Yo yo yo!
It's a pretty impressive feat that the one-on-one fighting game, despite theoretically being one of the most constrained genres of the lot, has managed to evolve and expand its scope so consistently throughout the last 30 years. Two characters, a closed arena, and a lot of punching until someone falls over. That's the set-up you have to work within. So it should come as no surprise that in the aim of keeping things fresh within such a tight framework, more than a few developers have gone a bit weird along the way.
Weapons were an obvious step forward, but the novelty of melee would only suffice for a certain period. Hitting someone with a bat is one thing, but how to push it further? What kind of flamboyant fighting gear could crank up the possibilities yet again? And thus you end up with this stuff, which, while undoubtedly looking cool, would be next to useless in a fight. In fact it would be so self-defeating that it would negate the need for a fight.
Bishamon's Kien sword - Darkstalkers
So DarkStalkers Bishomon has this sword, right? Its a really good sword. Cursed, but good. You see while all other swords, in accordance to the laws of physics, blunt up really quickly when struck hard against metal and bone, this one doesnt. In fact, repeat impacts actually make it sharper. Best sword ever, right?
Well no. You see logically, it would only be great up to a (pun unintended) point. The thing about a sword that gets endlessly sharper is that in the hands of a regular cleaving fan such as Bishamon, its pretty rapidly going to get too sharp. First its carving opponents in two, but then its lopping Bishamons coffee table in half every time he puts it down without immaculate care and attention. A few months later, its carving air molecules apart. A little further down the line, its inadvertently hacking holes in space-time just by existing. Theres such a thing as being too efficient.
May's Anchor - Guilty Gear
Anchors. Theyre big, theyre hard, theyre heavy, and theyre hooked. That should make them the ideal melee weapon. But consider the other, fundamental, inalienable element of an anchors nature. It is designed to keep gigantic, metal ships stationary against the relentless force of the tide.
Guilty Gears May, as you (pun unintended) may have noted, conforms fully to the Small. Lightweight Female archetype of the fighting game character handbook. That means that she is considerably less heavy and sturdy than a ship. And that means that taking this thing into battle would result only in around a two-foot range of movement and a total inability to hit anything. Less a weapon, more a masochistic free-punch facilitator. Unless, like Street Fighters Oro, shes just so damn hard that she needs a handicap.
Neinhalt Sieger's giant flaming gauntlet - Samurai Shodown
No, thats not a perspective trick up there. And yes, thats theoretically a gauntlet. A gauntlet the size of a large child. No-one has ever espoused the virtues of small children as effective melee weapons. Particularly not small children strapped to ones arm. If you swung one hard enough an Olympic hammer-throwing technique might just work, but youd need a pretty slow opponent and a pretty skinny child you might just get one good hit in, but otherwise, children are next to useless in a life-and-death combat scenario. Famously so, in fact.
Tangential, but relevant point about heavy medieval armour: it was a fucker to wear. Wearing a full suit, youd have been less a prancing, leaping, blade-whirling dervish of death, and possessed a countenance more akin to an arthritic sumo trying to powerlift on a high-gravity planet. With movement barely possible, balance was key to that stuffs feasibility. Strap it all to one arm, and it will have roughly the same effect on ones mobility as a light stroke.
Axl's Kusarigama - Guilty Gear
On the surface, Axls Kusarigama looks like an ideal, medium-to-long range melee weapon. It has a lengthy chain for swinging, a sickle on either end, and on the whole looks just weighty enough to build some nasty momentum while remaining lightweight enough to be viable. Hell, kusarigama are real, historical weapons, so this thing has to get a pass, right?
Well no. You see real kusarigama dont work like Guilty Gears version. Axls model subscribes to the video game rule of cool, rather than the traditional wisdom of learned historical quartermasters. Real Kusarigama have only one blade, with a weight at the other end. The weight is actually the bit you swing, and you use it not for direct offence, but to ensnare and tangle your opponents weapon before moving in for a stab with the sickle. Thats a system that makes sense. What doesnt make sense is using the blades as a flail. Theyd be much harder to control than a sword, nigh-impossible to land accurately, and lets face it, having a giant, unruly metal spike sticking out of the side of a weapons handle while trying to negotiate an acrobatic street fight is only going to result in accidentally slashed forearms and inconveniently severed tendons. More trouble than its worth.
Wan Fu's giant stone pillar
Its a giant stone pillar.
Jax's robot arms - Mortal Kombat series
Cool thing about metallic, robot arms: theyre really good at lifting heavy things and crushing squishy opponents into an even squishier configuration. The theory is great.
Crap thing about metallic, robot arms: unless the surgical techno-boffins who kitted you out with them gave you a reinforced, metal skeleton at the same time, the sheer weight of the things would tear them out of your shoulders the second you stood up. The reality is a flesh-ripping, sinew-snapping, cartilage-twisting, blood-squirting nightmare.
A.B.A.'s Paracelsus - Guilty Gear
Last Guilty Gear one, I promise. I know we already have a couple on this list, but this one is so ridiculous that I couldn't let it go. You know why keys are shaped the way that they are? Its so that theyll fit into keyholes and, when rotated, manipulate the tumblers of the lock in order to free up the mechanism and release the door or lid in question. Youll note that this simple, everyday function does not have much requirement for weapon balance, manageable weighting, or ergonomic comfort. Thats why keys are not designed for any of that. Thus, they are not designed, in any way, to function particularly well as weapons when ludicrously oversized.
Also, more worrying point, WHO THE HELL NEEDS A DOOR THAT BIG?
Bang's giant nail - BlazBlue
Nothing about this is practical. BlazBlues fighters are pretty notorious for the ludicrous nature of their weaponry, but this thing is off-the-chart stupid. First up, that amount of solid metal will weigh as much as two rather portly ponies. Just as importantly though, theres a reason that every melee weapon in history, from katana to baseball bat, has a handle. Swinging anything heavy enough to crack a skull hard enough to crack said skull makes gripping said thing a pretty tough proposition indeed. Doubly so when you take into account the inevitable sweaty hands that come with 60 seconds spent jumping madly around trying not to get beaten unconscious. A perfectly cylindrical piece of smooth metal does to tie in well to that situation.
But more disturbingly, WHO THE HELL NEEDS A NAIL THAT BIG? AND CAN YOU IMAGINE THE SIZE OF THE HAMMER? Why not use that, Bang?
Anything that isn't a lightsaber - SoulCalibur 4
Aaand suddenly youre engaging in a heated duel using an oversized stick of butter.
Typical SouCal fighter. Always brings butter to a knife fight.
Let's put this one to bed
So, those are the most ridiculously unhelpful fighting game weapons I came up with, but surely there are loads more self-defeating implements of battle-nonsense floating around, maiming their users willy-nilly on a nigh-daily basis. If you have any you think should share the spotlight, push them awkwardly onstage by way of the comments section.
And while you're here, why not check out The most ludicrously impractical RPG weapons (opens in new tab), and then maybe the equivalent, FPS-focused feature (opens in new tab)? If you liked this one, you'll probably like those two, as they're almost exactly the same.