Mama said knock you out
Fighting Games is one of the most long-lived genres in the industry. It also has some of my favourite franchises ever; Street Fighter, Samurai Shodown, and Marvel VS Capcom. These are series that I have been playing for almost two decades now. However, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started playing Indie Fighting Games, and I have to tell you: some of them give the big names a real run for their money. Here I have collected the top 7 best fighting games for you to try. Some of them follow the basic rules and share the aesthetics of classic FGs, while others have a more unique approach to the genre.
The Top 7 Best Fighting Games
When you’re punching your way through the best fighting games around, you really need to know your parries from your blocks. That’s why it’s sometimes good to highlight a nice variety of titles. Not everyone wants to learn 20-input long combos just to do a fancy flip while wearing a jaguar mask. So, without any further ado, here are the top 7 best fighting games around in the indiesphere.
The sequel of the critically acclaimed original is an improvement in every way. While it doesn’t actually add a huge amount to the formula, it sounds and looks much better – and disgusting too! The objective is simple: you need to reach the end of the 2D world before your rival does the same. For you to succeed, you respawn with a weapon that will kill your opponent with only one hit. It will also let you defend yourself, do a parry or throw it. The premise might not sound that interesting, but trust me when I say that it’s one of the most exhilarating games I have played. It doesn’t have many options for lonely players, but it is an absolute blast when playing against friends. (Beware, it’s also well-known for breaking friendships).
While Absolver is a little closer to an adventure game than a fighting game, I’ve included it here for a number of reasons. Its combat systems present all the basic elements of a regular FG – weak, strong and special attacks, blocks, and a health bar to deplete. However, there’s a twist: you create your own character following some basic customization options and choosing one of three styles to fight in, each one with a unique ability. Then you start creating your personal “deck” which contains the attacks you are able to pull off as combos with simple inputs. You can play the campaign against AI enemies alone or, à la Dark Souls, with strangers. Also, there are PvP modes which are intense, and it all adds up to make Absolver a wonderful experience.
If you like retro games, you are going to love Pocket Rumble. It’s a tribute to old fighting games, with 8-bit aesthetics and music. Although the eight characters have their own specific mechanics, you can find references to several classic characters from other franchises. Perhaps the main attraction of Pocket Rumble is its accessibility. The controls only ask you to use two buttons to perform special attacks and combos, which makes it much easier for newcomers to the genre to get to grips with things.
Fighting games are hard. This is something you might know well from back in the day, playing against a stranger on an arcade machine, or just by playing online nowadays. They usually require hours in “the lab” (the training room) just to get the hang of a single character and to discover how to pull off those sweet combos. Fantasy Strike eliminates much of the complexity without sacrificing too much depth. For example, you can’t crouch so you don’t have to worry about learning stand and crouch combos or knowing when to crouch block. Furthermore, you don’t have many attack buttons – just three- and only two directions – left and right. However, you can still learn how to do mixups, frame-ups and other fundamentals of the genre with any of the eight available characters. Plus, it has a lovely panda.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
If you told me three years ago that there was going to be an indie Power Rangers title better than the latest Marvel Vs Capcom, I’d have laughed myself to death. But it happened. Battle for the Grid is everything that Infinite should have been: a polished and fun tag fighting game. Sure, it might not be as pretty as MvC, but it is damn entertaining. It doesn’t matter if you never watched the show or even if you don’t like it. Battle for the Gird offers tight combat that is full of possibilities and experimentation with its still growing roster.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds
Them’s Fightin’ Herds is another title in early access. Its extremely refined combat and beautiful hand-drawn cartoon style mark it out as one of the best fighting games out there. Plus, it’s weird – you fight as horses, sheep, cows and so on – but it’s also hilarious. It has a big Cartoon Network vibe, thanks to the designer Lauren Faust. An honourable mention to its tutorial too, which is super funny with excellent text and video demonstrations. It will help you not only for this title but for many other FGs. You can also learn what makes every adorable character different from each other in this mode. It all adds up to make it one of the best options on the market for both beginners and hardcore players.
Skullgirls 2nd Encore
This is my number one pick, and I knew that long before even starting this list. Lab Zero Games, the studio previously known as Reverge Labs, created a masterpiece back in 2012. Skullgirls not only has the most insane art design and deep mechanics in the indie genre. It also puts some of the biggest franchises to shame. The level of skill needed is overwhelming; however, if you have patience, you will enjoy the fights for months to come. The last version, called 2nd Encore, includes all the DLC characters released until now. One of them is my favourite too: Big Band. This big cybernetic fella attacks with music instruments while playing some jazz tunes at the same time. I promise you, though, all the characters are equally charming and original.