Even for those who aren't into playing fighting games so much as watching those with far greater skill compete, the raw energy and spectacle of the genre make it one of gaming's most exciting.
This year saw notable releases from the usual franchises, as well as some less expected games that brought in players who might otherwise avoid partaking in this form of competition. Here are our nominees for best fighting game of 2012:
Dead or Alive 5
Dead or Alive 5 is a delicious surprise. While casual fighting game fans will be able to pick up and play, serious combatants will enjoy the rich and deep counter and hold system, as well as the tag team elements where unique match-ups can offer their own rewards. It's still not as technical a fighter as Tekken or Virtua Fighter, but it seems to be taking a step in that direction while still keeping what fans have loved about the series intact -- flashy characters, ease of play, and fan service. It's fun without being frustrating, the all-around fighter for everyone. Even the ones who won't admit to enjoying the T&A.
Read the full Dead or Alive 5 review.
Persona 4 Arena
Everyone wins with Persona 4 Arena. This dream collaboration between Atlus and Arc System Works brings us a game that will easily stand out even in the crowded fighting game segment. It's also sure to serve as a gateway drug for both RPG and fighting game fans to cross to the other side. Really, there's nothing else quite like this.
Read the full Persona 4 Arena review.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale had a lot to live up to, and was a bit of a gamble for Sony. It had to successfully marry both casual and hardcore audiences together, provide a solid fighting game base, and offer enough variety to keep players going and trying out new characters.
For the most part, barring the half-hearted campaign, they've greatly succeeded. If you find yourself playing Smash Bros. into the wee hours of the morning with friends, you should enjoy PlayStation-All Stars: provided that you have at least some affinity towards the franchises that take part in this tournament.
Read the full PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale review.
There are a ton of small touches that really bring the package together and make it clear that Mike Z and company are big fighting game fans rather than some random executives.
... Skullgirls exemplifies the beauty that can happen when people who absolutely love the fighting game genre are put in charge of a title. Skullgirls has quite a few signs of rushed development, but at its core, it is one of the most well-thought-out and impressive fighting games on the market right now. Future games of the genre are advised to take notes.
Read the full Skullgirls review.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
If you're a Tekken fan, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is essentially a "greatest hits" of Tekken so far, just like TTT 1 was in 2000. If you're not a franchise fan, there isn't really much "extra" content here to "wow" you, or make you change your mind. If you're somewhere in the middle, though, know that TTT 2 offers some of the best core combat in the series, and runs wonderfully online provided you're willing to treat it like an old-school fighter and play it over and over...and over.
Read the full Tekken Tag Tournament 2 review.
Congrats to all the nominees! We'll be announcing the official winner on Friday, December 14. In the mean time we want you to tell us which game this year was the best fighter. Plus, be sure to go vote in our Community Choice Award for your favorite game of 2012.
Check out all our other categories and nominations: