When you think of fighting games, fighters like Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and Street Fighter are probably the first to come to your mind. While all of those games are great, there are plenty of other fighting games out there that are also amazing.
And some of those are anime fighters. What’s an anime fighter? Well, they come in two types. One is a fighting game that has an anime art style to it. The other is a fighter based on an actual anime. Some games can even be classified as both! Whether you’re a long-time fan of anime fighters or want to get into them, there are a bunch of awesome ones to choose from.
Updated on October 19, 2023, by Christopher Padilla: There’s a surprising amount of anime fighting games out there to be enjoyed, and it’s a genre that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. We’ve added some overlooked classics with this update, as well as one that might be having a resurgence thanks to the possible addition of the now-staple Rollback Netcode feature.
23 Skullgirls 2nd Encore
A tag-team fighter with an interesting art style and an arguably more interesting setting: a fictional version of what looks a lot like a post-WWII United States.
The characters are as unique as the setting, featuring Peacock, a cigar-smoking nod to the golden age of animation, with the violent slapstick of the era being her forte. Or Parasoul, who wields a possessed umbrella and sends gestapo-looking soldiers despite having a surprisingly kind heart.
The combat has a cool variability to it, since you can bring between one and three fighters into the fray. More fighters means more options in combat, but dealing less damage and having less health. While having one fighter turns them into a veritable raid boss, a power they’ll need since they can’t recover health by tagging out like bigger teams can.
22 Dragon Ball Z Budokai Series
Being a fighting anime and one of, if not the most popular anime in the world, there have been a few attempts at making a great Dragon Ball Z fighting game. But none before the Budokai series were ever as successful at replicating the bombastic, high-flying fights of the anime.
The Budokai series is a 3D fighter game starring the heroes, villains, and even mooks of Dragon Ball Z. Fights take place in expansive arenas, both on the ground and in the air, where you can throw the series’ signature energy blasts at each other or close in for some melee fisticuffs.
21 Melty Blood
There are probably few who know about the visual novel game Tsukihime, but there was a remake in 2021 for PS4 and Nintendo Switch. That lack of context might confuse you if you’re a new player, but it doesn’t stop Melty Blood from being one of the best anime fighting games. The Melty Blood series has more than 30 characters from Tsukihime and other visual novels from the Type-Moon series.
The game has vibrant 2D graphics, and the animations for each character’s sprites run pretty smoothly. Melty Blood incorporates many different fighting game mechanics for cancels and chain combos. Every character has a distinct fighting style, and the latest game in the series, Type Lumina, includes new characters, routes, and endings.
20 Pokken Tournament DX
Pokken Tournament DX may seem like a bit of a cheat since the Pokemon franchise has its roots in video games, but the anime series has gained a life of its own and is just as popular (if not even more so).
Pokken Tournament DX is a curious experiment that takes the combat from the Pokemon series but shifts it into a fighting game that enhances the action and eliminates everything else. It’s an exciting step forward for the series, and it’s a fun way to put Pokemon in the spotlight without trainers getting in the way. Plus, that Magikarp track is a total banger.
19 Kill La Kill- IF
It can be challenging to describe the kind of anime that Kill la Kill is in just a few words. The story follows Ryuko as she tries to find the truth behind her father’s death — a truth that Satsuki Kiryuin, the student president of Honnouji Academy, seems to know. However, Kill la Kill-IF follows the anime through an alternate storyline that focuses on Satsuki Kiryuin instead.
The game is modeled directly after the anime’s art style, with the same English and Japanese voice actors reprising their roles. The fighting is fast-paced, and there’s a cheeky gameplay mechanic called Bloody Valor where you can mock and taunt your opponents to deal additional damage.
18 BlazBlue Series
Before Cross Tag Battle’s crossover fracas, BlazBlue stood on its own as a frenetic anime fighter that mixed frantic action and technical gameplay, with a cast of wildly unique characters. Across its three main games, almost every fighting game archetype is represented– and in some cases, codified–.
All of this is set in one of the most labyrinthine plots ever conceived in fiction, featuring multiple timelines, characters with multiple personalities, and nefarious plotting in every direction.
Its most recent release was BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition, a Switch version of the last game in the story (so far), which includes all the DLC that was previously released.
17 BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
Created by Arc System Works, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a wild crossover of several games. You can pick any two characters from seven different series and battle against opponents in two-on-two battles to collect fragments of a ‘Keystone’ that will send the characters back to their respective universes.
Each character is done in the BlazBlue art style and has their special moves turned into Astral Finishes. The game started with 20 characters, then ballooned to 54 after DLC. You’ll find heroes and villains from BlazBlue, Under Night In-Birth, Persona 4 Arena, RWBY, Arcana Heart, Senran Kagura, and Akatsuki Blitzkampf/EN-Eins Perfektewelt.
16 Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a game developed by French Bread and Ecole Software. Published by Sega, this game is a crossover of all the light-novel series published under Dengeki Bunko. The roster of the base game includes 14 popular characters from Sword Art Online, Durarara!!, Valkyria Chronicles, Virtua Fighter, and more.
You can pick your main fighter along with an assist character. Although the game’s controls appeal to both casual and veteran players of fighting games, they allow for complex combos. And with Sega’s licensing, you can enjoy battling on themed stages of your favorite Sega series, like Sonic the Hedgehog.
15 Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the second fighting game in the Persona series. It takes place right after the events of Persona 4 Arena, where characters from both Persona 3 and Persona 4 are forced to duke it out.
Each character controls their Persona, which acts as both a special attack and battle partner. Battle stages include locations seen in both games, and every character’s sprite is beautifully hand-drawn. Ultimax has a few new playable characters, like Rise and Ken, and a rebalanced system that makes fighting characters’ Shadow counterparts less of a pain. It’s the best way to experience the Persona fighting game.
14 Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R
When the original All-Star Battle launched internationally in 2013, the manga series was not as prevalent globally. However, the anime adaptation of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure exposed the series to a more robust audience. So, in celebration of the manga’s 35th anniversary and the anime’s tenth, Bandai-Namco launched a remaster titled Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R.
ASBR is a fantastic upgrade from its forebearer. The title adds ten new characters, including long-running favorite heroes and villains like Robert E. O. Speedwagon and Pet Shop. Plus, ASBR features several new game mechanics, such as the addition of assist characters and dash jumps. Unfortunately, the only area where the remaster struggles is online due to its outdated delay-based netcode.
13 Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Heritage For The Future
Bandai-Namco’s All-Star Battle series was not the first fighting game to feature the characters of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. On the contrary, Capcom adapted the manga over a decade earlier in one of the few fighting games to debut on the company’s CPS-III arcade board. But, instead of devising a dream match, this title focused primarily on the manga’s third arc, Stardust Crusaders.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Heritage For The Future is the definitive version of the Jojo fighting game, later ported to the Playstation and Sega Dreamcast. Capcom fans will quickly notice familiar mechanics in this game, such as chain combos. In addition, the game featured several new mechanics inspired by Stands. For example, Tandem Attacks let you pre-program your Stand so that User and Stand could fight simultaneously.
12 Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 & 4
The fans of the long-running Naruto series have only become more passionate in recent years, thanks to the Boruto sequel series. Unfortunately, Naruto is an anime that developers have tried to perfect in video game form for a long time, and many regrettable entries deliver clunky and tedious combat.
But the Ultimate Ninja Storm series is a delight, especially the third and fourth entries. Ultimate Ninja Storm 3’s strength is its well-developed story on top of the fun gameplay. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 takes that gameplay and refines it, balancing the characters and adding new mechanics that make things less frustrating, like the Change Leader System. Both games are definitely worth checking out.
11 My Hero: One’s Justice 2
My Hero Academia is one of the most popular anime that’s currently on television. But while its previous fighting game, One’s Justice, is a commendable effort, its new sequel knocks it out of the park in every category.
My Hero: One’s Justice 2 takes what works from its predecessor and crams it with more content, including new characters like Pinky and Nejire Chan, as well as an extended story and mission mode. The addition of destructible environments and incredible Team Final Smashes make One’s Justice 2 an absolute triumph.
10 Dragon Ball FighterZ
Without a Dragon Ball game, no list of the best anime fighting games would be complete. Of course, there are many great ones, but the best one that captures the essence of the series is Dragon Ball FighterZ. Arc System Works, the same company responsible for Blazblue and Guilty Gear, developed the game. FighterZ has the same game mechanics as most other fighting games, and its base game includes a 21-character roster, with three unlocked from gameplay.
It’s possible to purchase more fighters through DLC with characters like Vegito and Dragon Ball Super’s Android 17. In addition, it has an original story mode where a new Android, 21, uses the Dragon Balls to resurrect several of the series’ villains and seals the power of Earth’s greatest heroes.
9 Under Night In-Birth
Under Night In-Birth is a 2D fighting game developed by French Bread, the same studio behind Dengeki Bonku and Melty Blood. For centuries, the ‘Hollow Night’ has given way to terrible monsters that feed on a power called ‘Existence.’ There have been people who can see these monsters called Voids, and those that survive an attack from a Void gain the power to combat them and become In-Births.
As with Melty Blood, In-Birth has various fighting game mechanics that give you multiple ways to cancel and counter your opponents’ attacks. Each character also has unique combos and distinct exchanges with different characters, making all of them fun to play at least once.
8 Guilty Gear Xrd
The Guilty Gear series has been around since 1998, and Guilty Gear Xrd is the fifth main title in the series. ArcSys introduced a new art style for the series, utilizing a gorgeous 2.5-D look. The game also has features to make it easier for new players to get into, like a comprehensive tutorial mode.
Xrd’s story mode dives deep into the game’s lore and briefly introduces what went on in the past series. 20 characters are on the roster, with classic characters like I-No, Sol, and Millia. Additionally, its latest iteration, Rev 2, has 25 fighters.
7 Dead Or Alive 6
The first Dead or Alive game launched way back in 1996, and it’s still going strong thanks to its fun fighting moves and iconic characters like Kasumi. But, of course, the series was always known for its ‘bounce physics.’ Still, the fast-paced combat keeps you on your toes, and the cast seems to keep growing.
The sixth installment features a new graphics system and improved gameplay mechanics. It also includes tutorials for newbies who want to invest in getting better at it. However, Dead or Alive 6 struggled initially with multiplayer functions. Still, it’s worth picking up if you’re a fan of the series and anime fighting games.
6 Fate/Unlimited Codes
Cavia developed this title for the Type-Moon segment, and it initially launched in Japanese arcades in 2008. All fan-favorite characters make appearances, from Saber, Rin, and Archer to some exclusive characters like Zero Lancer tied to the PSP or PS2 releases.
The story relates to Fate/Stay Night’s plot but gets told from your, the player’s, perspective. It’s a treat if you’re a fan of the Fate series, but even if you’re not, you can still have fun with it. The key to winning battles is utilizing your character’s meter wisely, as it can let you do a lot of things from pushing an attacking opponent away to using the character’s special ability.
5 Samurai Shodown (2019)
Samurai Shodown is a weapon-based fighter that pits a wild roster of warriors from Tenmei-era Japan as well as beyond its borders in fierce combat. Characters include Samurai and Ninja, but also more unusual combatants like a French Fencer, a clumsy Chinese warrior, and even a guest appearance from Baiken of Guilty Gear!
Combat rewards quick thinking, hard reads, and big plays, since if you play it right, you can leave your opponent disarmed – and disadvantage – or hit them with a big move if they aren’t expecting it, much like an actual sword fight. A lack of rollback netcode for online play has unfortunately hobbled the game’s population, but the devs announced that the game will have rollback in September, so any day now…?
4 Granblue Fantasy Versus
As demonstrated with titles like Dragon Ball FighterZ, while Arc Sys has fantastic original material, the company has brilliantly translated already-established IPs into fighting games. One such example is Granblue Fantasy Versus, which expands upon the story of its mobile RPG forebearer.
GBVS makes several strong choices that extend a hand to the casual fighting gamer market. First, the game offers simplified special and super move inputs. Second, GBVS includes an RPG Mode that plays like a beat-em-up game with level-progression and weapon-crafting systems. Finally, the game’s tutorials are detailed and concise, making entering a game an approachable task.