The Best Platform Fighting Game You Can Play In 2021

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The genre of platform fighter was created and popularized by Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series, but in the many years since the first Smash game’s release in 1999, a number of indie studios have stepped up to provide their own take on the genre. Let’s find out the best platform fighting game for 2021.

What Exactly Is A Platform Fighting Game?

A platform fighter is a fighting game where the goal is to send your opponents flying off the stage. As a result, attacks will do damage that increase how much knockback a player takes, eventually resulting in moves with even minor pushback being able to send an enemy to their defeat.

Due to the systems being so different, platform fighting games usually aren’t as combo-centric and don’t tend to involve as many complex inputs as a traditional fighting game. Platform fighters are often viewed as a more casual alternative to traditional fighters, but make no mistake- technical play is very real in these games, especially in competitive play.

1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

  • Platforms SupportedNintendo Switch
  • Crossplay Support: No
  • Rollback Netcode Support: No
  • Roster Size without DLC: 69
  • Roster Size with Announced DLC-to-Date: 82 (Fighter’s Pass 2)

First up is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This the best-selling platform fighter of all time. Fortunately for fighting game fans, characters like Ryu and Terry from Street Fighter are included right off the bat. The roster size and polish of Smash Bros. Ultimate compared to its competition is incomparable.

Best Platform Fighters Smashultimate

In addition to a huge roster, you also have a very wide selection of music and stages. This game has 103 stages and a dozen songs per stage, making it the most varied platform fighter on the market.

However, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate arguably has the worst online play. You’d think with that big budget and all that content, they’d make their game work well online, but not so here. You can alleviate online issues by ensuring the people you’re playing with are using ethernet cables, but this doesn’t save you from experiencing one-bar Wi-Fi players in ranked.

2. Rivals of Aether: Definitive Edition

Rivals of Aether is one of the first popular non-Smash platform fighters, and with the recent Definitive Edition update, you don’t need to worry about buying the two guest characters anymore. Add robust Steam Workshop support for custom characters and stages, and you can get a surprisingly packed platform fighting experience here.

Best Platform Fighters Rivals

Rivals of Aether sets itself apart in gameplay in a few key ways from Smash Bros. Since it’s a 2D game, for one, all hitbox calculations are done on a two-dimensional plane. Additionally, the mechanics of ledge-grabbing and shielding are gone entirely, replaced with a universal wall-jump and parry.

Unlike Smash, Rivals includes detailed tutorials for advanced platform fighter movement mechanics – like wavedashing, which was only in Melee for Smash players. It’s an openly competitively-oriented experience, and if you enjoy that in a game, Rivals has a decently active scene to immerse yourself in.

3. Rushdown Revolt

  • Platforms Supported: PC
  • Crossplay Support: No
  • Rollback Netcode Support: Yes
  • Roster Size without DLC: 8
  • Roster Size with Announced DLC-to-Date: 9

At the time of writing, Rushdown Revolt is actually in an Alpha, but it’s still in astonishingly good shape. Originally, Rushdown Revolt was a different game entirely, called “Icons: Combat Arena” – a game which, while great, fell under the weight of its own extremely greedy F2P business model. Since that team disbanded, a few people bought the assets and property and released Icons: Legacy Edition on Steam, which removed lag from offline play and unlocked all content developed at the time.

Best Platform Fighters Rushdown Revolt

Rushdown Revolt has since gone in a completely different direction, in an even faster and more technically-rich direction. Rushdown Revolt is among the most combo-heavy and speedy platform fighters there is. Unlike the Smash series, it also has a superb implementation of rollback netcode, which allows for games with less lag played at farther distances.

4. Slap City

Best Platform Fighters Slap City

Slap City is a more relaxed, silly, small-scale take on the Smash Bros. formula. While it only has 8 characters, it maximizes the playstyle variety and content on offer for those characters. Every character has their own unique platforming campaign, for instance. While Smash Ultimate does have custom routes and a rare few custom bosses for characters’ Classic Mode runs, this is a good bit more in-depth than that, and especially more in-depth than Wii U or Brawl’s idea of per-character content.

5. Brawlhalla

Last but not least is Brawlhalla, the only free-to-play game on this list at the time of writing. This is one of the only platform fighters with a roster that even comes close to competing with Smash’s and features a number of crossovers from across the gaming industry, including the TMNT and Rayman. It even uses rollback netcode, which yes, means it still has significantly better online than Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Best Platform Fighters Brawlhalla

It’s hard to recommend against this one. It doesn’t really stick out mechanically, but it does offer a ton of different characters at a level of variety that only Nintendo seems to be able to meet or exceed. That and it’s free and cross-platform compatible with, like, everything. If any of that sounds interesting to you, you should try it.

The above are some of the best platform fighting games for 2021. You might also want to keep a lookout for the best games on Nintendo Switch Online.

Image Credit: Toxic_Hunt3r on SteamGridDB

Christopher Harper
Christopher Harper

I'm Christopher Harper, and I write primarily about PC hardware and competitive gaming.