Playing Fighting Games on Portable Systems, Is It Worth It?

Soulcalibur Broken Destiny (Kratos)

I know the question of “can fighting games be played seriously on a handheld device?” has been asked a lot over the years, but before you roll your eyes and close this tab, I think it’s time to look at this again. Anyone who has been following fighting games for a while has probably encountered some form of the aforementioned question in forums, niche websites and YouTube. After some discussions about controls, examples of games that worked on portable devices, the popularity of smartphones and how the gap between home consoles and portables is becoming smaller and smaller, the questions still tends to be: no, fighting games will never be popular on handhelds ever, end of discussion. But there are legitimate reasons why that question still comes up every now and then, one of the main ones being the fact that mobile gaming is incredibly popular and even if some of us don’t like it, mobile is shaping the industry and the kind of games we get.

Playing Fighting Games on Smartphones

The King of Fighters 98 iOS

Without a doubt, there will be more fighting games on mobile devices over the coming years, but let’s see some of the ones that came out. As far as fighting games for smartphones go, some of the most popular include The King of Fighters 98, Street Fighter IV, Marvel: Contest of Champions and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Although some people enjoyed playing those arcade games on the go, the unresponsive touch screens are a serious issue. Of course, there are ways to connect controllers, fight pads and arcade sticks to your phone to play them, but at that point your phone stops being portable.

Playing Fighting Games on Portable Consoles

Super Street Fighter IV - 3D Edition

So what about dedicated gaming platforms like the PlayStation Portable or the Nintendo 3DS? On the PSP, we got Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX, Dissidia Final Fantasy, Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny and Dragon Ball: Shin Budokai, to name a few. The 3DS, on the other hand, had Super Street Fighter IV, Dead or Alive: Dimensions and Super Smash Bros. As you can see, there’s no shortage of fighting game on dedicated handhelds, but are they any good and more importantly, are they playable? The short answer is yes, though there are some caveats, such as smaller screens, watered down graphics, unconventional control schemes and lower resolutions. But if you’re a fighting game fan and you don’t mind playing on a smaller screen, getting a dedicated handheld and a copy of your favorite game is a good idea to play on the go.


Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX PSP Gameplay

Now that handhelds and smartphones are no longer technically inferior to arcade machines and home consoles, fighting games that look and play well are definitely possible on these systems. While you won’t get rid of your PlayStation 4 and your copy of Street Fighter V to play some free-to-play fighting game on your phone or a port on your Nintendo 3DS, there’s never been a better time to play fighting games on platforms that fit in your pocket. Competing is out of the question, but maybe that future when we take our handheld with us to practice combos, mix-ups and other strategies is sooner than expected.