In the past couple of months I've played over 150 top rated MAME fighting games. Some were Vs. fighters, some were side-scrolling beat-'em-ups. These are my current favorite 36. I rated them on fighting (gameplay), graphics and the extra stuff that make some of the games special and unique.
To say the least, there's a ton of subjectivity.
Graphics are different for different eras and different types of games (scrolling vs 2d fighting vs 3D fighting). So it's hard to compare Game X vs Game Y directly, all I did was rate how much I liked the graphics in any particular game and if they added to the fun.
I rated fighting on the satisfaction felt when using the controls and beating the crap out of someone as well as the variety and complexity of the moves available. Keep in mind, I suck, so there are lots of moves I haven't seen or done.
The last column is for coolness and specialness and uniqueness and any other -ness that makes the game interesting, fun and different.
No doubt that since it took a while to compile the ratings, I probably didn't rate with exactly the same critical eye each time I played. Sometimes I may have been more generous, sometimes the opposite. I also feel I might have been grading a little on a curve - for instance, I expect Street Fighter games to be good, so maybe I'm a tougher judge of them.
Certainly you'll find some games missing and other games that you don't think belong - that's the fun of the list. It's only intention is to hopefully remind someone of a great game they forgot about or possibly introduce a new game to someone who had never seen it before.