Best fighting games for iPhone and iPad

Fighting games have been around in the video game industry since arcades ruled the world. Whether its the side-scrolling beat 'em up type or the classic arcade fighting games like Street Fighter, the genre has survived this long because they offer a lot of variety, have an inherent competitive nature, and are flashy as they are fun. Here are my top picks for fighting games for the iPhone and iPad.

Marvel Contest of Champions

You can always trust iMore. Our team of Apple experts have years of experience testing all kinds of tech and gadgets, so you can be sure our recommendations and criticisms are accurate and helpful. Find out more about how we test.

One of the most popular fighting games on the App Store for a long time running, Marvel Contest of Champions is worth a look.

With every Marvel hero and villain you can name (and probably some you can't), a ton of different game modes, and a pretty cool character advancement options, this game remains entertaining each time you load it up.

The on-screen controls are incredibly responsive and kept simple enough that anybody can learn how to play this game within seconds. Plus, there's a massive community of people — just take a gander at the subreddit — that play the game, making it super easy to team up with people, or battle your friends online.

Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Combat is a massively successful game series that has been around since the 90s, and Mortal Combat X is a fantastic mobile game that gives you everything you want from a modern fighting game.

All your favorite Mortal Kombat characters are here, along with some new ones thrown into the mix. And if you love ultra-violence, you'll love what this game has in store. To that point, this game is not recommended for younger kids, as the mature rating would imply.

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-on-3 battles, so you can strategically tag-in different fighters as needed. The graphics here are basically console-quality, but that comes at a price for your storage — this game takes up nearly 2GB 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.

Beat Street

An extremely fun, quirky, and charming beat 'em up game, Beat Street manages to pack a lot of stuff into a rather simple game.

As you progress through the game, you learn more moves and combos you can use to strike your opponents down. You can level up your fighter and even team up with friends to take on challenges together.

The app gives you lots of rewards, including daily bonuses and new items every time you beat a boss, that keep you coming back for more. The controls are simple and fluid, and it's a fantastic game to pick up for a few minutes during your bus or train commute, or for a longer gaming session.

Shadow Fight 3

The latest entry in the silky smooth fighting series, Shadow Fight 3, is a huge step up in quality — and that's saying something because Shadow Fight 2 was pretty incredible in its own right.

Whereas the second game had a stylish 2D art style where you controlled a silhouette shadow fighter, Shadow Fight 3 delivers 3D-rendered arenas packed with a surprising amount of detail and 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, as 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, but the focus on delivering outstanding graphics and smooth gameplay really pay off.

Best of all, this game is free, although there's in-game currency that you'll need to manage to buy new weapons and other upgrades, along with in-app purchases available if you need an influx of coins.

Injustice 2

Injustice 2 puts you in control of the most powerful and exciting characters the DC Universe has to offer. We're talking Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Arrow, and even villains such as the Joker.

The game uses touch screen controls which are implemented pretty well. You swipe and tap to attack and link combos together. If it sounds very similar to Mortal Kombat X, that's because both games were developed by Warner Bros., so you basically get one great core game with different coats of paint to satisfy two different fan bases. I'm not saying that's a bad thing at all, but considering the file sizes for both of these games, you're probably best off picking your preferred franchise. If you're a huge fan of DC comic book heroes and villains, this game is for you!

What's your favorite fighting games?

Let me know in the comments down below!

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.