A Night at the Fight Club

Zoned In

Eduardo Zacarias AKA Tyler Burping


You are not your
pre-shrunk Gap jeans.  You are not the double decaf latte with whipped cream on
top or the fancy Sketchers sneakers you just bought at the local mall.  You are
the all seeing, all playing, game fanatic that happens to know that the key to
true satisfaction comes from fighting games.  We are legion, us fanatics of
fisticuffs, and our ranks have grown so considerable that we are part of a
secret club that gathers together around the glow of our television sets.  Want
to join?


I guess I should lay the
rules down then, shouldn’t I?  The first rule of Video Game Fight Club is Tell
everyone about Video Game Fight Club.  The second rule of Video Game Fight Club
is . . . tell everyone about Video Game Fight Club.  I mean, it wouldn’t be fun
if it was just you and your controller, right?  So while my game-hungry alter
ego, Eduardo, is off playing Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, myself,
Tyler Burping (Ed Norton might see himself as Brad Pitt but Eddie Zacarias sees
himself as Screech from Saved by the Bell), will take you through a list
of great fighting games. 


In a world filled
with fighting games galore, nothing, so far, comes close to matching the overall
beauty and addictive nature of Soul Calibur II.  While the game has a
decent arcade mode complete with an individual fighter’s ending story, the real
story comes from playing the game’s Weapon Master mode.  The game also has a
number of weapons to choose from and purchase and literally hundreds of bonuses
to unlock.  Namco also creatively inserted three different characters for the
three different consoles (the Xbox gets Spawn, the PS2 gets Heihachi and the
GameCube gets Link). Yes, this one is that good.


Color me impressed!  Here’s a fight game with
dozens of extras, awesome characters and intense fight modes.  My personal
favorite version of this game is the Xbox version because Spawn has a cooler
haircut than Heihachi and doesn’t wear a dress like Link.  If you don’t already
own this, you either don’t like fighting games or are allergic to fun.


Basically an addition to the
wonderful Virtua Fighter 4, Evolution just adds enough extras to make
fans of this fighting series leap for joy.  This one adds various new
backgrounds and even a look back at earlier Virtua Fighter games.  While the
series puts up a good fight, it’s Virtua Fighter that comes up
on top thanks to this Must-Have title.  And, to make this an even sweeter deal,
its part of the Greatest Hits package so at the bargain price you really can’t
go wrong.


Throw in the towel because if Tekken got
into a fight with Virtua Fighter, its Virtua Fighter that
comes out of this with a few bruises and the championship belt.  Evolution is
like a thank you gift Sega decided to give the series’ fans and if you love
fighting games and cool characters, this is the fighting game to buy.  It’s also
under twenty bucks so what are you doing standing around here, IKEA boy?


Ask any
arcade-loving gamer what fighting game they surrendered their quarters to back
in the days and they’ll most likely say Mortal Kombat. While everyone
will fondly remember the pure, bloody nature of the game‘s final fatalities,
it’s the challenging combatants and super cool power combos gamers loved. 
Deadly Alliance brings all that goodness back and also includes plenty of extras
plus weapons to the mix.  Want a new costume for Sonia?  You have to earn the
Koins to buy them.


My earliest and most fondest memories are of
ripping out Sub-Zero’s spine as Scorpion and dangling it like a blood-splattered
trophy.  Deadly
keeps the tradition alive but it’s
modern spin just makes things like Fatalities all the more memorable.  My
personal favorite, Scorpion, is just totally rad now that he’s got weapons. 
This is one of the coolest Mortal Kombat game the series produced so don’t miss
this one.


The minute rap artist DMX
steps into the urban ring, you know you’re not playing an average wrestling
game.  Vendetta puts you in the ring as a young brawler attempting to get back
your respect and the girl you love and in order to do that there is a long
laundry list of colorful grapplers (including some really well-known rappers
like Ludacris and Redman to name a few) you must defeat first.  With great
controls and neat signature moves, this is fighting at its most def.


Def Jam Vendetta
mixes two of my favorite things in the world:
catfights and hip-hop fused wrestling.  The moves are outrageously stylized to
lay the smack down like a true hip-hop and rap artist would if he ever decided
to give up the music business and just get in the ring battle it out.  And, to
top it all off, the ladies battle for your attention in a face-off that’s just
as memorable as the story of revenge and redemption in the game’s story mode. 
This one is pure hip-hop joy and I can’t wait for the sequel.


This is the game that
launched a thousand (and more) Xbox consoles to showcase the big black box’s
graphical capabilities.  More than just a pretty face, DOA 3 has a nice
collection of characters and environments that allow gamers to take the fight to
other areas.  While this game isn’t innovative, there’s just something about its
style that just doesn’t seem to grow old.


This game is easy on the eyes and I don’t mean
because of the highly detailed backgrounds and animated cut scenes.  If I ever
got into a fight with ladies like that I’d be picking up my broken teeth off the
ground because I was too distracted by their beauty to block their lethal
blows.  All in all, DOA 3 doesn’t bring anything new except for sex appeal and
addictive gameplay.  I’ll happily be in line for the DOA Ultimate, which
will have Xbox Live support.


This year EA Sports
has been hitting nothing but home runs with every sports title they’ve been
releasing and the sport of boxing hasn’t been left out thanks to the release of
the stellar Fight Night 2004.  Not only can you create your own pugilist, but
you can also train him and take him to title bouts against real pros like Roy
Jones Jr.  This is, by far, the best boxing simulator so far.


My alter ego, Eddie, still recalls the joys of
playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on the NES when he was a kid and still
thinks back fondly of what he feels is the best boxing game this side of
Knockout Kings
.  Well, that might be fine with him but my heart belongs to
Fight Night 2004, clearly one of the best boxing games to mix fun with
simulation-styled boxing.  Climb the ranks as an amateur and make your way to a
title bout against the world’s greatest boxers.  Did somebody ring a bell?  I
can’t put this game down! 



Some might argue that despite its smoother
controls and improved visuals, Tekken Tag is still far more superior than
Tekken 4. Well, while the tag team element of the game does add more
punch to the gameplay, this fourth installment just adds so much more replay
value thanks to its bigger lineup of characters plus the new Tekken Force game
mode.  If you had to make a choice, Tekken 4 is the game to get.


Eddie just can’t stop admiring the tag team
action of Tekken Tag but nothing is more entertaining than taking on armies of
armored thugs in the Tekken Force game mode.  I have to go with this one because
of all the extra characters and their assortment of fighting styles. On a
negative note, though, there are just some things that should never be seen . .
. like Heihachi wearing a diapered thong. That is so wrong.


Fans of this old-school
arcade classic will find lots to love about this port with a lot to offer fight
fans. There are plenty of characters, including some pretty obscure ones thrown
into the mix of well-known Marvel Comics characters (Captain America fans aren’t
left out) with Capcom characters such as Megaman and Chun-Li.  While Capcom
promised online multiplayer action and didn‘t deliver, this is still an
excellent fighting game.


My fantasies of seeing Resident Evil’s
Jill Valentine trade punches and kicks with the X-Men’s Rogue has finally
come true.  I gladly surrendered buckets of quarters playing this game at the
arcades and gladly surrender my thumbs to this Xbox version. This game would
have been higher up on the list had it included Xbox Live support.  This game
was made to be shared with other fans and nothing brings fight fans closer
together than the Xbox Live.  I am Jack’s sense of patience as he waits for
Capcom to release an updated, Xbox Live enabled, sequel.




I see you’ve decided to
join the club and will seriously consider the games on this list the next time
you head out to that favorite store you like so much (just skip the IKEA,
okay).  Remember, if this is your first time at Video Game Fight Club . . . you
have to fight.  Enjoy!


I should apologize to Fight Club
author Chuck Palahniuk and actor Ed Norton who did a magnificent job in the now
cult classic film version but I have absolutely zero control over alter ego
Tyler Burping and his blatant rip-off of the film and book.  I’ll say one thing
about him, though, he does know a good fighting game when he sees it.