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Old School Games: Beat Em Up Retrospective PART 1


I really, really do love a good beat em up.

Some of the best old school gameplay is in a beat em up. With Castle Crashers having just been released, I've been seeing some people not understand that history. So now, on a very special blog post of Old School Games!


A beat em up is where you select a character, than go fight wave after wave of bad guys. A end level boss shows up once you reach the end of a stage. Every stage is generally left to right and multiplayer is a big part of the appeal. Beating up a bunch of guys by yourself is fun, but its even better with a friend. Most feature a special move you can do by pushing jump and attack at the same time. Does more damage but hurts your character. Most also let you pick from a strong but slow one, the balanced one, and a quick but weak attacking character. A lot of awesome stuff.

I tried to pick out five of my favorites. For a complete list of arcade beat em ups, try gameFAQs. These are just some that I felt I could write about.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Its early nineties. I'm maybe five years old. Ninja turtles are the biggest thing in the world. Every kid loves them. My friend's father owned a small grocery store. Three of my friends are there with me and we're all pumping quarters into this machine. Somehow we beat the game. Next to getting my very own Nintendo, this is the greatest memory of my childhood. I love this game so very much. Its an absolute must play in the genre of beat em ups.

The turtles is such a great property to put into the beat em up genre. Four turtles to choose from. Enemies as cannon fodderiffic as foot clan robot ninjas. A ton of toyetic characters to use as boss enemies. This is like god came down and gave me a video game so amazing, that I've yet to get over it. Even the home version (write about in a few days) which was so watered down compared to the arcade one, was so very awesome. Words cannot express my joy and delight upon playing and completing that game as a kid.

I was Michelangelo that night. My friends were Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael. We kicked Shredder's ass. Ever see the ending to the Ninja Turtles arcade game?

Seriously, this is the ending. Its even more hilarious in person.

A straight ports available on xbox live arcade. A "regular" Nintendo version is available. As well as a sequel Turtles in Time, with its own more remembered Super Nintendo port.

Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara

This is one of my favorites to play. Its a sequel to D&D Tower of Doom, takes everything from that game and makes it even cooler. Every time you play it can be such a different game. Branching paths really make a difference in the way the game plays. You occasionally get a choice between what levels to play next. You've got an inventory system that lets you select from items or magical spells.

Six fantasy characters to select from: Magic User, Fighter, Elf, Rouge, Dwarf, Cleric. Role playing game statistics seem to apply to the characters as well. Fighters are stronger than magic users, but have hardly any special abilities. Several characters have wide selections of magic spells that generally can murder enemies quite well. The Dungeons & Dragons property lends itself well to beat em ups. As does most any property.

I love this game so much. A sega saturn home port is available with Tower of Doom included. Unfortunately its only two players.

Final Fight

My favorite thing about Final Fight is the plot. The mayor of town's daughter is kidnapped by a local gang. They of course didn't realize he was an ex wrestler. He decides to put his leotard on and go kick these punks asses. That is the type of plot every video game needs. The gameplay is standard beat em ups, lots of weapons to pick up, lots of bad guys heads to thump. The levels are great. Boss battles hilarious and epic. A must play for everyone.

Even Destructoid Editor [url=http://www.destructoid.com/hey-ash-whatcha-playing-episode-six-94228.phtmlRevAnthony's sister likes Final Fight.[/url] Really likes it.

X-Men Arcade

My half brother whom was also big into comic books told me of this game. "At the park pool they have the X-men video game. You can for some reason play as Dazzler and its six players." Six players? I thought he was joking. But no, six players. And you can play as Dazzler!? Whose idea was it to include her? One of the least useful X-men is the only negative I could find. Even then, she fights the same as any of the other characters.

But you tell me, if you're seven years old would you want to play as Dazzler or Wolverine? Not only is it Wolverine, but Wolverine is his brown and tan costume!

Again, The property of the X-men works out perfectly for a beat em up. You fight a lot of the standard X-men rouges at the time. Magneto, Pyro, The Blob, and several other villainous characters.

Plus its SIX players. I doubt you've never seen something as awesome as six players. Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and yes, even Dazzler are among the characters you choose from here.

Take a look at the cabinet. Six players on one machine is just crazy.

Just don't be the guy who gets stuck with Dazzler.

Alien Vs Predator

I like the Alien series. I like The Predator series. Despite recent failicious pairings of the two, they've had some of the best crossover comic books and video games ever.

You pick from four characters: A lady. A cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger, and two predators. Every character has a ranged attack that recharges and murders guys good. Especially The Predators energy beam. Roughly ninety percent of your enemies are the not the least bit phallic xenomorph aliens. You fight all the action figures and standards from the aliens early 90s comics and toyline.

Captain Commando

This game has the wildest selection of characters ever. Captain Commando himself is some sort of electrical powered superhero. You get a ninja who cuts people in half when he kills them. A mummy. And weirdest of all, one of your selectable fighters is a baby driving around in a robot. Not even joking.

A commenter found a picture of the baby! Laugh hysterically!

This one feels very much like Final Fight. Similar over world map when you start a level. A version is also available on snes. The Captain shows up in a few of the marvel versus fighting games as well.

Altered Beast

My most fondly remembered arcade beat em up. My cousin owned an Arcade and every day after school I would play some Altered Beast. Yeah, I would hit the Area 51 machine. Sure I could play some of the fighting games and pinball. But who doesn't want to play a beat em up as basic and bare bones as Altered Beast? Its hardly even a beat em up, but I played the arcade version so very much I have to mention it.

"Wise from your gwave!" You start off the game as a guy in a muscle shirt. Kill the gray wolves for power up orbs. "POWER UP" After several of those, you get progressively beefier until you turn into a level specific animal character. A wolf. A dragon. A bear. A tiger. And finally, a gold wolf. Fairly crazy bosses such as a devil who rips his head off and attacks you with it. Yes, I'm serious.

This was one of the original sega genesis pack in games. A sequel is available for gameboy advance. And another sequel is available for PS2 which I can't seem to locate anywhere.

Tons of them that I didn't mention here for space reasons, that I want to. Double Dragon. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. Knights of the Round.Burning Fight. Splatterhouse. Battletoads arcade. The Punisher. The Simpsons. Knights of Valour. And oh so many more awesome Arcade beat em ups. Can you name any that I didn't? I'd love to learn some that I never heard about before.

That's all for part one. I love a good beat em up. Don't you guys?

Next Up in Part 2: Nintendo Entertainment System beat em ups!
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About randombullseyeone of us since 5:44 PM on 07.05.2008

"I am hoping that I can be known as a great writer and actor some day, rather than a sex symbol." - Words of wisdom from the deity Steven Seagal

"Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose." - Alan Moore from Watchmen

My own writing reflects the opinion of every corporation, company, individual, monsters, and gods. Also, cocks!

Coming soon as an actual book you can buy The Bonerquest. Hopefully you'll buy a copy when I'm done with it.

Will you accept The Bonerquest?

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is the best game ever.

Read fun articles Josh (Charlie) wrote for Tomopop or Nukezilla! Professionalism! Also I did some news for Destructoid. Sort of a real writer!

Check out Josh Hayes, a name Charlie uses for journalism on the internet so that he can say silly personal things without the fear of them being exposed openly. That and to hide from people he knew who he don't want to find him, not no way, not no how.

Twitter, or Tumblr!

Old School Games articles are pretty much worth reading. They say write what you know.

X-Com UFO Defense

Zelda 2

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

Dragon Warrior III

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

Final Fantasy 3 (Final Fantasy VI)

Way of the Samurai

Nick Arcade

We Love Katamari

Ninja Gaiden

Toejam & Earl

River City Ransom

Mega Man X

Pokemon Red/Blue

Yakuza series

Operation Darkness


X-Men 2: Clone Wars

Sweet Home

Legend of Dragoon

Clock Tower

Mystal Ninja/Ganabre Goemon series

Onimusha Warlords

Rockin' Kats


Spawn games

God Hand

Blood Will Tell

Super Godzilla


Animal Platformers

Robot Alchemic Drive (R.A.D.)

Buck Rodgers Countdown to Doomsday

Darkwing Duck

Shin Megami Tensei games (Persona, Devil Summoner, Devil Survivor)

Jurassic Park 2

Disgaea & other Nippon Ichi Games (Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom, La Pucelle Tactics, Soul Nomad)

Twisted Tales of Spike Mcfang

Resident Evil

Legend of Kage

Lost Vikings

Devil May Cry

Comix Zone

X- Men

Threads of Fate

Mutant League Football

Mega Man 7

Castlevania 2

Sonic 2

Dragon Warrior 2

Donkey Kong Country

Spider-man & X-Men Arcades revenge




Splatterhouse 2

Elevator Action

Mega Man 6

Mega Man 5

Dig Dug

Mega Man 4

Mega Man 3

Mega Man 2

Rock Roll Racing


Mega Man

Beat Em Ups PART 6: Future

Beat Em Ups PART 5: Playstation 2/Xbox/Gamecube

Beat Em Ups PART 4: Playstation/Saturn

Beat Em Ups PART 3: Sega Genesis Super Nintendo

Beat Em Ups PART 2: Nintendo

Beat Em Ups PART 1: Arcade

Smash TV

Ghosts & Goblins


Werewolf Last Warrior


Dragon Warrior


Rolling Thunder

Splatterhouse 3

Doom Troopers

Demons Crest

Primal Rage

Zero Wing


G. I. Joe


Listen to Josh "randombullseye" Hayes on Destructoid's #1 bullshit podcast, Bulltoid! There were nearly fifty episodes in total, good luck.
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