The Best Nintendo DS Fighting Games

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One of the most iconic handheld consoles to date, the Nintendo DS was the extremely successful successor to Nintendo's Gameboy line of handhelds. Releasing initially in 2004 to American and Japanese markets, the handheld was an instant hit. Featuring a dual display, a touch screen, and Gameboy Advance backward compatibility, there were plenty of reasons to pick this console up.

A console is nothing without its games though, and the DS had plenty of stellar titles. The third-party support of the DS was unmatched, and anyone with a development kit could release a full-price title for the console, for better or for worse. While there is plenty of shovelware within the DS library, there were just as many great games. One genre that saw some pretty amazing support on the console was fighting games. Most of these games were licensed titles featuring familiar faces such as Bleach: Dark Souls and WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2010.

WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2010

One of many wrestling titles released during this era, WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2010 shines above the rest. Featuring the SmackDown, Raw, and ECW brands, this title packs the DS handheld full of content. Players can fight as thirty different wrestlers across six different story modes. In these modes, players can go through linear fights trying to win the championship. One of these stories takes advantage of one of the best features in this game - custom character creation. Here the player can create a character of their own and take to the ring for some awesome fights, and there is even a story mode for this custom character.

While much of the fighting mechanics have stayed the same, there are a few quality-of-life improvements that will make combat easier. Whether you're a fan of WWE or not, WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2010 is a goofy and fun fighting game with something for everyone.

Bleach: Dark Souls

Exclusive to the Nintendo DS, Bleach: Dark Souls is an exciting fighter that includes the cast of the popular anime Bleach. Building upon the success of the original, Bleach: Dark Souls includes a story mode that takes place between the first two seasons of the anime. This optional story mode is great for fans of the show but still welcoming to newcomers to the series. In the story mode, players will be taken through various fights that change up the mechanics of the game really nicely.

Included with the basic fighting mechanics is a spirit card system that adds special abilities to the battle that can be activated from the touch screen. If you're looking for a fighting game with a ton of content, Bleach: Dark Souls is a fantastic title, even if you're not a fan of the anime source material.

Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butoden

Released at the end of the DS’s lifespan, Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butoden is a Japanese exclusive fighting game featuring the cast of Dragon Ball Z. Despite being on a handheld, Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butoden is an extremely fast fighter, making players feel like they’re really in the world of Dragon Ball. The title includes a story mode, which takes place during the Majin Buu arc, featuring some alternate storylines that diverge from the original plot.

There are a total of 51 playable characters, each with alternate costumes and a "dress-up mode". If you are a Dragon Ball fan and don’t mind the Japanese voice cast, Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butoden is an easy choice for the Nintendo DS. The Nintendo DS isn't region-locked either, so importing this game is pretty straightforward.


One of the few fighting games that successfully uses the DS touch screen, Draglade is an exciting fighting title published by Atlus exclusively for the DS. The fighting mechanics are pretty simple, a heavy attack, a light attack, and bullets - special moves that can be equipped between fights. The story mode is a great way to learn these mechanics, as well as unlock new fighters to use against your friends in wireless play. There are four stories to play through, each featuring a different fighter and unlocking different characters.

The style of the game is similar to other anime fighters, but the combat is simple enough to welcome beginners. If you're looking for a fun and relatively easy fighter on the go, Draglade is a perfect choice.

Custom Robo Arena

An early DS fighter, Custom Robo Arena is an exciting fighting title featuring plenty of mecha action. This title is all about facing off against various opponents in order to get new parts for your mech. Players can fight through the story mode or in battles against friends, each of which offers a fun and different experience. In the fights, the player utilizes a third-person camera in order to control their mech's abilities. The goal of each battle is to knock off 1000 points from the opposing mech's health.

While the combat is somewhat simple, the customization mechanics, as well as the story mode, add some much-needed depth to this title, making it one of the best on the DS library.

  • Updated March 11, 2021