It's easy to find an arcade in Japan and quickly delve into some worthy competition. Fighting games are taken very seriously in Japan and with new games being released very often, the Japanese are the first to show us what is to come. Some games fall by the wayside, and some games become tried, tested and true and played in high level competitions such as the Super Battle Opera. This is my Top 10 of the current popular arcade fighting games in Japan.

A relatively unknown fighting game, also known as Fist of the North Star. Based on the anime of the same name, Hokuto no Ken has attracted players with its smooth graphics, fast gameplay and overall fun. Although, the lack of characters in this game definitely restricts its success.

One of the better SNK-games to date, NeoGeo Battle Coliseum has seen even healthy play in North America. Featuring an assortment of characters from SNK's various series; NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is a very well-rounded fighter that delivers with strategic 2-character action that keeps character skills from their respective games allowing for a wonderful mix of style.

The most recent incarnation of King of Fighters that delivers with flying colors. This is definitely the best King of Fighters currently released. With improved sprites and graphics, King of Fighters finally delivers on a visual level. The gameplay has also improved, requiring certain amounts of skill to play this game at a high level. With sub-systems like leader stock, leader special, quick change and various other need-to-knows King of Fighters XI is great tournament game.

Shocking indeed, this is the oldest game on this list. This game continues to see play because it brings us back to our fighting games roots. Back in the days of just Street Fighter. Even now, while still being played at this year's Super Battle Opera 5, Hyper Fighting is a game that has definitely stood the test of time.

Indeed, we in North America have also received this game many years back on the Dreamcast and then again in the Anniversary Collection for the PS2. Although, it does not make this any less popular in Japanese arcades. This is one of the games that see continual play because the core continues to evolve. With mind games and strategies continually changing, Third Strike is one of those true fighting games that will live for years to come.

One of the newest games on this list, Arcana Heart has come into its own as one of the more unique and interesting 2-D Fighters. Featuring a cast of all women, Arcana Heart allows variety in selecting an "Arcana" on top of the character already selected. Featuring a unique three bar system that includes a secondary special gauge and homing cancels, similar to Guilty Gear's roman cancel, Arcana Heart has enough to keep even hardcore fighters interested. This is one game I would love to see ported so that more people can come to enjoy it.

Melty Blood has some rather distinct roots. Originally an H-game turned anime, Melty Blood features characters from the series entitled "Tsukihime". Melty Blood is a very fast-paced game with nothing specifically to overcomplicate the gameplay. Melty Blood is a game of aerial combos and awareness of your gauge. Knowing when to use heat and when not to can decide a match. Melty Blood is an exciting game that deserves its spot on this Top 10.

The Tekken series has always been a figure in the realm of 3-D fighters. Tekken 5 was a great game, but the expansion to Dark Resurrection skyrocketed Tekken's success. Unfortunately, we North Americans only received a port onto the PSP, as Dark Resurrection is a terrific addition to the series. Dark Resurrection adds Lily and Dragunov to an already full cast of characters and with more attention on balance, this will definitely be the game full of juggling madness until the release of Tekken 6.

Another 3-D fighter snatches one of the top spots in this list. When Virtua Fighter 5 came out in arcades the fighting community embraced it right away. Virtua Fighter 5 is a beautiful looking game and probably one of the best 3-D fighting games of all time. Virtua Fighter has been known to have one of best fighting game engines and the best character balance in any fighter. Virtua Fighter 5 continues with that success. We await its much anticipated port onto the PS3.

A 3-D fighter will definitely not topple this game. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core takes the top spot on this list, expanding on what has already been a fantastic set of 2-D fighters by Sammy. Accent Core has seen huge amounts of play in it initial release this month in Japan and has already been made one of the feature games in many Japanese tournaments. The improved graphics and gameplay make Accent Core a real winner and something brand new for all Guilty Gear Fans. Featuring the unique characters, the roman and false roman cancels we all love and with a couple of new quirks, Accent Core is keeping the 2-D scene alive. We all hope that we can at least import this supremely popular game in the near future.

This concludes my Top 10 list of "Japanese Arcade Fighting Games" currently in Japan. That is not to say that the games not mentioned were not instrumental in developing the fighting game scene, but the torch must be passed on. We look at games gone by such as Capcom vs SNK 2, Alpha 3 and Marvel vs Capcom 2. Other obscure games like The Rumble Fish 2, Spectral vs Generation and Garou: Mark of the Wolves deserves mention. Fighting games need more support in North America so that we can bring these great games home. We get the occasional release such as King of Fighters 2006 and Dead or Alive 4, but we need more. If we ever plan to compete with Japanese players we need to level the playing field. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and have a nice day.

List by AlterGenesis (01/02/2007)

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