Fighting games have been around for pretty much as long as we’ve been able to press buttons to make things go boom on-screen. And we’ve come a long way since Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! game. The genre evolved quicker than most, exploding in popularity with the rise of arcades and making the transition to almost every platform since without skipping a beat. Below is our list of some of the better games paving the way for fighting games on mobile right now.
Shadow Fight 3
Developer: NEKKI | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Shadow Fight 3 is the latest installment of what many consider to be the first real fighting game on mobile. It does away with the classic, silhouetted ‘shadow’ aesthetic and brings characters into fully 3D rendered color — something we have mixed feelings about, considering the eponymous look was one of the first things to differentiate the game from others of its ilk.
Alongside the upgraded graphics comes a slew of new weapons, armor, a brand new story and a huge new map to travel across. Anyone looking for a solid fighting game should have any of the Shadow Fight franchise among their first stops for the sheer quality and fluidity of gameplay.
Dragon Ball Legends
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Dragon Ball Legends takes nearly the entire cast of the franchise, from Dragon Ball to DBZ to GT and all the way to Super, and throws them into an eclectic fighting game with new canon content for the Dragon Ball universe. The game features a novel storyline that follows the amnesiac Shallot, a new character from Akira Toriyama, freshly awoken to Trunks and a bunch of Saiyamen. An awkward start for anybody.
The story is a treat for any Dragon Ball fan, combat is pretty smooth and the cel-shaded 3D graphics maintain the DB look while giving it some extra depth. The first and only choice for anybody who spent their childhood routinely trying to prove kamehamehas were possible.
EA Sports UFC
Developer: Electronic Arts | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
EA Sports UFC might be past its heyday, garnering less attention from the developer in the way of community events than it once did, but few games can hope to capture the” realest” fighting mechanics than the one based on MMA’s world leader. Real-world striking, wrestling and grappling techniques are played out with surprising fidelity; rear-naked chokes, flashy wheel-kicks, double legs — everything that should be there is there.
Any serious UFC and MMA fans would be hard pressed to find anything else like it anywhere on mobile. Plus you can play as some of the more recognizable former champions, including the ones doing their best to become self-parodies today.
Developer: Warner Bros. | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Injustice 2 is an eye-catching fighting game set in the DC universe featuring each one of the iconic DC heroes and villains you’d expect (and a few you wouldn’t). The game is the mobile counterpart to the console version, and does its best to capture the same gritty flair of its big brother. There are a ton of heroes to collect, including those from other franchises — like Mortal Kombat — by way of DLC, some slick cinematics to watch, a standard-issue comic book-esque story to enjoy, and online PvP to rage about.
The community seems to have deemed the game certifiably pay to win, but is active enough to merit a disgruntled subreddit of its own. Anybody who wants to smash things with their favorite DC Hero or Villain is pretty much on a collision course with Injustice 2.
Transformers: Forged to Fight
Developer: Kabam Games | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Transformers: Forged to Fight is a pretty robust fighter with 360 degree arenas ala Tenkaichi Budokai and some uber-stylish special moves that make for extra gratifying visuals. The game operates like a console-quality fighting game on mobile with a few extra features you don’t usually find in fighting games: global events, alliances, and even a base building and PvP raiding system.
So, any fans of the gargantuan franchise or fans of fighting games looking for something more robust than the usual mobile option will be happy with what they find in Transformers: Forged to Fight.
Developer: Autumn Games | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
A mobile port of the PC/Console version, Skullgirls probably takes the cake for the single best mobile battler on the market right now — in our opinion of course. Not only is the early 20th century hand-drawn art-style a nice departure from the testosterone fueled bodybuilder presets in seemingly every other fighting game, but the 2D animation is absolutely sublime.
Most importantly, Skullgirls’ gameplay is buttery smooth compared to most games, a fact that becomes doubly impressive when considering it was never created with mobile in mind. There is a serious amount of content for you to sink your teeth into in the way of RPG elements and community events, PvP, Story, and other game modes.
If you’re looking for a one stop shop of awesome art, slick animation, sick battler-gameplay and overall production value, look no further than Skullgirls.
Developer: HiFight | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Footsies is a bare bones, stupid-simple fighting game best for people who want something bite-sized and less convoluted than your Injustice 2 or Transformers: Forged to Fight. The best thing about Footsies is indeed not what it has, but what it doesn’t; in Footsies, there’s only two basic attacks, no health bar, and one special move.
The aim of the game is spacing and timing more than it is the extravagant fireworks of most fighting games. By shucking off endless chains of combos and flashy hero collection, Footsies doubles down on the arcade roots of all fighting games and delivers just what you need for a short dose of action.
Developer: Hippie Games | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Never Gone is a cross between a platformer beat-em-up and a fighting game, more firmly entrenched in the latter. Leading up to a 1v1 boss battle in a traditional fighting game format, Dawn, the protagonist of Never Gone, must slay her way through legions of undead; smashing bones and cracking skulls with some neat animation and satisfying hit-markers. Never Gone is something like if Castlevania spent the summer at Fighting Games Camp.
The art style looks like something out of a top tier anime, and as such can be pretty demanding on your phone. Nonetheless, the game was a massive hit in China and has the goods for anybody looking for a beat-em-up hack-and-slash that has the feel of a real fighting game.
Developer: Warner Bros. | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Mortal Kombat. What can we say? It’s Mortal Kombat. Firm is its place within the pantheon of OG fighting games. There’s well over a hundred heroes to collect from all over the franchise’s many iterations, including recognizable favorites like Sub Zero and Scorpion. There’s PvP in the way of “multiplayer faction wars”, 3v3 battles, a quest system, and most importantly the signature fatalities that provided the world with some of the best meme-fodder it’s ever known.
Overall, while the game is certainly far from perfect with its own balancing issues and an undeniable similarity to Injustice 2 in both look and feel, Mortal Kombat is… well, Mortal Kombat. The franchise’s chromosomes can be found in the ancestral DNA of almost every fighting game ever made.
The King of Fighters: ALLSTAR
Developer: Netmarble | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
The King of Fighters: ALLSTAR is Netmarble’s take on the classic 90’s King of Fighters arcade franchise that ate more quarters than all the vacuum cleaners in North America combined. The game has all the usual trappings of the original games, with the extensive combo chains and familiar characters that helped make the franchise.
The graphics are surprisingly low-rent for a 2018 Netmarble game, but otherwise provides decent gameplay despite the outdated gamepad control settings. Anybody who wants a game that truly hearkens back to the fighting games of old, for better or worse, should head straight for the King of Fighters: ALLSTAR.
There you go! If you have any pent up rage left after combing through the games on this list, then you should probably be looking for something more important than a mobile game! Let us know if we missed any of your favorites or you disagree with the place of any of these games on this list!