Best Fighters
Image: Nintendo Life

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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 Fatal Fury and Street Fighter II, the humble 'fighting game' genre has created (and arguably ended) countless friendships.

For anybody wondering Does Switch have fighting games?, you should remember that this style of game is perfect for social multiplayer malarkey – so it should come as no surprise to learn that there are plenty of fine examples on Switch thanks to the console's natural affinity for quick blasts of local multiplayer.

We've compiled a selection of the best fighters on Switch, concentrating on versus experiences and competitive slugfests. Switch's mix of new titles, ports from other consoles, and the vintage fighters of Hamster's ACA Neo Geo line make it a wonderful place for head-to-head fighting fans, giving you plenty of amazing options for when you simply have to take out your frustrations on somebody – anybody.

So, in no particular order, may we present our selection of the very best fighting games for Nintendo Switch...

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection (Switch)

Capcom's Street Fighter is responsible for popularising the one-on-one fighting game genre, as well as siring movies, comics, toys and much more besides. This collection pulls in every mainline entry to create an utterly essential package for fans of the franchise; from the game that started it all in 1987 to the polished and technical masterpiece that is Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection leaves no stone unturned when it comes to celebrating the history of this amazing lineage. Essential.

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Mortal Kombat 11 (Switch)

Mortal Kombat 11 is the best Mortal Kombat since MK2, a bold and bombastic entry that boasts a fighting model that finally matches the slapstick theatrics of gory Fatalities. It's further proof that MK, much like Street Fighter, has just as much relevance today as it did in the '90s thanks to the way it's evolved while retaining its core identity. On Switch, it's a performance-first experience that nails 60fps, and boasts every mode and mechanic from other versions, only with a noticeable downgrade in the aesthetics department. The heavy-handed application of microtransactions makes customisation far less appealing than it should, but that aside, MK11 is one of the best fighters on the console.

For our money, Mortal Kombat 1 went too far, with cutbacks to visuals and performance issues that make it impossible to recommend on Switch.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy (Switch eShop)

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 Naruto Shippuden 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.

Samurai Shodown II (Neo Geo)

SNK's Samurai Shodown series recently got a new lease of life on modern consoles, 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.

Pocket Rumble (Switch eShop)

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.

Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition (Switch)

Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition is a fantastic addition to the Switch’s roster of fighting games and sits right up there with the very best examples of the genre the platform has to offer, mostly due to the fact that XX Accent Core Plus R is just about the strongest, most technically refined entry in the series. The original game is showing its age, but it’s still an absolute blast and together these two games provide fight fans with a neat look at how the 2D era of Guilty Gear developed from inception to its most polished and refined point. Disappointing online performance sullies what is otherwise an absolutely essential purchase, but there's still more than enough single-player content here to make this collection highly recommended.

Pokkén Tournament DX (Switch)

This re-heated Wii U port is a Pokémon fan's dream come true – rather than relying on turn-based combat to see who is the very best, you can take to a 3D arena and smash the seven shades of poop out of a rival 'mon to finally decide once and for all who is king (or queen). Robust single and multiplayer options make Pokkén Tournament DX one of the most impressive competitive fighters on Switch, although the lack of mechanical depth may put off serious fighter fans.

ARMS (Switch)

While some may disagree with this being lumped in with the likes of King of Fighters and Street Fighter, ARMS is, in our opinion, just as worthy of being called a fighting game. Sure, you're moving around a 3D arena and many of your attacks are projectile-based, but it has all the hallmarks of a pugilistic classic; you can dodge and block incoming blows, throw your opponent with a well-timed grab and – when the time is right – demolish them with a potent special move. ARMS is effortlessly one of the best combat titles money can buy on any system, and is a must-have for every Switch owner.

The King of Fighters '98 (Neo Geo)

While Street Fighter is arguably the most famous one-on-one fighting series on the planet and has recently Dragon Punched its way back into the public consciousness, there once was a time (in Japan, at least) when SNK's King of Fighters franchise ruled the roost. Famed for its deep roster of characters, fine-tuned mechanics and unique three-character team system, the series has seen a staggering number of entries (SNK used to release one every year) and debate rages as to which is the best; we personally think it's this '98 instalment, which was seen as a 'greatest hits' package at the time because it pulled in so many fighters. A fine brawler that is definitely one to download if you're even the remotest bit interested in this style of game.

BlazBlue CentralFiction Special Edition (Switch)

BlazBlue Centralfiction Special Edition may a few years late to Nintendo Switch, but that time hasn't dulled the sharpness of its 2D fighting package. Not only does it give the Ragna saga a proper send-off with a story mode that's so rich in character development it could be a full anime season in its own right, but it offers a staggering number of modes to keep you playing long after the credits roll. It runs silky-smooth docked or in handheld modes and runs like a dream online. The lack of an English dub still rankles, and new adopters are going to have to do a lot of research to understand what's going on, but it's well worth the effort.

Switch is blessed with not one, but two brilliant BlazBlue fighters, the other being the spinoff BlazBlue: Cross Battle Tag. As a compelling alternative to Centralfiction, it's a slightly 'diluted' version, arguably better suited to newcomers, but offers similarly amazing presentation and tight gameplay, so fans can't go too far wrong.

Garou: Mark of the Wolves (Neo Geo)

Of all of SNK's 2D one-on-one fighters, Garou: Mark of the Wolves ranks as perhaps the best. While it's technically part of the Fatal Fury series it is considered by many fans to be a stand-alone experience; it's much deeper and more involved than its forerunners, and its appeal is enhanced by the fact that it features some amazingly smooth 2D animation. If you want a technically rewarding 2D scrapper then you can't really go wrong with this fine effort.

Dragon Ball FighterZ (Switch)

Dragon Ball has seen more than its fair share of video game adaptations, but few have come close to replicating the feel of the anime as well as Dragon Ball FighterZ. While it initially seems like your typical tag-based one-on-one fighter, the screen-filling special moves really do dazzle – and the fact that it's so accessible yet rewards high-level play means that everyone from novices to veterans is catered for. Add in a solid single-player campaign mode and you've got one of the best fighters in recent memory; the Switch port is also insanely faithful to the PS4 and Xbox One editions.

If you simply can't get enough Dragon Ball, you might also want to check out Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. It offers an astounding amount of content and its deep customisation options and superbly tuned fighting mechanics make it a really enjoyable and rewarding experience, even if it's not quite up there with FighterZ.