Fighting games have fallen to the wayside on the latest consoles (and the less said about the state of arcades the better) but for a long while, fighting games reigned supreme in the video game world. They were often the battleground where gamers showed off their skills in arcade tournaments or huddled around a TV with your best pals. Fortunately, the genre is still well-represented on mobile devices, with a great mix of ports and original titles to satisfy fans of fisticuffs.
Here's hoping we see more ports of classic fighting titles but until then, enjoy these great fighters. And when you're done here, be sure to head over to the best Android games list to check out some other great games!
Shadow Fight 3
Shadow Fight 3 is the latest entry in the silky smooth fighting series for Android, and is a huge step up in quality. That's saying something because Shadow Fight 2 was pretty incredible in its own right.
Whereas the second game had a 2D art style where you controlled a silhouette shadow fighter, Shadow Fight 3 delivers 3D-rendered arenas packed with a surprising amount of detail. Your fighters have emerged from the shadows, so to speak, and look great.
Shadow Fight has always had buttery-smooth controls and animation and those return here. The physics are spot-on, too — a well-timed heavy attack with a sword can make your enemy drop their sword and send them flying. There's a full campaign to play through and a ton of weapons, armor, and special attacks to unlock and customize your fighter with. There's no multiplayer here, except for playing other people's AI-controlled characters, but the focus on delivering outstanding graphics and smooth gameplay pays off.
Best of all, this game is free, although there's in-game currency that you'll need to buy new weapons and other upgrades, along with in-app purchases available if you need an influx of coins.
The King of Fighters '97
Hardcore fans of fighting games already know the name King of Fighters. It's up there alongside Street Fighter as one of those revered arcade fighting games that has stood the test of time. This is a fairly complete port of the game from the Neo Geo home arcade console, which — most important of all for a ported fighting game — has support for Bluetooth controllers.
You can choose between 34 characters from the original game and create a dream team of fighters to take on either an AI opponent or a friend via local multiplayer.
There's a good amount of customization available for the controls and the gameplay is exactly what you'd want from a ported fighting game. I can't recommend playing this game without a Bluetooth controller, though, because the on-screen touch controls are just too challenging when you're battling the tough AI.
Mortal Kombat takes the gruesome action of the well-received console edition and scales it down and optimizes it for your Android phone. All your favorite Mortal Kombat characters are here, along with some new ones thrown into the mix. If you love ultra-violence, you'll love what this game has in store. To that point, this game is definitely not recommended for younger kids.
The game employs touchscreen controls that don't feel like they inhibit you at all from having full control over your characters. You predominately fight in 3 vs. 3 battles, so you can strategically tag in different fighters as needed.
The graphics here are almost console-quality, but that comes at a price for your storage. This game takes up a lot of space. If you're a huge fan of Mortal Kombat, I'm sure you'll be able to make room on your phone for this glorious, gory game. Unfortunately, monetization is in your face. In app-purchases (IAP) net you Souls, which you then use to buy coins, which can then be used to purchase booster packs.
Real Boxing 2
Real Boxing 2 is a hit-or-miss boxing game, especially given more recent reviews, but it's still quite popular among boxing fans. Despite some iffy monetization, Real Boxing 2 is quite robust and has a lot of features and content.
You can go it alone or play against other players online. Create a boxer and earn your way to the top. Some of the later challenges can be quite difficult. If you're looking for the best boxing experience on Android, even with some additional ads and microtransaction baggage — which is your typical cosmetic fare on top of a premium membership — Real Boxing 2 is it.
DC fans have Injustice to keep them entertained on Android. Injustice is a fairly well-known franchise by now, and the sequel to Gods Among Us has been fairly well-received. It, unfortunately, lacks a lot of depth, with gameplay amounting to tapping the screen unti lyou win or lose. At least it looks nice while you do so (and it'd better for how much storage space it takes up) and the character roster is quite impressive.
At its core, Injustice 2 is remarkably similar to Mortal Kombat, which we mentioned above. I will say that there's a lot to do in this game, from 3 vs. 3 matches to an arena where you can show off your collection and skills.
If you love DC and fighting games, this one is for you. Just be ready for plenty of freemium stuff like ads and microtransactions, just like with Mortal Kombat.
Fighting Tiger - Liberal
Fighting Tiger is a really fun fighting game, despite looking like it came right out of the late 90s/early 00s (especially with its title). The story is weak and dated, but it's not all that important. You're here to practice your kung-fu on bad guys, and you can do that here.
If you care about the story, you're trying to escape your gang, but they aren't going to let you go. It's up to you to survive and save your girlfriend. It's not bad for a game of this caliber.
You can pick up a variety of items — swords, guns, motorcycle helmets, etc — as you go head-to-head with multiple opponents. Combos and choosing the right fighting style are the name of the game here and you'll be doing it a lot as you fight off the bad guys. It's just good, mindless fun.
Skullgirls is something different. It's a fighting game, but it's also an RPG. I say it's a fighting game with RPG elements, but others might argue the opposite. Regardless, Skullgirls is a super cool game. You collect new characters, build them up, and send them into battle to earn victory.
It's an over-the-top game, even as far as fighting games go. The art style is amazing and I absolutely love the character design, animations, and backgrounds. The sound effects are also fantastic and they really draw you into the battles.
Online PvP is only OK, but you don't have to engage in it to enjoy the game. There are plenty of modes to choose from, including a story mode, and you're bound to stay entertained for quite some time. There are in-app purchases, though, asking you to buy relics to summon new characters and coins to level up your characters.
Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter IV is a behemoth when it comes to fighting games on Android despite some server issues. It could also use an update to better support newer, more powerful phones with higher refresh rate displays, but the Street Fighter reputation goes far.
Despite being a bit broken at launch, Capcom has brought Street Fighter IV to a better state in recent months. The game has a nice selection of characters, some fun mechanics to master, and Bluetooth controller support. It's free to download, but if you fork over five bucks, you unlock all characters and game modes.
There are quite a few die-hard Street Fighter fans who found something to like in this mobile version. So if you're in that camp, then maybe give this a chance if you haven't already. I had a good time, even if Street Fighter isn't exactly my favorite.
Prizefighters is the closest thing to Mike Tyson's Punch Out on Android as we'll ever get. This is a retro-styled boxing game very similar to the classic, but it has social features, a campaign mode that will see you climb to the top, and customization options.
I enjoyed how much of a throwback to the SNES days Prizefighters is. Invested players will see their hard work pay off with a nice progression system. If the career mode isn't to your liking, or you're seeking more content, there are plenty of arcade modes, too.
The IAPs are pretty typical. the coins let you upgrade your boxer. However, for $3, you can unlock the Premium Edition, which means no more ads, you can change skills, and earn redistributable stats.
Real Steel World Robot Boxing
We had you at the name, right? Who doesn't want to watch robots going at it in a full match? Real Steel World Robot Boxing, which I shall refer to henceforth as simply Real Steel, is quite the fun robot brawler. It might not be the latest in the series, but it's the best one by far.
There are quite a few things to do, even if the multiplayer versus mode struggles for a lot of people. There's plenty of customization and you have a lot of hulking robots to choose from. There's also a career mode to keep you busy and you can try your luck with the multiplayer.
Real Steel a freemium game, so expect both ads and IAPs for cosmetic items. Still, this is a really fun robot fighting game with one of the best names in the business.
Brawhalla is a platform brawler akin to Super Smash Bros. The goal is to knock your opponents off the stage by any means necessary in matches that can contain up to eight combatants. There are a ton of players for matchmaking and ways to play, from casual to ranked matches. There are multiple game modes, tournaments, spectator options, and a bunch more. Plus, there is full crossplay support.
There are 50 characters at time of writing, with a weekly rotation of eight free-to-play ones. You can earn gold to buy new ones, or you buy the All Legends Pack, which unlocks all current and future characters. The game receives regular updates, has a thriving community, and is probably one of the best brawlers for Android.
Updated December 2020: Added Brawlhalla to our list!