Fighting games are awesome, even a clueless gamer like myself can attest to that. However, as an artistic geek, one of my favorite elements of fighting games are the stages the bouts take place in. Often so much care and detail goes into the stages, arenas and kick-ass background music of fighting games that I find myself paying more attention to them than the fights themselves, usually resulting in me getting my butt handed to me. Today’s Player two Start pays tribute to some of my personal favorite fighting game stages and their music. Once again, these won’t be in any particular order, so I won’t be numbering them. Also again, these are just my personal favorite fighting game stages; others will have their own picks, and I welcome any feedback. Now, let’s do this!
BALROG (M. Bison in Japan) STAGE – STREET FIGHTER 2
While I like this stage, this one is a particular favorite of my twin brother Jason (aka our very own Goldstar); those who know him personally can attest that this stage is so him! This is easily one of the most eye-catching stages in all of SF2; I personally dig the twin bikini babes in red and blue. The music’s cool too.
FEI LONG STAGE – SUPER STREET FIGHTER 2
While Fei Long is basically another “I wanna be like Bruce Lee!” fighting game character, his stage immediately caught my eye when I first spotted a SSF2 arcade machine in some chintzy little shopping center somewhere in Columbia, MD. It’s really breathtaking, I like the music and as added surprise, at the end of the bout(s), the exotic bird and dragons start cheering their approval. That blew me away, because up to that point I thought they were just statues. So mythical birds and dragons are real in the Street Fighter universe? Rockin’!
CAMMY STAGE – SUPER STREET FIGHTER 2
Our younger brother Chaz (aka CJP from the Otaku Gamer Spot) is fond of this stage, as am I. I’m not sure if the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can really be seen in the skies of the United Kingdom, but the stage is cool anyway.
CAFFEINE NICOTINE STAGE – SAMURAI SHODOWN 2
The character of Caffeine Nicotine (get it?) immediately got my attention when I first read about SS2 in Electronic Gaming Monthly (there I go, dating myself again). I thought they couldn’t be serious, adding this little old man character who looks like he couldn’t hurt a fly, to a fighting game; I figured he must be a joke character or something, but Nicotine quickly became a favorite of mine as he combines 2 things I’ve always liked: deceptively powerful characters and mystics. His stage is at the floor of temple steps shrouded in mist (nice touch), and his music is pure Asian goodness–it sounds like something out of Noh theater (which theater? Noh theater! Insert your own “Who’s on First?” routine here).
GALFORD STAGE – SAMURAI SHODOWN 1 & 2
One of my favorite Samurai Shodown charcters has always been Galford. He’s an American in a Japanese setting, and I sort of fancy myself an Eastern/Western hybrid, a weirdo in 2 cultures) and he’s flashy and showy but a heck of a nice guy and devoted to justice–again similar to me, though I’m considerably more snarky and lazier. I like Galford’s harbor based stages with the rowdy seagoing types watching the fray (I always felt particularly bad when Galford would get wasted by a fatality move and you had to see his dog Poppy bow his head and face losing his master–what?! I have a sensitive side!), and his music rocks hard. Galford also has two of my all-time favorite win quotes:
“Forgive me. I possess power you can only dream of.” and
“Maybe I should get back to basics and stop the flash…naah.”
Here’s the music for Galford’s stage, Tuna. (No kidding, that’s really what it’s called.)
KEN STAGE -STREET FIGHTER ALPHA 2
You probably figured this was going to make the list. No surprise there, it’s awesome. Ken tossing a birthday bash for his lady Eliza aboard his own massive luxury yacht with a ton o’ Capcom characters in attendance as his guests–how can anyone resist? FTR, here are the other characters who cameo in this stage:
- Pure from Capcom World 2
- Felicia from Darkstalkers (in the pool)
- Morrigan from Darkstalkers
- Lord Raptor (Zabel Zarock) from Darkstalkers (in human form strumming on his guitar)
- Lei-Lei & Ling-Ling (aka Hsien-Ko and Mei Ling) from Night Warriors
- Unknown Soldiers 1 and 2 from Forgotten Worlds
- Michelle Heart from Legendary Wings
- Linn Kurosawa from Aliens VS Predator (climbing out of the pool)
- Biff and Ortega from Saturday Night Slam Masters
- Strider Hiryu
- Captain Commando
- Ginzu from Captain Commando
- Kenzou Sujimoto, Capcom staff member (as a butler)
DINER STAGE – STREET FIGHTER 4
Not much explanation needed here. It’s a 50’s style diner at night. Cool tunes and bouncing cars. Grab a burger and a chocolate malt and enjoy the brawl.
OVERPASS STAGE – STREET FIGHTER 4
Even I’m not sure why I like this stage so much. It’s not very showy or flashy; it’s just the underside of a bridge somewhere in Japan, where a small group of kids have gathered to watch the fight, run around, goof on each other and well, just be kids. Sometimes understatement is the best statement. The music’s decent as well, kind of J-Pop, and strangely fitting to the stage.
ASGARD STAGE – MARVEL VS CAPCOM 3
Anyone who regularly follows this site knows that I like me some Asgard. I just love the idea that there’s this magical dimension of myth, might, advanced space technology and mysticism with a Rainbow Bridge, Pegasi and giant flying fire chickens just hanging a stone’s throw away from Earth.
I’m going to cheat a little with the music for this one. No characters in MvC3 have their own personalized stages, and I like Thor’s personal theme more than the designated theme for Asgard itself, so I’ll be going with the former instead of the latter.
-And there you have it. Some of my favorite fighting game stages and background tunes.