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.