Whether they're smaller indie-titles or sleeper hits in a larger established series, for one reason or another, these games have flown under many players' radars. For those looking to take a break from Mortal Kombat 11 and Street Fighter V, here are the ten most underrated fighting games.
While the Soulcalibur franchise has many entries that are beloved by fans, such as Soulcalibur II and Soulcalibur IV, Soulcalibur III is one of the most slept on entries in the series. Introducing a staple to the series in character creation, the game greatly expanded upon the size of the roster when compared to the previous entry while maintaining the solid 3D weapon-based fighting the franchise is known for.
Additionally, the game had a unique RPG-styled single-player mode called "Chronicles of the Sword." This is one of the most fleshed-out single-player modes that the series has seen.
Originally started as a My Little Pony fan game, Them's Fightin' Herds is a surprisingly polished 2D fighter. Though the roster may be offputting for some, the game features one of the best online lobby systems of any fighting game on the market.
Additionally, besides toting solid core gameplay, Them's Fightin' Herds has a unique dynamic music system that will change the instrumentation of a song based on the current state of a fight.
Released in 2017, Fantasy Strike is a somewhat simplistic fighting game. It forgoes long combos and complexity in order to allow newcomers to the genre to better understand fighting game fundamentals.
Putting an emphasis on spacing, footsies, and fundamentals, Fantasy Strike is without a doubt one of the easiest fighting games for a newcomer to pick up and learn.
Street Fighter has largely been regarded as one of the premier 2D fighting game franchises of all time. Games like Street Fighter II and Street Fighter IV influenced the genre as a whole. The short-lived Street Fighter EX series of the late '90s was the first major attempt to bring the series into the third dimension.
The third entry in this sub-series, Street Fighter EX3 put a larger focus on combos while experimenting with the idea of tag-team battles.
While niche, the Melty Blood series started in 2002 and still has a dedicated fanbase that is willing to play the game anywhere, from hotel hallways to bathrooms, regardless of if it is supported by major events.
A PC fighter, Melty Blood is regarded for its combo systems as well as its high-risk, high-reward defensive options. These elements combine to create very dynamic gameplay.
Rivals of Aether is without a doubt one of the most finely tuned games in the platform fighter subgenre outside of the Super Smash Bros franchise. Rivals of Aether puts a major focus on movement and each characters' positioning on the stage as every player attempts to knock their opponents off the screen.
While the game features numerous dynamic original characters, it also totes guest characters in the form of Shovel Knight from his namesake game and Ori from Ori and the Blind Forest.
Arc System Works is one of the most consistent fighting game developers, primarily known for their work on series such as Guilty Gear, Blazblue, and Dragonball FighterZ. Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle is a team-based fighting game that shares a great deal in common with the Marvel Vs. Capcom series, toting flashy combat and characters from numerous franchises.
With characters from the BlazBlue series, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, and even RWBY, Cross Tag Battle distinctly features universal command inputs that make the game easy to learn but hard to master.
Since the '90s, the Samurai Shodown franchise has been one of the most underrated series in the fighting game genre. A weapon-based 2D fighter, Samurai Shodown rewards fundamentals with a lot of high-risk, high-reward attacks that can erase huge chunks of a fighter's life bar while leaving the attacker quite vulnerable on a whiff.
While the series dates back to 1993, the most recent entry in the series is still holding the torch and maintaining the excellent gameplay the franchise is known for.
Originally released in 2012, Under Night In-Birth is one of the most under-appreciated fighting game franchises of the past ten years. Like Melty Blood, this game features a great blend of footsies and fundamentals while allowing players to use their resources in order to extend combos and deal more damage.
While the game's three-button combat may make it appear simple at first glance, Under Night In-Birth has numerous unique mechanics that provide its combat with additional depth. An example is the GRD system that rewards strong offense and defense alike.
With team-based gameplay inspired by Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Skullgirls is an indie-fighting game that features gorgeous traditionally animated hand-drawn characters. Utilizing a six-button fighting system, the game uniquely allows players to choose whether they want to control one character or a team of two or three characters at once, proving users with the ability to play how they want.
Between its fine-tuned gameplay, incredible netcode, and gorgeous visuals, the future looks bright for Skullgirls, as it was recently announced that the game will be receiving brand new DLC characters.