hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

beat em ups

Live chibi violence photo
Live chibi violence

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds Overdrive and more was live on our Twitch channel


Chibi beat 'em up
Jul 28
// Jed Whitaker
[Update: Stream is over, you missed it.] I realize it is late, but that isn't going to stop me from streaming Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds Overdrive for PS4 on our Twitch channel. Battle Grounds Overdrive i...

3D Streets of Rage 2 is a return to classic brawler action

Jul 22 // Alessandro Fillari
Released back in 1992, Streets of Rage 2, called Bare Knuckle II in Japan, was an immediate hit with Genesis owners and still stands as a favorite among beat-'em-up fans to this day. Set a year after the events of the first game, our street-fighting brawlers have to take back control after the sprawling criminal empire the Syndicate kidnapps one of their allies and plunges the city into chaos. Teaming up with pro-wrestler Max, and a young rollerblading brawler names Skate (the brother of SoR1's Adam), Axel and Blaze have to scour the city while scrapping with vicious thugs that work for the ever-elusive Mr. X. I spent many hours with Streets of Rage 2 when I was a kid, and the flashy neon lights and bombastic atmosphere -- along with Yuzo Koshiro's bumping synth score -- are imprinted in my memories of those glorious Genesis days. Surprisingly, there's a strong focus on plot in these titles. While most beat-'em-ups settle for the save X from Y plot and call it a day, SoR goes a bit beyond that by wrangling in government conspiracy and even throwing in some crazy sci-fi angles. Though the narrative is pretty much on par with B-level action movies, it still goes a long way with setting the tone and atmosphere. While there was another follow up with SoR3, the second game is my favorite and holds up remarkably well. Fortunately for us fans, Sega agrees and it's since been ported over to many different platforms, including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and even iOS. However, with its upcoming release on the 3DS, this marks the first time you'll be able to play the game in 3D. "Streets of Rage 2 was the most popular of the three games in the series, so we actually had 2 slated as a conversion candidate from the very beginning," stated producer Yosuke Okunari. "However, when we first starting the development on these games, there were technical issues around getting this game into 3D, and it was deemed an impossible task so we gave up on it. If you've spent time playing the game, you've probably noticed that these sorts of side-scrolling beat-'em-ups are extremely well-suited for stereoscopic 3D (we actually call them 'belt action' games in Japanese because it's like being on a conveyor belt). The benefit of being able to visually confirm that you are lined up with your enemy and thus avoiding whiffing is huge." Coming off the original, the sequel featured a number of innovations and upgrades that made it stand apart from its predecessor. Aside from the obvious visual upgrade, which features sharper graphics and more detailed environments and character designs, the combat mechanics were greatly expanded to include new character-specific moves and super attacks. While I'm sure there were many who missed the police backup from the original, the focus on character diversity and growth was what made Streets of Rage 2 a true upgrade. During their work on the original's 3D remaster, the developers overcame the challenges of translating the unique visual style to bring over its sequel. "The graphics in these games were not like modern 3D, so there's a lot of pseudo-3D going on [referring to the diagonal side-scrolling stages], and when you take that and apply real stereoscopic 3D to it, you get conflicting visuals. So at the time, we thought we wouldn't be able to get the game into 3D," explained Okunari. "That said, because we were able to get the first game in the series into 3D, the staff's ability and know-how around 3D conversions saw huge improvements, and we found ways to work around these sorts of conflicting situations, and thus making the project a reality." After several playthroughs with the 3D remaster, I was impressed with the quality of the port. I can assure you that the pictures do not do the game justice. The side-scrolling visuals really pop with the 3D enabled, and many of the animations and action sequences feel more pronounced. The visuals on the 3DS feel sharp and with no slowdown or loss performance, which is great for when things get really hectic. While the game is largely as it was, gameplay feels just as precise as it was back in its heyday on the Genesis. It's a true testament to the design of the game, and it feels right at home on the handheld. As with the other 3D Classic releases, Sega has decided to do fans one better with the addition of new gameplay modes. In 3D SoR2, players can now experience the new mode called Rage Relay, which gets people playing as other characters during their run. Upon death, your starting character will switch over to the next one from the roster. For instance, if you start out playing with Axel and you get taken during a tough encounter, then you'll switch over to Max upon respawn. Initially, I found it to be a pretty odd gimmick, but I'll admit it came in handy during tough bosses or enemies which called for a bit more brute force. The developers included this optional mode as a way to encourage trying out the other characters after noticing how often players would stick with their favorites. "The original development team that worked on SoR2 was heavily influenced by Street Fighter II when making this game, so rather than a normal beat-'em-up, they really wanted each character to have their own feel, so each character has a very unique play style associated with them," said the producer. "However, unlike competitive fighting games, people tend to only play with the character the choose first for beat-'em-ups, and we didn't think most people strayed from that initial choice. There's four characters here, each with their own play style, so we wanted to make sure every character got a shot and make it interesting by giving players a chance to try characters they didn't really used back in the Genesis era. Our answer to this was Rage Relay." To say I had a great time with 3D SoR2 would be an understatement. I was pretty damn happy with how this remaster turned out. Not only do the new features help liven up the experience, the core gameplay still shows that simple beat-stuff-up action can be a ton of fun. And with local play available, you'll be able to team up with friends to take down Mr. X. With its release approaching, I can tell that many fans of Streets of Rage 2 will feel right at home with the 3D remaster. Not only has this title held up well, but it makes some impeccable use of the 3DS hardware. Once you fire up the game, and Koshiro's synth score reverberates through the opening title crawl, you'll be hooked. It's a total blast from the past, and it'll get your adrenaline pumping in no time.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Taking back the streets on July 23
Growing up, one of my favorite genres was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. From Final Fight to Double Dragon, I was quite fond of the action found in traveling through different stages and kicking the asses of gang members and...

Mother Russia Bleeds is a brutal throwback to classic brawlers

Jun 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Set in an alternate universe where the USSR has been crippled with crime and drug abuse, leaving society in an ever-present dystopian fugue-state, a group of street fighters take it upon themselves to fight back against the criminal element. Addicted to mysterious drugs in syringes that enhance their abilities, they'll have to use their skills to take down the Russian mafia, the powerful government, and a secret society of sexual deviants to exact revenge on those that have laid waste to the motherland. While the plot is pretty standard for a beat-'em-up, the story gets damn dark throughout. What's interesting is that you're not necessarily a good guy -- just a lesser shade of grey roaming the streets. The presentation does a great job of pulling you into this twisted world. Much like Hotline Miami, it uses dark and hypnotic lights to set the tone, and also manages to mess with your head. There were several points where I really tripped by the visual style. And I mean that as a good thing. The style is trance-like, and once it gets you, it doesn't let go. Much like the classic titles Mother Russia Bleeds pays homage too, its controls are largely easy to get into and remember. With a combination of heavy and light attacks, including grab and dash moves, you'll be able to take out the various enemies trying to rush you down. You'll also find weapons and gear in the field, such as bats, guns, and bar stools. Moreover, each character possesses their own moveset and stats. Out of the three characters available, I chose Boris, a seemingly homeless brawler with serious speed. With his moves, I made quick work of the mobs. Oddly enough, friendly fire was enabled by default, which made battles hectic but also irritating. Thankfully, you can turn it off (unless you're in need of an extra challenge). With that said, there are a number of cool additions to the traditional mechanics. The syringes that the fighters possess grant them buffs for periods of time. When used, the screen turns dark and the fighter on his high will gain super speed and increased strength. Also, they get access to a unique fatality, which instantly kills one enemy. They're brutal and satisfying to pull off, but you'll sacrifice the remainder of your buff period. Also, syringes are used to heal yourself and revive downed allies. Though if you're running on empty, you can sacrifice some of your own life to revive them. Playing Mother Russia Bleeds was a trippy experience. Though there were a number of odd quirks they'll have to iron out before released, I was very pleased with what I played. We also got a peek of some upcoming features outside of the story mode. Along with Boss Rush, challenge missions, Arena, and Versus play, the developers plan on giving the people the total package. I got the sense that this was made from folks that loved the genre, and with their aspirations to help revitalize the brawlers, I can say fans will find a lot to admire here.
Devolver Digital photo
Launches on PC, Mac, and PS4 in 2016
One of my favorite types of games from back in the day was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. Though the sub-gene has sorta evolved into more standard and narrative-based action games, I still feel there's more to be done with t...


Castle Crashers photo
Castle Crashers

Castle Crashers Remastered headed to Xbox One


Summer release
Jun 15
// Jordan Devore
Not even Castle Crashers is safe from the remaster treatment! The Behemoth is upgrading its fun-as-hell beat-'em-up for Xbox One this summer and, sure, I'll play that. Besides gameplay and multiplayer improvements, there's a...
Akiba's Trip photo
Akiba's Trip

Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed strikes Steam May 26


Save Tokyo's otaku from vampires
May 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is taking a bite out of Windows PC on May 26, XSEED has announced. The beat-'em-up takes place in Tokyo's "geek mecca," Akihabara, which is under attack by vampiric monsters that prey on t...
WWE photo
WWE

Bullet Age developers' pitch for a WWE beat 'em up looks sublime


CM Punk and Cena take on adorable Brock Lesnar
May 03
// Jonathan Holmes
Not unlike that Black Steampunk Sherlock Holmes mock-up from a while back, the proposition of super deformed WWE beat 'em up is getting quite a bit of traction on Twitter at the moment. Sadly, the game isn't currently in...
Battleground Z photo
Battleground Z

Battleground Z could be a standalone beat-'em-up


Zombie beat-'em-up action
Apr 19
// Darren Nakamura
StreetPass is a strange obsession. Ever since the days of having only Puzzle Swap and Find Mii, I have been fascinated with the functionality. I carry my 3DS around with me everywhere, and when I pull it out of...
Pirate Warriors 3 photo
Pirate Warriors 3

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is the craziest One Piece game yet


Quad-character supers
Apr 17
// Chris Carter
Omega Force isn't always known for innovation, but occasionally, it'll surprise just about anyone. As the developer of countless Warriors subfranchises, this group knows a thing or two about beat-'em-ups, and the One Pie...
XSEED photo
XSEED

Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed hits PC this spring


PC version includes the previously PS4-exclusive Visual Editor
Mar 26
// Kyle MacGregor
Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is coming to PC this spring, XSEED Games announced today. The otaku beat-'em-up RPG initially launched on PlayStation 3 and Vita last year, and was well-received by Destructoid's Brit...

Review: Bladestorm: Nightmare

Mar 17 // Josh Tolentino
Bladestorm: Nightmare (Xbox One, PS4, PC, PS3 [reviewed])Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: March 17, 2015MSRP: $59.99 (PS4/Xbox One), $49.99 (PS3) [Note: Screenshots used in this review are taken from the PS4 version of the game.] As an aside: this game, based on 2007's Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War, is one of the weirdest choices anyone could've made when deciding on which games to add to the growing number of "remastered" titles popping up on current-generation consoles and PC. Despite initially generating excitement among the Dynasty Warriors-loving crowd as a long-desired European-themed entry to the franchise, the original game came and went without much comment. That was thanks to its odd-duck design, which even led Jim Sterling, a much bigger Warriors fan than yours truly, to call it a real-time strategy game in his review. I'm not quite as inclined towards that drastic recategorization, but ol' Jim does have a point: Bladestorm is, for good or ill, of a more thoughtful mind than most of Omega Force's  offerings. Indeed, whereas typical Warriors games take history's leaders and convert them into armies unto themselves, Bladestorm takes the player and molds him (or her) into a leader of their own squad of troops. If Dynasty Warriors is about being a human Cuisinart, Bladestorm attempts a wartime version of Katamari Damacy. More on that in a bit. [embed]289070:57824:0[/embed] Bladestorm: Nightmare comes with two main modes. "The Hundred Years' War" mode is essentially identical to the original 2007 release, aside from graphical/mechanical tweaks, and drops player-created mercenaries -- or "merthenaries" to hear the comically bad European-accented voice-acting say it -- on the battlefields of medieval France. There players can work for the French or English factions, supporting one or the other as pay and scruples dictate. They'll interact with luminaries of the era like Edward, the Black Prince, Philippe the Good, and Gilles de Rais, and participate in key engagements like the Battle of Crécy and the Siege of Calais.   The second mode, "Nightmare," is a more linear, scripted campaign set when a monster invasion interrupts the Hundred Years' War, forcing France, England, and the merthenaries they employ to ally against hordes of hellbeasts commanded by none other than Joan of Arc herself. Interestingly, though Nightmare mode is clearly designed to be played after finishing off The Hundred Years' war, players can switch between the two freely, with progression data like levels, money, equipped gear, and distributed skill points carrying over with virtually no restriction.  Graphically, Bladestorm works best on newer hardware. Aside from the added special effects and improved draw distance and environments, the frame-rate drops that I experienced on the PS3 are absent on the PS4 version. Additionally, the Nightmare campaign on PS3 is prone to drastic loss of frames as well, likely due to the much larger squad sizes and the hordes of monsters.  Both modes essentially boil down to an expansive form of territory control. Each of the battlefields is divided into numerous forts, towns, and castles defended by allied or enemy troops. Most missions ("contracts" in merthenary lingo), particularly in the more open-ended base campaign, will task players with conquering one or more settlements by killing off their defenders and beating their commanding officer. The bigger the settlement, the tougher the commanders, and some particularly large castles are basically defended by mini-boss enemies with distinct attack patterns. In Nightmare mode, those defenders can even include dragons, cyclopes, or grim reapers. Doing the killing involves taking command of a squad of troops. Though broken down roughly by weapon type, each soldier type is unique, with strengths, weaknesses, and a set of special attacks mapped to the face buttons. Players can pick up or drop squads they find in the field, or summon reinforcements directly. New to Bladestorm: Nightmare is the ability to create multiple squad leaders, commanding them separately via the battle map or attaching them to a personal unit as a bodyguard, ultimately allowing for up to 200 troops to move and act as a single unit, rolling everyone in the way (hence the Katamari analogy). This type of of structure provides Bladestorm with the same kind of dynamic as the typically more action-oriented Warriors games. Like in those titles, players in this game are often "fire-fighting," moving as quickly as possible between crisis zones, keeping scores and rewards up by plowing through everything along the way. Though ultimately shallow, Bladestorm's battle mechanics do lend the game an impressive sense of scale, particularly when playing as a cavalry leader. I must have done it hundreds of times in my hours with the game, but it never gets old to trigger a charge and flatten dozens of enemies under the hooves and lances of your soldiers. It also never gets old to watch horses slide across the ground like they are hovercrafts, a testament to how rough-hewn the game can be at times. Balance issues are also a concern, as properly leveled cavalry units basically trivialize the whole game except at the highest difficulty levels. I'd actually be more mad that cavalry are so overpowered if they weren't already the most fun class to play, but that's neither here nor there. Bladestorm: Nightmare isn't a Dynasty Warriors game, but it doesn't aim to be, and still ends up being good time when taken on its own merits. In fact, it's a little ironic that its unusual qualities doomed the original release commercially, but help this new release feel much more fresh and engaging than even the latest "core" franchise entries. [This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Bladestorm review photo
Merthenary Lyfe
Bladestorm: Nightmare is not a Dynasty Warriors game. That bit of information might be good or bad news, depending which side of the fence one falls on with regard to Tecmo Koei's long-running brawler series. At the same...

Viking Squad photo
Viking Squad

Viking Squad beats enemies to death with fish


Back-to-back PAX East winner?
Mar 16
// Jed Whitaker
Four vikings worshiping different gods fight their way through procedurally generated environments with various weapons including a fish; no, it isn't your family reunion but the upcoming beat-'em-up Viking Squad. Marvel at ...
The Vagrant photo
The Vagrant

The Vagrant Kickstarter shows us how to use a belt


Also chibi bear people and a mad hatter
Mar 11
// Jed Whitaker
Two bearkin, a mad hatter, and a vagrant with a belt covering her nipples go into a dungeon -- no, it's not a Tumblr joke but a new beat-'em-up on Kickstarter called The Vagrant. I imagine if Dragon's Crown and Muramasa: The ...
Fatal Fury Final photo
Fatal Fury Final

Fatal Fury Final, a fanmade beat-'em-up, is now out on PC


For free of course
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
As we all know, Fatal Fury started off as a traditional fighting game in 1991. But over the years the cast has seem some genre crossover, even into the shoot-'em-up arena with one of my personal favorites, KOF Sky ...
Onikira: Demon Killer  photo
Onikira: Demon Killer

Onikira looks like a slicey dicey good time


Coming to Steam Early Access this Friday
Nov 13
// Rob Morrow
Onikira: Demon Killer, a lovely samurai-centric 2D side-scrolling beat-'em-up, is set to slash its way onto Steam Early Access on November 14. The game takes place in a fantasy feudal Japan, with the player assuming&nbs...
Akiba's Trip PS4 photo
Akiba's Trip PS4

Akiba's Trip coming to PS4 on November 25


The blue bus is callin' us. Driver, where you takin' us?
Nov 05
// Kyle MacGregor
Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is coming to PlayStation 4 on November 25, XSEED Games unveiled today. The otaku beat-'em-up arrived on PS3 and Vita back in August, and earned a favorable appraisal from our own Bri...
Fist of Jesus photo
Fist of Jesus

A zombie game featuring Jesus is a lot better than it sounds


Jesus puts the smack down in this strange arcade-like beat 'em up
Oct 18
// Rob Morrow
In what looks like a mash-up of Monty Python's Life of Brian with the low-budget special effects and gore seen in films like the Toxic Avenger, Spain-based Mutant Games brings us the Fist of Jesus -- an arcade-styl...
 photo
The cat's butt gazes also into you
Max and I were finally able to resume our series of playing Dragon Ball games, and talking about which Dragon Ball characters are cool and sexually attractive. This is the first of many more to come, so enjoy... unless you don't like Dragon Ball, in which case; why did you click a post with "Saiyan" in the title?

 photo
I fartbend in your general direction
A new 15-minute-long gameplay video has been released for The Legend of Korra beat-'em-up by Platinum Games. It shows off a variety of combos and elemental abilities, including nods to the series such as the ability to ride an air scooter. Here's what I've gleaned from the footage.

Bayonetta 2 screens photo
Bayonetta 2 screens

This Santa is blasť, this mob-man is terrified: Bayonetta 2 is wacky


Look at his face!
Jul 24
// Steven Hansen
The choice between badass Santa and comically scared mob boss for the header image was a hard one. The Santa thing is a bit trite, I guess, but he wins out. Still, look at that guy's face.  Bayonetta 2 looks insane,...
PS Vita photo
PS Vita

Beat-'em-up Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds hits PS Vita next week


That song!
Jul 23
// Jordan Devore
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds was a decently enjoyable sidescrolling beat-'em-up released on Xbox Live Arcade early last year. It's now coming to PS Vita, where it will hopefully gain more visibility, on July 29, 2014. Goo...
Toys photo
Toys

This Altered Beast boss figure exists against all odds


Welcome to your doom!
Jul 15
// Jordan Devore
Of all the videogame characters that could be turned into figures, this guy? Aggar? He's the first boss of the old Sega beat-'em-up Altered Beast and, okay, he's memorable as far as bosses in that game go -- I'll grant you th...
 photo
If I can't track down this song, I will lose my mind
In this episode, while playing Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure, Bill and Max discuss Chiaotzu's dim sum secret, Japanese onomatopoeia, that damn song that I can't identify, and why is Nam white in this game?

Super Comboman photo
Super Comboman

Adult Swim Games' Super Comboman features a fat dude with a Pikachu fanny pack


That's what it looks like, at least
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
Adult Swim Games has a great track record when it comes to their games, and Super Comboman looks like a fun little brawler. It takes place in a sticker world with destructible environments and colorful characters that give m...
Bayonetta 2 photo
Bayonetta 2

Don't worry, Bayonetta 2 will come packaged with the original game as well


Do you wanna touch me?
Jul 08
// Brittany Vincent
Concerned over how you're going to pick up Bayonetta in addition to its sequel when it finally hits the Wii U? Not sure how you want to purchase the game so that you'll get a copy of the first game? Worry no more -- at least,...

Just Saiyan: The 'Advanced Adventure' Saga! Part Three

Jul 04 // Bill Zoeker
Justice - "Stress" [embed]277598:54749:0[/embed] Dragon Ball Z OST - "Prevent It! Cell's Perfect Body" [embed]277598:54750:0[/embed]
 photo
When you're fighting a bum, just remember that you don't have a nose
In this episode of Just Saiyan; Max and I talk about Max's adventures at Fanime, the super nasty Bacterian, and Dragon Ball Z butt rock. You do not want to miss the ending. A dog finally breaks Max. For reference: the songs Max is talking about when he mentions DBZ being sampled are below.

 photo
Hopefully, this game won't suffer from a lack of heart
Platinum Games, developers of Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising, are developing a Legend of Korra game. This game takes Korra on a quest to regain her element bending powers and defeat a new villain with chi-blocking abilities. The Legend of Korra game will be released as a download title for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and PC this Fall, for $14.99.

Senran Kagura photo
Senran Kagura

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus looks great in a 3D environment


This new trailer really shows off its assets
Jun 16
// Brittany Vincent
For the longest time while watching this latest Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus trailer, I thought I was looking at a bowl of Jello sitting on a table that someone wouldn't stop tapping. But then I realized it was actually a v...
Gauntlet photo
Gauntlet

Equip this Gauntlet trailer to gear up for battle


Actually, equipping a weapon would be a better idea
Jun 04
// Brett Makedonski
Ready to play Gauntlet? No, you haven't time-traveled to the 80's, and you don't need a pocket full of loose change. You just need a PC and $20. In preparation for E3, Arrowhead put out this trailer for its remake of Gauntle...
Fist of Awesome photo
Fist of Awesome

You could punch bears with your awesome fist right now in Fist of Awesome


Also featured: Awesome beard, awesome flannel
May 22
// Brett Makedonski
You know what I've always wanted to do? Punch a bear in its stupid mouth. But, bears are decidedly more badass than I am, and it'd most likely rip my head off of my stupid body. I like my head; I'd prefer for that to not hap...
Senran Kagura Vita photo
Senran Kagura Vita

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus jiggles to North America this fall


And there will be a limited edition physical release
May 08
// Kyle MacGregor
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is coming to PlayStation Vita in North America this autumn, XSEED Games announced today. The plot of Shinovi Versus unfolds shortly after the events of Senran Kagura Burst, revisiting t...

  Around the web (login to improve these)




Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -