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. This style of game is perfect for social multiplayer malarkey – and 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 fighters on Nintendo 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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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.
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 its 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.
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, Nidhogg 2 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.
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 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 SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a game that has been made with a sense of fun in mind, and it's perfect for social multiplayer sessions.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.