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.
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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.
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 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.
Fantasy Strike isn’t going to blow anyone away aesthetically and its arcade mode is a little barebones. However, in terms of gameplay, it absolutely achieves what it sets out to, offering fun and accessible fighting action to newcomers whilst at the same time possessing enough technical depth in its roster of characters to keep more seasoned fighters interested. Online ranked team matches and Boss Rush modes are an absolute blast and, in stripping away many of the complex layers that have built up around fighters over the years, this is a game that’s rediscovered the simple pleasures that lie at the beating heart of the genre.
Don't let this one's comically unwieldy title put you off. Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] is a super slick, fast-paced fighter that manages to successfully straddle the line between being instantly accessible and welcoming for newcomers and in-depth enough to satisfy hardcore fight fans. Its line-up of twenty-one fighters are much more exciting than their anime stylings may suggest, and the Chronicles mode gives fans of the visual novel element of the game plenty to sink their teeth into. With the most comprehensive training and tutorial modes we've ever encountered in a fighting game, this is easily one of the most well-rounded, satisfying and instantly engaging brawlers on Switch and – even with an online mode which seems to be in need of some attention – there's plenty for fans of the genre to sink their teeth into here.
While Samurai Shodown has taken a very slight visual hit as part of its protracted journey to Switch, the most important thing is that the core 60FPS gameplay remains intact. The downgrade is most noticeable when playing in handheld mode, but it's still incredibly enjoyable and compelling, especially if you appreciate fighting games that exercise your mind as well as your fingers. The single-player portion of the game is perhaps a little too lacking by modern standards and some of the ideas don't work as well as they should (Dojo mode, we're looking at you) but with its appealing cast of fighters, decent multiplayer options and a host of new gameplay ideas to keep things feeling fresh, Samurai Shodown is nonetheless a confident and assured update of a classic fighting game series – and bodes well for SNK's future attempts to resurrect its enviable stable of titles for the modern era.
20 years before it was spiritually reawakened as SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, the Neo Geo Pocket Color added another fine string to its bow with the enjoyable handheld combat of SNK Gals’ Fighters. With a few extra changes for Nintendo Switch – namely support for far easier to set up local multiplayer and a handy rewind feature – this classic portable fighter is now in the rudest of health. It’s not the deepest of fighting games, but with an already strong Neo Geo presence on the platform, this cutesy battler is a fine way to perfect your combos on the go.
Was it ever in doubt? While genre purists may flippantly dismiss Super Smash Bros. because it's not a 'proper' fighting game in the same style as Street Fighter or Tekken, most right-minded people will see it for what it truly is: a fantastically fun experience which is accessible to all but hides an almost unfathomable degree of depth. The fact that it's focused around multiple players means that it's the perfect party piece, while the single-player 'World of Light' mode will keep you glued to your Switch even if you don't have anyone else to play with. With the biggest roster of characters yet seen in a Smash game, this is a towering accomplishment – and effortlessly the best brawler on the console.
So there you have it; a bunch of the best violent offerings for your Switch. Let us know if you agree with our list by posting a comment, and be sure to suggest any examples you think we've missed while you're at it.