The 20 Greatest Fighting Game Intro Scenes

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Marvel / Capcom

We all know how exciting it is to finally hop into a highly anticipated fighting game. 

All those months of watching trailers, reading up on its trademark mechanics, catching up on all the character reveals, participating in the beta, etc. are just some of the instances that come to mind during the wait for a new fighter. Once that new fighter is officially playing out on your screen, there’s usually a cinematic that plays out to truly bring you into the fold. The best examples of those sorts of intros do their job of displaying the best attributes of certain characters, providing a bit of backstory, and showcasing some extra hype combat scenarios. We took the time to look back at some of the most memorable fighting games of all time and list the most fire intros we’ve ever come across.

Trust us when we say that every time these intros come on, you’ll never skip them.

20. ‘Dynasty Warriors’

If you’re old enough to remember, Dynasty Warriors didn’t start out as the Musou beat ‘em up that most gamers recognize it as today. As a matter of fact, the very first entry in the series was all about clashing in one on one battles with historical icons from the Three Kingdoms Era of China. The opening intro to this weapons fighter hammered that point home wonderfully - players got a good look at its famous warriors and their weapon of choice during its entirety. The cinematic clashes in this one are epic to this day, plus we can never forget how cool Xu Zhu looked as he smashed a few boulders with ease.

19. ‘Tobal 2’

Square Enix’s (Squaresoft at the time) little-known 3D brawler series produced two games back in the day. The second installment from that franchise was the best one thus far and it just so happens to hit a home run in the intro department. Famed manga/anime illustrator Akira Toriyama’s work can be seen splattered all over this slept-on fighter and it comes to life in the best way possible via full 3D. This intro stands out thanks to the way it brings the entire roster to the forefront and shows Tobal 2’s gameplay in action. And that theme song? Pure audio excellence.

18. ‘Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout’

Yeah, we know - this game was nothing more than a cash-in on all the Dragon Ball Z mania at the time of its release. And it’s really evident in just how awful this game as a whole truly is. The one redeeming factor from this trash bin fighter is its intro, which features some incredible animated sequences of several familiar faces engaging in combat. Goku and the rest of the Z Warriors gang go to war with their strongest foes, which looks pretty sweet and evokes memories of the very best custom-made anime AMVs. It feels so good to watch Gohan look like the killer he once was and see Goku & Vegeta reignite their unending feud in this one.

17. ‘Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000’

Capcom and SNK clearly realized that this crossover fighter was a dream come true at the time of release. So much so that they went out of their way to encapsulate all the hype felt from its devoted fan bases within this exciting intro. The celebratory words that flash up on the screen and the music that accompanies it builds our anticipation to a fever pitch before we even get into our first match. This dream match hits all the right notes as a playable fighter and in cinematic form. This one’s an instant hype builder.

16. ‘Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers’

90s arcade dwellers know this sequence all too well. Every time you walked past a cabinet of this game while it was in attract mode, you couldn't help but watch its intro in full. Ryu got the spotlight he so richly deserves for this simple yet oh so memorable sequence. Watching him bop up and down in the darkness, then unleashing a fully charged Hadouken to bring some light to the whole affair never gets old. This seconds-long intro does what it’s supposed to do in mere seconds and that's prepare you for some intense Super Street Fighter II sets.

15. ‘The King of Fighters ‘98’

BARS! That’s the word that immediately comes to mind whenever this intro plays out. Whoever’s responsible for providing this one with that unforgettable hot 16 deserves a BET Hip-Hop Award. Besides that super catchy tune, The King of Fighters ‘98 intro shines because it gets straight to the point of giving us a quick glimpse at all of its teams. Iori and Kyo really take center stage here as the game’s biggest rivals. But the full lineup of everyone in this intro, coupled with the unmistakable tune backing them, does their job of getting you hype for whatever comes next.

14. ‘Dead or Alive Ultimate’

Dead or Alive is known for always wowing gamers with its eye-popping in-game visuals. The series looks even better when it switches to fully voice-acted cutscenes as well. This intro provides a clear example of that by providing everyone with a deeper look into the ninja-fueled conflict at the heart of the series. Thankfully, that story is told well and hits on all manner of emotional beats. And to top it all off, Aerosmith’s “Dream On'' can be heard playing in the background all the while. Dead or Alive Ultimate’s opening cinematic definitely gives off big blockbuster movie vibes.

13. ‘Def Jam: Fight for NY’

The entire concept behind the Def Jam fighting games will probably never be revisited again, which is pretty saddening. We don’t know how Electronic Arts managed to get some of the rap game’s biggest stars to appear in a hybrid wrestling/MMA video game, but we’re just happy they pulled it off. The second game in the series is easily the best installment and kicks everything off with one of the hardest intros anyone has ever seen. Watching Snoop Dogg (Crow) and D-Mob’s rap star-filled crews prepare for war always kicks our heart rate up a few notches.

12. ‘Street Fighter Alpha 2’

The very first image that greets you from this intro is Akuma standing amidst a wall of flames and looking every bit as foreboding as you’d imagined he’d be. Once you’ve seen that, more greatness quickly follows. The proceeding montage shows off brief yet satisfying glimpses of the game’s roster in full. Seeing Sagat stand tall and Dan going airborne for a signature kick is cool and all. But the final scene that depicts a battle of the Hadoukens between Ryu and Ken will forever be Godlike.

11. ‘Tekken 2’

Keep in mind that this is just the first instance of Tekken appearing on this list of incredible fighting game intros. That’s because Bandai Namco’s most popular fighter has a flair for the cinematic when it comes to breaking down its grand story elements. Tekken 2 perfectly explains what led up to this game’s tournament and also touches on some of the characters’ motivations for entering it in the first place. Littered throughout this intro are some dope sequences of Paul, Nina, Lei, and especially Kazuya. And of course, the unforgettable song that blares in the background the whole time adds an extra bit of flair to one of Tekken’s finest cutscenes.

10. ‘X-Men vs. Street Fighter’

The handshake seen 'round the world between Ryu and Cyclops blew everyone’s collective minds back in the day. Marvel Comics had done some work with Capcom beforehand, but this was the first time both entities pitted their best characters against each other. You just couldn’t look away from the arcade cabinet for this classic as you watched Ken/Gambit, Cammy/Rogue, and Ryu/Cyclops take part in the wildest crossover anyone had ever seen up until that point. Capcom’s 2D anime visuals at that time go so hard, so it’s easy to see why we still hold this intro in high regard.

9. ‘Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes’

Never mind the opening that came saddled with the American version of this super slept-on fighter - the one that’s featured in the Japanese release is miles ahead of that one. That’s because it features a dope fully animated sequence that shows all of Tatsunoko and Capcom’s icons converging upon a mysterious city for battle. We never thought we’d be alive to see Chun-Li throw hands with Jun the Swan from Gatchaman, but we’re glad this game and its gorgeous intro made that dream scenario a reality. That theme song is kinda catchy, too.

8. ‘Tekken Tag Tournament’

And now we’ve arrived at the second Tekken entry on our list. And this one should instantly evoke warm feelings of nostalgia for those who copped this game alongside their launch PS2. The uptick in visual fidelity for the series as a whole truly hit another gear as soon as this intro kicked in. Once those piano keys hit, you knew you were in for something special. Kazuya and the rest of the gang looked amazing as they lived out another day in their tumultuous lives. This intro’s car chase sequence, Bryan Fury’s bullet-fueled rampage, and Kazuya’s devil transformation stand out as the best parts from this short but sweet intro.

7. ‘Super Street Fighter IV’

So the intro to the original Street Fighter IV is pretty sick, but its reliance on that super corny “Indestructible” theme song kept us from placing it here. Now the one for Super Street Fighter IV is what we truly have a lot of love for. It ditches that horrid tune for something far more fitting and shows off some killer battles between a wealth of Street Fighter characters we grew to love since their heyday. The introduction of the “World Warriors” that got introduced to this series entry is especially noteworthy, plus we still get goosebumps every time Chun-Li and Juri come to blows.

6a. ‘Marvel vs. Capcom 3’

6b. ‘Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’

Are we cheating by combining two list entries in one here? Possibly. But we think these cinematics deserve to go in as a package deal since they both belong to two versions of practically the same game. The intro for the vanilla version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 clearly took a huge budget to produce cause it gives off big blockbuster movie vibes. The heroes of both sides go to war with the villains of that same alliance in a battle for their respective universes. And once UMVC3 rolled around, we were all treated to some awesome still images of Marvel and Capcom’s finest duke it out during a grand battle for brand supremacy.

5. ‘Street Fighter X Tekken’

“How'd we come this far/And what did we survive/I'd rather live my life through Honest Eyes!” You can’t help but scream the lyrics to this crossover fighter’s headbanging tune every time you sit through this intro. Street Fighter X Tekken arrived as one of the crazier fighters from the Japanese gaming juggernauts during the early 2010s. Even though this intro is pretty much a mashup of the game’s previous teaser trailers, we still make sure to stop everything we’re doing to give it our full attention. This one always gets the blood pumping and its players fully invested in whatever Ryu and Kazuya are about to get into.

4. ‘Soul Blade/Edge’

This standout selection on our list was the perfect display for the original PlayStation’s hardware capabilities back in the day. As a technical feat, this intro wows and impresses. Each of the Soul Blade/Edge’s weapons masters pops off the screen thanks to their dynamic movements and beautifully realized 3D models. The unmistakable narrator’s opening monologue has stuck with us long since we first heard it and the “The Edge of Soul” theme will never not make us sing it at the top of our lungs. Soul Blade/Edge’s intro is 32-bit bliss.

3. ‘Soul Calibur 2’

Once we made it farther into the Soul Blade/Edge timeline, we arrived at arguably its finest entry to date. Soul Calibur 2 is extra special due to it featuring three guest characters across three consoles: Heihachi for PS2, Spawn for Xbox, and Link for GameCube (he was the best one out of the three, obviously). Soul Calibur 2’s epic intro went out of its way to give those three a few seconds of their own to shine, which is a nice touch. The rest of this story-driven intro goes to great lengths to show us what’s in store and explain it all while a powerful orchestral score blares in the background.

2. ‘Super Smash Bros. Melee’

The Super Smash Bros. franchise has morphed into not only a celebration of Nintendo but the entirety of gaming as a whole. Before non-Nintendo characters joined in on all the fun, Super Smash Bros. Melee kept it all in the family with its roster. ‘Till this day, pro players refer to this series entry as the best one yet. And for the folks out there that play this more casually, they definitely remember this intro quite fondly. It’s a memorable intro with several nods to Nintendo’s best that’s jam-packed with visual splendor and magnificent music. Super Smash Bros. Melee’s intro still gets us all giddy with glee.

1. ‘Tekken 5’

“Heihachi dead.” That single quote immediately sparks up memories of the greatest fighting game intro gamers have ever laid witness to. Tekken 5’s story hits hard from the jump as this cinematic explains just how Heihachi met his unfortunate end. It also introduces us to Raven for the very first time, who ended up becoming a huge fan favorite over time. After we’re treated to Heihachi’s explosive demise, Tekken 5’s intro switches the mood up a bit with an uplifting tune that backs up some of the most striking cinematics the series has ever produced. We don’t think we’re out of pocket for feeling like this intro still hasn’t been surpassed and probably won’t be anytime soon.

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