The Top 7... Fighting game backgrounds

With Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds almost upon us and sporting some of the coolest, most fan-pleasing backgrounds ever seen in a fighting game, it's high time we came up with the definitive list of the Top 7 fighting game backgrounds. After all, we know you spend ages deciding where to fight, even though it rarely affects the gameplay in any way. It's OK, we do it too. So let's get started with round 1, shall we? FIGHT!


7) Venice: Soul Calibur

The criteria for this list is more than just best-looking. But that's certainly the reason Venice is kicking us off. It's as beautiful as a cold beer on a hot day and just as wet. The sun is low in the hazy sky, the majestic stone pillars are reflected in the azure waters and the shadows are long under the fighters' gleaming blades. It's head and shoulders above most fighting backdrops, even though it's over a decade old now.

Above: The super-clean XBLA version doesn't do it many favours, but it still looks the business in standard def

You can see why Venice is seen as a city of romance - we're all in love with this. But don't think it's just a pretty skin - that water is there for dunking your opponent, which was still a relatively new feature for fighting games in 1999. Better still, once the fight is over the invisible wall that prevents you accidentally stepping off the edge is disabled, allowing you to deliberately give yourself a nice cooling bath after every bout. Hey - there's nothing wrong with making your own fun, right?

Above: Aaand in he goes! Who'd have thought a girl in a skimpy dress could best an armoured knight?

In fact, so good was this background, I'm convinced it's one of the biggest reasons Namco chose not to support widescreen in the XBLA version, sticking instead with huge black borders on the left and right of the screen. With Soul Calibur IV just around the corner at the time, there would have been no need to buy the new game. This is good enough for any generation of console.


Biggest mid-fight distraction

The lens flare? The magnificent architecture? Come on, you're looking at Seung Mina's pants, aren't you? Sheesh...

Above: Incidentally, why did Namco make Seung Mina so ugly in subsequent games? Boo!


Other noteworthy stages in Soul Calibur

Cervantes' Spanish stage with the galleon in the background and the shadows that are light sourced to the glow of the setting sun is rather special, as is the final fight in the void with Inferno. Oh, and Ostrheinsburg Castle or Taki's Hoko Temple stage with the huge statue (both pictured). Or the water/fire-filled Kunpaetku Shrine with the massive serpent. Pretty much every single stage in the game is dripping with detail and a very rare kind of videogame magic.

Above: This is why no-one writes about Soul Calibur 1 these days. They just start playing it again instead


6) Gun Hill Garage: Def Jam: Fight for NY

The whole Fight Club idea of underground fighting is perfect for videogames. But why have such gentlemanly rules? 'Only two guys to a fight?' Naff off! (That's gangsta speak, for 'get out of town', by the way). In the Gun Hill Garage stage, the onlookers are the ring boundary, which shakes things up nicely.

Above: Those bystanders will hold onto you if you get too close. It's brilliant... if it's not happening to you

They'll hand you weapons, hold onto your sparring partner (er... this is only sparring, right fellas?) and even help you out with tag team moves. The wealth of possibilities means you'll never see everything it has to offer in your first fight, making this a great stage to return to to make sure you haven't missed anything. 


Biggest mid-fight distraction

Street Fighter II used car smashing as a bonus game, but here it's actually part of the fight. Your opponent's car and your own pride and joy are parked up in the middle of the ring and you can use them to inflict damage to each other. But the cars take damage too, so if you smash up your own vehicle in an attempt to KO the other fighter, you're actually hurting yourself.


Trouble is, while you're trying really hard to do the context sensitive moves, you're probably going to get beaten up in the mean-time. Ah well, it's good when it happens.

Above: "Hey! You're getting your blood on my car! GTFO, B! etc 


Other noteworthy stages in Def Jam: Fight for NY

125 Street Station is the only other contender so far as we're concerned. Virtua Fighter 3 always hinted at how awesome a fighting stage with 'interactive' subway trains could be. Def Jam just went that little bit further and gave us what we wanted. Blammo.

Above: It's all about the environments in Def Jam. Well, that and the rap music. Dur


  • Ariaka - February 11, 2011 3:30 a.m.

    For one: Tengu is awesome. For two: Soul Calibur is awesome. For three?: I actually had a copy of LHX on my old 286 and I giggled incessantly when I saw it here XD I'm also under 25
  • AuthorityFigure - February 10, 2011 1:07 a.m.

    Stop showing the girls with their legs apart. It's not interesting anymore.
  • GreyGhost - February 9, 2011 6:42 a.m.

    The "Drive In" stage in SFIV/SSFIV is not Las Vegas ... You folks need to look at the map in the pre fight sequence ... It's in the North Eastern US ...
  • philipshaw - February 8, 2011 3 p.m.

    Great list and you got all my favs in here
  • CaptainSalmon - February 8, 2011 2:07 p.m.

    Four pages on fighting game backgrounds... and still interesting. Mind. Blown.
  • jmcgrotty - February 8, 2011 7:37 a.m.

    While I have no problem with the list, selectable stages in games are 100% unacceptable. They should always be random. Give me a break.
  • Crimmy - February 8, 2011 6:50 a.m.

    Screw that damn clown. I was always amazed at the clock tower in MvC 2. Also, Las Vegas in SF IV (or super, doesn't matter) was pretty awesome. I like all the bouncing cars and neon lights everywhere.
  • KrazyGamer - February 8, 2011 5:43 a.m.

    I was really hoping you would mention Tekken 4's Airport stage, I loved that stage. I think I liked it more cuz of the song that came with it, It blended in well. Thats just my prespective.
  • lovinmyps3 - February 8, 2011 5:40 a.m.

    I was hoping that would be number one. Love the updated version in IV, especially the fat dude with the camera. He makes me laugh every time! I really love the African eclipse stage in Super SFIV though. That eclipse is literally the reason I got annihilated the first time I played that stage!
  • d0x - February 8, 2011 12:39 a.m.

    I was so hopelessly addicted to the Virtua Fighter series. Sega were true pioneers back then and its arcade games were jaw dropping. The first time I saw Daytona USA I almost shit my pants and there was about 70 people waiting in line to play it was amazing. Now arcades are dead. I bought the Saturn just so I could play Virtua Fighter 2 and Daytona USA. I loved all the arcade to saturn ports back then. They were never as pretty but always just as much fun. Fighters Megamix is still my favorite fighting game of all time and I still play it. It looks like vomit on my HDTV but so what!? Sega I <3 you! Get Yu Suzuki back into the mix and create some damn magic and for the love of god make a sequel to Phantasy Star Online without changing the entire game. PSU was terrible!
  • Ravenbom - February 8, 2011 12:25 a.m.

    Pretty sure it's just DoA, not DOA.
  • NathanXplosion - February 7, 2011 11:55 p.m.

    I would have picked 125 Street Station over the Gun Hill Garage stage in Def Jam: Fight for NY. Throwing some onto the tracks and watching them get hit by the train never got old. Whis EA would have made more Def Jame games like Fight for NY.
  • ThePigHostage - February 7, 2011 11:34 p.m.

    Great list, but was it really necessary to bash on MK 2?
  • shawksta - February 7, 2011 10:31 p.m.

    Great list, that clown in MVC2 still scared me at night. I love Chun li's China stage it has so many things happening in the original and in SF4. I gotta agree with the others aswell, a smash bros. Stage deserves to be in this, and you CANT say there wasnt anyone that standed out, I think the problem was that there was TOO MANY that stood out to have only 1 chosen. New Pork Town was Huge, Port Town races you through the track and you fight, Poke floats lets you fight in many giant Pokemon Floats,Wario ware has to be one of the most creative out of all the gimmick stages and of course the Kraid Stage with him slamming the stage around, there was allot, you guys probably couldnt choose because most were unique. Oh well, its just your opinions after all.
  • Ampatent - February 7, 2011 10:29 p.m.

    This Top 7 deserves a part 2 of not 3 & 4. So many stages left out... I don't know how anyone could ignore the Solar Eclipse stage from SSFIV.
  • NinjaJamez - February 7, 2011 10:26 p.m.

    I love the stage on street fighter alpha 2 that is inspired by the ryu vs sagat fight from the anime movie. this one if i didnt made my point
  • elmaropwnz - February 7, 2011 9:11 p.m.

    What's with the hate on mortal kombat II?
  • 8bitBaby - February 7, 2011 9:02 p.m.

    gawd that clownface is creeeepy. D: also. LENS FLARE!
  • Ilyere - February 7, 2011 8:58 p.m.

    I was hoping for an SSBB stage, but oh well! I'm looking forward to the MvC3 review by the way!
  • Darkhawk - February 7, 2011 8:55 p.m.

    AND MvC2 was on a CD on the PS2 version! Remember those blue discs?

Showing 1-20 of 56 comments

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