The Nintendo Switch’s unique features, such as its portability and general ease of use when playing handheld, give the console a pick up and play capability that can’t really be replicated by other “hardcore” gaming platforms. Waiting for something to download? Play the Switch. Commuting to work? Pull out the Switch. Nature calling you to the bathroom for an extended period of time? It’d be foolish to go without taking your Switch with you. It’s this portability that gives Switch fighting games a value all of their own.
In fairness, fighting games on the Switch would be better suited if the Joy-Cons had d-pads, as few players want to use those weird buttons, but that’s another story. With typical fighting game matches only lasting a minute or two, fighting games feel right at home on the Switch, and the Switch has the library to prove it.
If you’ve only just picked up a Nintendo Switch or you’re looking for some new fighting games to play on the handheld console of wonders, we’ve compiled a list of the best that the genre and the console has to offer. It’s not in any particular order, so don’t get in a huff because your favourite game doesn’t hold the number one spot, but here’s all the best Switch fighting games.
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Bandai Namco
Arc System Works are known for their anime fighters, and there’s perhaps no bigger or widely recognised anime franchise than Dragon Ball, so a collaboration between the two seemed like a match made in heaven. Fortunately, Dragon Ball FighterZ lives up to that promise, offering some of the best 3v3 tag fighting on any console. Some would say it’s a better Marvel vs Capcom game than more recent Marvel vs Capcom games, but that’s another argument for another day.
Dragon Ball FighterZ sees fan favourite characters from across the length and breadth of the franchise unite to batter each other across the galaxy. With new characters still being added to the game as part of Season 2’s DLC, and Season 3 not outside the realms of possibility, there’ll be plenty of support for FighterZ for a while yet.
While the online capabilities are what will keep you playing for countless hours, there’s plenty of single player modes, local play and activities to keep you occupied when you decide to take the Switch outside the range of your wi-fi.
With a full story mode, tournament support and modes that allow local teams of 3 the chance to team up, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a brilliant addition to any Switch fighting games collection.
“Despite some single player shortcomings, Dragon Ball FighterZ really comes into its element once you take the game online and start battering your friends. Or just some random lobby dwellers. For Dragon Ball fans, this is a love letter to the franchise. For fighting game fans, this is the definitive Tag fighter that Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite should have been.”
2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Developer: Bandai Namco, Sora Ltd. Publisher: Nintendo
What self-respecting Switch fighting games list would be complete without this?
Sakurai’s Super Smash Bros. has gone from a simple celebration of Nintendo’s long and storied history into a smorgasbord of gaming legacies, with Smash Bros. Ultimate bringing with it over 70 characters from the likes of Nintendo, Bandai Namco, Square Enix, SEGA, Konami, Capcom and so many more besides. Where else can you see Ryu teaming up with an non-playable Shovel Knight to smack around Sonic The Hedgehog, while on a stage dedicated to Metal Gear Solid’s Shadow Moses Island?
Even if you’re not the biggest Nintendo fan, the sheer range of franchises that have appeared or will appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate means there’s something for absolutely everyone. Persona 5 and Banjo-Kazooie aren’t even available on the Switch right now, but that hasn’t stopped Joker and the bear ‘n’ bird combo from being featured in the Fighter Pass. At this point, anyone could be next.
But Ultimate has plenty of substance to go with that style, with a number of gameplay changes that allow the game to properly cater to both the ultra competitive players and casual players here to witness the spectacle. The massive adventure mode, World of Light, and unique Classic mode runs for every character also ensures there’s plenty of single player content to keep you occupied for the longest time.
“What else is there to say? This is Smash in its purest, most perfect form. Everything from previous games that made it such a worldwide phenomenon is back and everyone that made the game so great is here to make it that much more fun.”
3. Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection
Developer: Digital Eclipse Publisher: Capcom
They just don’t make them like they used to, and Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection is proof of that. A gathering of 12 SF titles from across the three decades of the series’ history, the 30th Anniversary Collection is the ultimate love letter to fans of Capcom’s premier fighting game franchise, with a museum filled with concept art, trivia and more.
But you don’t buy fighting games just to sit and look at artwork, you buy them so you can fight, and the 30th Anniversary Collection offers some of the best action of the entire series, with Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Alpha 1, 2 and 3, along with the absolute pinnacle that is Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. With online play supported for 4 out of the 12 games, including Third Strike, this collection is worthy of your attention. Unfortunately, it does also include the original Street Fighter, but 11 out of 12 games isn’t a bad ratio, right?
4. Fantasy Strike
Developer: Sirlin Games Publisher: Sirlin Games
We might have mentioned the struggles that can be encountered when trying to play a Switch fighting game using those Joy-Con buttons. Not sure how I’m supposed to nail a Shoryuken input with buttons instead of a D-Pad, but thankfully Fantasy Strike ignores those potential problems by offering a fighting game with no executional barriers whatsoever.
Instead of trying to attempt more complicated inputs to perform special moves, all special moves in Fantasy Strike are simply tied to buttons, meaning all of your best tools are a mere button press away. With the simplified control scheme, even the most novice of fighting game players can become a competitive force in no time at all, something that most other fighting games struggle with.
With ten characters spread across four different classes, Fantasy Strike offers plenty of variety when it comes to playstyles, and the in-depth tutorial and character spotlight videos ensure you’re given all the tools necessary to succeed. The added single player and multiple modes also give Fantasy Strike the additional replayability it needs to be a valuable addition to any Switch owner’s library.
“Fantasy Strike is a well-rounded package that has its cake and eats it too, giving true accessibility and ease of understanding to new players while offering enough depth and mind games to appease experienced players.”
Developer: Blue Mammoth Games Publisher: Ubisoft
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might hold the crown when it comes to the world of 2D platform fighters, but Brawlhalla definitely has a lot to offer the genre. If nothing else at least, Brawlhalla is free-to-play, so if you’ve just got a Switch and you’re saving up for some new games, Brawlhalla should tide you over in the meantime.
With a large roster of characters, including some special guests, players compete to knock each other off-screen like they would in any other platform fighter. Interestingly, each character can unlock access to one of two pre-determined weapon types out of several during the fight, with said weapons and moves translating across characters while stats change. With universal movesets, learning Brawlhalla becomes much easier, making it ideal for those looking for something more immediately fun.
The Best Switch Fighting Games: 6-10
Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
If you think ARMS might be some kind of traditional boxing game, you’d be dead wrong, not just for the fact that every character has weird “Mr. Fantastic”-esque stretchy arms. The aim of the game is still to beat your opponent senseless, but the stretchy arms, dozens of power-ups and environmental interaction make ARMS the most unique fighting game available on the Switch.
Nintendo aren’t supporting ARMS anymore unfortunately, but there have been lots of free updates they’ve added since launch, which includes new characters, modes, arenas and more, on top of the stacks of content that was already available in-game. You might be struggling to find someone to match with online these days, but it’s still an absolute joy locally.
7. Pokkén Tournament DX
Developer: Bandai Namco Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
Forcing Pokémon to fight has its appeals, but sometimes you want a little bit more interaction than just picking an attack out of a menu. Sometimes you want to see Pikachu or Charizard hit some sweet juggle combos on an entire Pokédex’s worth of competition, and fortunately for those who feel the same way, Pokkén Tournament DX exists.
An updated version of the original Wii U title with new playable and support Pokémon, Pokkén Tournament DX sees those cute little monsters you love so much do battle in 1v1 fights. With gameplay seamlessly switching between ranged and close quarters combat, Pokkén Tournament DX’s take on arena brawlers is worth checking out, even if only for the sight of Pikachu in a luchador mask.
8. Nidhogg 2
Developer: Messhof Publisher: Messhof
You wouldn’t think a retro inspired fencing game would make for one of the most thrilling fighting game experiences ever made, but Nidhogg 2 only goes and does it, even if the art style is a bit garish.
Two players compete for supremacy as one tries to reach the side of the screen the other is guarding. It’s a simple premise that can lead to some incredibly tense, back and forth battles.
Nidhogg 2 takes the formula of the original game and builds upon IT, adding new weapon types and maps, along with a variety of settings that players can tinker with to get the matches they want. If you find all of the new weapons overpowered, you can simply remove those and stick with the classic rapiers, and with local and online play, you could be playing Nidhogg 2 for a long time.
9. Mortal Kombat 11
Developer: Shiver Entertainment, NetherRealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
It might be some otherworldly power lifted directly from the NetherRealm that’s caused Mortal Kombat 11 to actually be playable on the Nintendo Switch. Sure, it might not be the best version of the game, thanks to how underpowered the Switch is when compared to the likes of a high-end PC, Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, but it’s MK11. It works the same as all the other versions, and MK11 is great. Enough said.
The Story Mode is just proof that NetherRealm do fighting game stories better than all other developers, while The Towers of Time mode provides a revolving door of ever-changing content that can keep players hooked potentially forever.
Plus, if you’re looking to get better at the game, the Switch version can be a great companion tool for learning the game when you’re away from other versions of MK 11. Expensive? Yes. Helpful? Eh, probably. Either way, it’s still one of the best Switch fighting games available.
“A great game that will likely be even better soon, Mortal Kombat 11 offers plenty for any fighting game fan, though it does need some refinement with regards to certain modes and features.”
10. Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid
Developer: nWay Inc. Publisher: nWay Inc., Lionsgate
The little fighting game that could, Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid might not have the biggest budget, especially when compared to a lot of other games that are available on the Switch, but it still offers tight and crisp 3v3 fighting. If you ever had any sort of love for the Power Rangers franchise, Battle For The Grid is for you.
While the launch of Battle For The Grid wasn’t the strongest, considering the game’s small roster and limited modes, the game now boasts a few more free DLC characters, more arenas and a fully fledged story mode. There’s also the promise of more characters on the way, which means Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid will still be supported for a while yet. For a game that’s relatively cheap yet mechanically open-ended and supports combo creativity, Power Rangers offers incredible value for money.
The Best Switch Fighting Games: 11-15
11. Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom
Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection might be the definitive game for the Street Fighter series as a whole, but Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers is the definitive version of the game that arcades and consoles on fire way back in 1991. It’s been 28 years and Capcom can still bust out a new iteration with new content aplenty, which is honestly impressive.
Based on the ever popular Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Ultra SF 2 adds new mechanics like grapple breaks on top of two new characters: Evil Ryu and Violent Ken. Evil Ryu has popped up in Street Fighter before, but Violent Ken only ever appeared in SVC Chaos, making for his official debut in SF proper. With multiple new modes like Buddy Battle and Way of the Hado, Ultra Street Fighter 2 is perfect for those retro fans.
12. Blazblue Cross Tag Battle
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works
Have you ever wondered what it would look like to have the cast of RWBY smack the hell out of anime fighting game characters? Wonder no more as Blazblue Cross Tag Battle answers that question for you. In short, Blazblue CTB looks awesome, with that trademark beautiful Arc System Works animation, and in even better news, it plays just as good too.
Cross Tag Battle combines the likes of Blazblue (obviously), Under Night, Persona 4 Arena and RWBY into a 2v2 fighting game that’s less intimidating that Arc System Works’ usual anime fighters. That said, there’s still plenty to sink your teeth into with this one, and with Version 2.0 recently confirmed, Cross Tag Battle is going to evolve even more in the future.
13. Garou: Mark Of The Wolves
Developer: SNK Publisher: SNK
Another one for retro fighting game fans, specifically for those who prefer SNK to Capcom, Garou: Mark of the Wolves is one of the Japanese developer’s most beloved games. Set in the same universe as The King of Fighters, Garou sees SNK veteran Terry Bogard and a host of new characters do battle in Second Southtown.
Systems such as Just Defend give Garou a similar feel to the likes of Third Strike’s parry system, while the Tactical Offense Position offers a buff when your health reaches a certain point, though you can pick when the buff activates. The strategy forms in where you want the buff; at the start of the round or when your health is critically low? Garou is great, y’all should play it.
14. Pocket Rumble
Developer: Cardboard Robot Games Publisher: Cardboard Robot Games, Chucklefish, DANGEN Entertainment
If you’re looking for accessible fighting games beyond Fantasy Strike, Pocket Rumble might just be right up your alley. WIth a retro art style and gameplay philosophy inspired by fighting games from the Neo Geo Pocket Colour, Pocket Rumble is a small yet easy to learn 2D fighter that’s perfect for playing handheld on the Switch.
With a two button control scheme that determines light and heavy attacks depending on how hard you press the button, simplistic special move inputs that could be performed by players of all skill levels and a GGPO-based netcode that ensures the most stable online play possible, Pocket Rumble might be one of the more underappreciated Switch fighting games.
15. Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy
Developer: Bandai Namco Publisher: Bandai Namco
Bandai Namco have quite the large amount of 3D arena brawlers in their arsenal, but perhaps their most fondly remembered and enjoyable games of that ilk at the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games, and with the first three games available on the handheld platform, you can get your ninja running practice ahead of the Area 51 raid. Yes, I’ve used that joke twice in two different articles, but I believe in recycling everything. Even jokes.
While the fourth and final game in the series isn’t available on the Nintendo Switch, the first three games offer an interesting recreation of the world of Naruto, with dedicated story modes, bonus content and a casual-friendly gameplay system that’ll cater to fans of the anime/manga.
If anything, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is worth buying just so you can launch kunais at your pals without getting arrested.