Fighting games have always been a hit with mobile gamers, or gamers of any kind, for that matter. From those past decades when they were best played in the arcade, these titles are now playable on your mobile device, and even if they’re oftentimes “distilled” for the mobile gaming experience, there’s no mistaking the fact that they remain engaging, and a great way to release stress after a long day at work or school. Which of these games stand out at the present for owners of iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad?
For our list of top 10 iOS fighting games for 2017, we decided to run the gamut of the fighting game genre, and include as many possible types. We’ve got your typical 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 fighting games based on popular franchises, and we’ve also got a good number of sports-based games, as well as some titles that deal with that oftentimes wacky, yet oftentimes entertaining thing we call professional wrestling. Also bear in mind that there are some games in this list that were released in previous years, but remain popular to this day due to regular updates and continued support from mobile gamers. Just as always, there’s something for everyone, so read on, because we’re sure you’ll be interested in one of these titles.
Best known for his Wrestling Revolution series, Mat Dickie (aka MDickie) took his game design talents to the world of mixed martial arts, releasing Weekend Warriors MMA in late 2015. With few other games serving as competition, the game remains popular to this day, and just like in Wrestling Revolution, your goal is to become champion of the fictional, yet real-life-based UFC-equivalent, or whatever company is the top-ranked MMA promotion at the time. Like in real-life MMA, you’ll need to have a good stand-up game and a good ground game to truly succeed — they don’t call it mixed martial arts for nothing! And as an added bonus, the Backstage Pass premium purchase allows you to edit any character and start for any promotion, so if you’ve got some extra cash to burn, you might want to spend on this game’s ad-free version. This is a surprisingly deep game that could serve as a more casual alternative to the likes of EA Sports UFC.
Now this is a rather unorthodox choice for a fighting game — that’s because it’s Match 3 mechanics that influence the moves you make in the ring and the damage you do against your opponent. But Scopely’s WWE Champions, at least for us, does qualify as a fighting game, as you will be taking control of various WWE Superstars from different eras, and upgrading them as you go through hundreds of levels and different game modes, including the always-popular Gauntlet Blitz. It’s certainly an improvement over 2K Sports’ ultimately underwhelming paid game, WWE 2K, even without the ability to actually control how your wrestlers move in the ring, and being that Match 3 is one of the most popular forms of casual gaming out there, it’s extremely easy to play, and arguably easier to get hooked. One big catch, however, is that one can call this a pay-to-win game; you can go through tens of packs (which don’t come cheap in terms of premium currency) before you get an especially rare or limited-time wrestler poster/card, and it takes a lot of grinding to make your common wrestlers substantially better and more competitive in the ring!
We’ve got another WWE game, and this one, we’d say, is an oldie but a goodie, a 3-on-3 fighting game that still has a very strong following years after its initial release. WWE Immortals, despite the name and the presence of several real-life WWE wrestlers, is not a wrestling game. Instead, it’s a title where these WWE Superstars head outside the ring and move into the supernatural world, unleashing special skills and attacks chaining combos together in a game that’s more like the Injustice series than anything else. Not surprisingly, it’s also from Warner Brothers, the same company behind Injustice, and that means you can expect nothing less than stunning graphics and crisp fighting action as you see your favorite WWE wrestlers like you never saw them before…at least in the ring. Furthermore, this game still receives regular updates, further keeping it fresh despite the fact that it’s been around for a couple of years.
It’s an arcade classic distilled for the mobile gaming experience, and for the most part, it does take an old-time gamer back a bit. Capcom’s Street Fighter IV Champion Edition comes with enhanced graphics, a whopping 31 fighters to choose from, and your choice to fight in classic arcade mode, or fight against human players. Granted, the only goal of the former mode is to make it to the final battle and win, so if you get tired of that, you can always practice your moves and face up against real, live players, with one important fix from the last update — no room for rage quitting! This is a good game if you’re looking for some simple fun via a certified arcade classic, as Capcom definitely doesn’t disappoint with this mobile port.
6. Punch Club
The first rule of Punch Club is…you do not talk about Punch Club? No, this isn’t exactly that all-time classic film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, but if you’ve got $5 or its equivalent in local currency, you can buy this title on the App Store and immerse yourself in TinyBuild’s boxing tycoon management game. Aside from the myriad pop culture references that keep the game entertaining, the story aspect is what really stands out in here — each decision you make influences the path you take toward your goal. Will you play it fair and take the honest route on the way up, or will you break the rules and not care about the consequences? It’s all up to you, and you’ll even to get to make decisions regarding your relationships with friends, family, and your partner — all in the context of a boxing management game! It’s a great mix of various gaming genres, but at the end of the day, it’s a truly deserving title in anyone’s list of best iOS fighting games.
The second of two MDickie titles in this list, Wrestling Revolution 3D has been around for quite some time, and as the developer himself claims, the game has gotten more than 40 million downloads since its release! This game features fictionalized versions of real-life wrestlers, as well as some of Mat Dickie’s own created characters (and mainstays of his other games), and you can either choose to embark on an actual wrestling career and get in the ring, or work backstage and determine what goes on in the ring, while making sure that the matches are entertaining. Each promotion in this game comes with its own set of rules, and while you will normally have to start out at the bottom and claw your way to the top (meaning MDickie’s version of WWE), the Backstage Pass allows you to start anywhere you wish, with no ads to interfere with your play experience! The graphic quality might not be for everyone, but as we said in the Weekend Warriors entry, MDickie’s games can be deceptively deep.
4. Real Boxing
This game features a number of games inspired by mixed martial arts and pro wrestling, so why not focus on another fighting sport for our fourth best iOS fighting game? Real Boxing doesn’t contain any real-life fighters (with a few exceptions), but Vivid Games’ popular boxing game boasts of some realistic fight mechanics, a simple system for upgrading your fighter, and the option to advance through the ranks against AI opponents, or test your mettle against human players in multiplayer mode. It’s not enough to just mash those buttons — you need to have a strategy and know how to string those combos together, and that’s another reason why Real Boxing pretty much lives up to its name. And if you still insist on playing a quality boxing game that has some real-life characters, Vivid Games also has Real Boxing Manny Pacquiao, a fairly recent version that’s endorsed by, and allows you to fight against the legendary Pacman himself, while winning some of his gear as rewards for victories. (You’re going to need to really advance from strength to strength in order to do so!)
Up to now, this game remains the king of all mixed martial arts games on iOS or Android, and still deserves its place as one of the best iOS fighting games, even in 2017. EA Sports UFC comes with what we believe are now well over 100 fighters across five weight classes, women’s bantamweight division included. And while the game’s age means that many fighters are no longer with UFC as of this writing, with a lot of fighters also underrated or overrated based on their rarity, nothing comes close in the iOS MMA game space in terms of graphics, fight action, or variety of moves. You can play the game’s career mode, take part in special events for a chance to win rare fighters, or compete in the multiplayer tournaments, where you choose five fighters (one per weight class) and make your way up the ranks, while being eligible for bigger, better prizes. Word of warning, though — EA Sports bans players for rage-quitting, so make sure you take those losses and don’t overreach against highly-ranked opponents!
2. Injustice 2
Injustice 2 is Warner Brothers’ sequel to Injustice: Gods Among Us, and it’s a game that allows you to take control of various DC Universe superheroes and supervillains, taking part in 3-on-3 action against AI enemies in the game’s story mode, and against human players in the arena. We’d say this game stands out because of the fighting controls and graphics — both are top-notch, and shouldn’t come as any surprise, considering the star power behind the game, namely Warner Brothers and NetherRealm. We’re also quite pleased with the range of customization the game allows, as you can give your character not only a new look, but also some much-needed stat upgrades and buffs to set it further apart from the stock version. But it’s not just DC characters whom you can encounter in this game, as Injustice 2 also includes some limited-edition challenge characters, such as Mortal Kombat’s Raiden and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s fast-paced from start to finish, and a must-have on the iPhone or iPad of anyone who’s into 3-on-3 fighting games.
Looking for a unique take on fighting games in general that comes with a rich, immersive storyline? You’re probably looking for a game like Shadow Fight 2, which developer Nekki describes as a cross between both fighting and RPG genres. Set in what vaguely appears to be the Japanese feudal era, this game comes with various modes, including the main story mode, tournament mode (facing 24 opponents of increasing difficulty), challenges, and a side story of sorts where you play as your Master and relive his own story. There are various weapons for you to collect, as well as pieces of armor, magic spells, and a lot more customization options for your shadow character. And that brings us to the most interesting aspect of the game — you and your opponent are fighting as shadows, instead of appearing as actual people! It could be tricky for some, but such is the selling point of a game like this. You’ll also have to string some combos together in order to make your attacks more impactful, and as you’ll soon find out, that further adds to the challenge of the game.
Simply put, no game on this list comes with such a mix of high-end graphics, fluid action, engaging storyline, and variety of game modes that Shadow Fight 2 does.