A fighting game is a video game genre in which the player controls an on-screen character and engages in close combat with an opponent, which can be either an AI or controlled by another player. The fight matches typically consist of several rounds and take place in an arena, while each character has widely differing abilities but each is relatively viable to choose. Players must master techniques such as blocking, counter-attacking, and chaining attacks together into "combos". Since the early 1990s, most fighting games allow the player to execute special attacks by performing specific input combinations. The fighting game genre is related to but distinct from beat 'em ups, which involve large numbers of enemies against the human player.
The first video game to feature fist fighting was arcade game Heavyweight Champ in 1976, but it was Karate Champ which popularized one-on-one martial arts games in arcades in 1984. In 1985, Yie Ar Kung-Fu featured antagonists with differing fighting styles, while The Way of the Exploding Fist further popularized the genre on home systems. In 1987, Street Fighter introduced hidden special attacks. In 1991, Capcom's highly successful Street Fighter II refined and popularized many of the conventions of the genre. The fighting game subsequently became the preeminent genre for competitive video gaming in the early to mid-1990s, particularly in arcades. This period spawned dozens of other popular fighting games, including successful and long running franchises like Mortal Kombat, Tekken, The King of Fighters, Virtua Fighter, Guilty Gear, Killer Instinct, Dead or Alive and SoulCalibur.