It's ironic that one of the most violent video game genres is also one which has pulled millions of people together; ever since the early days of Double Dragon and Street Fighter II, the humble 'fighting game' genre has created (and arguably ended) countless friendships. Regardless of whether you're playing a 'belt-scrolling' co-operative brawler, an arena-based combat offering or a one-on-one punch-fest, this is a style of game that is perfect for social multiplayer malarkey – and it should come as no surprise to learn that there are plenty of fine examples on Switch.
We've compiled 20 of the best fighters available on Nintendo's console, mixing side-scrollers with competitive slugfests to give you plenty of amazing options for when you simply have to take out your frustrations on somebody – anybody.
Let's make no bones about it – Brawlout is clearly inspired by Super Smash Bros. but comes with the added benefit of featuring Juan from Guacamelee and The Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter as bonus characters. There are some unfortunate technical issues which prevent this promising scrapper from reaching its full potential, but if you've had your fill of Smash and seek something similar but different, then it's definitely worth a punt.
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Created by a former Rare staffer and boasting a CGI art style which makes it look like Killer Instinct on steroids, Raging Justice is a love letter to classic side-scrolling fighters like Streets of Rage, Crime Fighters 2 and Final Fight. It comes with some unique ideas – such as the ability to arrest enemies rather than beat them to a pulp – but it's simply too brutal in single-player mode to recommend to absolutely everyone. However, if you have a co-op pal at close hand then this is certainly worth a look, especially if you're a fan of the side-scrolling fighter.
This certainly ranks as one of the most original fighting games included on this list. You fight with fencing swords and death comes swiftly and often, but thankfully you respawn after each death. The objective isn't to destroy your enemy, but to make your way as far into their side of the arena as possible; it feels like a game of tug-of-war in this regard, and its appeal is expanded further by the surprising amount of depth involved. Like so many fighting games, it only really comes to life when a second player is in the mix, so make sure you've got a carbon-based challenger close at hand before downloading.
This cross-over brawler looks and sounds amazing, and is blessed with characters from Code of Princess, Shovel Knight and even Cave Story. It's gloriously accessible, too, making it a solid option for genre newcomers. However, with this simplicity comes a drawback – it's quite a shallow experience and one that won't keep veterans interested for very long.
Best described as a series of boss fights, Furi is a well-named game – it's as hard as nails and will have many players hurling their controllers at the nearest wall. However, if you stick with it you'll be amply rewarded; there's a lot of technique in play here and patience is definitely a virtue if you want to experience all that Furi has to offer. It helps that it looks amazing, too; it's also one of the few games in this list which is single-player and works well regardless.
SNK and Capcom ruled the one-on-one fighting genre back in the early '90s, so it's easy to understand why people were so excited by this all-new brawler. Like Blade Strangers, it's very much aimed at novices and won't satisfy seasoned pros – you may also find its half-naked and over-sexualised characters to be slightly off-putting. However, even with these potential drawbacks, it's clear that this is a game that has been made with a sense of fun in mind, and it's perfect for social multiplayer sessions.
Sure, there's another Dragon Ball game on Switch which is more likely to catch your eye, but it would be foolish to discount this enjoyable adaptation of the legendary comic book and anime series. The amount of content on offer is astounding, while the deep customisation options and superbly tuned fighting mechanics make it a really enjoyable and rewarding experience, even if you're not a fan of the Dragon Ball franchise. If you are, then this is a must-have.
While it's online portion is lacking, this collection of games will be the dream ticket for fans of the Naruto series. The cel-shaded visuals make it feel like you're playing an episode of the anime, while the fun and slick ninja combat only serves to reinforce this impression. The ability to tag in other characters is a nice touch as well, making this a welcome addition to the Switch's brawling game library – even if you don't know anything about the media property it's based on.
SNK's Samurai Shodown series is due for a new lease of life soon, so what better way to get a grounding in the franchise than going back to what is arguably one of its best entries? This second instalment improved on the already amazing original with new characters and fine-tuned mechanics and boasts some utterly gorgeous 2D sprite art and stirring music. The sequels may offer improvements of their own, but this is the one Samurai Shodown offering we'd recommend without hesitation.
If you were lucky enough to own a Neo Geo Pocket back in the day, then you'll be familiar with SNK's selection of pint-sized ports of its famous fighting game properties, which included Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown and King of Fighters. Pocket Rumble is heavily inspired by these games, using the same limited colour scheme you'd see on SNK's underrated portable. It's also deep and engaging, making it a solid option for fans of old-school competitive fighters.