There are many archetypes in fighting games, allowing the roster to encompass many playstyles to help fans find their main and go-to character. Whether you like the strategical Charge Characters seen throughout games such as Street Fighter or Guilty Gear with characters like Chun-Li and May or are more into the zoners who look to crush their opponents from a safe distance, there's almost always a character for you.
However, one of the most popular archetypes in fighting games is the Rushdown Fighter, a character whose primary goal is to be ultra-aggressive, get in their opponent's face, and force them into the corner for ultimate pressure and devastating combos. This archetype is home to some of the genre's most notable and recognizable characters, which is why it's such a special role to many.
10 Nakoruru – Samurai Shodown
Aside from the series' main protagonist, Haohmaru, Nakoruru is likely the most well-known and liked character in the long-running Samurai Shodown franchise. In a game that has a much greater emphasis on defensive options than most other fighting games, Nakoruru finds ways to incorporate her rushdown prowess into her playstyle, making her stand out from the crowd.
While there are other rushdown fighters in the series (Galford, Hanzo, and the fan-favorite villain Genjuro), Nakoruru and her hawk, Mamahaha, are far too iconic, influential, and powerful to not include as the SamSho representatives on this list. When you look at her draw, consistently dominant performance, and genuinely fun and exciting gameplay, it's a no-brainer.
9 Chie Satonaka – Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Known for being the happy-go-lucky party member in Persona 4, Chie Satonaka kicks things up several notches when entering the battlefield in Arena Ultimax, where she becomes one of the best rushdown fighters. Almost every action at Chie's disposal allows her to hit confirm into a long and very high damaging combo, making her a blast to play and learn.
Furthermore, her okizeme is out of control due to her strong mix-up potential and fast, devastating skills that allow her to get into the action with a ferocity that you cannot possibly anticipate. Compared to the other rushdown fighters in the game, Chie outmatches them in raw potential and gameplay ability. She's a treat to play, annoying to match against, and one of the best to ever do it.
8 Chipp Zanuff – Guilty Gear
'Playing Defensively' isn't in most rushdown fighters' vocabulary, and boy does that ring true for Chipp Zanuff, who quite literally explodes when touched but approaches each encounter with blinding speed and rapacious violence. While Chipp does lack a reasonably sized health pool and is often used as a 'touch of death' demonstration, he is undoubtedly one of the more fascinating characters in the Guilty Gear universe.
Look, ninjas are already cool, and Chipp Zanuff raises that bar pretty drastically, especially when handled by the artistic wizards and creative talent over at Arc System Works. The flashy, fluid, and remarkably high-speed action of Chipp is a sight to behold and is even more exhilarating to experience firsthand.
7 Mai Shiranui – Fatal Fury/The King Of Fighters
Regarding iconic rushdown characters, Mai Shiranui might be the most recognizable and influential in the entire fighting game genre. While she made her debut in Fatal Fury 2 as the series' first playable female character, she was almost not included at all and was nearly a Shiranui male ninja instead. Luckily, SNK decided to make an 'idol' character in Fatal Fury 2, leading to one of the best characters in fighting game history entering the scene.
Mai Shiranui has excellent hand-to-hand combat, ninjutsu, and grappling options, making her a rushdown powerhouse, especially in the world of The King of Fighters. She's quick, deadly, and has a somewhat unpredictable okizeme, leading to her being able to bully her opposition relentlessly. Not only is Mai a legendary fighting game character, but she's also a badass that is more than capable of holding her own, which is why we – and many others – absolutely love her.
6 Taokaka – BlazBlue
Time to shift gears from one of the most universally beloved characters to one of the oddest characters in fighting game history, which isn't a bad thing by any stretch. Taokaka is the guardian of the Taka tribe village and shares many traits and features of a cat, meaning she is the fastest character on the roster, which feeds into her aggressive rushdown playstyle. BlazBlue is known for having genuinely bizarre characters and gameplay mechanics, and Taokaka checks all of those boxes with ease.
Catgirls are all the rage nowadays, but Taokaka has been going strong for nearly thirteen years at this point, and we wouldn't have it any other way. She can deal absurd amounts of damage, carry out complex combos, and mix her opponents up for days, which is why she's the clear choice from this series and worthy of making the cut.
5 Carmine – Under Night In-Birth
Speaking of odd games and characters, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r]'s Carmine, *takes a breath* is here to continue the trend. While not nearly as strange as Taokaka, Carmine's thirst for blood and sociopathic nature places him in his own category of messed up. But, the wrong kind, as opposed to Taokaka's genuinely fascinating and endearing qualities.
Despite being an absolute psychopath, Carmine has an intriguing story, a staple of Under Night In-Birth's approach to its world and characters. Carmine has the ability to manipulate blood and merely fights and kills for the thrill and 'fun' of it, which transitions perfectly to his rushdown playstyle in-game. His overly-aggressive personality allows him to keep unrelenting amounts of pressure on his opponents while also giving him the ability to weave in mix-ups and devastating combos.
4 Filia Medici – Skullgirls
Staying on the path of absurdity a bit longer, we have Skullgirls and the one and only Filia Medici as its rushdown fighter representative. Filia was your typical school girl until her hair was suddenly possessed by a Parasite named Samson, which caused her amnesia and granted her special powers. Now, because of Samson, she's a rushdown queen that deserves respect.
Filia was the very first playable fighter in Skullgirls' in-development demo, showcasing the importance of her character in the overall story and world of the game. Thanks to Samson, Filia's playstyle is hyper-aggressive and overwhelming, leading to her being one of the game's best rushdown choices. She has devastating combo strings, suffocating pressure, and several okizeme options, making her a nightmare to deal with.
3 Liu Kang – Mortal Kombat
If Mortal Kombat is our exit from 'bizarro-land' and into a more 'grounded' section of the list, then we know we're doing something right. And who better to choose than the franchise's main character, Liu Kang. Sure, Scorpion may be more brutal, ferocious, and more recognizable than Liu Kang, but Liu is far and away the better pure rushdown fighter.
Liu Kang is one of the strongest characters in the history of Mortal Kombat and consistently proves it over the series's three-decade-long (and counting) lifespan. He has immense combat knowledge, is an expert in dang-near every martial art out there, and can even summon – and turn into – a dragon. What isn't there to love about Liu Kang?!
2 Marshall Law – Tekken
Keeping on track with martial arts legends, we have Tekken's Marshall Law, which takes his rushdown prowess into the third dimension. While his most important action is his toss, his fluidity and devastating strikes make it easy for him to apply pressure as his opponent won't know what to expect, allowing him to mix them up and dominate without hesitation.
Marshall Law is a hyper-aggressive powerhouse who lands every punch, kick, and throw with tremendous precision and force. Marshall Law isn't only one of Tekken's best rushdown fighters but also one of the best overall characters in the franchise's deep and expansive roster. And, seeing as he's a tribute to the late, legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, would you expect anything less?
1 Cammy White – Street Fighter
First appearing in Street Fighter 2 as the second playable female fighter of the series is Cammy White, a former Shadaloo Assassin who is now part of the United Kingdom Special Forces. While Chun-Li often overshadows Cammy in terms of popularity, Cammy is still one of the most influential and vital characters for the series and the genre at large.
Cammy's importance to the industry cannot be understated, nor can her unrelenting fighting style. She's one of the best rushdown characters in the genre, not just in Street Fighter, and she proves it time and time again with each iteration and generation of the series. While there are loads of excellent rushdown fighters in Street Fighter, none of them come close to Cammy's unrelenting special ops training.
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