Friday, January 21

Top 10 / Best Indie Fighting Games on Nintendo Switch


Last Updated: 1/21/22!

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.


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.


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.


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.


Gang Beasts [Boneloaf] - Both “wacky physics” and local multiplayer games have a tendency to suffer from people having extremely positive or negative views of them, either embracing and “getting” the style of play or likely despising it. The fact that Gang Beasts mashes them both together in one pretty silly package is a credit to having some confidence or just plain nerve, and while nuanced fighting fans will likely find playing it akin to fingernails on a chalkboard, if you’re able to take a step back and embrace the button-mashy goofiness of it there’s still just enough strategy in flailing and taking down enemies to give it some appeal. A few modes help flesh it out further (including one co-op) with some variety, and you could hope the potential for some online play would throw some challenges your way periodically, but the joy here is really about in-person play, laughing, smack talking, and making a ruckus as the on-screen action plays itself out. If you’re looking for a good time with some friends who maybe aren’t the most able gamers, Gang Beasts has a lot going for it.


Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl [Fair Play Labs] - This is one of those titles you walk into with at least a twinge of dread as a reviewer. Not only is it a licensed game, but it is seemingly attempting to at least tangentially take on Smash Bros on its own home turf?!? The thing is, if you don’t spend all of your time picking it apart, and if you really love some of these classic Nickelodeon characters, you can still have a reasonably good button-mashing time with it. I think the biggest weaknesses for me are the lack of items to keep the middling fighting from being so easily apparent and the problems with glitchiness I ran into, which can be really aggravating in some specific stages in particular. That said, my daughter, who grew up with many of these characters, still had a blast and laughed as she’d beat me up with random animated characters in their various color-splashed cartoon levels. Depending on the crowd, things like roster depths and long-standing Nintendo lore don’t have as much pull, nostalgia and familiarity can win. For those people, this will likely be a bit of fun, just be realistic about its limitations going in.


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.


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.



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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