The Best Martial Arts Video Games

The Best Martial Arts Video Games

Martial Arts is one of the most popular themes that inspire the creation of fighting games, and we see it all the time. Because of this, there are so many that it can be hard to tell which ones you’d like the best.

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You want to jump on the bandwagon but aren’t sure what to pick because you might be looking for something with a lot of story or one where you can just shut your mind off and beat up bad guys. Or maybe you’ve had your fill of those and want something else. All of the games here serve to fill those different slots. Here are some of the best Martial Arts games to try.

Def Jam: Fight for New York

snoop dogg standing with others in def jam fight for new york city

Def Jam: Fight For New York puts the player into the shoes of a customized character who is grinding up their ranks in New Yorks fighting underground. Earn money from your winnings to unlock new clothing and tattoos as you face off against characters that become playable once defeated. The higher quality items you wear, the quicker you can build your momentum in the fight to get a Blazin Taunt which in turn triggers your Blazin Move special super-powered attack.

Much of the combat focus on your surroundings, where the spectators will usually shove the opponent back into the arena if you throw them out or even hold them for you to get a free beatdown. Like most fighting games, you can use the items in your environment to bash your opponent as well. It’s a classic that many cite as one of the best fighting games of all time.


a fighter standing in toribash

Toribash is something for the hardcore veteran beat-em-up game player who never seems challenged anymore by your standard martial arts title. Inspired by ragdoll physics, this fighting game is one that’s fairly difficult to learn and requires a lot of time to master. Not to mention it’s turn-based as opposed to the usual free-for-all you see in fighting games. However, once you find your fighting style niche in the game and stick to it, it becomes a lot easier to manage.

This is an optimal game to play and practice with friends so that both of you can get better at it without you getting instantly beaten by the professionals in the game. Toribash is definitely worth trying for players who really want to invest and hone their skills into something different. Toribash is free to play and download from the Steam store.

Jade Empire

characters in jade empire

Jade Empire is an optimal starter choice for players who have little experience with fighting combat games but are interested in trying it. The simplicity of the combat gameplay dances in perfect sync with the amazing action details in the fights. Besides that, the lore content isn’t so niche enough that it won’t interest somebody outside the action film fan community.

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Since the story isn’t based on particular media, it really leaves something to be discovered, something that makes you want to play to see the story unfold. It’s a classic that continues to be beloved by fans to this day.

Fist Of The North Star: Lost Paradise

kenshiro pointing forward in fist of the north star

If you’re a fan of the Jojos Bizzare Adventure series, Fist Of The North Star is a must-try. Initially released as a manga in the late 1980s, the series follows the tales of martial arts hero Kenshiro. Kenshiro’s initially happy life is cut short when his partner is kidnapped by the character Shuri and he must go on a quest to find her, where he will defeat many different opponents.

The beat-em-up gameplay has a style where Kenshiro beats people by hitting their pressure points and making them explode from the inside out. You can choose if you want the gore to be mild or extreme but it’s still pretty intense either way. If you like martial arts-style games where it’s not just all fighting, this is a good choice because it has other elements, like racing and exploring the city that is your main hub. It’s a must-have if you like over-the-top gameplay.

Shuyan Saga

the princess in shuyan saga

Shuyan Saga is really unique in that it combines martial arts gameplay with visual novel-style storytelling. It’s the perfect game for players who enjoy the premise of the visual novel but want some occasional fast-paced action to break up the monotony. There is also something of a survival element where the choices you make affect the outcome of the story.

You will follow the tale of Shuyan, a princess who is struck by tragedy when the Guer invade her country. She goes on a journey to become a powerful Kung Fu warrior in order to save her kingdom. The hand-drawn panels done by Chinese artist Daxiong are breathtakingly beautiful art, along with the 3D martial arts combat play.

The Shenmue Series

characters in shenmue

The Shenmue games are considered one of the original martial arts-style games that set a precedent for games like Yakuza. Released for the Dreamcast initially, the original followed martial arts student Ryo Hazuki looking for answers about his father’s murder. Carry out detective work speaking to nonplayer characters to unravel what happened.

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This game popularized the style of fighting multiple opponents at once and exploring open-world cities. In the port city of Yokosuka, you can do things like chitchat with the townspeople, play arcade games or just pick a refreshment from a vending machine. The games are all tied together by the same mystery, so it’s best to play them in chronological order if possible.

9 Monkeys of Shaolin

the main character about to fight a group of enemies in 9 monkeys of shaolin

9 Monkeys of Shaolin tells the story of a man whose peaceful village life is interrupted when pirates invade his village and cause tragedy. He is salvaged by the Shaolin monks, who take him and train him so that he can get revenge on those who murdered his family.

If you enjoy beat-em-up games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry, where 96 percent of the game focus is creating the best ways of destroying packs of enemies, this will be the game for you. Like those games, it comes with a few different levels of difficulty for those who really want to test their skills. The combat is pretty straightforward and starts you off with three attacks and as you progress, you can learn combos to use against the waves of enemies.


the main character fighting in overgrowth

If you enjoy beat-em-up style gaming but want something a little more fantasy-oriented that comes with gameplay challenging to learn, Overgrowth is the way to go. You play an anthropomorphic martial art-using rabbit who lives in a world inhabited by other humanoid animals as well. He must go on a quest to prevent his fellow rabbits from being enslaved by cats and dogs.

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There are tons of different biomes to explore and also a platforming aspect in it where you have to climb trees to get to certain places. Its challenge aspect isn’t something to worry about too much because there’s a lot of checkpoints for respawning if you die, and the way to beat enemies isn’t too technical – you can wing your way through most of the bosses.

The Tekken Series

heihachi and kazuya mishima in tekken

To someone who has never played them, Tekken might seem like just an ordinary run-of-the-mill fighting game – but in reality, it’s as far from being that as you can possibly get. With this, you’re witnessing what is possibly one of the most dramatic and dysfunctional family dynamics in all of gaming.

Tekken follows the story of the Mishima family, the first game focusing on Kazuya Mishima’s quest for revenge against his father Heihachi. The next story focuses on Kazuya’s son Jin and follows with interactions between every male in the Mishima clan. Tekken is also worth playing for seeing the character’s individual endings, most of which are amusing or wholesome.


yagami in judgment

Judgment is the predecessor to the recent Lost Judgement. This game follows the story of Takayuki Yagami whose law career was ruined by a client defense gone wrong. Years later, he works as a private investigator and must discover a secret behind a serial killer targeting certain Yakuza members along with a clan leader who seems to be involved. The gameplay includes both detective work mechanics with fight combat. Some of the abilities include being able to spy on suspects using a drone.

Yagami has two martial arts modes – tiger and crane. It’s somewhat similar to the combat of the Yakuza games but there’s one thing that makes it unique – Yagami’s acrobatic skills. He can bounce off things and jump over enemies for a face kick from the air attack. Judgment combines a good story, fun combat, and an ample amount of side quests to keep you enthralled for a long time.

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