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Beat 'em ups, such as Streets of Rage 2, feature combat against multiple antagonists, often taking place on city streets.
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Action video games

Beat 'em up (also known as brawler) is a video game genre featuring melee combat between the protagonist and large numbers of antagonists. These games typically take place in urban settings and feature crime-fighting and revenge based plots, though some games may employ historical or fantasy themes. Traditional beat 'em ups take place in scrolling, two-dimensional (2D) levels, though some later games feature more open three-dimensional (3D) environments with yet larger numbers of enemies. These games are noted for their simple gameplay, a source of both critical acclaim and derision. Multiple player characters and two-player cooperative gameplay are also hallmarks of the genre.

The first influential beat 'em up was 1984's Kung-Fu Master, with 1986's Renegade introducing the urban settings and underworld revenge themes employed extensively by later games. The genre then saw a period of high popularity between the release of Double Dragon in 1987, which defined the two-player cooperative mode central to classic beat 'em ups, and 1991's Street Fighter II, which drew gamers back towards one-on-one fighting games. Games such as Streets of Rage 2, Final Fight and Golden Axe are other classics to emerge from this period. The genre has been less popular since the emergence of 3D-based mass-market games, but still some beat 'em ups adapted the simple formula to utilize large-scale 3D environments.



A beat 'em up (sometimes also called "brawlers")[1][2] is a type of action game where the player character must fight a large number of enemies in unarmed combat or with melee weapons.[3][4][5] Gameplay consists of walking through a level, one section at a time, defeating a group of enemies before advancing to the next section; a boss fight normally occurs at the end of each level.[6] However arcade versions of these games are often quite difficult to win, causing players to spend more money to try to win.[7]

Beat 'em ups are related to—but distinct from—fighting games, which are based around one-on-one matches rather than scrolling levels and multiple enemies.[8] Such terminology is loosely applied, however,[8] as some commentators prefer to conflate the two terms.[9] At times, both one-on-one fighting games and scrolling beat 'em ups have influenced each other in terms of graphics and style.[8] Occasionally, a game will feature both kinds of gameplay.[10]

Game design

Beat 'em ups such as Golden Axe often allow players to choose from several protagonists, each with different fighting styles, strengths and weaknesses.

Levels and enemies

Games usually employ vigilante crime fighting and revenge plots, with the action taking place on city streets,[11] though historical and fantasy themed games also exist.[12][13] Players must walk from one end of the game world to the other,[14] and thus each game level will usually scroll horizontally.[2] Some later beat 'em ups dispense with 2D-based scrolling levels, instead allowing the player to roam around larger 3D environments, though they retain the same simple gameplay and control systems.[15][16] Throughout the level, players may acquire weapons that they can use as well as power-ups that replenish the player's health.[2]

As players walk through the level, they are stopped by groups of enemies who must be defeated before they can continue.[17] The level ends when all the enemies are defeated. Each level contains many identical groups of enemies,[14][18] making these games notable for their repetition.[14][19] In beat 'em up games, players often fight a boss—an enemy much stronger than the other enemies—at the end of each level.[2][20] In fact, the term "boss" likely originated in beat 'em ups, since this final enemy was literally the captain of the enemies seen earlier in the level.[20]

Multiple characters and players

Beat 'em ups often allow the player to choose between a selection of protagonists—each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and set of moves.[2][13][15][21] Attacks can include rapid combinations of basic attacks (combos) as well as jumping and grappling attacks.[2][21] Characters often have their own special attacks, which leads to different strategies depending on which character the player selects.[22] The control system is usually simple to learn, comprising as little as two buttons. These buttons can be combined to pull off combos, as well as jumping and grappling attacks.[2][21] Since the release of Double Dragon, many beat 'em ups have allowed two players to play the game cooperatively—a central aspect to the appeal of these games.[11][2][21][13][23] Beat 'em ups are more likely to feature cooperative play than other game genres.[24]


Origin and golden age

The first game to feature fist fighting was Sega's boxing game Heavyweight Champ (1976), but it was Data East's fighting game Karate Champ (1984) which popularized martial arts themed games.[8] The same year, Hong Kong cinema-inspired Kung-Fu Master laid the foundations for scrolling beat 'em ups with its simple gameplay and multiple enemies.[8][25] Also in 1984, Karateka successfully experimented with adding plot to its fighting action and was among the first beat 'em ups to be successfully ported to home systems.[8] Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, released in 1986 in Japan, deviated from the martial arts themes of earlier games and introduced street brawling to the genre. The Western adaptation Renegade (released the same year) added an underworld revenge plot that proved more popular with gamers than the principled combat sport of other games.[11] Renegade set the standard for future beat 'em up games as it introduced the ability to move both horizontally and vertically.[26]

The success of Double Dragon set the tone for numerous beat 'em ups to come, including its co-operative multiplayer gameplay.

In 1987, the release of Double Dragon ushered in a "Golden Age" for the beat 'em up genre that lasted nearly 5 years. The game was designed as Technos Japan's spiritual successor to Renegade,[11] but it took the genre to new heights with its detailed set of martial arts attacks and its outstanding two-player cooperative gameplay.[27][11] Double Dragon's success largely resulted in a flood of beat 'em ups that came in the late 1980s,[27] where acclaimed titles such as Golden Axe and Final Fight (both 1989) distinguished themselves from the others.[11] Final Fight was Capcom's intended sequel to Street Fighter (provisionally titled Street Fighter '89),[28] but the company ultimately gave it a new title.[29] Acclaimed as the best game in the genre,[2][30] Final Fight spawned two sequels and was later ported to other systems.[29] Golden Axe was acclaimed for its visceral hack and slash action and cooperative mode and was influential through its selection of multiple protagonists with distinct fighting styles.[13] It is considered one of the strongest beat 'em up titles for its fantasy elements, distinguishing it from the urban settings seen in other beat 'em ups.[14]

The acclaimed Streets of Rage series was launched in the early 1990s and borrowed heavily from Final Fight.[31] Streets of Rage 2 for Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis was notable for being one of the first console games to match the acclaim of arcade beat 'em ups.[11] Its level design was praised for taking traditional beat 'em up settings and stringing them together in novel ways,[31] and its success led to it being ported to arcades.[11] Like Final Fight, Streets of Rage 2 has been claimed as "by far the best" scrolling beat 'em up.[32] Another highly lauded beat 'em up—River City Ransom (1990; named Street Gangs in Europe)—featured role-playing game-inspired elements with which the player's character could be upgraded, using money stolen from defeated enemies.[32][33] The beat 'em up was also a popular genre for video games based on television series and movies, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a surprise success,[11] and encouraged many more beat 'em up games based on the the characters.[34] However, the "Golden Age" of the genre ended in the wake of the success of Capcom's Street Fighter II (1991), which drew gamers back towards one-on-one fighting games, while the subsequent emerging popularity of 3D video games diminished the popularity of 2D-based pugilistic games in general.[11][27] By the mid-1990s, the genre suffered from a lack of innovation.[35]

32-bit era onward

Core Design's Fighting Force (1997) was anticipated to redefine the genre for 32-bit consoles through its use of a 3D environment. However, it was met with a lukewarm reception.[15] The Dynasty Warriors series, beginning with Dynasty Warriors 2 in 2000, offered traditional beat 'em up action on large 3D battlefields, displaying dozens of characters on the screen at a time.[16][36] The series to date spans 14 games (including expansions) which players in the West view as overly similar, although the games' creators claim their large audience in Japan appreciates the subtle differences between the titles.[12][37] While critics saw Dynasty Warriors 2 as innovative and technically impressive,[16][12] they held a mixed opinion of later titles. These later games received praise for simple, enjoyable gameplay but were simultaneously derided as overly simplistic and repetitive.[12][38] Another best-selling Japanese series,[39] Yakuza, combined elaborate plots and detailed interactive environments with street brawling action.[40] Despite these releases, game reviewers started to pronounce that the genre had died off.[14] By 2002, there were virtually no new beat 'em ups being released in arcades.[41]

Capcom's Viewtiful Joe (2003) used cell-shaded graphics and innovative gameplay features (such as the protagonist's special powers) to "reinvigorate" its traditional 2D scrolling formula.[42] The Behemoth's Castle Crashers (2008) also featured cartoon graphics, quirky humor, and acclaimed cooperative gameplay.[43] Rockstar Games' The Warriors (based on the 1979 movie of the same name), released in 2005, featured large scale brawling in 3D environments interspersed with other activities such as chase sequences.[44] The game also featured a more traditional side-scrolling beat 'em up Armies of the Night as bonus content, which was acclaimed along with the main game and was later released on the PlayStation Portable.[44][45] Releases such as God Hand in 2006 and MadWorld in 2009 were seen as parodies of violence in popular culture, earning both games praise for not taking themselves as seriously as early beat 'em up games.[19][46] Classic beat 'em ups have been re-released on services such as the Wii Virtual Console; critics reaffirmed the appeal of some,[2][13][32] while the appeal of others has been deemed to have diminished with time.[21] Although the genre lacks the same presence it did in the late 1980s, a few titles such as Viewtiful Joe and God Hand have kept the genre alive.[47]

See also


  1. ^ Thomas, Lucas M., Justice League Heroes: The Flash, Yahoo! Games, Oct 27, 2007, Accessed Mar 22, 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Navarro, Alex, Final Fight Review, GameSpot, May 10, 2007, Accessed Mar 21 2009
  3. ^ Davis, Ryan, The Hulk (Xbox), CNET, May 5, 2003, Accessed March 24, 2009
  4. ^ Ellis, David, MadWorld Review for the Wii, 1UP, March 10, 2009, Accessed March 24, 2009
  5. ^ Ashcraft, Brian, (2008) Arcade Mania! The Turbo-Charged World of Japan's Games Centers, Kodansha International, p. 159
  6. ^ Navarro, Alex, McFarlane's Evil Prophecy Game (PS2), CNET, June 15, 2004, Accessed Mar 27, 2009
  7. ^ Navarro, Alex, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Xbox 360), CNET, Mar 14, 2007, Accessed Mar 27, 2009
  8. ^ a b c d e f Spencer, Spanner, The Tao of Beat-'em-ups, Eurogamer, Feb 6, 2008, Accessed Mar 18, 2009
  9. ^ Staff, E3 Feature: Fighting Games Focus, Edge, May 3, 2006, Accessed Mar 22, 2009
  10. ^ Wales, Matt, Super Smash Bros. Brawl UK Review, IGN, June 8, 2008, Accessed March 24, 2009
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Spencer, Spanner, The Tao of Beat-'em-ups (part 2), EuroGamer, Feb 12, 2008, Accessed Mar 18, 2009
  12. ^ a b c d Fitch, Andy, Dynasty Warriors 6 (Xbox 360), 1UP, Mar 7, 2008, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  13. ^ a b c d e Kasavin, Greg, Golden Axe Review, GameSpot, Dec 1, 2006, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  14. ^ a b c d e Cassidy, William, Hall of Fame: Golden Axe, GameSpy, June 8, 2003, Accessed March 24, 2009
  15. ^ a b c Gerstmann, Jeff, Fighting Force Review, GameSpot, Dec 1, 1997, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  16. ^ a b c Sato, Ike, Dynasty Warriors 2 Review, GameSpot, Aug 17, 2000, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  17. ^ Nguyen, Thierry, Watchmen: The End is Nigh (PS3), 1UP, Mar 4, 2009, Mar 26, 2009
  18. ^ Fudge, James, X-Men: The Official Game, Xploder June 13, 2006, Accessed March 24, 2009
  19. ^ a b McGarvery, Sterling, Review - MadWorld (Wii), GameSpy, Mar 10, 2009, Accessed Mar 24, 2009
  20. ^ a b Ramachandran, Ryan, Gamasutra Opinion: Boss Design - Trial & Punishment, GamaSutra, June 17, 2008, Accessed March 24, 2009
  21. ^ a b c d e Perry, Douglass C., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1989 Arcade Review, IGN, Mar 14, 2007, Accessed Mar 22, 2009
  22. ^ The Death and Return of Superman, UGO, 2006, Accessed Mar 27, 2009
  23. ^ Staff, Game Help Editors' Picks Co-Op Games, IGN, June 13, 2005, Accessed March 24, 2009
  24. ^ Cifaldi, Frank, The Quantum Leap Awards: The Most Important Multiplayer Games of All Time, GamaSutra, Feb 2, 2007, Accessed March 24, 2009
  25. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Worley, Joyce; Katz, Arnie, "The Furious Fists of Sega!", Computer Gaming World, Oct 1988, pp. 48-49
  26. ^ Evolution of a Genre: Beat 'Em Ups, ABC Television, Nov 6, 2007, Accessed March 24, 2009
  27. ^ a b c Cassidy, William, Hall of Fame: Double Dragon, Gamespy, Jan 5, 2003, Accessed, March 24, 2009
  28. ^ Did You Know? Volume 1: Street Fighter '89, Capcom, Accessed Aug 17, 2009
  29. ^ a b Kalata, Kurt, Final Fight, Hardcore Gaming 101, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  30. ^ Ashcraft, Brian, Clip: Top Ten Beat 'Em Ups, Kotaku, Mar 16, 2007, Accessed Mar 21, 2009
  31. ^ a b Cassidy, William, Hall of Fame: Streets of Rage, GameSpy, Sept 23, 2003, Accessed Mar 24, 2009
  32. ^ a b c "Rated Wii Shop", Nintendo: The Official Magazine, September 2008 (issue 33), p. 129
  33. ^ IGN's Top 100 Games, IGN, Accessed Mar 22, 2009
  34. ^ "TMNT Games". Retrieved 2009-03-26.  
  35. ^ Davis, Ryan, Comix Zone (Wii), CNET, Jan 31, 2007, Accessed Mar 27, 2009
  36. ^ Villoria, Gerald, Dynasty Warriors 3 Review, GameSpot, Dec 18, 2001, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  37. ^ Nutt, Christian, Interview: How Koei Aims For Western Audiences, GamaSutra, Dec 8, 2008, Mar 19, 2009
  38. ^ Ramsey, Randolph, Dynasty Warriors 6 Review, GameSpot, Mar 28, 2008, Accessed Mar 18, 2009
  39. ^ Jenkins, David, Japanese Charts: Yakuza 3 And Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce Lead Busy Week, GamaSutra, Mar 5, 2009, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  40. ^ Stanton, Rich, "Yakuza 2", Official Playstation Magazine UK, Nov 2008 (issue 24), pp. 108-09
  41. ^ Epperson, Justin, Die Hard Arcade EX: Asian Dynamite (Arcade), 1UP, Feb 17, 2007, Accessed Mar 26, 2009
  42. ^ Bramwell, Tom Viewtiful Joe, EuroGamer, Oct 13, 2003, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  43. ^ Francis, Don, Castle Crashers Review, GameSpot, Aug 28, 2008, Accessed Mar 26, 2009
  44. ^ a b Navarro, Alex, The Warriors Review, GameSpot, Oct 21, 2005, Accessed Mar 22, 2009
  45. ^ Cundy, Matt, Rockstar's retro beat-'em-up revealed, GamesRadar, Jan 24, 2007, Accessed Mar 22, 2009
  46. ^ Barnholt, Ray, God Hand Preview, 1UP, July 17, 2006, Accessed Mar 26, 2009
  47. ^ "Clover Studios Wilts and Dies", GameAxis Unwired, Nov 2006, p. 8

Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Category:Beat 'em up article)

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This page is a stub. Help us expand it, and you get a cookie.

For games involving fighting one-on-one or in pairs, see Category:Fighting.

Beat 'em ups are games in which players control a single character and advance through a setting (traditionally linear, from point A to B) while fighting many enemies in melee combat.

The genre has developed with technology to include 3D games such as Drakengard and Gauntlet Dark Legacy.

Pages in category "Beat 'em up"

The following 59 pages are in this category, out of 59 total.






F cont.








R cont.






Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

Beat 'em ups are games where you walk along the stage fighting bad guys. Usually, it will take several hits before the enemies are beaten and disappear. It is typically considered a sub genre of action games.

2D Beat 'em ups

Originally, these games were 2D side-scrollers. These games usually required you to beat the enemies on screen before being able to continue scrolling to the next one. Some of theses games had platforming elements. These games were some of the most popular games in the arcades. Many of the beat up games were eventually ported into home consoles such as Genesis, Snes with titles as Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Batman Returns, to name a few. Many of the popular one in the arcades were TMNT, The Simpsons, X-men.

A screenshot of River City Ransom a popular Beat 'em up game.

3D Beat 'em ups

With the advent of 3D, beat 'em ups games evolved. These games are more combat focus instead of the 2D platforming elements of some 2D beat 'em ups. This type of beat 'em up suffers from a bad camera and poor hit detection. Squaresoft (Now Square Enix) released the game,The Bouncer for the Playstation 2 had received poor reviews due to the lackluster gameplay.

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