While characters, bosses, mechanics, and music are all important within any fighting game, people tend to forget about the places that you fight. These arenas can make battles between bosses, CPUs, or your friends all the more memorable. They can provide a calm, foreboding, sensational, or an all-out insane setting for your battle. These places fill the fighters with the emotion that fuels every punch, kick, fireball, or iceball that is thrown during the match. Regardless if a stage is a 2D sprite art background or a fully rendered 3D setting, a stage is still a stage in our book. To take a quote from Soul Calibur II, stages should always be viewed by players with the line “Welcome to the stage of history”, because surely your battle will be history to you and your opponent. However, stages that will not be featured in this list are anime/comic book licensed fighting game stages. This is a list of pure fighting game stages and will remain that way. Also, no Training Stage/Final Destination, those stages are always incredibly boring. So, without further ado, let’s see which fighting game stages are the top fifteen ever made.
Blazblue: Continuum Shift
This stage has a very “spooky” feeling. Long-time Blazblue fans always talk about this stage being beautiful with an amazing soundtrack that goes along with the fight. The crimson-red roses at the player’s feet with the orange and blue lighting that the background provides really makes the fight stand out.
Coming in at number fourteen is one of the stages from the recently released Samurai Shodown. This stage features a red sky lit by the red moon. A dead tree stands behind the players as they fight and the wind blows the pale fauna. This all comes together amazingly as we witness two samurai duel in the dying field.
13. Illyria Castle 5th Skywalk
Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator
A combination of green and blue lighting on this stage allows the unique coloring of each character to stand out. Add in the fact that each character has a set of moves that create colorful effects truly brings out the fun of the duel. Plus this stage has a rocking soundtrack that you just want to jam to while playing.
12. South Town Alley
King of Fighters XIII
The ‘South Town Alley’ features a dark and limited color pallet. Being a stage of mostly grays, whites, and blacks, this stage provides the perfect setting for the ‘King of Fighters Tournaments’, as well as all of the “back-alley” deals that go down in ‘South Town’.
11. Alex’s Stage
Street Fighter III: Third Strike
The heavyset blonde grappler features a stage in a subway terminal. With brass lighting and a Jazz soundtrack, that fit together, the whole stage really has the fight moving. The character ‘Ken’ has the same stage; however, the lighting is completely different and it just doesn’t fit the setting as well as ‘Alex’s version does.
10. Metro City
Street Fighter Alpha II
‘Metro City’ is from the Final Fight series; however, Capcom has the two series interconnected with characters from both franchises in the same game. So, why not stages as well. In this stage, Capcom fans will have the pleasure of duking it out in front of the character ‘Poison’, ‘Hugo’, and the mayor of ‘Metro City’ ‘Mike Haggar’ (while he flexes his former wrestling muscles, showing that he’s still plenty tough). This stage is just a wonderful nod to the classic games and fans.
9. Stormy Field
Street Fighter Alpha II
You face off in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm. With the wind blowing all of the fauna and foliage that surrounds you as you fight. It’s the most dramatic setting of any fight. Plus, the dark sky truly helps set the serious tone as well.
8. Moonlit Wilderness
Do you remember the final boss of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and the location of where you fight ‘The Boss’? You do? Good, because that’s pretty much the same local as this stage. The only difference is that instead of a field of white flowers in a forest, you’re fighting in a field of white flowers next to an abandoned castle/manor. All while a heart-pounding soundtrack is playing, making you continue the fight.
7. Kaminoi Castle
Soul Calibur II
The home of Soul Calibur‘s illustrious character ‘Taki’, this stage has you fighting in the 3D battle arena version of an ancient Japanese castle; similar to the one that you see in Kyoto. While you fight Cherry Blossom petals fall all around and a musical score of horns and strings play while you dance your dance of death. Coming together to make this fighting stage one of the games “stage’s of history” one of fighting games best stages.
6. Gairyu Isle (Night)
Coming in at number six is the second stage from the recently released fighting game Samurai Shodown. This highly stylized stage truly had me at the edge of my seat. The row of red Torii Gates that stretch out into the night sea with the image of Mount. Fuji in the background makes this dueling stage incredibly beautiful. Add in the fact that this is a recreated stage from one of the previous entries shows how far gaming has come.
The Last Blade
This stage provides a beautiful surrounding of 2D sprite work. Trees with falling red leaves as you battle around them in front of a massive wall and gate. This stage takes what could be considered a simple idea and changes it into something that has never been recreated.
4. Rainy Park
Kin of Fighters ’99
This stage has other versions. One that shows a clear and beautiful sky, the other that shows storm clouds beginning to roll in. However, the ‘Rainy Park’, the third and final version, is the best to fight in. Why? Well, you’re fighting in an abandoned park that is completely drenched in the pouring rain and only has dark colors. I don’t know what it is about fighting games and dark colors, but they just go so well together. Plus, the fact that this stage needed three versions shows how awesome it is.
3. Red Thirst
Sure, there’s a camel in the background, but I guess it makes some sense, right? You are fighting in a desert level, under a giant red moon. Also, the sand is blue? Yeah, ’90s fighting game stages were weird, especially Capcom‘s; though, that’s what made them so awesome to fight in.
2. The Burning Castle
Last Blade II
You’re fighting in a burning castle that is crumbling down all around you. You should use some common sense and get out. Though, the location makes for one of the greatest fighting arenas ever. The urgency of each sword swing, parry, and block is felt while you fight. The entire stage is lit by orange, yellow, and red with tall and eclipsing shadows at every corner. The music makes you sad as if this place meant something to one of the games highly unique characters. This stage is rightfully given the second spot on this list.
1. Fetus of God
So besides ‘Red Thirst’ Capcom‘s Darkstalkers‘ first installment gave us a stage that had fighters literally fight in the fetus of a god. How metal is that? When players begin the fight everything is “calm”; however when you end the fight, things start popping off. The God in the fetus begins to go crazy and starts moving all over the place. This makes players believe that the developers of this game/stage were mentally twisted, and they might have been. When it comes to a fighting game stage nothing can come out on top but ‘Fetus of God’ and all the insanity it brings.
So there you have it. The top fifteen fighting game stages ever created in ranking order. We understand that not everyone will agree with our list; however, please keep in mind that there are literally hundreds of fighting game stages and that this is a list of only fifteen highly unique stages. Below is a poll that readers can vote in to see which stage they would have chosen as number one. Thanks for reading and fight on.