Hello everyone! I recently wanted to get back into writing about the stuff that I always have been interested on and that over the years have been really enjoyable, and if there’s one thing that is amazing to see for me as a Venezuelan fighting game fan, its gotta be Fightcade. Not only I could get to enjoy many classic fighting games online thanks to the rollback netcode (which given where I live, is virtually a requirement on whatever I want to play just to do so online), but I also got to play certain games that I never had a chance to play with someone else before, some for years, and some as of recently thanks to a brand new update.

If you are already familiar with this program (which is very likely if you are a fighting game fan), then you will probably understand how important it is in many ways for a lot of classic fighting game communities, but the main point of Fightcade is to play many games online with someone else through a special emulator with rollback netcode support. While it doesn’t encompass all retro fighting games due to not having support for the hardware they run on, it is already an impressive and amazing project as many of the platforms/games that are supported have been quite enough for a lot of people around the world.

First of all, I’ll give some context about the origins of Fightcade and how it has changed over the years, then show not only why it works so well, but also how many games are given new casual and competitive life as well as a wider accessibility, and the current state of many old games that have been recently thriving through the creation of communities for them along with the rise of tournaments and communities for games that have just recently been added to Fightcade. There’s definitely a long history about how far Fightcade has come since its beginnings, and I’m honestly glad to have seen a lot of the progress it has made over the years from my own experience.

History: GGPO’s legacy and the need of a succesor

The beginning of this story goes all the way back to 2006, when Tony Cannon (an important name in FGC community as he founded both the EVO Championship Series tournaments and owned the fansite Shoryuken) released the GGPO application, which stands for Good Game, Peace Out, and was made as a direct response to Street Fighter 2’s re-release on Xbox 360 having poor netcode. GGPO invented the famous “rollback netcode” through the use of savestates and analizing the player inputs, which meant that the emulator/game could potentially predict what the inputs from the other player could be instead of being forced to wait a set amount of frames to find out, and reloading savestates to correct incorrect predictions. There’s a proper explanation about rollback on the video below, but the point is that rollback provided a huge leap in netcode quality compared to delay netcode, as while delay netcode CAN be polished to be more solid or allow for flexibility in setting your own Input Delay instead of unoptimized netcode and a forced input delay which can cause poor results depending of distance, rollback netcode single-handedly made the inherent input delay requeriment lower thanks to the predictions, and for players that already could have a decent connection in delay netcode, could virtually play with little to no input delay and great stability thanks to this solution.

Powered by the FinalBurn Alpha emulator, this program supported games like Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, The King of Fighters 98, Street Fighter Alpha 2 and 3, and most notably, Street Fighter III Third Strike, which was briefly removed from the service due to the game’s official “Online Edition” being released by Capcom not too long after and actually used a commercial version of GGPO’s netcode (though the original game would eventually come back to the service). GGPO’s client persisted until 2014, where there happened to be many shortages on the client’s server, and then got discontinued…since there happened to be a better alternative on the works at that time.

GGPO’s networking was turned into a middleware which ended up being used in many commercial games since 2008. Most notably, games like Skullgirls, Killer Instinct, Brawlhalla, and as I mentioned before, the first official modern re-release of SFIII Third Strike by Capcom, used this technology. As GGPO’s code went open source in 2019, this allowed for even more game developers to add both unofficial (emulation and casters) and official (included as part of the game) rollback to games, even with cases like Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R’s rollback netcode being made by fans through reverse engineering, and this implementation being noticed by Arc System Works to have the fans on their team in order to add this rollback mod as an official update to the game. So it is fair to say that GGPO itself was instrumental to progress thanks to originating an excellent netcode model for fighting games, which would be carried over to Fightcade as well.

Pau “Pof” Oliva was a main contributor behind Fightcade which started working on it back in that year between the shortages, and while it was supposed to be used only between his friends, it ended up getting quite developed and released publicly that year, taking advantage of FinalBurn Alpha and offering a wide variety of games to be played online with others through a lobby where you can challenge other users anytime, and even set a custom notification system for whenever someone challenged you on a game (some of which you could pick by default were based off “new challenger” jingles from arcade fighting games). The first UI was rudimentary but functional, as it showed a minimalistic list of users on the right, a list of users on the left, and the chatroom at the center, only being able to be at a single lobby at a time (which means that you could only be seen on one game lobby at a time if you wanted to be challenged by another player).

Since then, Fightcade only kept getting more and more players coming due to the many games supported (mainly romhacks of existing games getting lobbies), rock-solid stability, the appearance of online tournaments thanks to the rollback being very practical for those, and then 2017’s huge update with a new UI and new platforms. The huge update was being worked on as a closed beta with new pitched features like supporting Megadrive games thanks to an update emulator, and eventually released as a public beta alongside the original Fightcade, and after this beta matured enough, the original Fightcade application got phased out of support, though the original FBA netcode for those games from the original version still got to live on in the new version after all.

How Fightcade works

The current incarnation of Fightcade runs a couple of emulators and platforms: Since the 2017 update, Fightcade not only has FinalBurn Neo (which is the newest incarnation of FBA) for most of the arcade games previously supported along with some new ones due to the updated emulator, but also has NullDC and Flycast for NAOMI arcade games, and Snes9X for Super Nintendo games. Most of the games supported in Fightcade are thanks to their boards being supported with FBN, like CPS2 (SF2, SFA3, Darkstalkers), CPS3 (SF3, Jojo), Neo-Geo (most SNK games), Genesis (this being added on the new Fightcade version’s emulator, since FBA did not support Genesis games) and so on. As a platform, Fightcade essentially acts as a lobby and matchmaking tool, showing you the list of games avaliable, letting you know if you are being challenged and accept or not (or challenge others) and get connected to the other player through the emulator used by the game you chose, at which point the controls, netcode and options will be specific to the emulator applied.


FBN-supported games run in the overhauled rollback netcode for the new Fightcade 2 update, but you not only you can find lobbies for “FC1 games” which use the classic rollback netcode and FBA emulator before the big update, but also the original IRC-like Fightcade 1 client and UI is still included within Fightcade 2 as “Fightcade1.exe”, still functional with the new network and FC1 game lobbies (but nothing that was added in FC2’s platform). Not all games supported in the past are still avaliable in FC1 mode, but at least most of the popular games are; surprisignly enough KOF98 and KOF2002 still had 30-40 people on that lobby today unlike the rest.

While SNES and NullDC games don’t support rollback as their emulators don’t either, it is still nice that they are supported here with lobbies and everything; they were a great option at least for a good while. Flycast originally didn’t support rollback for its games either when it was introduced as a NullDC alternative with native netcode…but as progress happened on the emulator this year, rollback became supported in most if not all of its games and Flycast turned into the preferred option for Dreamcast and NAOMI games due to that.


You can join a game lobby (currently up to 3 lobbies at a time) and talk with others, as well as challenge or being challenged by someone to play in whatever game the lobby is about. In certain games, there’s support for Ranked matches (FT2, FT3, FT5 and FT10 as options), where you can get a rank in that lobby after several matches, another feature introduced in Fightcade 2. As of recently, you can get to see any upcoming events for any of the games avaliable through the game list as well


If you are playing a specific game for the first time, you will get the default controls (arrow keys, and ASDZXC for buttons), which you should change first with the “Test Game” button to launch the game offline and change the keys on the emulator (per-game in FBA/FBN, only once in Snes9X and NullDC/Flycast). And of course, since it acts like a emulator hub with online support, you have to find yourself those games.

Of course, as someone that always loved fighting games, I have played through a lot of 3rd Strike, Garou and KOF98 through here; almost every time the experience is quite great! However, I had mentioned it all wasn’t strictly fighting games: Since it supports the platforms where they run themselves instead of specific games, puzzle games with versus modes (Magical Drop, Tetris TGM2TAP), coop games of any genre (TMNT Turtles in Time, Metal Slug, Streets of Rage, Ikaruga) and other kind of games like Windjammers and Super Mario Kart are all avaliable.

Oh, and for most emulators, saving and sharing replays are supported, as these are saved and sent to Fightcade’s replay servers, and can be replayed on the fly through your emulator if you access them through the website and checking the recent games on a game or on a player’s account (including your own) or by a link made to share a replay.

The games supported by Fightcade and how it increased accessibility for their communities

With the use of ease that Fightcade provides and a friendly UI, it has been host for the life of many classic fighting games today, both legendary and unknown.

For example, you might have noticed in the “game list” screenshot that SFIII Third Strike and Super Turbo have a huge amount of players on their lobbies, despite the fact that these games are also avaliable to play online in Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. This could be attributed to the freedom that Fightcade lobbies provide for picking games with friends and strangers, the lower hardware requeriments, and how it supports many more variations of these games online instead of being locked to just 4. The King of Fighters 98 and 2002 also show a lot of players, despite that their official Ultimate Match remakes have also received rollback support recently, but it can also be chalked up to two main factors: The nostalgic preference for the older versions of the games (balance changes, specific combos)…and because if anyone wanted to play vanilla 98 and 2002 online, you CANNOT do this with the Ultimate Match ports, so once again Fightcade is the only viable option to do so at all.

In a way, the fact that Fightcade is so convenient to open at any moment and hop in for matches really helps in this, and in any case there are countless other games that either don’t have re-releases, have poor online on their re-releases, or that those don’t have any online support at all. Some examples of this would be that aforementioned SF2 XBLA re-release that single-handedly prompted the creation of GGPO due to its reportedly abysmal netcode, and the games avaliable in the recently released Capcom Arcade Stadium, which for whatever reason doesn’t seem to have native online support AT ALL, not even for fighting games. Sure, you could get to use Remote Play to address lack of online support on a game…but for a fighting game it can be unecessarily poor depending of distance because of the approach it uses (anyone remember Samurai Shodown on Stadia?).

Small but dedicated communities for strange games or deprecated versions of games like Breakers Revenge, Jackie Chan’s Fists of Fire, Martial Masters and Samurai Showdown 3 wouldn’t exist if they weren’t playable in Fightcade due to their obscurity and the fact that they aren’t really playable anywhere outside of emulation due to never being re-released or had now-delisted ports. Games like Darkstalkers, Jojo Bizarre Adventure Heritage for the Future, Neo Turf Masters, Capcom VS SNK 2, Marvel VS Capcom and Marvel VS Capcom 2 are notable cases of these popular games that are unavaliable in modern consoles, that are often enjoyed in Fightcade.

Oh, and not only it also supports new romhacks like SSF2T New Legacy, SF2 Remix and SF3 4th Strike, but also weird bootlegs like KOF2002 Magic Plus and Street Fighter 2 Koryu/Rainbow Edition. So you can pick between updated or rebalanced versions by fans, or some of the strangest bootleg fighting game hacks ever made. Who wouldn’t enjoy a day with friends playing something as ridiculous as SF2 Koryu?

I have to note that when Dreamcast and NAOMI games were given support in Fightcade (first with delay netcode, but now are supported with rollback netcode), many beloved gems of the early 2000s like the aforementioned Capcom VS SNK 2 and Marvel VS Capcom 2, as well as 3D fighters like Dead or Alive 2, Soul Calibur and Virtua Fighter 3tb, were mow easily accessible and playable online after so many years (and proved that 3D fighters CAN work with rollback). More obscure games offered through this hardware like Toy Fighter, Akatsuki Blitzkampf, The Rumble Fish 2 (hooray for the new port announced :D) and Fighting Vipers 2 also finally have their chance to grow a community scene and tournaments enabled through Fightcade. As I never really had chances to play VF3tb and Rumble Fish 2 with other people before, I’m really glad that this addition finally happened.

The actual state of Fightcade, communities and the newest addition to the service

Fightcade has been built upon to what it is today thanks to the hard effort behind the Fightcade staff on making a functional program for lobby matchmaking compatible with emulators, as well as making the FBA/FBN emulator work in tandem with the program and have it support rollback, as well as integrating the NullDC and Flycast emulators into the program, the amazing work done by flyinghead to support rollback in NAOMI (and blueminder for not only making Fightcade Dojo a thing, which is the preferred standalone build for using that emulator online as well as implementing delay netcode before rollback arrived, but also for taking care of working to make the Fightcade integration a thing), and the communities that have brought their favorite games back to the limelight thanks to it. You probably never expected to see something like Survival Arts and Sailor Moon being playable online, and other obscure/underrated fighting games getting tourrnaments/communities, but you definitely would expect to see stuff like Garou Mark of the Wolves, Street Fighter III, CVS2, MVC2 and so on to have functional online ports with rollback for a long while…but either took until few years ago to get recent rollback-supported ports or as part of a collection, don’t have recent re-releases, or haven’t even been ported to modern consoles EVER. People are still waiting for MVC2 to be freed officially, but at least there’s a good unofficial solution now avaliable to play it online whenever you want.

And what’s more, the most recent addition to the Fightcade roster is NAOMI 2, thanks to Flycast also getting updated to support this hardware as of this year, which means that Virtua Fighter 4 Final Tuned is finally playable online, with rollback, and on a easily accessible emulator after so long (and is the closest we have to modern Virtua Fighter with rollback, as none of the VF5 releases, not even Ultimate Showdown, have rollback netcode). There also has been teasers by the Fightcade staff about future Playstation support, which is still something that I’m hyped to see someday to be able to play Tekken 3, Bloody Roar 2, Street Fighter EX2 Plus and many more gems avaliable on the PS1 through online.


In the end, while Fightcade at its core is a lobby program for emulators with online support used to find other players, it has been essential in giving many communities a way to enjoy their games more as the lobby itself is useful for finding random games or with friends, and as most games are backed with rollback netcode, the already good fact of having online play is enhanced by a very good online experience (I could play Garou MOTW with someone from Japan flawlessly, and I’ve been able to play The Rumble Fish 2 with an acceptable delay with people from USA and even Europe). As I mentioned at the beginning, since I might have quite the distance from other players when playing online, delay netcode can often be troublesome for me to use, so the rollback solution being here and as polished as it is (I’m still salty to not be able to play Tekken 7 online because of how the “rollback” was virtually nothing) is such a lifesaver for me.


If you happen to spot a certain 2D or 3D fighting game classic you want to revisit again alone or with a buddy, there’s a good chance that it is playable in Fightcade (except for the PS1 Tekken trilogy…they might arrive one day). While Fightcade itself is not really unknown to fighting game players as it is pretty clear that its used for a huge amount of games, it is still a miracle what it does for both preservation and enjoying these games up to this day by adding a sturdy online implementation. And of course, I want to give special thanks to the Fightcade staff for their continued support of this amazing service! I honestly consider that what they’ve done through it is underrated to the public eye, and I’m glad to be able to write this article highlighting how much their hard work and effort has done for these communities and even preservation.

This is an updated version of something that I wrote in another place last year, as I took the opportunity to flesh it out a bit more here as well as updating the new stuff with Flycast and rollback. However, I’d still like to make something even more ambitious one day (maybe in the line of my previous “History of SADX Modding” or “History of SM64 Modding” articles; taking a deeper look at the history of Fightcade with interviews) and even if that doesn’t come to be, I’d still like to interview both players and developers alike to learn about their experiences developing and playing Fightcade during the past two decades.

Thank you so much for reading!