Best Beat-Em Up Games of All Time
There are many video games out there and in this era of mobile and home-based gaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic?
Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable games through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best video games, our attention this time turns to the beat-em-up games of all time. From modern hits like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge to classics like River City Ransom, you have a lot of games to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
When it comes to fighting crime, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles don’t play games. They’ve been combatting the Shredder and his minions for decades. However, they know when it’s the best time to party. While many know these turtles from the classic cartoon, they’ve been a part of some satisfying video games too.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a wonderful callback to their classic NES and SNES days. It’s a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up game with a mesmerizing art style, wacky dialogue, and action-centric gameplay. In it, players can control all the turtles, Master Splinter, April O’Neil, and Casey Jones.
You’ll encounter many memorable characters from the classic cartoon. From the dimwitted Rocksteady and Bebop to the cunning Krang, you’ll feel like a child again after playing this gem. If you love the TMNT, give this title a shot.
Streets of Rage 4
Another follow-up that’ll help beat-em-up fans relive the glory days of the genre is Streets of Rage 4. It features grander visuals than its predecessor but maintains the same satisfying gameplay loop. With its overabundance of catchy jingles and heart-pumping soundtracks, you’ll fall in love with what this sequel carries.
This game features classic characters from the Streets of Rage series like Axel Stone. Every playable and non-playable character meshes well with the world’s graphic novel-like aesthetic. The hand-drawn animations will keep you immersed in the world. The visual effects will add to the amount of fun you’ll have beating up baddies with Axel and his companions.
The game’s control options aren’t too great, though. Nonetheless, if you adore the previous installments in the Streets of Rage series, Streets of Rage 4 should excite you.
Castle Crashers is an amusing 2D action-adventure title with beat-em-up game mechanics. In it, you’ll control a knight who must slash through multiple enemies. The game offers 25 characters for you to collect and 40 weapons that you can wield during your hacking and slashing quests. The game can be played online or locally with your buddies, so consider getting a small group together for a session.
As you advance through the game’s countless challenges, you’ll unlock new attacks. This helps the game sustain high replay value from its player base. You can also adjust your characters’ defense, magic, strength, and agility features. Even if you’re subjected to playing Castle Crashes alone, you can equip yourself with an animal companion who’ll aid you in your endeavors.
For those looking for a challenge, Castle Crashes includes some serious game modes like Insane and Arena for you to tinker with. If you like quirky beat-em-up games, Castle Crashers might be the game for you.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: Game
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game promises fans a swell time. It has a gorgeous graphic novel aesthetic, funny dialogue, and enjoyable beat-em-up gameplay. In it, you must help Scott Pilgrim defeat the League of Seven Evil Exiles. They’re preventing Scott from dating a mysterious girl named Ramona Flowers.
Therefore, Scott must overcome several villains to spend time with Ramona. The premise may not offer much, but fans will adore the gameplay. Every location you’ll visit is full of enemies and bosses for you to defeat. The game features some AOE and summons to make things feel more exciting. If you’re looking for a beat-em-up game with mesmerizing visuals, decent dialogue, and compelling gameplay, then Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game is the title for you.
Final Fight (Series)
Final Fight is one of the retro beat-em-up titles on this list that deserves your attention. Characters like Mike Haggar, Guy, and Cody Travers debuted in this series. This series helped put Capcom on many fans’ radars with its alluring gameplay, decent storytelling, and engaging graphics. Newcomers and retro fans alike will adore walking through Metro City with another friend by your side.
The enemies in this series are no joke and will provide you with an entertaining bout. Each playable character has a unique fighting style, allowing players to forge new and fun experiences. For example, Guy’s a fast attacker but his attacks are the weakest. On the other hand, Mike deals heavy damage but suffers from his slow speed.
Fans can utilize standard attacks and super moves. The super moves have great animations for their time, leading to some thrilling mayhem on screen. If you’re looking for an old-school beat-em-up game that’s aged well, check out the Final Fight series.
River City Girls
From the folks who brought you Shantae and Advance Wars remake comes River City Girls. In this modern beat-em-up game players follow two girls named Misako and Kyoko. You’ll guide our heroines through multiple levels in hopes of rescuing their boyfriends Kunio and Riki from strange criminals. You’ll utilize each girl’s strengths to advance the story forward.
Each level features beautiful scenery, a slew of colorful enemies, and amazing animations. You’ll collect multiple power-ups, skills, and weapons to clobber foes. The game boasts incredible combo potential, making it feel exciting and refreshing to play. The banter between the girls and the bosses is worthy of your time, too.
On that note, the game harbors anime-styled cutscenes and manga-themed story panels to pull you into its narrative. Alongside an epic soundtrack that will get your heart pumping, you’d be foolish not to give this game a shot.
A classic beat-em-up title with a comic book-like aesthetic is what you’ll find with Comix Zone. This game will touch many fans’ love for classic graphic novels like Superman, Spider-Man, and other heroes. It’s set in a world where a comic book artist named Sketch is working on a comic called Comix Zone. One night, a thunderbolt strikes Comix Zone.
This helps the comic’s villain Mortus escape into Sketch’s world. Mortus drags Sketch into Comix Zone and plans to murder him. It’s a bewitching storyline with great visuals and combat. Fans will adore the game’s use of text bubbles and title cards. It’s these aspects that will tug at players’ heartstrings the most.
Comix Zone’s OST is just as good and captures the game’s personality well. With all these components, Comix Zone gives fans’ a fantastical journey that’s worth your hard-earned money.
Capcom has a lot of dormant properties it’s sitting on. While it’s great to see more entries in the Street Fighter and Mega Man series, there are other games in the company’s catalog that deserve equal treatment. Viewtiful Joe is one of those series. This is a side-scrolling beat-em-up game with style, humor, and remarkable action scenes.
It was directed by Bayonetta creator, Hideki Kamiya. The story involves a typical movie-goer named Joe who witnesses his girlfriend Silvia getting kidnapped by the villainous group Jadow. After receiving a special V-Watch from his heroic role model Captain Blue, Joe becomes a superhero named Viewtiful Joe and embarks on a quest to save Silvia.
This game has excellent cel-shaded visuals that’ll pop at you. Viewtiful Joe contains some puzzle-solving elements to give fans room to breathe from its intense action segments. The game features multiple bosses for you to stop who are just as charismatic as Joe. Along with Viewtiful Joe’s catchy soundtrack, this is a Capcom beat-em-up series that needs to return.
River City Ransom
River City Ransom is a classic beat-em-up game from the NES era. Despite its simplistic premise and subpar graphics, the game has a fabulous open-world setting worth venturing through. Our story revolves around two high schoolers named Alex and Ryan. They embark on a mission to save Ryan’s girlfriend Cyndi from the villainous Slick.
The beat-em-up gameplay is basic at best. You’ll run around the area delivering several beatdowns. The enemies will drop money after you clobber them. You can use this cash to buy additional moves with more impact. Otherwise, you can use your funds to get food, shoes, and other nutrients to boost your stats.
If fighting with your limbs is boring to you, each level has weapons that you can pick up and use. With its mixture of RPG and beat-em-up-styled gameplay, you’re sure to have a blast playing this game.
Double Dragon is another retro beat-em-up game that’s worth your time. It’s one of the first successful beat-em-up games and was declared as the 1988’s Game of the Year by Electronic Gaming Monthly. This game had a continuous side-scrolling world, two-player cooperative gameplay, and gave players the ability to arm themselves with enemy weapons after disarming their foes.
Furthermore, Double Dragon had in-game cutscenes to increase fans’ engagement with the title. It took many inspirations from masculine-heavy works like Mad Max and Fist of the North Star. Like River City Ransom, you’d play as two males who embark on a journey to save one of their girlfriends from an evil gang.
You’re given a repertoire of martial arts techniques to use in the battles. From basic punches and kicks to complex throws and elbow strikes, players will have a field day going through the game’s multitude of combos. Stages have time limits, so it’s best not to get caught up in the action. With its colorful boss fights, combo variety, and nice graphics, this is a retro beat-em-up game every fan should play.
So, there we have it, our pick for the best beat-em-up video games through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!