Beat 'em up

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A beat-em-up also spelled beat 'em up or called a brawler, is a genre of video game where the player controls a character who uses close-combat to defeat a multitude of opponents to achieve a goal. These games began in the mid-1980s as 2D side-scrollers and make heavy use of martial arts. Pioneers of the genre include Karateka, Kung-Fu Master, and Jackie Chan no Project A, Over the years, the genre has expanded to include 3D environments and have incorporated many other game mechanics.

Beat-em-ups are similar to several other video game genres like fighting games, which put more emphasis on complex individual character battles than on defeating a multitude of generic opponents, and scrolling shooters, which predominately use ranged weapons which changes the mechanic. Beat-em-ups which have a fantasy theme are often referred to as a hack-and-slash, and some gaming databases make a distinction between the two, but, since the play mechanics are effectively identical, I group them together.

I really loved beat-em-ups when I first saw them in the late-1980s, but now I find the classic beat-em-up to be a flawed gaming mechanic. It was great in the 1980s for draining quarters in the arcade, but it doesn't create a very rewarding gaming experience. While I like the idea of beating the crap out of a bunch of thugs, I dislike having to develop perfect timing and character control which is mandatory for a lot of beat-em-ups. Instead, I prefer those which have growth and story like my favorite beat-em-up, River City Ransom.


This is a list of beat-em-ups that are important to me.

Title Released Developer
Altered Beast 1988-08-?? Sega
Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja 1988-04-?? Data East
Battletoads 1991-06-?? Rare
Double Dragon 1987-07-?? Technos
Double Dragon II: The Revenge 1988-??-?? Technos
Golden Axe 1989-05-?? Sega
Final Fight 1989-12-?? Capcom
Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu 1990-12-?? Now Production
Renegade 1986-??-?? Technos
River City Ransom 1989-04-25 Technos
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1989-??-?? Konami


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