Now, we’ve done a top ten of the greatest fighting games ever made. However, fighting games wouldn’t be what they are today if it weren’t for the characters within them and they wouldn’t be as entertaining if some of these characters didn’t have beef with one another. In this list, we’ll go over the top ten fighting game character rivalries. Though, not all of these rivalries aren’t based on hatred; in fact, some of them are based on mutual respect and comradery between characters. Please be noted: this is a list of fighting game character rivalries, so one character can be in multiple rivalries at once. Beyond that, we will be focusing on characters whose rivalries began in a fighting game, so that means characters from ‘Super Smash Brothers’ and any anime/comic licensed fighting game (Naruto, Dragon Ball, Bleach, etc.) will not be featured in this list (sorry to those fans). Let’s see which fighters have the most memorable rivalry in fighting game history.
10. Haohmaru vs. Genjuro
Samurai Shodown Series
First off, ‘Haohmaru’s rival in the Samurai Shodown series was originally supposed to be ‘Ukyo Tachibana’; however, ‘Ukyo’ was replaced by ‘Gejuro’ in Samurai Shodown II. With that said, let’s move on. Both ‘Haohmaru’ and ‘Genjuro’ were orphans, later housed and trained by a man named ‘Nicotine’. Being raised together made these two characters close friends in their younger years; though, it was ‘Genjuro’s hunger for power that worried his master, ‘Nicotine’. He decided to test his students and had them fight a group of swordsmen. ‘Haohmaru’, being the kind gentle swordsman, let those he defeated escape with their lives; while ‘Genjuro’ deemed all of those who were too weak to fight him to death. ‘Genjuro’ disappeared shortly after and vowed to kill both ‘Haohmaru and Nicotine’ because of the weakness that they show in their swordsmanship and philosophy. Though, ‘Haohmaru’ was rewarded for his compassion and continued training as a samurai.
9. Millia Rage vs. Zato-1
Guilty Gear Series
Another pair of characters who were raised together, later on, became a complicated relationship and disintegrated into a constant struggle to kill one another, we have the characters ‘Millia Rage and Zato-1’ from Guilty Gear. After learning about certain truths of the “Assassins Guild” ‘Millia’ did not want to be a part of it anymore. So, in order to live a “normal” life, she betrayed the guild, and ‘Zato-1, to cooperate with the “International Police Force” and give information about the guild and ‘Zato-1’s location. ‘Zato-1′ was thrown into the “Dimensional Prison” with his powers locked away. Oh, it doesn’t end there. During the series’ subsequent sequels ‘Zato-1’ escapes and is later killed by ‘Millia’. Only to be raised from the dead as his other form, ‘Eddie’, and again, killed by ‘Millia Rage’. Yes, it’s a very confusing rivalry.
8. Siegfried vs. Nightmare
Soul Calibur Series
This rivalry is a little strange. Yes, these are two separate characters; though, at the same time, they are not. ‘Nightmare’ is a character who is both corporeal and mental. ‘Nightmare’ is the creature that resides in the sword known as ‘Soul Edge’ and whoever wields this sword will have ‘Nightmare’ take over their body and become the physical appearance of ‘Nightmare’. Throughout this franchise, ‘Siegfried’ has become this creature on multiple occasions; however, he has also fought off this evil creature multiple times as well. This makes this rivalry unique because these are two characters who are in a constant struggle to show dominance over the other. At times within one’s self and as two separate beings. These characters define the idea of a battle between good and evil because we see ‘Siegfried’ struggle with his past without the assistance of ‘Nightmare’ or ‘Soul Edge’.
7. Ryu vs. Sagat
Street Fighter Series
This rivalry stems all the way back to the original Street Fighter. During the final events of the first “World Warriors Tournament” ‘Sagat’ had pinned ‘Ryu’ down for the count. Thinking that he won, ‘Sagat’ got up and attempted to help ‘Ryu’ up; however, ‘Ryu’, determined to win, was corrupted by the “Satsui no Hado” and executed a “Metsu Shoryuken” wounding him with a scar across his chest. This is the scar that we see ‘Sagat’ within the modern Street Fighter games. Wanting revenge, ‘Sagat’ fought ‘Ryu’ in the next tournament in Street Fighter: Alpha; however, ‘Ryu’ was not putting his all into the match and ‘Sagat’ gave up. Thinking that revenge was foolish. Now, the two characters are still rivals, having specific win quotes in the game after a match, and some times team up within the story.
6. Kyo vs. Iori
King of Fighters Series
These two characters have a rivalry because of an old family feud. Specifically, this family feud happened 660 years ago. Long before these two characters were born in the game’s story. ‘Kyo Kusanagi’ is part of the ‘Kusanagi’, along with that clan was the ‘Yasakani’ clan and both clans vowed to keep the evil snake entity ‘Orochi’ sealed. However, when a wife of the leader of the ‘Yasakani’ clan is killed and the blame is placed on the ‘Kusanagi’ clan, the ‘Yasakani’ clan vows revenge. They join forces with ‘Orochi’ and use its power, a purple flame. They change their name to ‘Yagami’ in which ‘Iori’ is the heir of. This feud still rages between the two families and hence why ‘Kyo’ and ‘Iori’ are rivals.
5. Terry Bogard vs. Geese Howard
Fatal Fury Series
These two iconic fighting game characters share a simple rivalry. This rivalry is based on the notion of revenge. At the age of ten, ‘Terry’ witnessed his adoptive father, ‘Jeff Bogard’, be murdered right before his eyes by ‘Geese Howard’. ‘Terry’, and his brother ‘Andy’, both vowed that they would become stronger to defeat ‘Geese’ and have revenge for the death of their father. Ten years later, ‘Terry’ and his friends entered the “King of Fighters” tournament, hosted by ‘Geese’, and they would come out on top. In later installments ‘Terry and Geese’ would continue this dance. That is until the release of Real Bout Fatal Fury where ‘Terry’ would fight ‘Geese’ one last time and try to save him before he fell down “Geese Tower”. ‘Terry’ would later raise and teach ‘Geese’s son ‘Rock Howard’ as atonement and as a way to end the cycle of revenge.
4. Heihachi vs. Kazuya
Let’s begin this entry with the fact that ‘Heihachi’ threw ‘Kazuya’, his son, off the edge of a volcano at the age of five. Beyond that, ‘Kazuya’ suffered immense abuse from his father, beginning at a young age. ‘Heihachi’ also killed his wife, ‘Kazuya’s mother, ‘Kazumi Mishima’. Now, that doesn’t mean that ‘Kazuya’ is any better. He has gotten his revenge on his father multiple times, no-one ever really dies in fighting games and stays dead. Even in the series latest installment, Tekken 7, fans are supposed to believe that ‘Heihachi’ is finally dead. Should they? We’ll have to wait and see. This deadly rivalry brings out the worst in this father and son pair, and the same can be said about ‘Kazuya’s relationship with his son ‘Jin’.
3. Scorpion vs. Sub-Zero
Mortal Kombat Series
Chains, Hell-Fire, Ice Balls, and Ice Slides have been thrown by these two characters for over 25 years now. Sure, in the recent installments to this franchise these two characters seem to be growing pretty friendly, and fans truly love it. Though, that’s only recent. ‘Scorpion’ and ‘Sub-Zero’ have been rivals, better yet, arch-enemies for so long that its made gaming history. When the ‘Shirai Ryu’, ‘Scorpion’s clan, was killed off by the ‘Lin Kuei’, ‘Sub-Zero’s clan, ‘Scorpion’ witnessed it all. That anger and malice followed him into death as he became ‘Quan Chi’s revenant and swore to kill ‘Bi-Han’, the first ‘Sub-Zero’. Which he did during the first “Mortal Kombat Tournament”. Only to learn after, from the second ‘Sub-Zero’ ‘Kuai Liang’, that his clan was murdered by ‘Quan Chi’ and ‘Sektor’ working together. Longtime ‘MK’ fans still hold true to this rivalry while versing one another in matches, even more so in fanart.
2. Ryu vs. Ken
Street Fighter Series
These pallet swapped characters have been seen as rivals since fans had started playing as them. Even their names come from the same move, “Sho-RYU-KEN”. Beyond just being rivals, these two characters are best friends. Being trained by the same master, ‘Gouken’, in the art of “Ansatsuken”. When seen greeting one another these two exchange fist bumps, usually followed by a friendly sparring match. Just another iconic video game rivalry that has withstood the test of time and never gets boring to see.
1. Ryu vs. Akuma
Street Fighter Series
These two characters are polar opposites of one another. ‘Ryu’ wishes to get rid of the “Satsui no Hado”, while ‘Akuma’, or ‘Gouki’, thrives off of it. ‘Akuma’ not only thrives off of this martial arts style, rather he used it to murder his own brother, ‘Gouken’, ‘Ryu’s master/father figure. However, unlike other “revenge” rivalries on this list, ‘Ryu’ doesn’t want revenge; instead, he continues to train. To master his master’s teachings to further himself from becoming another ‘Akuma’. We also see how they are polar opposites in their physical appearances. ‘Ryu’ wears a white karate gi, while ‘Akuma’s is black or a dark shade. ‘Akuma’ is the physical characterization of ‘Ryu’s inner struggle and doubt towards his own strength because “Akuma’ walked the same path at some point. These two being rivals marks the genius of Capcom‘s character development and motivation. Hence why this pair is the number one fighting game characters rivalry.
We are sure that there are tons of other rivalries that fans, of all franchises, would like to see on this list. However, what is here has certainly left some mark or unique property on the fighting game industry. These rivalries are entertaining to watch, and be a part of when you as them because when a player plays the rival the match gets a bit more personal.