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|Alien Storm||1990||Crazy ass Sega beat'em up where you face off against stinking aliens and must pulverize them. Plays sort of like Golden Axe but with guns. Every now and then you enter first-person shooting sequences where you can cause mayhem with you guns and also some short shoot'em up sequences where your characters run like hell pursuing the damn aliens.|
|Alien vs. Predator||1994||The movie may have sucked but this MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT. Take control of a military cyborg or Predator and lash out at the encroaching alien swarm and corrupt Weyland-Yutani corporation. Developed by Capcom, so expect some very smooth controls and |
|Arabian Magic||1992||Nice Arabian Nights-themed Beat'em Up. You can choose from four characters, who must kick the butt of an evil wizard who turned the king into a monkey. This game's magic power is to summon a giant genie who literally blows away all enemies.|
|Armored Warriors||1994||Giant mechas! You choose your pilot and go destroy other mechas, who eventually drop parts which you can attach to your own mecha. When playing cooperative you can fuse the mechas to create some crazy behemoths to destroy everything.|
|Asterix||1992||One of those cool Konami licensed beat'em ups, you choose between Asterix and Obelix and do exactly what they do in the comics: kick some Roman asses! Each stage is based around one of their classic adventures.|
|Battle Circuit||1997||Almost similar to Captain Commando, now with 110% more awesome. Has a neat little shop mode in between missions where you can buy improved movesets, extensions to your lifebar and continues. Of the eccentric cast (a child on a pink ostrich? A talking plant monster? The fuck?) only a fraction of them are useful; like Cyber Blue, who utterly stomps shit like Ken from Street Fighter (Shoryu Reppa? Clever, Capcom). One of the best beat 'em ups exclusive to the arcade.|
|Battletoads||1994||Three players can control Rash, Zitz and Pimple, each with their own Smash Hit attacks. Be warned, this is a VERY long game, and it's just as tough as the rest of the Battletoads series. Unlike the rest of the games, attacks involving something sharp or extremely heavy will produce blood, and it's the only game were you can play as any of the three toads.|
|Cadillacs and Dinosaurs||1993||3 player simultaneous beat 'em up. Fight dinosaurs, drive cars, and shoot guns, all in the dystopian future. Extreme amounts of awesome. Pretty damn good music, too. Like other "later-era" Capcom beat 'em ups, you can use some inputs (like down, then up+attack or dash+attack) for special moves. The gun factor is pretty cool, giving it aspects of the Arcade "The Punisher" game, but the control scheme doesn't shift like that game and you get way more gun variety (rifles, uzis, bazookas, etc.) and when you're out of ammo, you can even swing (or throw) the gun around as a weapon!|
|Captain America and the Avengers||1991||THE AVENNNNGERRRRS! While somewhat simplistic, it's regarded as a classic for its fast-paced thrashing, comic-book aesthetics, and wicked cool soundtrack. The few intermittent side-scrolling shmup-like levels in the sky are also pretty damn cool. Be careful when fighting bosses though, since they tend to move pretty fast, with little start-up to their animations and attacks. OKAY, GO!|
|Captain Commando||1991||Choose one of four superhero characters to smash and bash through enemies. Notable for its gruesome death sequences. Loosely related to Final Fight (it's metro city in the future) and plays similarly to it (but faster) and you can use special timing-based moves to wreck shit up like Cap's mid-air fire blasts, Baby's Haggar-inspired wrestling moves, etc.|
|Crossed Swords||1991||A watered down Punch-Out!! in RPG format, IN THE GODDAMN MIDDLE AGES. Move the joystick up and down to use your shield to block incoming attacks and power up for a counterattack. Collect gold and experience, save wenches and discover new loot. Requires quick precision to not get your shit slapped as the game is balls hard when played alone.|
While not a traditional beat 'em up you do beat the shit out of a bunch of enemies. Think of it as a "first-person beat 'em up". Yeah, I made that up. Deal with it.
|The Crystal of Kings||2001||A really amazingly looking game, the main character is a midget who rides a big aardvark and must retrieve the titular crystal from a really evil badguy. And since this is a beat'em up, he gets the help of his pals: a swordsman, a magician and the most sexy elven girl ever!|
|Denjin Makai||1994||A super obscure game, which is a shame because it is a really nice one. It has six characters to play, each with various moves at their disposal.|
|Dungeons and Dragons: Tower of Doom||1993||A classic arcade beat 'em up with tons of depth. Further expanded on the RPG fusion by incorporating an inventory, magick and multiple paths through the high fantasy realms of D&D. Up to four players and four different characters, but you can't change your character upon dying/continuing or have more than one of each. Although simpler than Mystara, it's also a bit easier as well, especially for newcomers that you want to play Mystara with (but aren't sure they can handle it).|
|Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara||1996||The amazing sequel to Tower of Doom. Features two new characters (a male Wizard and female Thief), alternate skins, more branching pathways (some even needing a certain character to access like dwarf or elf), more magic items (like elemental-summoning items) and magic weapons (like fire sword and morning-star), and tons of secrets which add to its replayability.|
The controls were reworked from the original, being improved (more attacks, items, magics) and streamlined for the better (like sliding and rush strikes). You can also change your character mid-continue, with alt skins having a few differences for the magic-users. Hard to get tired of this one.
|Final Fight||1989||The mayor's daughter has been kidnapped by gangsters. Instead of asking for some bad dudes with attitude to save her, MAYOR MIKE HAGGAR and his boys, Guy and Cody, personally decide to take care of business. Each player also has a special skill, Haggar's being badass wrestling moves. I hope you like throwing thugs, because you're gonna be throwing LOTS of thugs (no really, there's times where lots of enemies are onscreen and one of the best ways to deal with them is to throw them at each other). |
Sadly, there was never another Final Fight like this on arcades, but 2 and 3 are on SNES. 2 is very similar to 1, but 3 is a huge improvement and the series' best.
|Gaia Crusaders||1999||A cool beat'em up by the same guys who later made Sengoku 3, it has the same refined combo system as well as powerful magic attacks to clear the screen of enemies.|
|Guardians: Denjin Makai 2||1995||The sequel to Denjin Makai, it has 8 selectable characters with many more special moves and all sort of crazy shit going on all the time.|
|Golden Axe||1989||Styled after Conan the Barbarian, Golden Axe is a beat 'em up that features visceral weapon combos and a powerful, tiered magic system. Get more magic potions and you can use stronger magic attacks (though its up to you if you want to spam weaker spells on common foes or save them for a boss-stomping super spell). You can even hijack enemies' mounts to tear through their lines.|
On the Sega Megadrive, 2 is very similar to this, but 3 both improves and changes a few things, mostly for the better, but it's still somewhat contested among GA fans. GA:RoDA below is something of a sequel/spinoff. GA: The Duel is a fighting game and somewhat disappointing.
|Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder||1992||Arguably the best GA game, period. The roster has changed with a familiar barbarian swordsman (with modified attacks), an imbalanced (i.e. fast-combo chaining) female centaur, an imp, and Gilius from GA1 riding a giant. Magic has been modified to effectively balance both power and multiple usages. It's got some new mounts too: giant scorpions, bone dragons and praying mantises. The sprites and artwork have some amazing detail and zest, especially the vertical-scrolling stages (a PoV shift, not a jumping segment) and magic (use it on generic foes you get a short cut-in mid spell of their agonized screaming as their faces melt off, petrify, etc.).|
Protip: If you need to, consider having one player use Trix (the imp), since his magic doesn't deal damage, but instead produces food for the players to eat.
|Growl||1991||aka Runark. A beat'em up that's heavily weapons-based where you kick the asses of animal poachers. Tons of enemies on screen. Very campy humor (including the final boss). In most versions, Enemies blast apart into chunks when you hit them with explosives, though a few variants censored it. Has 2 and 4 player variations, and depending on which you're playing, you choose or are assigned a character. Made by Taito (yes, cutesy "Bubble Bobble" Taito).|
Ported to the Sega Megadrive with some differences in special attacks and health restores (also, the usual console restrictions of the day regarding both aesthetics and on-screen enemy counts).
|Light Bringer||1994||Beat'em up with fantasy setting. Huge "open-ended" levels. Extremely underrated. Japanese mode can be set to have red blood. aka "Dungeon Magic" in Europe.|
|Mutation Nation||1992||A mad scientist turned everyone in the city into mutants. It is now your duty to blow up all those mutants with your fists. Instead of having weapons around, you get those colored orbs which grant you special powers to kick ass.|
|Night Slashers||1993||Zombies + beat'em ups. Need I say more? Play the Japanese version for red blood and gore.|
|Ninja Baseball Bat Man||1993||Six golden items have been stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it's up to you to reclaim them. The Ninja Baseball Bat Men all have lots of special attacks, including multiple grapples and ultimate attacks that use up health to nuke the whole screen. Made by Irem in their glory days, so you know this is good.|
|The Ninja Warriors||1987||You are a ninja cyborg, and your mission is to kill this evil dictator. Though it is initially boring, it gets more fun once you get the hang of controlling your ninja. It was made for that three-screen behemoth of Taito, and later got a improved remake for the SNES.|
|Pu-Li-Ru-La||1991||This is what you get when you program a game under the effect of drugs. It initially just looks like a simple game with cartoonish graphics, then all sorts of madness goes about, then you get to stage 3 and your head explodes.|
|The Punisher||1991||Combines traditional beat 'em up fare with pseudo-light gun shoot out sequences. Great if you're a Marvel fan or not.|
|Sengoku 3||2001||aka Sengoku Denshou 2001. Excellent combat system, excellent custom combo possibilities, great graphics and music. One of the last SNK beat'em ups to come out, and one of the best.|
If you REALLY want to play Sengoku 1 and 2, you can if you want, but this is the best one in the series. The others are archaic (even for their era) and have pretty cheap as hell difficulty. Though they do have some pretty trippy ass aesthetics and gameplay (transform into a dog, what?)
|The Simpsons||1991||The Simpson family sets off to save Maggie from Mr. Burns. Features some really trippy stages and enemies. Best done in multiplayer, since characters can combine to do different co-op attacks.|
|Splatterhouse||1988||Aptly named horror-themed beat 'em up that features grotesque enemies and bosses, and GRATUITOUS amounts of gore. Very basic side-scrolling with emphasis on weapon use; like decapitating enemies with a machete or pummeling them into a bloody mess with a 2x4.|
Has two sequels on the Genesis and a parody title on the NES.
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||1989||COWABUNGA! The single best TMNT game ever. Choose from one of the four turtles and go kick the butt of Shredder and his goons.|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time||1991||The Turtles are back with new moves and power ups. Had an updated port on SNES and a remix on Genesis.|
Remake released on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network though it plays a little differently. However, the remake has since been taken down.
|Tenchi wo Kurau II||1992||Combines aspects of past Capcom titles for one badass game. On foot, you go mostly melee and can grapple/throw foes. On horseback, you use wide-range weapons and can rush through enemy lines. Decapitate foes with your fists and elbow-slam others in half as you slam your way through Ancient China to a climactic confrontation with LU BU himself!|
Fun Facts: It's the first Capcom beat'em up to add input-based special moves (on foot AND on horseback) and is extremely popular in Asia (for good reason!).
AKA "Warriors of Fate" in the west, which also changed the names from Chinese to Mongolian, oddly.
Dynasty Wars is the original Tenchi wo Kurau, but it's pretty mediocre, don't bother. Also, the NES games (re-christened as "Destiny of an Emperor") are entirely different (but good).
|Undercover Cops||1992||Looks like a generic beat'em up at first -- until you're doing flying roundhouse kicks and flinging girders at thugs. All in the name of justice!|
Made by the people who'd form Nazca, the Metal Slug people. Play the Japanese or Alpha Renewal Version, as the World/US release removes half the moves and edits the music.
|Violent Storm||1993||Your girlfriend has been kidnapped by crazy ass punks. Are you a bad enough boyfriend to rescue her? And while you're at it, take your two pals along for the ride.|
|Warrior Blade: Rastan Saga Episode III||1991||The last game in the Rastan Saga series, and the last game for Taito's multiple screen juggernaut, this one ditches the platforming and goes Hack 'n Slash. You can choose from Rastan himself or other two newcomers to kick on some monster's asses. After the first stage you can choose the next stages, and some parts have you traversing while mounted on horses or dragons.|
|X-Men||1992||Xbox huge arcade game with two monitors, six players, crappy dialogue, and stupid amounts of awesome.|