The Top 7... Fighting game backgrounds


3) Tengu's stage: Dead or Alive Ultimate

Dead or Alive's last appearance on the original Xbox was a remake of the first two games. But while the Dreamcast original DOA2 contained a hard-as-nails final boss with a nicely rendered 'petrified forest' style background, it was the Xbox version that blew us away. Quite literally, at times:

Above: Tengu can create mini whirlwinds. Like the background yet? Think it's dull? Just you wait...

Tengu appears, complete with his wings, sandals and protruding nose and proceeds to kick your ass into the middle of next week. But give him the chance and he'll conjure one of the best graphical effects of the last generation, transforming the season in real-time, from winter to spring, to summer, to autumn. It's magnificent. Just look at this:

Above: Full circle through the seasons in one bout. Nothing in Xbox 360 DOA has beaten this effect


Biggest mid-fight distraction

What, you mean you didn't notice just now?

Above: Tengu gets an eyeful

Look at that picture very closely and you're bound to notice the biggest distraction in this fight. The same lighting that's affecting the characters is affecting the tufts of 3D grass on the stage floor! I know, right? Talk about attention to detail.


Other noteworthy stages in DOA2U:

Kasumi's clock tower stage almost made the list, as it was the first one to introduce us to tiered fighting stages when it appeared in the original DOA2 – something almost every fighting game features now. Smashing your opponent through a stained glass window and continuing the fight in the courtyard below was awesome then and it's still awesome now. Ayane's snowy stage complete with ice cavern (and smashable ice columns) was also spectacular.

Above: That clock face is just begging to be smashed... as was that ice column. Hey, look - sparkles!


2) Carnival: Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes

Most fighting games choose to be either 2D or 3D. Marvel vs Capcom 2 chose to use both techniques to make sure it looked suitably current-gen (at the time, of course) while being simple enough for the hardware to be able to handle up to six detailed characters fighting in the same bout - often at the same time. But who'd have thought this mash-up of graphical styles would produce something as amazing as this?

Above: Have you ever seen anything like that? No other fighting game is as bright or jubilant as MvC2

The stage has vertical height as well as the usual 40-odd feet of width, which proves too much for your eyes to take in the first time you get knocked into the air.

Above: Fun? You're damn right. Why aren't all games as fun as this? Hey - someone should make a sequel!

It's a wonderfully surreal arena for a fight, and with the action of MvC2 so chaotic in nature, it only makes sense that the background should reflect the game's penchant for the extreme. Everything about the game is larger than life, which reminds me...


Biggest mid-fight distraction

There can only be one candidate for the biggest distraction in this background - the damn clown face. It's the first thing you see when you start the stage, grinning at you like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon intro. It's got eyelashes and a moustache. And jazz hands. But it moves too. It isn't alive, I don't think. Well, it had better not be, or I'll be sleeping with a gun by my bed from now on. I don't like clowns. I do like MvC2. So... let's just... move on.

Above: "They all fight down here..." 


Other noteworthy stages in MvC2

The other stages are less memorable, but each has something of interest to offer. The airship stands out, as does the fight by the clock. But it really is all about the carnival.

Above: Get it on PSN or XBLA to get you in the mood for MvC3. It may be a decade old, but it's still fantastic

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  • 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?