The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

80s fighting games on the PC

The next Megatech game is Metal & Lace, and since it is a fighting game, I wanted to know what games of this type were available when it came out. Here are, for now, all the games listed on MobyGames either under versus fighting or beat ’em up/brawler that have DOS versions that were released before 1990, a cool dozen. The screenshots are all from MobyGames.

The Beginning


Jordan Mechner’s Karateka was the first fighting game for any home computer when it came out for the Apple ][ in 1984. The 1986 PC port was the first fighting game for that platform as well.

Bad Street Brawler

Bad Street Brawler, also known as Street Hassle or Bop’ N Rumble, has been listed under the 20 worst games of all times, but that goes for the NES version. Never trouble trouble until trouble troubles you.


So at the beginning of 1988 there were only these two fighting games available for the PC. But that would change radically during this year, mainly due to four coin-op conversions: Bad Dudes (Dragon Ninja), Double Dragon, Renegade, and Street Fighter.

I don’t know how these games played, but they look rather poor, all four of them. That wasn’t necessarily due to the restrictions of the platform. Check out P-47: The Freedom Fighter, another coin-op conversion for exactly the same hardware.

Human Killing Machine

Human Killing Machine was made by Tiertex, who ported Street Fighter, and features rather strange enemies. Until the release of Dangerous Streets six years later, they may well have been the strangest in any game of this type.

Manhattan Dealers

Starting with Targhan in 1989, Silmarils would be the first French company to use VGA and Soundblaster for its PC ports. But their first game, Manhattan Dealers (known as Operation: Cleanstreets in the USA) still had CGA graphics and PC speaker music. The graphics aren’t all that bad, the music is horrible. The game is a sort of anti-drug propaganda piece, a big topic in the 80s. You play a cop who fights (occasionally chainsaw-wielding) drug dealers with his bare hands and gains additional life points by burning drugs.


Double Dragon II

In 1989, lots of PC games already supported VGA, and some used it very skillfully, compare Budokan below. But alas, poor Double Dragon got crappy EGA graphics for its second installment as well.

Bruce Lee Lives

Bruce Lee Lives was the first fighting game developed exclusively for the PC, and may have been the only one until Windows became the dominant platform years later. It uses VGA, though with 16 colors only.


Budokan is a beautiful game, one of the first to unleash the full potential of VGA. A new era of PC games had begun.


2 responses to “80s fighting games on the PC

  1. EJR Tairne December 9, 2011 at 23:05

    As far as original DOS fighting games, you can’t overlook One Must Fall 2097 (and its earlier human-oriented demo). Those are early ’90s developments, but they’re certainly from before the Windows-dominated era.

    • Gonnagan December 10, 2011 at 22:43

      Yes, there were several interesting fighting games in the late DOS era. I was specifically interested in what was on the market when Metal & Lace was released. I restricted myself to the 80s in this post but intend to write another about the years 1990–92. It will probably be longer than this one, the number of fighting games really exploded once VGA became the general standard.

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