First of all, I want to apologize, as I know I promised this last weekend, but I was too busy. Besides, Christmas isn’t the only holiday for beat downs you know. Get together with the guys on New Years Eve, and next thing you know, someone hits the eggnog a little too hard, and then next thing you know, this happens:

But why waste time and energy (and risk going to jail) by getting into a real fight when you can enjoy some not-so-classic video game beatdowns? Click after the jump to see some of the worst of the 90s fighting scene.

What’s the point of leading when it’s so much easier to follow? All great gaming movements are bound to inspire dozens of imitators. For every Mario and Sonic, we got thousands of licensed shovelware platformers. When Grand Theft Auto 3 revolutionized the whole open-world genre, thousands of True Crimes, 25 to Lives, and Driv3rs sprang up as well. The success of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest inspired dozens of me-too Japanese console RPGs. So when Street Fighter 2 all but established the fighting game genre, thousands of game developers rushed in with their own contributions. With the exception of a few (mostly from SNK) titles, a majority of them failed to make any real impact on the genre. Things got even worse when Midway’s Mortal Kombat hit the scene. Mortal Kombat offered gamers a simplified control scheme, digitized actor sprites, and a complex backstory with fleshed out characters. Oh yes, there was also the blood. So now all the imitators tried to one-up Midway by putting blood in their games. Naturally, when Virtua Fighter and Tekken hit the scene, the imitators would give us crappy 3d fighting game knockoffs as well. While the 90s gave rise to the fighting game genre, it’s not hard to see why the decade was a horrible time for the genre as well. Without any further ado, here are some of the worst of the worst.

Street Combat (SNES)
Back in the NES days, Bandai released a Dragon Ball video game in the NES. However, since at the time there was no Dragon Ball anime in the U.S, Bandai decided that players wouldn’t understand the license, so they retitled the game Dragon Power, changed all the characters, and changed the packaging. Of course smart-ass players now thought that the game was a crappy Dragonball wannabe instead of just a crappy game. This wouldn’t be the last time we got a re-skinned game. Years later, it would be a game based on Ranma ½ that would be “Americanized” for the U.S. For those unfamiliar with Ranma, it’s about a teenager who falls into a cursed spring, causing him to change into a girl when splashed with cold water. Since this anime wasn’t shown on U.S. TV, Irem decided to give it a western makeover. This means that Ranma is replaced by some douchebag in a blond mullet, and all the other Ranma characters are replaced by generic stock fighters, such as umm… black guys, military guys, robots, and chicks with boobs. The game’s storymode has you playing as either the blond mullet guy in casual clothes, or the blond mullet guy in a metal suit. Of course naturally there is no real difference between the two, so you’re basically playing as one guy with two different skins. Oh and the game has a jump button. How tacky is that?

Fighter’s History (Arcade, SNES)
To be fair, Fighter’s History wasn’t a terrible game. The real reason that it catches slack is due to the fact that it was so similar to Street Fighter 2, Capcom filed a lawsuit against them. Despite pointing out various similarities between tier product and Data East’s, Capcom lost the lawsuit. While Fighter’s History apes Capcom’s blueprint, they have a couple of unique features. First of all, the game has a weak point system where a part of a character’s armor comes off if it is attacked enough. Secondly, the final boss in none other than the fire-breathing Russian Badass KARNOV! How ill is that? The series continued on the Neo Geo, and SNK bought up the license after Data East went out of business. For a company that pioneered the fighting game genre (with 1984’s Karate Champ), it’s pretty pathetic that they ended up aping Capcom. Data East tried one more time with the fighting genre with Tattoo Assassins, a fighter that boasted blood, gore, fatalities, and digitized actors (now where have I heard that before) but ended up canceled.

Ultimate Fighter (SNES)
Culture Brain is one of those developers who comes up with good ideas, but then they sink when their implementation falls flat. Their NES title The Magic of Scheherazade was an excellent action RPG that was seen as the Arabian equivalent to Zelda, and Kung Fu Heroes was a fun little co-op game. However, Ultimate Fighter, a sequel/remake of the NES Flying Warriors game was a step back. Sure, the graphics are huge, but the controls are clunky and unresponsive, and the story is unfinished. There are two main modes of play, versus and story. In the latter, you move through 2D environments stopping every few steps to battle an enemy. Oh yeah, you can change into some kind of Power-Ranger type guy to take them on. You can collect other team members and can switch to them. There is a girl, but the story tells you that she’s too inured to fight and you can’t select her, even though she’s on the subscreen! The game ends without any sort of closure. If you thought Halo 2’s ending was bad, at least they had the decency to end with a “To Be Continued”. This doesn’t even have that. You get to a certain stage, and the game just ends. That’s where the tournament/versus mode comes in. Instead of giving the fighters real names and personalities, they are identified by their fighting styles, such as Boxing, Karate, U.S. Karate (I didn’t know there was a difference) and Wrestling. You have to name all 8 of them yourself. There is also an ‘animation’ mode. This is just like the story mode, except instead of fighting your enemies yourself, you select what to do from a menu, pseudo-RPG style, which is completely stupid. If I wanted to play an RPG, I’d play an actual RPG. What’s sad about Ultimate Fighter is that it could have been the ultimate package for fighting game fans if it’s features had been developed further, instead it’s just another clunker with characters so generic, they don’t even get their own names.

Time Killers
We all love Mortal Kombat don’t we? How cool would it be if instead of just killing out opponent at the end of the round, we could rip off their arms and legs during a match? That’s exactly what Strata was thinking with this title. However, instead of getting any real talent behind it, we got clunky play controls and stock characters of the worst kind. Lets see, there’s the punk-from-the-future-who-holds-a-chainsaw, a samurai, an alien, an ugly looking space chick, a black guy, and a viking among others. Even the end boss lacks any kind of depth, as he is known simply as death. The character sprites and backgrounds look as if they were done with a paint program. No scratch that, they look as if they were done by a 5th grader using finger-paints. During each round, you can cut off your opponent’s arms by doing enough damage to them, and all they can do is kick and headbutt. You can even win the round this way, making this the first fighting game you can win as a paraplegic!. A Genesis version was released in 1996, but since it had been delayed so long (and since no one liked the arcade version to begin with), no one gave a damn about it. Strata went on to create the slightly improved Blood Storm alongside Incredible Technologies, and then went out of business. With games such as this, it’s no trouble to imagine why. A better name for this game would have been Time Wasters.

Shaq Fu (SNES Genesis)

Word of advice to any game developer/publisher who is fortunate enough to obtain the likeness of a pro-athlete: when you go to make a game based on said athlete, it’s best if this game is actually based on the sport the athlete plays. This would seem like common sense. After all, it’s why we have Tiger Woods Golf rather than say, Tiger Woods point-and-click adventure and the Super Nintendo had Ken Griffey Jr Baseball instead of Ken Griffey jr Tactical Military Shooter. Sadly, the guys at Delphine Software/EA didn’t get the memo, and decided to place Shaquille O’Neal in a one-on-one fighter. The story (Shaq stumbles into an alternate dimension while in Tokyo for a charity basketball game and has to save a boy from an evil mummy), while completely stupid, isn’t even the worst part of the game. The controls are clunky, there is a small amount of playable characters, and the sprites are a few inches tall. This is especially weird as Shaq is one of the biggest players in the NBA. As appealing as a Shaq fighting game may sound, Shaq Fu fell on its all rather quickly. Around the same time as this game’s release, EA released a Michael Jordan platforming game that further illustrates my point. Of course developers will not learn this lesson and sooner or later we’ll see Lebron James Real Time Strategy or Big Ben’s Fantasy Hack ‘n’ Slash.

That’s it for now. $20 Game of the Week will return next week. Have a happy 2011, and don’t get too messed up. Remember, video game beatdowns are better than real ones! Oh, and there will be a part 2 to this article.