The beat ‘em up, as it’s known these days, started gaining popularity with the help of Kung-Fu Master and Renegade. While it’s not as prevalent now, with the death of the arcade, this is one of my all-time favorite genres. Whenever I feel like beating up anyone and everyone, these games are my go to to take out my aggression.
5. Final Fight
How could any beat ‘em up list be complete without the inclusion of this classic? The characters from the game, both big and small, have gone on to be somewhat major players in the Street Fighter series.
Also, this game has something that none of the others have: Mike Haggar. Can you name any other Mayor that takes on crime via piledrivers and spinning lariats?
4. Double Dragon
Billy and Jimmy Lee may be the best known brothers this side of Mario and Luigi. They have been kicking and punching for about as long as there have been beat ‘em ups, and I can’t count the number of quarters I lost to the original game in the arcades.
Double Dragon was the first game I played where both players could not be the victor, because one of them was actually the leader of the bad guys all along. After working through several grueling quarter-crunching levels, it all comes down to you and your friend.
3. River City Ransom
The first game that taught me that eating all my food in one go was perfectly OK, that books could teach me how to learn martial arts, and that punching people until they barf is the best way to make money. River City Ransom is one of those games I still play on occasion and still love just as much as the first time I played it many years ago.
Due to my love for this game and the fact that it’s part of the longest running beat ‘em up series ever, there was no way it couldn’t be on this list.
2. Streets of Rage 2
Streets of Rage was one of maybe ten or so games I actually owned for the Genesis. I’ve played this game almost as much as I have played River City Ransom, which is telling in its own right.
One of the most interesting things about this game is that the soundtrack might even be more well known than the game itself. This was one of the few games I actually sat through the credits for, just because of the music.
1. God Hand
If there is one game that deserves a sequel, it would be God Hand. Everything about this game is over-the-top and just a little bit… off.
Despite being one of the most difficult beat ‘em ups to date, it’s hard to get frustrated at a game that takes nothing seriously. Despite a few drawbacks in terms of camera and control, this game gives just enough tools to the player to allow for some of the most awesome and ridiculous combos ever showcased.
Ignore what you may have heard about this game, and give it a shot.