Street Fighter (Capcom) versus Mortal Kombat (Midway)
Choosing sides: Arcade popularity is surging. Everyone is lining up to play fighting games but only two in the whole world matter - Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. One paved the way for all other fighting games and focused on extremely deep combos and player-versus-player knowledge, while the other was about gushing blood and ripping digitized heads off. Did you shout "shoryuken" or "Get over here?"
Highlights: The real fight was during the Mortal Kombat II and Street Fighter II Turbo era. The choppy fighting of the original Kombat was replaced with a more detailed roster of moves, spectacular sound and even gorier fatalities. This against the second re-issuing of Street Fighter II, which only offered faster moves and a list of nigh-unnoticeable upgrades.
The next follow-up, Super Street Fighter II, brought in four new characters but slowed everything down again. Mortal Kombat 3 introduced button-mashy combos, but also added a layer of silliness that wasn't present before. As the years wore on, both properties were whored out beyond anyone's expectations until they quietly acknowledged that 2D fighters were dead. Then came the ungraceful move into the third dimension.
The outcome: Ryu, Chun Li and Ken are still world famous, but their street fighting cred is running a little thin. All 3D attempts have floundered while the Kombat krew has been churning out successful entries for years, with one still in the works. At this point it's the idea of Street Fighter that won - its characters and gameplay have become legendary by themselves, without a new game to keep the spirit alive. Kombat, on the other hand, had so many lame fighters it had to kill 'em all off last year. It's a clean slate for Sub-Zero, so who's to say Cammy doesn't deserve a seventh chance too?