action! There have been over 40 Street Fighter titles, though fans still consider Street Fighter II to be the pick of the bunch. The incredible moves and in-depth fighting system make Street Fighter an enduring brand.