Friday, March 19

Top 10 / Best Fighting Indie Games on Nintendo Switch


Skullgirls 2nd Encore [Lab Zero Games] - While I’ve consistently heard nothing but great things about Skullgirls from my friends who are massive fighting fans up until PAX this year I’d never gotten to check it out myself. Watching the game being played it’s hard not to be impressed by the diverse and beautifully-animated characters, some of which have some of the craziest moves and specials I think I’ve seen. It’s also very apparent that this is a pretty technical fighter, which was where my one real concern with the game cropped up. What’s a bit shocking though is that in general for someone like me who has played a fair number of fighters for the most part the moves that trigger the on-screen chaos feel natural and mostly intuitive. Simply experimenting on the fly moves and even combos seemed to come to me pretty easily. From there it’s all about the flow of gameplay and the best word to describe it is intense. Solo players should appreciate the story mode that provides some background for the very odd menagerie of fighters, but everyone should appreciate the choice to go 1-on-1 or up to 3-on-3, providing for plenty of opportunities for changing tactics and generally catering the matches to your liking. Available online play is definitely appreciated, though it’s important to note that even great indie titles on Switch don’t tend to have online communities that survive for long. While there have been very good indie fighters on the Switch I actually think this one is the best.


BlazBlue: Central Fiction [Arc System Works] - If you’re looking for a rock solid fighting game experience that’s quite approachable and has a large roster of characters that isn’t Smash, BlazBlue is very much worth checking out. The more you’d appreciate the various storylines and narrative silliness the more the package has to offer, but the best case scenario would obviously be having someone local to play with to get the most out of it. If you have last year’s Cross Tag Battle it’s a tougher call. There are some nice new characters and nuances to the fighting but I’d say unless you’re interested in the narrative content it may be a stretch. Regardless, it’s a high quality and approachable fighting game that’s a great alternative to the more well-known series out there.


Blade Strangers [Studio Saizensen] - Without a doubt the biggest surprise for me was this title from the folks at Nicalis, starting out with a new fighter combining characters from a number of properties. The inclusion of as unlikely of fighting characters as Shovel Knight and even more oddly Isaac could have been a throw-away move but they all played surprisingly well in their own ways. Throw in a definite sense of style with powerful metered combos and it was a lot of fun.


Roof Rage [Early Melon] - OK, Smash fans, hear me out. When it comes to fast-paced and somewhat crazy fighting Smash tends to be in a class all its own. That said, I’m here to tell you that someone has managed to capture a fair amount of that energy and surprising depth and put it into a budget pixel fighter. Roof Rage may just have a stable of pretty familiar and generic fighters overall by appearance but its fighting action is a pleasant surprise, especially when combining the pretty diverse combatants with the numerous stage layouts you’ll contend with. In general fighters feel responsive, their individual attacks have enough variety to encourage experimentation, and for the most part the game exceeds what I would have expected from a title at this pretty humble price point. If you’ve been looking for something with the spirit of Smash to enjoy with some friends and can live without the wild and wacky power-ups Roof Rage may be a great choice for your next throwdown.


Pocket Rumble [Cardboard Robot Games] - As a whole Pocket Rumble stands up very well as an extremely budget-friendly fighter that has few frills but delivers what is most crucial. Looking and playing great whether in docked or handheld mode it’s light, easy to get into, and has a surprisingly-diverse roster with some very unusual characters. Throw in Online support that even competitive games with higher prices have been known to lack or implement with higher instability and it very much delivers a fair value for its humble price tag.


Fate/EXTELLA Link [Marvelous Inc] - While there’s quite a lot to understand about Fate/EXTELLA Link in the end your enjoyment is likely to hinge on the frantic and crazy combat. The number of characters and how their style of combat differs is pretty impressive and made the game far more interesting than I’d expected based on how this style of play has been portrayed. If you just take the time to experiment and work through all of the game’s hero characters, getting a feel for how they each play differently, there’s already a ton of content to enjoy. Throw in the odd story and its branching choices, extra missions that are a bit more challenging, and options for multiplayer and if you like cutting through waves of enemies with style this should provide for hours of fun.


SNK Vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millenium [SNK Corporation] - While there has been a whole series of conversions of the fighting games from the Neo Geo Pocket, and many have been decent, until this point none of them quite felt worthy of more broad support than folks looking for some nostalgia. While there’s no getting around the limitations of it being tied to that much older hardware, with the reduced screen area for gameplay and 2 buttons for control most notably, as a fan of fighting games from both companies the representation in this specific title makes it noteworthy. With a mix of characters from multiple series on both the Capcom and SNK sides, as well as options to play with a singular fighter, paired up for a tag team, or in a team of 3, there’s ample opportunity to choose the style that suits your preference. In addition, don’t let the 2-button set-up fool you, it’s truly impressive how many moves they were able to cram in for each fighter, all with a feel of flow that’s easy to get into hitting signature moves and executing satisfying combos. While obviously there are more technical and visually-impressive fighters on the system this budget-friendly and surprisingly deep fighter shouldn’t be counted out, it’s a winner.


Nidhogg 2 [Messhof] - Nidhogg 2 is a really tricky game to score because it seems like such a hit or miss, love it or hate it, kind of experience. If you don’t have anyone to play with I’d caution you on considering the purchase as there’s really no meaningful solo play and even if you do find online matches there’s something lost in the experience even if you’re able to get into some nice and tense matches. Even if you’ve got some friends to play with I’d say the odds are equal that you could really get a kick out of the experience or have it fall flat. Credit to the developer, it’s some of the very small touches like being able to reflect shots that give what seems to be a very shallow game surprising depth, it all comes down to the experience you’re looking for though.


Fantasy Strike [Sirlin Games] - While I’m pretty enthusiastic, overall, about this new fighting game the first thing I’d say is that with its controls I’d consider it to absolutely be an acquired taste. Having played many fighting games over the years, first there are those classics with their own distinctive styles ala Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and their ilk. More recently, newer fighting games have instead tended towards sweeping movements and less complicated or character-specific moves, making them more accessible. Fantasy Strike is sort of in the middle in my mind, with more simplified controls that are accessible yet that somehow feel awkward to me nonetheless with a feel that’s different from even the other more simple titles out there. They’re not bad, they just take getting used to. There’s no doubt the game’s characters look fabulous, though their styles tend towards familiar in many regards. I’d like to recommend it whole-heartedly but I also can’t convince myself that it’s sure to appeal to as wide an audience as some other indie fighters on the system. I see this being a divisive title in the end, though I’d imagine its fans will be quite passionately in love with it since it does dare to be a bit different.
 

Fight Crab [Calappa Games] - OK, so I definitely consider a title like this a love/hate proposition. Giant crustaceans of all types and sizes duking it out in a variety of environments from cities to dinner tables who can grab whatever is available to whack at each other until one combatant is flipped and loses? Since I love games that are a bit off-center it makes me giggle and dig in but I can understand how someone could reductively look at it as a game of wild flailing and button mashing. To some degree they wouldn’t be 100% incorrect. I found that technique can still be effective and win the day but spam can work well, but that’s also true of most fighting games out there to be fair. The thing is, underneath the chaos and admitted lack of nuance in the controls as a whole, there is a degree of technique in positioning and knowing when to engage and when to back off that does elevate the strategy component a bit. Unlocks for playing include all manner of hard-shelled sea critters as well as a barrage of increasingly-preposterous weapons you can wield. This absolutely won’t be a game for everyone but there can be a degree of joy in laying some smack down with some ridiculous weapon in one hand while trying to hold your opponent in place with the other. It’s weird and a bit crazy, but it’s also undeniably unique.
 

This list will continue to grow and be pruned as time goes on, as well as numerous other lists that try to keep track of all of the best titles the Nintendo Switch has to offer in the Indie space!

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