The key to winning a match in a fighting game is predicting what your opponent will do—and then punishing him or her once you get the opening you're waiting for. Focusing on this more mental component of the genre, Yomi for iPad introduces aspects of poker and rock-paper-scissors to turn that combo-happy experience into a strategic card game that still feels like you’re fighting. You may not be mashing buttons, but Yomi offers intense and rewarding moments that put your skills to the test.
Unresponsive controls or a sloppy touch-based interface can often hold back a fighting game from shining on your mobile device. Fright Fight is one iOS brawler that looks a lot like Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series, but offers its own simplified combat system and unique touches that together offer a well-rounded experience without the need for a controller. You may not pull off extravagant combos along the way, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be having fun bashing baddies in online showdowns.
For all of its strengths, Fightback is a game that feels tuned to reward in-app purchases more than strategy or skill. Ninja Theory, the studio behind the '80s-tinged brawler, is known for big console projects like last year’s Devil May Cry reboot and 2010’s Enslaved: Journey to the West. Those games were great — underrated, even — which is why Fightback’s shortcomings come as such a surprise.
Fist of Awesome is a game with time-traveling bears, a talking fist, and bears being uppercut by said fist. Suffice it to say, it's all a bit absurd; when your character is told not to think too much about what's going on in the story, it's advice that you would be wise to follow yourself. Underneath all of the silliness and some less-than-enjoyable attempts at humor, though, is a surprisingly fun action game when played in short bursts.
Launching alongside a couple of other juggernaut releases – the iPhone 5s and iOS 7 – Infinity Blade III concludes the trilogy in expectedly slick fashion. The single-player quest trumps its predecessor as the best-looking iOS game to date, with fantastic detail throughout the environments and an array of wide, swooping camera shots to create the sense of an epic scale on even a small iPhone screen. And while the combat remains reliably enjoyable, the grinding nature of the series' campaign approach makes this third entry feel a bit more tiresome amidst the overall triumph.
Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s blockbuster paean to classic Japanese monster flicks, seems tailor made for a video game adaptation, and Reliance Games' workmanlike effort dutifully pits enormous robot mechs (called Jaegers) against monstrous kaiju in a series of Infinity Blade-esque duels. Unfortunately, control issues and an irritating progression approach make what should be a cool experience feel instead like a grind.
Back in the early '90s, the fighting game was king and arcades were consumed by a three-way battle between Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and the games created by SNK for its Neo-Geo system. Samurai Shodown was one of the latter, and its combination of samurai-movie tropes, gratuitous bloodshed, and weapons-based fighting immediately made it a fan favorite. Out of its numerous sequels, Samurai Shodown II has long been regarded to be one of the best 2D fighters of all time — and now, for better or worse, it's fully playable on iOS.
A computer may still be the desired platform with which to have a true multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) experience, but when you’re on the go and have a hankering for some genre action, your phone is quickly becoming the next best option. No stranger to online games, Zynga is the latest developer to throw its hat in the mobile MOBA market with Solstice Arena, a free-to-play title that provides the ideal balance of portability and strategy without skimping out on what makes the style of play so fun to begin with.
You'd think it would be a simple task to make a great game based on the latest Superman film, what with all its high-flying action and superhero awesomeness. Sadly, Man of Steel is a bland, repetitive, and weak (though ultimately competent) Infinity Blade knock-off, minus the exploration. You'll fight one Kryptonian after another, going through a Story Mode of loosely-connected scenes based on events from the movie, all while leveling up your skills along the way and watching a handful of neat comic-style cut-scenes that hint at the presence of a plot.
Console-like action games don't always make the most graceful of transitions to iOS devices, and English developer Ninja Theory certainly knows the console side of the genre, having designed such well-regarded affairs as DmC: Devil May Cry and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Luckily, the studio's first touch screen effort doesn't try to shoehorn a controller-based experience onto iPhones and iPads, instead delivering a streamlined, free-to-play take on a beat-'em-up brawler.