I started playing arcade games in the early eighties. Back then it was Space Invaders, Asteroids, Frogger, Pac-Man, Pole Position, Donkey Kong, etc. Most games were simply move-and-shoot, others had you navigate a maze or race track while avoiding obstacles and encountering dangers. All pretty simple stuff but still quite entertaining and I plopped many a quarter into those devil boxes.
Then came the day when I first beheld Karate Champ! Wow! One on one combat between martial arts masters. AND
you could play against another real, live person! It was amazing and I was hooked. I got pretty good at it over the years and the best I ever did was one time when I got to 32 Dan on the machine in the Holiday Inn Williamsburg game room at like three in the morning after a looong day of work. I'll never forget it.
Of course, after Karate Champ there were other games like Punch-Out (the pre Mike Tyson version), Double Dragon, Yie Ar Kung-Fu etc. and the floodgates were open for more. A lot of these were one and done but a few managed to hook us in and spawned sequels and eventually became a franchise.
This is an incomplete list to be sure but these are the games that I believe are the most familiar to people. By all means please mention something that I may have omitted.Mortal Kombat
Not my favorite, I'll admit. Probably because I'm not very good at it!
No, it just seemed like a button masher to me without much strategy.Tekken
Love these games. The freedom of movement and variety of attacks is awesome.Street Fighter
Another button masher but still enjoyable with flashy graphics.Soul Caliber / Soul Blade
Beautiful backgrounds, comprehensive fighting styles, blocking ability. Masterful.Virtua Fighter
The thinking man's fighting game. Precise mechanics and realistic styles.Dead or Alive
Many of the fighters in this game breast, ahem - I mean boast
about their huge tracts of land.Marvel vs. Capcom
Wolverine vs. Mega Man? Ghost Rider vs. Dante? Jill Valentine vs. Shuma-Gorath?! Nuff Said.Super Smash Bros.
A relative newcomer with familiar characters and easy to learn mechanics.