It’s not hard to guess the legacy that tournament fighting games have had in the arcade industry. The ‘fighting fever’ began in the mid-80s when you had titles like Karate Champ and Kung Fu Master come to the table; then it kicked into high gear with the likes of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat in the 90s. This bold new genre was crucial in breathing new life to the industry after the video game crash of ‘83 in the West. The said crash took place due to a glut of awful games that were released in the early 80s, both to arcades and consoles. The resulting effect damaged interest for a time in video games all together. However, more than the sheer amount of bad games, parents of arcade-goers also had a moral battle against the industry, as they felt that their kids were spending too much time (and money) playing grotesque games with gratuitous violence. In just over two years, from 1982 to 1985, the arcade industry went from a net worth of $12 billion to just under $100 million.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
In 1985, arcades suffered an even bigger blow as Nintendo released their Nintendo Entertainment System, which was closely followed by Sega’s release of the Sega Master System and Atari’s 7800 ProSystem in 1986. Home computers also started to carve out a niche with 16-bit processors, setting the stage for the “Bit Wars” of the late 80s/early 90s that would continue to give attention to home platforms. While every system was still judged on the quality of their arcade ports, more and more companies began to shift their focus (and game development dollars) more towards successful home platforms. As time went by, the 16-bit hype came to consoles as Sega released the Genesis and Nintendo brought along the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Arguments about which system is “the best” still flares up from time to time – despite the fact that how many ‘bits’ the processor could handle was ultimately not that important to the quality of games that were brought to the machines. As of right now, history has shown us that Nintendo came out on top in the end. However, with time, both companies were closely tied on the spot to the top, as they both had a large number of loyalists around the world.