The fighting game community (FGC) is one of the most passionate fan bases around. If you need some evidence of the effect these types of games can have on a rabid crowd, look no further than the famous “moment 37” at Evo some years back. Communities come together over some truly bizarre titles and add a competitive edge to some titles which didn’t even intend to garner this type of audience, Catherine springs to mind as an example of this. As exciting and fun as it may look however, for some, the skill ceiling is simply too daunting and the barrier to entry is too high to really enjoy these games.
I know this for a fact, because I feel the same. Despite playing plenty of fighting games, I’ve never become anywhere near to good, no matter how much I like Guilty Gear Strive, or Street Fighter IV back in the day. Worry not though, I come to you today bearing a few recommendations of fighting games to try which can allow you to have fun with your friends, without necessarily having to worry about frame data, footsies, mix-ups or oki. If I lost you at the end of that sentence there, that’s totally fine, and this is the list for you.
Super Smash Bros. is not your typical fighting title. It is what is known as a platform fighter, one that is notoriously difficult to imitate, as illustrated by the recently defunct Multiverses.
The skill ceiling available for this game is ludicrous, should you wish to pursue it. But the incredible thing about Smash Bros. is that ceiling does not stop anyone from enjoying the game. There is a plethora of optional modifiers for each battle ensuring that you can always play your way. Whether you prefer a ‘stock’ match or a time limit, you can choose. If you want to remove certain items, you can. Like stage hazards or hate them, either is a viable option. Even down to what music plays during your bout – you can customise it all.
The insane number of characters on offer here means that there is always someone to suit your style of play, whether you’re a slow, hulking bruiser like Bowser, or quick on your feet like Fox, there is someone for you. Not to mention that the game itself is a complete celebration of video games as a medium.
Whether you want to get competitive or not, there is a lengthy single player campaign to enjoy here and the fun only gets amplified when you play locally or online with up to 8 players. Now I could gush for far longer about this, but in the interest of yours, and my own sanity, I’m going to stop here. Play Super Smash Bros. It rocks.
Divekick takes one of the fundamental teaching from all fighting games and turns it into a whole game within itself – footsies and spacing.
The game itself is easy enough to explain. There are only two actions to worry about, diving and kicking. With even movement limited to chaining these together, it allows the players to focus on the task at hand – kick them, before they kick you. Each round in Divekick is ended in a single strike, injecting tension into every jump. The art style is minimal, the gameplay is minimal, but the simplicity is what makes this the perfect gateway into fighting games and the lessons you learn from playing this can be taken forward into other titles such as Mortal Kombat or Injustice.
This is a great party game too, with games being short and snappy, allowing you to quickly go from ruling the ring, to having a beer, sometimes in under a minute. At the price point, there isn’t any reason not to try it, get it out at your next gaming party and you’re sure to have a riot.
One of the most appealing aspects of fighting games is the sheer spectacle. Seeing the combo counter tick up, performing devastating moves and seeing crunchy screen transitions. These are all things achieved by Dragonball FighterZ. Arc System Works are known for their flashy visuals, and this is no exception, screenshots simply do not do this game justice, it looks incredible in motion. It doesn’t just look good though, it feels great to play. Boasting some super-tight controls and an accessible auto-combo system, it means even the most novice players can live the fantasy of being a Saiyan fighting for the fate of the Earth.
If you’re a fan of the Dragonball universe at all, you should give this a try. It might just be that the layer of anime flare allows you to dig a little deeper and discover the rock-solid fighting mechanics on offer here too. This is also a game which is regularly shown and supported in global tournaments, so get watching and see just how nuts these matches can get.
If you want to play a fighting game that is truly hilarious, and certainly not too serious though, I would absolutely recommend giving Gang Beasts a try.
Gang Beasts is what happens if you mix the WWE with jelly babies, and sprinkle in a little bit of Totally Reliable Delivery Service. The result is a chaotic mess in the best possible way. If you aren’t bothered about any actual fighting game mechanics and just want to throw your friends into a furnace or meat grinder, I think you’re going to have a great time with this. Gang Beasts is a fighting game in the loosest sense, and from my experience, has always been a crowd pleaser. The arenas are silly, the characters are silly, the controls are silly, everything is silly.
There isn’t much else to say here - if all of the other games on this list look too daunting or serious, this is the one you should get.
The most important thing to take away from this list is that you should just have fun. Games can be as shallow or in depth as you want them to be. Even if you are slow and old, like me, that doesn’t stop you from getting involved with the community. Becoming good at this genre is hard, really hard, but as the cliché goes – it is about the journey, not the destination. You can get so much out of just watching fighting games, and once you’ve given it a try and got an appreciation of the basics, the skill on display at some of the top events is truly mind-boggling.
If you do manage to get a taste for the genre though, there is no better time to jump in. With Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 on the way, each with robust accessibility options, there is no excuse not to jump in. Not to mention that the best time to try a new fighting game is when the community is still in its infancy – this ensures that you aren’t consistently being matched with die-hard fans whenever you pluck up the courage to jump in the ring online. There is also a Street Fighter 6 demo out right now too, so give it a whirl!