One of the best things about fighting games is the wide gamut of tastes they can cater for. Whether it’s one on one, tag fighters, arena brawlers, free-for-alls, platform fighters, 2D, 3D, 2.5D and everything in between, there’s a fighting game with gameplay and aesthetics that suit whatever you’re looking for. Still, one particular niche has gained much more popularity over the years, and that’s the anime fighter.
While a vague, catch-all term for the most part, anime fighters are often signified by their visuals over any gameplay elements, as the graphics tend to evoke the style of Japanese animation from which the genre gets its name. How each game goes about accomplishing that differs wildly, as the world of anime is just as varied as fighting games, but these games listed here have been the most successful. For anyone looking for a new anime fighter to play, there are the best anime fighting games of all time.
The Best Anime Fighting Games
15. Melty Blood: Type Lumina
Developer: French-Bread Publisher: Lasengle Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
An institution when it comes to the world of fighting game and visual novel crossovers, which is a bit of a specific niche, all things considered, the Melty Blood series has been around for years, which might make some think that the series is a bit impenetrable these days. Fortunately, developers French-Bread made the wise choice to reboot the series from scratch with Melty Blood: Type Lumina, meaning series vets and newcomers alike can enjoy the excellent gameplay on offer.
Featuring a decently-sized roster of characters and a unique visual novel inspired story mode for each one, Melty Blood is a great pick for those that love their storylines when it comes to fighting games, but the gameplay on offer here is also up there with the best. Literally, in fact, considering that Melty Blood: Type Lumina managed to share the main stage of EVO with the likes of Tekken, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.
14. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles
Developer: CyberConnect2 Publisher: Aniplex, SEGA Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch
Demon Slayer has become one of the most popular new generation anime and manga franchises out there, as it’s even younger than the likes of My Hero Academia. While there might be other recent anime and manga franchises waiting in the wings to get their own video game spin-offs, they’ll have a tough job beating Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles.
An adaptation of the first season of the anime, along with the movie Mugen Train, the game includes a story mode which follows series protagonist Tanjiro Kamado, who joins the Demon Slayer Corps in order to find a way to turn his sister from a demon back into a human. Of course, it wouldn’t be a fighting game without a versus mode, and Demon Slayer includes online play too. Sure, the gameplay might be a bit basic and spam heavy compared to other games on this list, but as the first Demon Slayer game, there’s a lot to love here.
13. Ultimate Muscle: Legends Vs New Generation
Developer: AKI Corporation Publisher: Bandai Platform(s): GameCube
Many would consider wrestling games to fall into the fighting game genre, particularly if those wrestling games have a similar flavour to the likes of WWF No Mercy and Def Jam: Fight For New York. Ultimate Muscle: Legends Vs New Generation definitely fits that criteria, given that AKI Corporation helped develop all three of those games, and while the first two games have more of a legacy, Ultimate Muscle’s anime influence gives Legends Vs New Generation its own flavour.
A wrestling/brawler hybrid for up to four players, Ultimate Muscle: Legends Vs New Generation is pretty much what you’d expect from an anime inspired AKI game, as players jump around the ring, hitting divekicks or tying the opponent up in ropes as a ninja. The gameplay is fast, the super moves/finishers are ridiculous, and if you grew up watching Ultimate Muscle on Cartoon Network, you’ll appreciate seeing all the characters too.
12. Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe
Developer: FK Digital, Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works Platform(s): PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Perhaps Arc System Works’ most slept-on game that they’ve published in the last decade, Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe is a fast-paced 2D fighting game that wears its anime influences proudly. Originally released back in the early 2010s, FK Digital and Arc Sys re-released the game on PS4 and PC in 2017, fixing a lot of the game’s translation problems and adding online play, making this a top tier anime fighter.
With a roster of 16 characters and simplistic graphics, Chaos Code might not compete with other games that feature huge rosters or epic visuals, but it does offer easy to learn gameplay that’s more engrossing than a lot of other anime fighting games out there. The special move system also adds an interesting gimmick to the game too, as players pick two out of four special moves to add to their character’s movelist every match, allowing for massive amounts of experimentation between characters.
11. My Hero One’s Justice 2
Developer: Bandai Namco Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
My Hero Academia has become the shonen anime of choice for a lot of people, so it’s not shocking to know that there’s already been multiple games based on the popular superhero franchise, with even more on the way too as the series progresses. If you’re looking for a fun, accessible and engaging anime fighter/arena brawler, the My Hero One’s Justice games are for you.
If you’re just starting out in the My Hero world, the first One’s Justice game does an excellent job of catching newcomers up to the world and characters, but the sequel takes everything the original game did and adds more characters, story and modes to the mix, making it the definitive My Hero Academia experience. If you’ve been enamoured with the show or manga since it launched and want more, My Hero One’s Justice 2 is the perfect anime fighter for you.
10. Kill La Kill IF
Developer: A+ Games Publisher: Arc System Works, PQube Platform(s): PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch
The series for those who were still longing for more episodes of Gurren Lagann, Kill La Kill was the first production from Studio Trigger, the production house founded by Gurren’s creator who have since gone on to create excellent anime like Little Witch Academia, Promare and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. You can’t forget your first though, which is why Kill La Kill has had such a legacy in the decade since its release. The tie-in anime fighting game, Kill La Kill IF is also pretty good too.
As a game, Kill La Kill IF serves as an excellent companion piece to the original work, as the game’s story mode doesn’t follow the usual main character, Ryuko Matoi. Instead, you’ll follow her rival, Satsuki Kiryuin, in an alternative story that was supervised by series writer Kazuki Nakashima. On top of that, the 3D brawling is good fun too, with simple controls that anyone can enjoy.
9. Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy
Developer: CyberConnect2 Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Naruto has been a long-running institution when it comes to shonen anime, with some iteration of the series being on screens around the world for the better part of two decades at this point. Naturally, an anime about ninjas beating the snot out of each other has also led to a huge amount of anime fighting games, with the most notable being the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. Thankfully, Legacy combines them all into one package for all fans to enjoy.
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy is a collection of the four mainline Ultimate Ninja Storm games, which covers the main storyline of the series from the original Naruto run all the way up until the end of Naruto Shippuden. With four games worth of content in one affordable package, there’s dozens of hours worth of gameplay to be found here, along with well over hundred characters from across the rich tapestry of Naruto.
8. UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r]
Developer: French Bread, Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works, Aksys Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch
While Melty Blood might be the elder statesman for developer French Bread, Under Night In-Birth is arguably the game that gave them much more notoriety with the video game public. Strong showings for Under Night at competitions like EVO helped cultivate a groundswell of support for this awesome anime fighter, allowing it to become one of the more recognised fighters on the market.
On the surface, Under Night In-Birth might seem like a complicated game to learn, with plenty of mechanics, massive amounts of lore and multiple versions with confusing titles, but the core gameplay is what will keep you coming back for more. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into with the latest version, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r], making it a shoo-in for one of the best anime fighting games ever made. Now, someone make a tie-in anime so we can have a better idea of what the plot actually is.
7. Blazblue Cross Tag Battle
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works, PQube Platform(s): Arcade, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Arguably one of the poster children for anime fighters, Blazblue has seen multiple iterations on lots of different platforms over the years, but perhaps the most popular has been the crossover tag fighter, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle. If you ever wanted to see characters from the likes of Blazblue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth and RWBY do battle against each other, your oddly specific desire will be catered for right here.
A fast-paced fighter, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle is filled with unique characters, each with their own moves and abilities, and with the ability to form teams of two, there’s plenty of room for experimentation when it comes to how both characters can assist each other. With a visual novel-inspired story mode that chronicles what could have brought all four of these franchises together, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle is well worth checking out.
The mobile RPG Granblue Fantasy might not mean much to a lot of people, but for fighting game fans, they’ll no doubt have heard of Granblue Fantasy Versus. An accessible fighting game aimed at everyone, Granblue Fantasy Versus takes the characters and setting from the original RPG and puts it into a 2.5D fighting game that boasts the same amazing anime graphics that Arc System Works have become known for over the years.
Because of GBFV’s RPG influence, the gameplay includes Skybound Arts, special moves that can be activated with the push of a button, and are available on a cooldown. Of course, if you’re a fighting game veteran, you can enter a more complicated input and receive a shorter cooldown as a reward, giving the game both approachability and depth. Throw in a RPG beat ‘em up Story Mode and you’ve got a recipe for one of the best anime fighting games ever made.
5. DNF Duel
Developer: Arc System Works, Eighting, Neople Publisher: Nexon Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Another example of Arc System Works taking a property that’s huge in Asia and turning it into an excellent fighting game, DNF Duel is an accessible take on the Dungeon & Fighter franchise, which has existed on PC and mobile in some form since 2005. Still, for a lot of players, DNF Duel might be the franchise’s most high profile release yet, and if this is your introduction to the series, it’s a good place to start.
Unlike other traditional fighters, DNF Duel goes for an interesting name convention, naming each character by their respective class instead of with a regular name. The aptly named Grappler does grapple attacks, the Striker is a close-ranged menace; you get the point. It’s a very straightforward way of getting down to brass tacks, which could be a real godsend for beginners who don’t know which character to choose.
4. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle R
Developer: CyberConnect2 Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch
From an obscure curio to a genuine international anime sensation, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has been around for decades, but it’s only in the past few years that one of the most ridiculous anime and manga franchises ever conceived has really been given the love it deserves. You can tell that with the fact that Bandai Namco decided to re-release the PS3 games JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle for modern platforms.
More than just the same game with a R stuck on to the end, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle R is the definitive gaming collection of Hirohiko Araki’s classic manga, including characters and locations from every part that’s been released so far. Improving on the original game, All-Star Battle R included a host of gameplay improvements, new voice acting from the cast of Part 6 and an improved Story Mode that includes a host of new battles, this is the game for JoJo fans.
3. The King Of Fighters XIII
Developer: SNK Publisher: SNK, Atlus, Rising Star Games Platform(s): Arcade, PC, PS3, Xbox 360
SNK’s flagship fighting game franchise, The King Of Fighters series has fully transitioned into the world of 2.5D action, but instead of going from pixel-sprites to full-on 3D models, SNK tried the animation route, producing a great fighting game in the process with The King Of Fighters XII. However, it was the follow-up entry, King of Fighters XIII, that became cemented in history as an all-time great fighting game.
Improving on the previous game by including more characters and stages, The King of Fighters XIII is considered by some to be the pinnacle of the KoF franchise, with its beautiful visuals, deep mechanics and gameplay, and a great story mode that concludes a huge story arc in the franchise. With the game’s enduring popularity so clearly evident, it’s no surprise that SNK are even re-releasing KoF XIII with rollback netcode.
2. Guilty Gear Strive
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S
Arc System Works’ rock and roll magnum opus, Guilty Gear Strive is the ultimate anime fighting game, oozing style, substance and a killer soundtrack from its every orifice. As fighting games go, Guilty Gear Strive is already up there with the big boys, but when it comes to anime fighters in particular, this manages to top them all. The fact that it’s now available on more platforms than ever is just the icing on the cake.
The latest entry in a long-running fighting game series, Guilty Gear Strive continues the excellent run of form Arc System Works established with Guilty Gear Xrd. Strive includes characters both old and new, each with their own devastating special moves and combos that’ll make them forces to be reckoned with in the right hands, and with a tutorial mode that’s up there with the best in the business, players of all skills can enjoy Guilty Gear Strive. Undoubtedly, it’s the best anime fighting game on the market.
1. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
We couldn’t make up a list of anime fighting games without throwing up some kind of mention to Dragon Ball. The originator of anime brawlers, Dragon Ball fans have been eating good for decades with games like Budokai and the Tenkaichi series. However, if we’re truly asking ourselves which are the best anime fighting games of all time, there’s only one Dragon Ball game that can claim that crown: Dragon Ball FighterZ.
A 3v3 tag fighter featuring characters from across the wide gamut of Dragon Ball’s history, Dragon Ball FighterZ offsets its extreme approachability and easy to understand controls and mechanics by giving players almost unlimited freedom. The amount of combo potential across the game’s dozens of characters is ridiculous, and once you start throwing assists and tags into the mix, Dragon Ball FighterZ will keep players occupied for ages.
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