This genre lacks a commonly agreed upon name in the West, but games in the genre are most commonly called "comical action games" (CAGs) in Japan. The original arcade Mario Bros. is generally recognized as the originator of this genre, though Bubble Bobble is also highly influential. These games are characterized by single screen, non-scrolling levels and cooperative two-player action. A level is cleared when all enemies on the screen have been defeated, and vanquished foes usually drop score bonuses in the form of fruit or other items. CAGs are almost exclusively developed in Japan and are either arcade games, or sequels to arcade games, though they are also a common genre among amateur doujinshi games. Other examples include Don Doko Don, Snow Bros and Nightmare in the Dark.
An integral feature of fighting games includes the use of "special attacks", also called "secret moves", that employ complex combinations of button presses to perform a particular move beyond basic punching and kicking. Combos, in which several attacks are chained together using basic punches and kicks, are another common feature in fighting games and have been fundamental to the genre since the release of Street Fighter II. Some fighting games display a "combo meter" that displays the player's progress through a combo. The effectiveness of such moves often relate to the difficulty of execution and the degree of risk. These moves are often beyond the ability of a casual gamer and require a player to have both a strong memory and excellent timing. Taunting is another feature of some fighting games and was originally introduced by Japanese company SNK in their game Art of Fighting. It is used to add humor to games, but can also have an effect on gameplay such as improving the strength of other attacks. Sometimes, a character can even be noted especially for taunting (for example, Dan Hibiki from Street Fighter Alpha).
The early part of the decade saw the rise of major international fighting game tournaments such as Tougeki Super Battle Opera and Evolution Championship Series, and famous players such as Daigo Umehara. Several more fighting game crossovers were released in the new millennium. The two most prolific developers of 2D fighting games, Capcom and SNK, combined intellectual property to produce SNK vs. Capcom games. SNK released the first game of this type, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, for its Neo Geo Pocket Color handheld at the end of 1999. GameSpot regarded the game as "perhaps the most highly anticipated fighter ever" and called it the best fighting game ever to be released for a handheld console. Capcom released Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 for arcades and the Dreamcast in 2000, followed by sequels in subsequent years. Though none matched the critical success of the handheld version, Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO was noted as the first game of the genre to successfully utilize internet competition. Other crossovers from 2008 included Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. The most successful crossover, however, was Super Smash Bros. Brawl, also released in 2008 for the Wii. Featuring characters from Nintendo's various franchises, the game was a runaway commercial success in addition to being lavished with critical praise.
In the new millennium, fighting games became less popular and plentiful than in the mid-1990s, with multiplayer competition shifting towards other genres. However, SNK reappeared in 2003 as SNK Playmore and continued to release games. Arc System Works received critical acclaim for releasing Guilty Gear X in 2001, as well as its sequel Guilty Gear XX, as both were 2D fighting games featuring striking anime inspired graphics. The fighting game is currently a popular genre for amateur and doujin developers in Japan. The 2002 title Melty Blood was developed by then amateur developer French-Bread and achieved cult success on the PC. It became highly popular in arcades following its 2005 release, and a version was released for the PlayStation 2 the following year. While the genre became generally far less popular than it once was, arcades and their attendant fighting games remained reasonably popular in Japan in this time period, and still remain so even today. Virtua Fighter 5 lacked an online mode but still achieved success both on home consoles and in arcades; players practiced at home and went to arcades to compete face-to-face with opponents. In addition to Virtua Fighter and Tekken, the Soul and Dead or Alive franchises continued to release installments. Classic Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games were re-released on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade, allowing internet play, and in some cases, HD graphics.