As I type this, it’s a few days removed from America’s birthday. Which means leftover fireworks, leftover hot dogs, and public pools. More importantly, it’s the middle of summer. Which means the temperature is getting higher, and with those temperatures, tensions are getting higher. Eventually, with those high tensions, this will happen:

But why get into a real life brawl and risk ending up on when you can engage in some digital fisticuffs instead? This special edition of $20GOTW/Maximum Letdown takes a look at some of the best and worst fighting games of the recent and distant past, so click below and check it out.

$20 Game of the Week: Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition (Xbox 360, PS3)
Note: This is also available on PC, but not for $20.
CA109_PS3_SSFIV_CVRS_MB25Street Fighter 4 bought back what players loved about the classic franchise while introducing the series to a new generation of fans. Of course it also bought back another tradition: re-releases and upgrades until Capcom gets it finally right. Thankfully, in this age of downloadable content, it wasn’t nearly as bad. Although Super Street fighter was disc only, it contained a truckload of new content that made it worth it’s reduced price tag. Arcade Edition is the most complete version of the game, and players who already own Super Street Fighter 4 can simply pay $15 for an upgrade. Arcade Edition adds new features to the online mode, balances and tweaks for the characters, as well as 4 new characters: Evil Ryu, Oni, Yun, and Yang. Street Fighter IV has revived the fighting game community and helped take it to new heights. Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition refines the product even further. Now lets hope we won’t have to wait long for Street Fighter V!

$20 Game of the Week: SkullGirls (Xbox 360, PS3, Coming soon to PC)
skullgirlsSkullGirls is an independently developed fighting game co-created by Tournament fighter Mike Zaimont a.k.a ‘Mike Z’ and Alex Ahad. Teaming up with Revenge Labs, the two set out to createn Skullgirls, a fighting game for fighting game fans by fighting game fans. Taking place in the Canopy Kingdom, a strange place based upon post-WWII America, you take control of one of 8 characters (all of them female) out to defeat the Skullgirl, an immensely powerful being. The character designs range from sexy (Valentine) to bizarre (Peacock), and the game’s ruleset is customizable, allowing for tag team play and other features. The game features wonderful hand-drawn graphics and animation, as well as a soundtrack featuring music from Michiru Yamane (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night). Shortly after the game’s console release, Revenge Labs was split up, but thankfully a group known as Lab Zero took over and are hard at work bringing the game to PC. Even better, several free DLC characters (including a few males) will be coming in the next few months thanks to a wildly successful IndieGoGo campaign. While some may scoff at the game’s small roster, this is an excellent title considering it came from an indie studio instead of a Capcom, SNK, or even an Arc Systems.

Maximum Letdown: Justice League Task Force (SNES, Sega Genesis)
jltfThis past spring, DC’s pantheon of heroes battled each other in 1 on 1 fighting goodness in the Netherrealm Studios-produced Injustice: The Gods Among Us. However, Injustice wasn’t the first time the Justice League fought against each other. That ‘honor’ goes to this clunker from Sunsoft. Players can take control of heroes such as [mullet] Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, while the villains include Despero, Darkseid, and Cheetah. The story involves Darkseid attacking the JLA with android duplicates of themselves. Really it’s simply an excuse to have the Justice League fighting against each other. While Injustice included a who’s who of DC’s finest villains, JLTF only pits you against Darkseid and two lesser known DC villains. The fighting system is barebones, there isn’t much to do beyond story mode and versus, and on top of that, the game features MULLET Superman. At least they didn’t go with the red/blue lightning ‘Man of Tomorrow’. Ugh. After JLTF, Capcom and Marvel would spend the next 18 years laughing at DC’s misfortune.

Maximum Letdown: Deadly Arts (Nintendo 64)
deadlyartsDeadly Arts represents why you should never let your non-gamer aunt buy video games for you. More importantly it demonstrates why Konami has no business making fighting games. In other words, it’s a crappy me-too fighter on the Nintendo 64. Deadly Arts is the U.S release of a Japanese fighter called G.A.S.P!! Fighters’ NEXTream :Generation of Arts, Speed and Power which I’m not sure is a better name. Of course only a game this stupid can be called Deadly Arts and not even feature any blood or death. Heck, why not just go all the way and make a 3D MK ripoff? For some strange reason, Konami saw fit to remove the storyline and character info from the U.S release. So now we got a crappy me-too fighter with generic characters that have no storyline or background. Of course, the Japanese release didn’t have much of one anyhow, just your typical some-douche-holds-a-tournament-to-determine-the-world’s-strongest-fighter. The game does include a create-a-character mode, but even this is poorly implemented. While you can edit the size and shape of your fighter, you only have a limited selection of clothing items to choose from, and you have to earn your moves by defeating your opponent, so you can’t even do anything with your creation until you do some level grinding. Thankfully, this game, and others from its era disappeared into the bowels of history after the N64 era ended, and players moved on to better fighters like SoulCalibur and Marvel vs Capcom 2.

That wraps it up for this special edition of $20GOTW and Maximum Letdown. Sound off in the comments and watch for another Beatdown special! For now, we’ll leave you with another series of physical escalations of aggression.