It’s July 4th! Happy Birthday to the Great Experiment! And just have a nice day, rest of the world.
Now open up a can of 90’s slang ’cause it’s time for a beating. Beat ’em ups of the side-scrolling and top-down perspective variety were a staple in the 80’s and 90’s. Though their popularity has dropped significantly and we’re seeing only sporadic releases in this genre compared to their knuckle-sandwich golden age, perhaps due to their inescapable formulaic structure, the beat ’em up genre is as much a part of gaming’s DNA as RPGs, platformers, and shooters. The sophisticated sensibilities of beating enemies to a pulp with your bare hands or whatever other weapon you can find has successfully made the jump into modern games where that sort of thing is done all the time. Beat ’em ups: they’re great for relieving stress!
The Green Screen Mage
Batman: Arkham Asylum. Sometimes you just have to drop in the middle of a bunch of thugs and smash buttons until they’re all on the ground. It’s therapeutic really.
The Black Humor Mage
I remember when I first got a smartphone and found out you could get emulators for them. One of the games I got was Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage. I was younger when I played this a lot, and because I was young I still loved Spider-Man very much. I loved the character designs, and the gameplay for beat ‘em ups were pretty much easy to do at this point, so this game didn’t suffer from poor mechanics. A really good game.
The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)
TMNT: Turtles in Time. This is not the game that I played the most in this category, but it is without doubt the one that I remember having the most fun with. I rented it from Blockbuster and had hours of fun, it was a real joy for a kid who loved the turtles to be transported into this world and take control of some of my favorite characters. (Honorable Mentions – Beavis & Butthead, The Simpsons Arcade Game, Fighting Force)
The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)
Turtles in Time, bro. This game was, like, so bodacious and had a ton of replay value. Cowabunga!
The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)
Super Smash Bros Brawl – Brawl is my most played Smash game of all time. There were so many things I loved about this entry in the series but my favourite has to be the inclusion of the story mode ‘Subspace Emissary’. My favourite aspect of a game is the story and I was absolutely stoked to see this included. It’s a shame that this element didn’t continue on in the next entry.
The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)
Streets of Rage 2 (Mega Drive), the king of beat em ups. Streets of Rage 2 is the pinnacle of that genre – great characters, lots of moves, superb graphics and sounds….I’ve never heard anyone criticise Streets of Rage 2, indeed if you tell people you like Sega games, Streers of Rage 2 is usually the game they bring up first!
The Rage Mage
This is probably my favorite pick-up-and-throw-homeless-people game. Proof that Atari has no idea what they’re doing, Guardians of the ‘Hood is everything you think of when you think of “the hood”: guys in midriff shirts, sweaty pecs, getting kicked in the nethers, and Atari.
The Well-Red Mage
River City Ransom is not just a favorite beat ‘em up, it’s also one of my favorite games on the NES. This wacky, cartoonish street brawler combines role-playing elements with the button mashing to make for a more robust gaming experience, and on top of that it’s actually an open-world game. All that on the original Nintendo? Yes. Other favorites include The Simpsons, Alien vs. Predator, Captain Commando, and, as the others have already named: Turtles in Time.
Take some time to let the bruises heal. Come back tomorrow for something entirely different!