XBox 2D Fighters Library

 Even though it is touted as the most powerful 3D console of its generation, Microsoft’s XBox eventually rolled out a number of excellent 2D titles as well.

Personally, I’m looking into getting an XBox to mod and use as a media center so that I can bring my desktop PC out of my living room. So I might as well make the most of the console and cover some titles from my favorite old-school genre.

While the XBox may not have an exclusive games (or even significantly superior versions) in the 2D fighting genre, the console does have many of the essential PS2 hand-me-downs from the PS2 that were released over the last few years. Here is a rundown of what titles you should look into.

Street Fighter 3 Third Strike XBOX ScreenshotStreet Fighter Anniversary Collection
Comprised of two distinctly different chapters in the SF videogame universe, Anniversary Collection includes Hyper Street Fighter II (a blend of all five Street Fighter II titles with multiple character variations) and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. The compilation also offers five different soundtracks, multiple voice tracks, and various different modes of play.

As much as I love Street Fighter II, I would mainly purchase this for Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. I still believe it is one of the most polished 2D fighters ever and features some great animation, tight controls, and a nice dash of strategy.

Of course the Hyper Fighting version of Street Fighter II is nothing to sneeze at. Even though I already own a handful of versions of the granddaddy of fighting games, this version is a great little collectors item to give us some extra variety. I think of it as the Vampire Chronicles of the Street Fighter universe.
Review of Street Fighter Anniversary Collection

Guilty Gear XX XBOX ScreenshotGuilty Gear XX #Reload
While Capcom’s Street Fighter and SNK’s King of Fighters series may get most of the attention from the mainstream gaming media, the Sega Sammy’s Guilty Gear series has quietly become a cult classic among brawler fans.

The fighting system is simple to learn, but also very deep. Each character only has a handful of special moves, but the game encourages you to link together your own moves. A skilled player could rack up a 15+ combo, and only use regular attacks.

For those not familiar with the Guilty Gear X series, it also features some of the highest-resolution sprites for a 2D fighter, so it is incredibly beautiful. The only fighter that comes close is in terms of 2D smoothness is Street Fighter 3: Third Strike.
Review of Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear Isuka XBOX ScreenshotGuilty Gear Isuka
Instead of taking the Guilty Gear series to the next level, Sammy decided to go in another direction and bring GGX to the multiplayer environment. At first this new approach sounds like a terrific idea too, and one that the series could definitely benefit from.

However, once you sit down to explore these changes in practice, it quickly becomes apparent that this newly realized fighting system has made some rather negative changes. It isn’t a bad game, but when compared to the previous two Guilty Gear release, Guilty Gear Isuka definitely falls short.

However, if you like your are a Guilty Gear fan and would like to bring more that one friend into the action at once, Guilty Gear Isuka might be a nice distraction.
Review of Guilty Gear Isuka

King of Fighter 94 Rebout XBOX ScreenshotKing of Fighters ’94 Re-Bout
This remake of the very first King of Fighters game adds high-resolution visuals to the mix, making for a much better looking KOF experience. The game’s backgrounds have been updated to 3D, but they can be switched back to the original 2D backdrops if desired (the 2D versions run in the same resolution as the arcade version, unfortunately). Nevertheless, this feature is great for both vintage gaming purists and those of us that like old games, but don’t mind boosting a feature here or there.

This is the first time KOF 94 has been on a console since it was originally released on the Neo-Geo and Neo-Geo CD. It wasn’t even released on the Sega Saturn. It would be great if they could continue to re-release the older King of Fighters games. As I eluded to when this remake was announced, it is possible (and has been rumored) that SNK Planymore will continue to re-release the rest of the King of Fighters back-catalog on the PS2 and/or XBox.
Review of King of Fighters ’94 Re-bout

King of Fighters 2003 XBOX ScreenshotKing of Fighters 2002/2003
These two great games come bundled together with some great XBox Live features to boot. While the games do not seem very different on the surface, KOF fanboys will note some key differences between the 2002 and 2003 incarnations.

King of Fighters 2002 is a series fan’s dream, by keeping to the tried-and-true formula set out by the series while offering an impressively huge roster of upwards of 40 characters, from which you choose three to fight for your side in the match. Max Activation has also been improved in this version via the new QuickMax system, which does what the former did without stopping the flow of the battle.

KOF 2003 is the oddball in the bunch, deviating quite a bit from its predecessors, including KOF 2002. The crew of characters to choose from has been shrunk, but you still choose from three of them to fight the match. You can now switch out characters on the fly, instead of waiting for one to get knocked out. This really changes the flow of the match, making for more of a fast-paced “Marvel vs. Capcom” experience. KOF03 also sports some “new” characters from Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves.
Review of King of Fighters 2002/2003

King of Fighters NeoWave XBOX ScreenshotKing of Fighters NeoWave
After a decade of arcade and home console hits, with years of popularity behind it, one of the best fighting games to ever grace the 2D gaming world came back on the new Atomiswave arcade platform. NeoWave is essentially a remake of King of Fighters 2000 with a few altered features and also has a young Geese Howard and Kula Diamond.

What makes NeoWave worth owning is the assortment of play modes the game offers. These modes act in a similar fashion to Capcom vs SNK 2’s Grooves and change how characters play. These include Super Cancel Mode, (similar to King of Fighters 98’s Advanced Mode), Max 2 Mode (similar to Street Fighter Alpha 3’s X-Ism) , and Guard Break Mode (similar to Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves). Available in every mode is a special “Heat Button” that can be used to activate “Heat Mode.” In Heat Mode, characters deal more damage, but life decreases gradually.
Review of King of Fighters NeoWave

Samurai Showdown V/Zero XBOX ScreenshotSamurai Shodown V
I’m very excited to see a modern console getting some Samurai Shodown action. Not even the Dreamcast got a taste of SS (the closest being Last Blade 2). SSV has that SNK charm, but in part 5, the Slash/Bust varieties of gameplay that the previous games featured has been merged together which results in a simpler, yet slightly watered-down gameplay.

The major redeeming factor of this XBox version is that it offers full online competition via XBox Live. This at least gets you closer to that full arcade atmosphere. I’m hoping that the XBox recieves a port of Samurai Shodown Tenka from the PS2. It looks to be a more solid fighter.

While Samurai Shodown V is better than no SS, I would have rather seen a compilation of the older games from the series. But perhaps, SNK is wise to the fact that most hardcore games are just emulating the older games on their modded XBoxes.
Review of Samurai Shodown V

King of Fighters Maximum Impact XBOX ScreenshotKing of Fighters: Maximum Impact
While this game isn’t technically a 2D fighter, from what I’ve seen, it stays pretty true to its 2D King of Fighters roots in terms of style and gameplay.

Some players have criticized the game for an inferior hit-detection grid, several bugs and exploits, awkward English voice acting, and a limit on combo damage. Others acclaim the game’s originality and depth, and find that the combo limit adds balance and reduces one-sided matches.

Overall, it’s not as bad of a fighter as it could have been and seems to have gone over much better than SNK’s previous 3D attempts such as the titles on the Hyper NeoGeo 64. I’m interested to see how Maximum Impact 2 improves on this spinoff franchise.
Review of King of Fighters: Maximum Impact

Marvel vs Capcom 2 XBOX ScreenshotMarvel vs Capcom 2
This tag-team fighter has quite a fan following, but it’s more of a casual gamers’ fighter (aka button masher) than one that requires strategy. Marvel vs Capcom 2 has a monster-sized character roster and a tons of combo moves that show off its flashiness.

Personally, I could do without some of the flashiness and stick with the older VS titles like X-Men vs Street Fighter. I just thought those older ones were a little more solid in terms of controls, but Marvel vs. Capcom seemed to be a bit looser and unbalanced (probably due to the amount of characters)

Even with the game’s shortcomings, Marvel vs Capcom 2 is still a great fighter to blow off some steam with and have a good time with some of your friends.
Full Review of Marvel vs Capcom 2

Capcom Fighting Evolution XBOX ScreenshotCapcom Fighting Evolution
Formerly known as Capcom Fighting Jam, Capcom Fighting Evolution was supposed to be Capcom’s answer to the King of Fighters series. It combines all of Capcom’s major fighters and sticks them in one game. It’s very similar to Marvel vs Capcom 2, only with out the Marvel.

While some fanboys (including myself) may get an initial thrill from playing with a wide array of Capcom characters (including some that previously were never on a console game), it has a very sloppy engine that will soon show its flaws — keeping you from coming back.

Capcom also did not bother to re-do any of their character sprites, so the entire game seems like a quick project that was slapped together — or possibly like a fan-made M.U.G.E.N. fighter. Again, if you are a Capcom fan and can find this cheap, you might want to pick it up. But I would look at other titles on this list first.
Review of Capcom Fighting Evolution

Capcom vs SNK 2 XBOX ScreenshotCapcom vs. SNK 2
I personally enjoyed Capcom vs SNK 2 more MvC2 as I enjoy the SNK style more than the abundance of Marvel characters. It also pioneered the Grove system that was adapted in King of Fighters NeoWave, allowing you to adapt your characters to your favorite playing style (either Capcom or SNK).

Capcom vs. SNK brought the two biggest franchises in the 2D fighting world together, but it was far from perfect and garnered probably more criticism than it did acclaim from hardcore fans. While it was still an enjoyable fighter it suffered from a butchered movelist, simple mechanics, and obviously Capcom-biased gameplay.

There was a lot to enjoy for those who were prepared to leave aside its perceived ‘shortcomings’ and enjoy it for what it was, rather than feel disappointed for what it wasn’t – its beautiful presentation and the sheer thrill of seeing Ryu take on Iori, or Chun Li fighting Mai was enough for a lot of us.

Fundamentally, while for the hardcore this game was not quite up there with the ultra-refined likes of Street Fighter Alpha 3, SF3: Third Strike or Garou: Mark of the Wolves, it’s still a wonderful game and a fanstastic way to round out the XBox’s 2D lineup.
Review of Capcom vs SNK 2

SNK vs Capcom XBOX ScreenshotSNK vs Capcom: SVC Chaos
Obviously SNK vs Capcom: SVC Chaos is SNK’s version of Capcom vs SNK. Since both Capcom and SNK are kings of fighting games you get everything you would expect from a great fighter. Tight controls, a large cast of characters, excellent combos, special moves, and many different types of gameplay modes are all included within the game. Capcom faithful will have no problem pulling off all of their favorite moves with the Street Fighter characters.

If you aren’t used to SNK fighters, you may be initially thrown off by the button configuration. Capcom gamers will probably notice the biggest difference since the game is based on a 4-button layout instead of a six-button layout. Also some of the moves by some of the characters have been changed, removed or redesigned in order to balance out the different cast of characters.

Keep in mind thatSNK made this game, so don’t expect the Capcom fighters to look as in their Capcom counterparts. The characters look similar to the early Street Fighter games but with an SNK/Neo-Geo flair to them. For example Sagat looks similar to the original Street Fighter II than any other versions released. While some fanboys might not like this, I think its a unique change of pace and I enjoy seeing SNK’s interpretation of the Capcom characters.

Many gamers, including myself, are somewhat hesitant to play this game often as the difficulty level is quite challenging. The CPU is quite relentless in its battles and will really make you work towards victory.
Review of SNK vs Capcom: SVC Chaos

My Biggest Wishes…
Here are a few 2D fighters that would round out the XBox’s library quite nicely and bring it into stronger competition with the PS2, Dreamcast, and Saturn:
Street Fighter Alpha Anthology
Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves
Samurai Shodown Tenka
A Darkstalkers Collection

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Kevin says:

I have every fighting game that both Capcom and SNK have put out on the Xbox, and while not all of them are awesome they each have their own quirks. SF3 Third Strike, Guilty Gear XX, and SF2 off the Capcom Collection get the most play.

It was recently announced that King of Fighters ’94 Re-Bout was being canceled due to technical difficulties.

racketboy says:

Do you have a link to the cancellation notice? You sure it wasn’t a delay?

I thought that it had already been released…

Kevin says:

It hadn’t been released, it was supposed to come out at the end of Feb. They never did an official press release. They just announced it on their official forums, then changed the forums header to say “Due to development difficulties this project has been cancelled.”

Hugo says:

Have not seen King of Fighters ’94 Re-Bout (XBOX) in the wild or Capcom vs. SNK 2 (XboX).
Seen the PS2 version for Capcom vs. SNK (PS2) for about $29.99. The E.O editions are lesser in price and not too hard to find. Not even on E-bay can I find 94 Re-bout, still figure superfans are holding on to this great fighting classic. Great article!!!

Jo says:

Rebout 94 has been canceled on the xbox.

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