5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
Released during the end of the Turtles craze of the late 80's, Turtles in Time is a vibrant 4 player arcade beat 'em up which also saw a superb Super Nintendo port.
TMNT might be the most perfect license to turn into a beat em up. And Konami made the most perfect beat em up out of TMNT. It's super flashy. Every few minutes there's an amazing set piece or animation to ogle at. It also has great Konami-calibur music.
Yeah, I think it’s the best TMNT game around and depicts the Turtles really well. Lot's of fun to play, especially in the arcade with friends.
I will admit i'm biased, I love the turtles (I still own the Amiga coin op version, ahem), and I love the fact they finally appeared in a decent scrolling beat 'em up. The character animation, graphics and colours are awesome and the gameplay is spot on.
I don't entirely agree. It's not my personal favourite of Konami's licensed brawlers - actually hitting enemies feels a bit loose, and there's (understandably) no weapons besides the environmental one like fire hydrants so it can get a little dry.
I agree the combat itself can be clunky at times. But I still find it so much fun, such a polished product.
The gameplay is certainly simplistic, very repetitive but I just cannot help but enjoy this game. The levels are so varied and there is so much going on. I especially enjoy the Super Nintendo port when played with a friend. The arcade version is better but the added bosses of the home version is well worth the trade off.
Despite my feelings on the combat, has some neat set-pieces like Krang attacking you on the first stage, and there is plenty of stage variety like the surfing levels. It's also ideal for co-op (and all the better for it) as it's very easy to pick up and play.
Although I never enjoyed the SFC TNMT as much as its arcade sibling, I did find it a very enjoyable romp. It still remains one of my favourite beat 'em ups on the system. It's a lot of fun with friends and Konami did a good job with the port. The arcade version remains the one to play though, it's brilliant.
Despite the simplistic gameplay, this game is immensely enjoyable to play and all the more so with friends. The Super Nintendo port is very good and the Mega Drive has a solid alternate version in The Hyperstone Heist.
4. Light Bringer
Light Bringer is an isometric fighter with RPG elements. Set in medieval times and featuring platform elements too, it is one of the meatier games in the genre.
You don't see many isometric brawlers, and it's got a few light RPG elements too like levelling up and finding better weapons along the way. It's a bit slower-paced than some of the other entries, although if it went any faster it'd be perhaps too tough to play from this perspective.
The pace of the game is perfect, any faster and it would indeed be tough to play due to the viewpoint. The RPG elements really give meat to the game and I wish there were more games like this. For me, it's the perfect way to add depth to what is normally a shallow genre.
I could eat these RPG/beat ‘em up hybrids for breakfast – I love them! The isometric view and free-roaming nature of Light Bringer give it a different feel from the usual belt-scrolling jaunt.
Yeah there is a fair amount to do and lots of weapons to find. Also different paths through each stage (some with better loot/less traps than others) and the charge shot, which differs between the four characters is quite versatile. You've also got magic attacks for when things get too rowdy. The isometric angle takes a little getting used to, but this is really worth trying for something different from the norm.
Confession time; I only discovered Light Bringer about two years ago, on one of those Taito Legends compilations. On the one hand I was a bit sad that I'd missed out on it all these years, but on the other, I was elated because it's one of the best examples of the genre. Classic and gorgeous sprites, coupled with the rather unique (and charming) isometric viewpoint make Light Bringer a tremedous experience.
Light Bringer is stunning with gameplay that has aged really well and the game offers a lot of replay value. The only known home version is on Taito Legends 2. Any beat 'em up fan needs to play it.
3. Golden Axe
Golden Axe is a Conan inspired fantasy beat 'em up featuring magic, dragons and violence aplenty.
It’s for me, the original hack and slash fantasy or certainly the first one I remember. I really like the setting and the music, particularly on the arcade version is excellent.
I spent a lot money playing this in the arcade, and was thrilled when it was released on the Amiga, I love the story, the action and the magical abilities. I really enjoy the fighting and combos and with bright vibrant graphics to match, it's a great 2 player game.
The fighting has a little less impact than others of the genre (more Konami -style than Capcom-style), but the addition of running attacks, creatures to ride and those magic spells are enough to keep things interesting.
It helps that the game knows to be brief, moving you quickly from scene to scene rather than dragging things out., keeping your attention at the same time.
Yeah the overall fighting is quite simple but the magic system and variety of the creatures really help this game. It does indeed move at quite a pace too. I really do love the magic system in fact, it really creates a strategy, especially when learning about the game. Do you use magic against multiple normal enemies or wait for a high power attack on a boss? Great stuff.
Now this is an older beat ‘em up I can really get my teeth into! It looks a little basic (it doesn’t exactly play like the most complicated example of the genre either) but the key points – flying on the back of a giant eagle, summoning a fiery dragon to destroy screens full of enemies, kicking tiny elves for potions – are perfect and elevate the game to a place I’ll reluctantly admit it probably wouldn’t reach just on the strength of its gameplay.
I know I'm risking the wrath of many a retro gamer when I say this, but I don't think Golden Axe is quite as good as many make out. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that I find it a bit plodding, a bit ugly and kind of boring although it's much more fun with friends.
Golden Axe is a classic. Despite dated gameplay, it still offers plenty of fun and as always with the genre, is a lot better with a friend. The magic system, running and beast riding systems really are excellent, even today.
2. Final Fight.
Final Fight is a now legendary beat 'em up from Capcom. Ported to many a system, including famously the Super Nintendo where it has no 2 player mode and was missing a lot of content.
Final Fight - The first ever scrolling beat 'em up I played, so has a special place in my heart. I loved the characters and the subway train levels, it was something I had never seen before.
Final Fight: Final Fight is such a quintessential game in the beat em up genre. And yet there are many issues about it that would challenge this status. It's not the first beat em up. It's not even the first significant/popular one either (that might be Double Dragon). It's not the best. It's not even the best in its own series “gameplay wise”. But yet, a lot of people gravitate to it. And there has to be a reason for why people use the term “Final Fight-clone/rip-off” on many sub-average generic beat em ups. I think it's due to Capcom's great ability to give so much character to its games and to Final Fight. Haggar, Cody, Guy, Poison, Hugo, even Metro City itself are all great, memorable characters that have a bigger presence than just Final Fight. And I think tagging the Final Fight story into Street Fighter greatly helped give all of these characters many opportunities to appear again and again. And it helps that Final Fight is a good game too.
Every scene is absolutely packed with enemies, giving a true feeling of an all-out brawl. It may lack the amount of moves later games have, but it still feels satisfying (going from a combo straight into a throw then back again especially) and Metro City and its inhabitants have a certain charm to them. It also has one of my favourite brawler stages- the Bay Area. Starting at midnight, it seems to be a never-ending road of punks, with plenty of changes to break up the action like the bathroom scene and the fire-bottle assault, until you end up by the Statue of Liberty as you see the sun rise... As if you've been fighting all night to clean the streets of Metro City.
Final Fight is a game I never really loved but I have grown to enjoy it and respect it's place among the classics of the genre. It really is packed with action and a real exercise in crowd control gameplay. The graphics I still love today, with huge sprites and decent animation. I will never forget the size of the first boss.
I think Final Fight often gets unfairly maligned these days. I adore the characters, and the fantastically ropey story, but most of all, I can't get enough of pounding about Metro City, stoving heads in.
I think Final Fight is something I can appreciate rather than enjoy and I’d never dream of questioning its importance to the genre, but I must admit, I do find it a bit bland these days.
The animation and movement is very impressive in the arcade and it channels great through the SNES version. It's a pity the SNES version missed Guy. I do enjoy this game but I don't think it stands up well against Streets of Rage.
Final Fight is legendary in the genre. Any fan really needs to play this. The SNES version is weak but the Mega CD housed a decent port as did the Gameboy Advance.
1. Streets of Rage 2.
Streets of Rage 2 is a 1992 sequel for the Mega Drive featuring 8 new stages and plenty of thumping techno music.
This was always going to be top, I don't think anyone really doubted it.
SoR 2 is one of the few games that me jealous of my Mega Drive owning friends, when I was younger. Probably because it is genuinely the best scrolling beat em up there has ever been. From the minute you set foot on the beautiful neon bathed streets, and hear the timeless music fill the room, you know that you're in for an experience that few can match. Throw in some fantastic characters, and an interesting one on one option and you're left with one of the games of the generation.
The animation and style of this game surpasses it’s prequel, it's probably the best sequel ever. Intense, superb animation and a mind blowing soundtrack makes for good viewing, listening and playability.
Whilst SoR3 is my personal favourite in the series, it’s obvious why this one remains the popular choice. It has big, beautiful sprites, a kick-ass soundtrack and above all else a fair and fun game to tie it all together. A huge step up from the first game and an instant classic.
Love everything about this title, specifically the awesome soundtrack and great combos. I also liked being able to pick up and use weapons! It's one I'll happily play through again and again. It also taught me it's fine to eat giant apples off the floor, and large bags of money can be easily hidden in an array of everyday objects, even in wooden chairs.
I love this game and I am not at all bothered that it sits at the top. Is it my personal favourite? Possibly. Regardless, the music is awesome, especially when hooked up to a stereo system with a sub woofer! The levels are big and interesting, weapons are varied and cool and the characters fun to use. The special move system is excellent, much better than the standard 'call the cops' of the first game.
Really enjoy this a lot, worthy of being an absolute classic with good gamepaly and amazing sound. I just wish more people would give SoR3 a chance as I really feel it's the better game.
Street of Rage 2 is rightly regarded as a masterpiece. It's regularly touted as the best scrolling beat 'em up so it's no surprise it takes top spot. If you haven't played it, well you cannot really call yourself a gamer!