8 Lesser-Known Archetypes In Fighting Games

Everyone is familiar with zoners and grapplers, but fighting games also include a number of distinct character archetypes.

There are archetypes in every video game genre. In role-playing games, there is the sword-wielding hero and the passive healer. Racing games have fast cars that disintegrate with a glimpse and tanks that turn slower than a tectonic plate. Zoners like to keep their opponents at bay, while grapplers want to offer them a massive, bone-crunching hug.

They also have characters based on their designs, such as the serious shoto (Ryu, Ryo, Andy Bogard), their cocky friend (Ken, Robert, Terry), and the villainous big boss with a criminal empire (Bison, Geese, Heihachi). While they’re rather frequent, certain lesser-known tropes in fighting games stand out once identified.

The Native (North) American

These characters were much more common in the 1990s. Fighting games just found Native Americans fascinating at the time, even though they were primarily stereotyped. T.Hawk from Super Street Fighter 2 was so clichéd that it was easy to forget he was from Mexico. The tribes of the United States were represented by Mortal Kombat’s Nightwolf, Killer Instinct’s Chief Thunder, and Fatal Fury’s Rick Strowd.

Virtua Fighter moved further north by making Wolf Hawkfield an Indigenous Canadian, and his execution was more comparable to a pro-wrestler cliché. Tekken merged the kung fu female and Native American tropes to create Michelle and Julia Chang, the Sino-Natives who wore boots and fringed jackets to take down their opponents with baji quan skills and suplexes.

The Celebrity

Fighting competitions are a good approach to pursue fortune and renown in legend. It makes sense for brawlers like Tekken’s Paul Phoenix or Street Fighter’s E.Honda to enter and try to win or spread the word about the power of sumo wrestling. But why would anyone risk having their face cave in if they’re already famous?Athena Asamiya, the Chinese pop diva in King of Fighters, and Manon, the supermodel in Street Fighter 6, both do it for various reasons, such as assisting a fan or gaining strength.

Others, like Tekken’s Lucky Chloe, are only in it for the yuks, or are off-screen side hustles introduced for flavour, like Virtua Fighter’s movie actor Pai Chan and racing car driver Jack Bryant. The most famous example is Mortal Kombat’s Johnny Cage, a Hollywood action actor who witnessed a tournament in which mankind risked merging with a dark realm full of monsters, magic, and murder and thought, “There’s money to be made here!”

The Actual Celebrity

Real celebrities are the only archetypes that are stranger than fictitious celebrities. Not ones based on notable personalities, like as the numerous Bruce Lee clones littering the genre; rather, these are actual renowned people who permitted a studio to utilise their likeness and voice for a character. Usually, it takes the form of one of their well-known roles. Netherrealm Studios enlisted the help of Stephen Amell, Carl Weathers, Peter Weller, and Sylvester Stallone to reprise their roles from the Arrow, Predator, Robocop, and Rambo films for the Injustice and Mortal Kombat games.

For Tekken 7, Jeffrey Dean Morgan reprised his role as Negan from The Walking Dead. Some, on the other hand, went a step farther and had celebrities portray themselves. Noritake “Norimaro” Kinashi, a comedian, was a playable character in Japanese editions of Marvel Super Heroes Vs Street Fighter, while Nigerian MMA fighter and comedian Bobby Ologun was a secret boss called “Bobby Strong” in the PS2 port of Power Instinct: Matrimelee. As bizarre as he is, he appears normal in comparison to the rest of Matrimelee’s squad.

The Anime Rip-off

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Video games draw influence from everything and anything, including anime. There’s a distinction between fighters who are influenced by a renowned character, such as KOF’s Kyo Kusanagi, who gets his brash rebel attitude from Akira’s Kaneda, and those who are blatant rip-offs, such as K9999, who looks like Kaneda’s antagonist Tetsuo.

SNK despised K9999 so much that he was redesigned twice as Nameless in KOF 2002: Unlimited Match and Krohnen in KOF 15. Others were equally evident. Zeus, the sub-boss in World Heroes, resembled Raoh from Fist of the North Star. While the final boss Neo Dio resembled the cult anime character Baoh and spoke like Dio Brando from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. SoulCalibur 5’s Goku-like Xiba and Naruto clone Natsu both flew dangerously near to the sun.

The Amorphous Blob

Fighting games necessitate a wide range of animations for the characters’ movements. With the introduction of motion capture, animators were able to more easily duplicate the right spin kicks or uppercuts. They do, however, require some artistic licence to stand out from the throng, and one of the greatest ways to demonstrate those abilities is to create a shape-shifting blob. If they have the animations to back them up, the concept doesn’t have to be fancy.

The amorphous bioweapon from Street Fighter 3: Third Strike Twelve may transform themselves into axes, needles, wings, an aeroplane shape or opponents. Zato-One from Guilty Gear is a regular human with a shadow creature that allows him to expand, shrink, and transform into various shadowy forms. Arakune in BlazBlue keeps things simple by being a black blob with terrible intentions who can flood the screen with all sorts of nasty stuff.

The Redhead Special Agent Mom

In combat games, spies, secret agents, and other professionals with hidden motivations are common. Cammy, Sonya, Nina, and Christie from Dead or Alive have all entered tournaments to arrest, interrogate, or assassinate one or more targets. What’s strange is that one particular variety has appeared in three separate fighters: redhead fighting mums.

Vanessa from KOF was the first family woman to appear on a roster as a secret spy. Then there’s Crimson Viper from Street Fighter 4, who’s practically same but she’s a single mum to her daughter Lauren and has fancy hair. Giovanna from Guilty Gear Strive works as a government agent, and while she is not a mom, she is good with children and enjoys caring for them. In other words, if Vanessa and Viper’s games spilled over, ‘Vanna would be the cool aunt to their kids.

The Double Act

These aren’t puppet characters like Carl Clover from BlazBlue or everyone with a Stand in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. It’s more like two figures working as a team. Again, it’s a rather specialised concept that has appeared in a variety of locations. Capcom Vs SNK 2, for example, avoided giving KOF’s Chang and Choi individual character slots by combining them, with Chang performing most of the combat and Choi showing up to get some jabs in.

Ferra/Torr in Mortal Kombat X does the same thing, with Torr supplying the muscle and Ferra providing the discourse. In Mortal Kombat: Deception, Noob Saibot and Smoke worked as a tag team, and Triborg was a trio of Smoke, Cyrax, and Sektor-based bots (actually a four with Cyber Sub-Zero as well). The most recent is GG Strive’s Bedman?, a robo-bed based on GGXrd’s Bedman that fights to protect the late character’s sister Delilah.

The Parodies

Finally, the Parody characters appear to be more prevalent than they are, but it is more likely that their most vocal examples stand out within a small group. For example, everyone knows Dan Hibiki is Capcom slamming Art of Fighting’s Ryo and Robert, from having similar but worse moves to the Kyokugen duo to mocking its gameplay with his incessant taunting and his useless Gadken fireball.

SNK retaliated in KOF by giving Ryo’s little sister Yuri Street Fighter moves like Ken’s Shoryu Reppa (“Ch Reppa”), Ryu’s Shin Shoryuken (“Shin Ch Upper”), and Akuma’s Raging Demon (“Shin Yuri Satsu”). Sunsoft’s Waku Waku 7 featured a punching bag named Bonus-kun who had Ryu’s backstory and mannerisms. During the creation of MK: Deception, Midway would take a jab at SF’s Ken by adding him in Geometry Dash Subzero game! This was later revealed to be a placeholder name for the similar-looking character Kobra.