This is a list of ten fighting games for PlayStation Vita that are my personal recommendations for any new owner of the handheld to try, in order to see the best of what the console has to offer. Please see this article for how this list has been compiled (you can also check this article to see all of the games in this genre available on Vita) and please feel free to share your own recommendations in the comment section below!
1. (#1) Dead or Alive 5+ (review)
Team Ninja went for something new with this fifth entry in the long-running fighting franchise. More gritty settings and more realistic character models were the order of the day, while still retaining the buxom nature of its female cast but most importantly, keeping the free flowing combat in tact. The counter system has been toned down alongside other solid changes and to top it all off, it’s absolutely gorgeous on Vita.
2. (#2) Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition (review)
Netherrealm’s brand of combo-heavy fighting may not be for everyone, but personally I enjoyed it in their sophomore Vita offering Injustice. Swapping out fatalities for huge, planet-smashing super moves from the wide selection of superheroes and villains from the DC Universe, it’s fast paced and fun to get to grips with plus there’s a huge content offering here meaning it’ll keep you going for eons.
3. (#3) PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (review)
Almost universally hated before it even launched, Sony’s answer to Smash Bros may not have had the roster many wanted and the story mode is severely lacking, but look beyond these issues and you’ll find a mechanically sound fighter that makes a great party game. Getting to duke it out as Jak, Ratchet and Sly is brilliant and seeing forgotten heroes like Dan Fortescue and Spike again is a dream come true for a long time PlayStation fan like me.
4. (Exclusive) Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs Force (review)
Everyone wrote it off as an interior version of the home console games, but Force is actually a fantastic arena fighter with gigantic mechs that adds new mechanics to the mix to make a title both accessible for newcomers and rewarding for fans. I loved it more than most and when the competition in this category (exclusive Vita fighting game) was Reality Fighters, it’s not a tough race – this is one of the best fighters on the system that you can’t get anywhere else!
5. (Hidden Gem) Garou: Mark of the Wolves (review)
Even though it receives much more recognition nowadays than it did on its original Neo Geo or Dreamcast releases, I still feel Garou flies under the radar. This is SNK at their absolute best with gorgeous sprite work, tight fighting mechanics and plenty of new characters to get to grips with. This is definitely among the best 2D fighters ever made and revisiting it on Sony’s handheld is a joy.
6. (Import) A Certain Magical Virtual-On (review)
SEGA’s Virtual On franchise had laid dormant for a decade until this anime crossover revival, that never left Japan but proved the IP still had plenty to offer. Another mech arena fighter (actually one that inspired Gundam Vs a decade later), it offers nuance thanks to its quirky controls, unusual KO system and very different playstyles to get to grips with, all of which makes it one of the most compelling import Vita titles out there.
7. (PSP) Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy (review)
Crossover fighters are a dime a dozen but few do it quite the same way as Dissidia. Building its systems around stealing resources from your foes in order to damage their health, you’ll also engage in tag-team combat and have a whole RPG mode with a world map built on top. The fact it’s populated with Final Fantasy characters – one of my favourite series of all time – is just the icing on the cake.
8. (PS1) Tekken 2 (review)
It’s a crying shame that Namco’s magnum opus Tekken 3 isn’t on the store, but Tekken 2 really isn’t far behind as a brilliant representation of the franchise. Refining the mechanics from its predecessor, adding a host of new characters, improving the graphics while retaining the killer soundtrack – it’s a fantastic sequel that is still tonnes of fun to play to this day.
9. (Free Pick #1) The King of Fighters ’97: Global Match (review)
In retrospect, it seems a little strange that Vita never got a port of the highly regarded King of Fighters ’98, but the prequel which we did get still offers an incredibly polished and enjoyable fighting experience. With gorgeous spritework, a challenging story mode, tonnes of characters split across parties of three alongside added online play, this stands tall as one of SNK’s finest works.
10. (Free Pick #2) Tekken 6 (review)
For some bizarre reason, Vita never got its own native Tekken title, but that’s more than made up for with this stunning backwards-compatible PSP port. It’s more graphically impressive than a lot of Vita games, has an absolutely gigantic roster of customisable characters and the team at Namco have further refined the martial arts inspired mechanics seen in previous Tekken titles. An absolute masterpiece.