8 Best Alternative Fighters
Everybody knows about the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken and Mortal Kombat, but what about those fighting games that don’t get anywhere as near as much love? Whether you’re a fighting game veteran looking for something fresh, or someone who just fancies something a bit different, these are the best alternative fighting games out there:
Looking more like a fantasy RPG than a fighter at times – damage numbers and all – it’s not too hard to see why Arc’s cel-shaded beauty never really took off outside of hardcore circles. Still, the oddball cast is great and with a dedicated parry button, fans of stylishly knocking blows aside as opposed to boring old blocking will be in their element. Hell, there’s even a Trophy for parrying every hit of the most damaging super attack in the game, if you’re up for a challenge…
Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match
Despite the fact that this is apparently an ‘all-star’ cast of visual novel leads, we very much doubt you’ll recognise any of them. That shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the game – it’s no different to having a roster of original characters, really – and as long as you can look past its rather simple style (it’s no BlazBlue in the art department, put it that way), it’s a surprisingly adept fighter. The emotion system, where characters perform differently based on the flow of each match, is particularly interesting.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Even if you’ve never played a Persona game (or don’t even know what one might be), it’s still worth giving the Arena games a bash. Recognising that there may not be all that much crossover between RPG fans and beat-‘em-up players, Arc smartly reined in its usual hardcore systems (as seen in Blazblue and, to a lesser extent, Guilty Gear) to create its most accessible fighter to date. Each character’s Persona works differently, but you’ll lose access to them for a while if they eat too many attacks.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
We’ll take any excuse we can get to champion this PS4 stunner, which has the dual honour of being the best fighter on the console and also one of its best-looking games. Don’t be fooled into thinking its characters are 2D sprites – those are actually incredible 3D models made to look that way, as you’ll see whenever you do anything impressive and the camera breaks its shackles to offer the best view of the action. A revised version is currently on location test in Japanese arcades, so hopefully the additional content and tweaks will arrive on PS4 as DLC rather than a new standalone release…
The King Of Fighters XIII
The secret best fighter of the last generation, KOFXIII is almost the polar opposite of Street Fighter IV. Hand-drawn 2D characters recall the glory days of the genre, while typically demanding input windows and commands spit in the face of Capcom’s plays towards accessibility. The roster is vast and varied, making finding your perfect team of three characters – whether you opt for a pre-made trio or an unlikely alliance – a rewarding experience, particularly once you start kicking ass with your chosen squad.
Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown
Despite Sega being first to the punch in the 3D fighting genre, PlayStation dominance led to Tekken ruling this corner of the market with an iron fist. VF deserves better, not least since both VF4 and VF5 (and indeed their updated versions) have been excellent. Eschewing canned combos in favour of a flexible and personal system that lets you build your own strings, this is a game that rewards skill, reactions and creativity like nothing else in the genre.
Skullgirls 2nd Encore
Designed to offer all of the thrill of tag fighters like Marvel Vs Capcom without any of the touch of death bullshit, Skullgirls manages to be just as on point with its complex mechanics as it does with its superb art style. At the heart of the system is an ingenious detection system that offers a free burst to anyone caught in a repeated combo loop, effectively forcing a more considered and creative approach to attacking. Also, LOOK AT IT. It’s a beautiful thing.
Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!!
Where else you can perform a 100-hit combo by having a girl who rides a sentient transforming blob team up with a dragon who rains death from on high? By pairing the quirky characters with Arcana with unique attacks and abilities, there are hundreds of permutations to really customise your chosen fighter to fit your personal play style. While it might not look as nice as… well, any other game on this list, the depth to its systems make this great fun to experiment with all the same.