When it comes to fighting video games, the first names that immediately spring to mind are Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Tekken. These franchises have been staples of arcades and homes for decades now, as gamers developed "athlete's thumb" trying to pull off all the special moves and slick combos. That being said, there's more to fighting games than iconic institutions like these series.
While superheroes might be more renowned for their adventures in platform games, there have been several comic book-inspired fighting titles that could go toe to toe with the greats of the genre. So, it's time to stretch those fingers and recall all those intricate combos, because these superhero fighters are begging to be revisited again.
10 JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE
Before the Justice League's adventures in the Injustice series, DC's most famous heroes had a shot at the fighting game genre with Justice League Task Force, released for the SNES and Sega Genesis in 1995. Most fans remember this title for the exceedingly difficult special moves and its bizarre storyline, which was a result of the console limitations of the time.
It was odd how there were six League members to play as, while only three villains present. This led to the narrative where a player would battle against other Leaguers, who were revealed to be android clones, before facing the bad guys at the end. Ah, bless the 1990s and all the era's weirdness!
9 X-MEN: NEXT DIMENSION
Released in 2002, X-Men: Next Dimension was the third instalment in the X-Men: Mutant Academy series. Unlike its predecessors, though, it aimed to do something different and not rely on the franchise's clout to sell copies of the game. There were several new characters added, 3D maps, as well as an intriguing story mode packed with cutscenes for those who prefer something more than brainless button-mashing.
While X-Men: Next Dimension wasn't praised as a game-changer in the genre, it was indisputably the best of the X-Men: Mutant Academy series. To this day, it still holds a high degree of replay value and enjoyment.
8 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: TOURNAMENT FIGHTERS
If you think about it, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are the perfect candidates for fighting games. Seriously, all they do is kick the snot out of the Foot Clan, Bebop, Rocksteady and the Shredder, so why shouldn't a tournament-styled game be an option for them?
Released between 1993 and 1994 for NES, SNES and Sega Genesis, each version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters featured its own roster of characters from the comic book series published by Archie Comics at the time. While it might not be as memorable as the original TMNT arcade game, it brought something else to the turtles' adventures in the video game realm.
7 MORTAL KOMBAT VS. DC UNIVERSE
Mortal Kombat and the DC Universe? It doesn't sound like they share much in common, besides people who dress up in ridiculous attire before heading off to battle. That said, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was Midway Games' last title before selling its rights to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and they went out with a bang.
Amazingly, the whole concept was just crazy enough to work. Watching the likes of Batman give Sub-Zero the cold shoulder and Liu Kang launching a bicycle kick Joker's way was pure magic. It might not have the polished touch or finesse of Injustice or Mortal Kombat 11, but it still had enough panache to excite gamers.
6 MARVEL CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS
Mobile gaming has taken massive strides since the days of Snake. It's become a huge market, with big money behind it and global brands wanting in on the action. Still, no-one expected Marvel Contest of Champions to be as good or addictive as it is. It's been around since December 2014, but remains one of the most downloaded superhero mobile games today.
Undoubtedly, it's helped by its larger-than-life roster that includes every single Marvel character you can think of, as well as the smooth gameplay and crisp design. The best part, though, is you can play it during those boring Monday morning meetings at work (but don't tell anyone we said that).
5 X-MEN VS. STREET FIGHTER
In 1996 X-Men was still Marvel's darling and hottest franchise. Anything that Professor Xavier's mutants touched turned to gold. As a result, there were endless video games featuring the likes of Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm. One of the more interesting crossovers, however, was X-Men vs. Street Fighter -- the first release in the Marvel vs. Capcom series.
While it might sound arbitrary and completely out of the blue, the arcade game proved to be an enthralling sensation, resulting in the title being ported to Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Unfortunately, the home versions of the game weren't as remarkable as the button-masher in the cabinets, but they were still a good time.
4 INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US
After Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, anything was possible. NetherRealm Studios delved deeper into DC's lore and expanded it with Injustice: Gods Among Us. Not only did it become a story that had fans talking (especially considering its "what if" connotations), but it also turned out to be an outstanding title jam-packed with all of our favorite heroes and villains.
Injustice: Gods Among Us wasn't just the best fighting game of the year in 2013; it spawned another hugely successful universe for DC. In fact, its main plot point was set to play a major part in director Zack Snyder's original Justice League plans.
3 X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM
Knowing Marvel and Capcom had teamed up, there was a certain expectation of what type of games would be released. Then, X-Men: Children of the Atom dropped in 1994 and surprised everyone as a fighting game! At that point in history, gamers had only experienced the mutants in platformers; now here they were battling each other in a versus mode.
The title turned out to be a stroke of genius, as the Jim Lee-inspired artwork and Capcom's frenetic gameplay delighted gamers everywhere. Hours would pass by as everyone learned all of the complex combos and special moves to become the next champion of the game.
2 ULTIMATE MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3
There have been numerous Marvel vs. Capcom games over the years. Some are better than others, but there hasn't been a terrible title that's brought shame on the series. When you consider which is the best of the lot, however, you can't look past Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which was released in 2011 and 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita.
Featuring 36 characters from Marvel and Capcom franchises, such as Devil May Cry, Resident Evil and Ghouls 'n Goblins, gamers would go down the rabbit hole of all the infinite team-ups and clashes. Even now, the title hasn't aged and looks as slick as the day when it was released.
1 INJUSTICE 2
When you're compared to Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, you know you've arrived. Injustice 2 didn't just repackage the first game with a shiny, new coat of paint; it learned from its mistakes, improved on its strengths and delivered a superior title that inspired other fighting games. It became the new benchmark.
Not only did the character customization and gear mechanicsreceive universal praise, but Injustice 2's expanded roster and improved gameplay became talking points for everyone in the industry. The title is already two years old, but it's still a favorite of gamers everywhere as its replay value proves to be unbeatable.