For a long time, developers in the fighting game space were well-known, established juggernauts. Capcom is a mainstay of the genre, and the same can be said of Bandai Namco and SNK. Japanese developer Arc System Works has been around for a long time, with franchises like its Guilty Gear series, but it was still relatively unknown due to the more niche games it was producing within an already niche genre. That all changed with the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ. The popularity of Dragon Ball FighterZ, as well as the newfound popularity of the later released Guilty Gear Strive, put Arc Systems Works on the map like never before.
Arc Systems Works went on record to say that it wants to be more active in collaborating with existing IPs to create games, and our minds have been set ablaze. Many franchises could make for excellent fighting games and look stunning in Arc System Works’ signature 2D/3D hybrid graphical style. Here are a few that we’d like to see come to fruition one day.
The Star Wars franchise has a history of stellar games in a variety of genres. Yet, the fighting game genre has mostly eluded it from a galaxy far, far away. The only exceptions to that are the terrible Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi and crossover content that let players use Yoda and Darth Vader in different versions of Soulcalibur IV. With a talented fighting game developer like Arc System Works, a Star Wars fighting game could have more potential than any number of Midi-chlorians.
Arc System Works crafts beautiful animation styles that seamlessly blend 2D and 3D in its backgrounds and character models. And Star Wars has both 2D and 3D animated shows to draw inspiration from, with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but a more anime-inspired style that suits the developer could look fantastic too.
In gameplay, a 3v3 tag fighter would allow players to make use of the huge number of exciting Star Wars characters with distinct strengths and weaknesses. Jedi with Lightsabers and force powers could be deadly in close range and utilize long-distance zoning attacks too, while bounty hunters like the Mandalorian would be a menace in airborne fights with their gadgets. Whether Disney would license Star Wars for a fighting game is debatable, but the existence of the Star Wars: Visions anime series and Disney’s continued support of Kingdom Hearts gives us hope.
Marvel has had a long history in the fighting game space, and most of it has been in association with Capcom. Unfortunately, the two companies now appear distant from each other, so any hopes of a future Marvel vs. Capcom game seem extremely unlikely. That said, would Marvel be willing to lend its IP to Arc System Works instead? With Marvel or Bandai Namco publishing, it feels like a possibility.
Marvel fighting games with tag mechanics are old hat, so what could Arc Systems Works bring to the table? It would come down to approachability and style. Dragon Ball FighterZ is immediately appealing to non-fighting game players because it presents a visually stunning take on the popular anime and manga franchise they might enjoy. When those same players get into the game, they’ll find it easy to start performing flashy-looking attacks because of inbuilt auto-combo systems and simple controls. Guilty Gear Strive went a step further by including tutorials that taught the basics of Strive, but also the fundamentals of fighting games in general. Many games in the past, including the Marvel vs Capcom series, were excellent fighters but often failed at teaching players to understand and master the mechanics.
Arc System Works has proven that it cares about retaining a player base by teaching them how to get the most out of a game. A strong onboarding process is key to retaining the interest of new players, and the Marvel license in combination with Arc System Works’ beautiful animation should be enough of a draw to hook players in. The satisfying mechanics will keep them there for the long term.
Warner Bros. Games and developer Netherrealm Studios are stewards of the DC license in the fighting game scene. The Injustice series is a massively successful and complex 2D fighting game with 3D character models and environments. However, the potential sale of Warner Bros. Games and its associated video game licenses has been a concern recently. If Warner Bros. Games were to hypothetically reach out to make a new publishing deal with a different fighting game developer, Arc System Works would be an ideal team for the job.
Netherrealm Studios has perfected its brand of 1v1 DC fighting, but it’s still an intimidating gameplay experience for fans who just want to do fun attacks with their favorite characters. Arc System Works could lower that barrier for entry while using a 2D style that more closely resembles many of DC’s fantastic, animated shows. Seeing Batman and Superman fight each other in an animation style that matches their looks from the original animated series would be a dream, but we would be equally impressed by a more modern anime-inspired art style that puts a fresh spin on the familiar DC characters. New takes and designs on the familiar heroes are essential to keeping them fresh and interesting. Arc System Works would be just the developer for such a thing.
Anime fans and video game fans often overlap, and there are dozens of us. Joking aside, fans of both mediums would like nothing more than to see an anime fighting game that makes use of all of the best anime and manga franchises under the Shonen Jump banner. Unfortunately, games like Jump Force failed to deliver on that promise due to issues with the presentation, uneven mechanics, and underwhelming single-player content. But, if any studio has proven that it can create a fighting game that lives up to the anime its licensing, it’s Arc System Works.
Bandai Namco helped to publish Dragon Ball FighterZ, and we can envision a scenario in which the company strikes a new deal to allow Arc System Works its pick of Shonen Jump franchises to use for an all-star crossover fighting game. The beautiful character models of Dragon Ball FighterZ make it exciting to imagine what the studio could do for other Shonen Jump properties. A 3v3 tag team fighting game that makes use of characters from Dragon Ball, My Hero Academia, Hunter X Hunter, Bleach, Naruto, Jujutsu Kaisen, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and One Piece could be a dream come true. Throw in classics like Yu Yu Hakusho, modern series like Black Clover or Dr. Stone, and even some sports stories like Haikyu!!, and it would be one of the most diverse roster line-ups ever seen in a fighting game.
Arc System Works already worked with Bandai Namco as a publisher, and the company has published multiple One Piece games. With that in mind, it seems very feasible for Arc System Works to get its hands on the One Piece IP for another game. Unlike a lot of the other Shonen Jump properties that would make sense as part of a large crossover game, One Piece has enough popularity and characters to warrant its own title. Eiichiro Oda’s eccentric character designs span a wide gamut, from somewhat normal proportions to characters with huge bodies, animal limbs, or even mechanical augmentations.
Fans of One Piece know that many characters in the story have distinct powers that they obtain by eating Devil Fruits. In the setting of an Arc System Works fighting game, this could result in a ludicrous variety of potential gameplay scenarios. Monkey. D Luffy’s stretching abilities would let him zone his opponents, while Roronoa Zoro’s sword attacks could make him a deadly close-range brawler. Trafalgar Law could play mind games by teleporting himself and his foe, while Whitebeard could break the stage itself. Some players of Dragon Ball FighterZ weren’t happy with the fact that there are separate characters for each transformation of Son Goku and Vegeta, but the sheer variety of One Piece’s cast would probably remove this issue in a potential One Piece FighterZ.
These are just some ideas about IPs that Arc System Works could use to craft an exciting new fighting game. But whatever the studio chooses to make next, it will likely get more attention than ever before.