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The PlayStation 3: A Heavyweight Champion for Fighting Games

Street Fighter IV PS3

Hey there, fighting game fans! Today, we‘re putting the spotlight on one of the most beloved consoles of all time – the Sony PlayStation 3. From its launch in 2006 to its discontinuation in 2017, the PS3 was a powerhouse platform that delivered countless hours of entertainment across all genres. But for those of us who live for the thrill of landing that perfect combo or clutching out a nail-biting final round, the PS3 was a true champion. It played host to some of the absolute best fighting games ever made, pushing the genre forward in exciting ways.

Defining the Fighting Game Genre

First, let‘s take a moment to define what we mean by a "fighting game." At their core, fighting games are competitive video games that pit two or more characters against each other in close-quarters combat. Players must learn and master a set of precise inputs to perform attacks, special moves, and defensive maneuvers. The goal is to deplete your opponent‘s health bar before they can do the same to you. Fighting games are known for their steep learning curves, demanding fast reflexes, strategic decision-making, and a deep understanding of mechanics like frame data and hitboxes.

Some common elements you‘ll find in most fighting games include:

  • A diverse cast of playable characters, each with their own unique moves, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Multiple attack buttons corresponding to light, medium, and heavy strikes
  • Special moves performed by inputting specific directional motions and button presses
  • Super meters that fill up as you deal and take damage, allowing you to perform powerful super moves
  • Wakeup games and okizeme, where you pressure your knocked-down opponent as they try to get back to their feet
  • A variety of game modes such as arcade, versus, training, and online play

With these basics in mind, let‘s dive into seven of the absolute best fighting games that graced the PlayStation 3.

1. Street Fighter IV

Developed and published by Capcom, Street Fighter IV hit the PS3 in 2009 and quickly became the new gold standard for 2D fighting games. It took the beloved gameplay of Street Fighter II and masterfully translated it to 3D, with gorgeous character models, fluid animations, and vibrant stages. The roster featured 25 characters, with a mix of returning world warriors like Ryu, Chun-Li, and Guile, as well as newcomers like Crimson Viper, Abel, and El Fuerte.

Street Fighter IV introduced the Focus Attack system, which added a new layer of depth to the combat. By holding down the medium punch and kick buttons, players could absorb an incoming attack and retaliate with a powerful counter. It also brought in Ultra Combos, cinematic super moves that dealt massive damage and could turn the tide of a match.

Perhaps most importantly, Street Fighter IV featured robust online play, allowing players from around the globe to battle each other with minimal lag. According to Capcom‘s Investor Relations Data, Street Fighter IV sold over 3.4 million copies worldwide across all platforms, with the PS3 version accounting for a significant portion of that success.

The game‘s impact on the competitive scene cannot be overstated. Street Fighter IV single-handedly revitalized the fighting game community, ushering in a new era of major tournaments like Evo, Capcom Cup, and Dreamhack. It has a skill ceiling that seems to reach to the heavens, with top players like Daigo Umehara, Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi, and Bruce "GamerBee" Hsiang showcasing the depth of its systems through their tournament runs.

"Street Fighter IV is one of the most important fighting games in recent memory. It brought the genre to a wider audience and showed players what fighting games are capable of in the modern era. Even today, its influence can still be felt," said Mark "MarkMan" Julio, Business Development Manager at Mad Catz and longtime fighting game community leader.

2. BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger / Continuum Shift

BlazBlue CT/CS PS3

The BlazBlue series, developed by Arc System Works, made a splash on the PS3 with two excellent entries: Calamity Trigger in 2009 and Continuum Shift in 2010. These 2D anime fighters were built on a modified version of the Guilty Gear XX engine, with high-resolution sprites, silky-smooth animation, and an electrifying heavy metal soundtrack.

What set BlazBlue apart was its unique "Drive" system, which gave each character an individualized mechanic mapped to a button. For example, the rebel swordsman Ragna could drain his opponent‘s life force, while the cat girl Taokaka could dash, hop, and pounce to close the distance. This made every character feel wholly distinct, with their own rhythm and game plan.

The games also featured a robust story mode that unfolded through visual novel-style cutscenes. It was a wonderfully wacky anime plotline full of time travel, eldritch horrors, and over-the-top personalities. This was supplemented by substantial single-player content like arcade mode, score attack, and the strategy-RPG-esque Legion mode.

According to NPD sales data, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger sold over 100,000 units in North America within a month of its release – a strong debut for a new IP in the genre. Its success proved there was still a market for high-quality 2D fighting games in an increasingly 3D-focused landscape.

3. UFC Undisputed 2010 / UFC Undisputed 3

For fans of combat sports, the UFC Undisputed series brought the intensity of mixed martial arts to the PS3. Developed by Yuke‘s and published by THQ, UFC Undisputed 2010 and UFC Undisputed 3 let players step into the Octagon as real-life fighters like Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Brock Lesnar.

The games utilized a complex control scheme that mapped different moves to the face buttons and right analog stick. You could throw jabs, hooks, and kicks on the feet, clinch up and land knees and elbows in close, and go for takedowns to bring the fight to the ground. On the mat, you had to master the transitions between full guard, half guard, side control, and mount to achieve an advantageous position or lock in a fight-ending submission.

UFC Undisputed 2010 featured a roster of over 100 fighters across seven weight classes, while UFC Undisputed 3 bumped that up to 150 fighters. Both games included a career mode where you created a fighter and worked your way up the ranks, training to improve your attributes between bouts. They also supported online play, allowing you to test your virtual martial arts skills against players worldwide.

While sales data for the UFC Undisputed games is scarce, we know that UFC Undisputed 2009 (the first entry in the series) sold over 3.5 million units worldwide according to THQ‘s financial reports. Its sequels on PS3 likely performed similarly well, tapping into the growing popularity of MMA as a sport.

4. Persona 4 Arena

Persona 4 Arena PS3

Part fighting game, part visual novel, Persona 4 Arena was a delightful blend of genres from Atlus and Arc System Works. Released on PS3 in 2012, it brought together beloved characters from Persona 3 and Persona 4 to duke it out in a mysterious fighting tournament.

Built on a modified BlazBlue engine, Persona 4 Arena looked downright stunning in motion. The characters were bursting with personality, throwing out stylish attacks and quippy one-liners. But this wasn‘t just a shallow cash-grab spinoff – the fighting system had plenty of meat on its bones.

The big twist was the inclusion of Personas, the supernatural beings that manifest from the psyche in Persona RPGs. Each character could summon their Persona to lend a hand in battle by pressing the D button, adding a unique layer to the standard 2D fighter formula. For example, Chie could sic her Persona on the enemy to initiate combos from afar, while Akihiko‘s Persona could shoot out projectiles to control space.

The game featured both an Arcade mode with individual character stories and a substantial Story mode that picked up two months after the events of Persona 4. Presented as a visual novel with gorgeous 2D art, it was full of fun character interactions and some genuinely surprising plot twists.

Atlus reported that Persona 4 Arena sold over 300,000 copies globally, making it a commercial success for the niche RPG developer‘s first foray into the fighting game genre.

5. SoulCalibur IV

The SoulCalibur series has long been renowned for its weapon-based 3D combat, and SoulCalibur IV on PS3 was no exception. Developed by Project Soul and published by Namco Bandai Games, it featured a roster of 34 characters wielding all manner of swords, staffs, nunchucks, and other armaments.

SoulCalibur IV stood out from other 3D fighters of its era thanks to its 8-way-run movement system. By holding down a button, players could freely move their character in any direction, opening up a world of possibilities for sidesteps, backdashes, and ring-outs. It made for a uniquely mobile and dynamic fighting system.

The biggest draw for many players were the guest characters from the Star Wars universe: Darth Vader, Yoda, and the Apprentice from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Vader was a powerhouse with devastating saber throws and force chokes, Yoda was a tiny terror who could zip around the stage with ease, and the Apprentice brought a bit of Sith flair with his dual sabers and lightning attacks.

SoulCalibur IV also featured an incredibly robust character creation system. Players could customize every aspect of their fighter‘s appearance, from hairstyles to clothing to voice samples. You could recreate your favorite characters from other franchises or craft entirely original designs. This added a ton of replay value and sparked endless creativity in the playerbase.

According to VGChartz estimates, SoulCalibur IV sold over 1.3 million copies on the PlayStation 3 alone. It was a strong entry in a series known for its accessibility, visual flair, and guest fighter crossovers.

The PS3 Fighting Game Legacy

Evo tournament

These five games were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to fighting games on the PlayStation 3. Other notable titles included:

  • Mortal Kombat (2011) – A gory, story-driven reboot of the classic series
  • Tekken 6 – The latest entry in Namco‘s long-running 3D fighter franchise
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – A tag-team crossover between comic book heroes and gaming icons
  • Virtua Fighter 5 – The final mainline installment of Sega‘s groundbreaking 3D fighter

The PS3‘s impact on the fighting game community cannot be understated. It provided a platform for players to connect and compete online, extending the lifespan of games that would have once been relegated to dimly-lit arcades. It breathed new life into classic series and introduced entirely new franchises that pushed the genre in exciting directions.

But perhaps most importantly, the PS3 fighting game lineup brought players together. It fostered a sense of community, whether you were huddled around a console at a friend‘s house, duking it out at a local tournament, or logging online to find your next challenger. These shared experiences forged friendships and rivalries that extended beyond the games themselves.

The PS3 was many things to many people, but for fighting game fans, it was a platform that delivered hit after hit. It showcased the genre at its finest, from the technical depth of Street Fighter IV to the crossover craziness of Persona 4 Arena. Today, its impact can still be felt in modern titles like Guilty Gear Strive, Tekken 7, and Street Fighter V.

So here‘s to the PlayStation 3, a console that truly went toe-to-toe with the best of them. Whether you were a rising champion or a casual warrior, it had something for everyone. Its fighting spirit will live on in the memories of all those late-night battles and hard-fought victories. Game on!