You can have your RPG’s and fancy schancy sports games. Growing up, some of my favorite games were platformers, sidescrollers, and beat em ups. Of course some of the best beat em ups can be found on classic systems like the SNES and Sega Genesis, and I often found many titles that would help me relieve my aggression on bad guys left and right. Whether it was as a mutant, a superhero, or a barbarian, I enjoy the sub-genre a great deal. I love bashing heads and kicking in skulls. Here are five of our favorite Beat Em Ups of all time. What are some of yours?
The Punisher (Sega Genesis)
You could either play as Nicky Fury or Punisher, and here you had to literally beat the crap out of all sorts of scum and vllainy to achieve your goal of vengeance. “The Punisher” is one of the most entertaining beat em ups, simply because you get to beat the hell out of people as Frank Castle, and you can also shoot up some bad guys as well. Some portions of the game allow Frank to pick up guns from the street and shoot down his foes, something you’d likely never see today. “The Punisher” is a throwdown bonanza I’d expect from the skull faced enforcer from Marvel Comics, and I never tire of it.
Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis)
I loved the first game from Genesis, but the sequel has it topped in spades. This time around you can play as Axel, Blaze, or the younger and faster Skate. This game is much tougher for the follow up and much more based around tactics. You can’t simply charge head first in to villains anymore. I remember always having trouble with the first villain with the jet pack. Even with Skate, it’s a bitch trying to bring that bastard down. “Streets of Rage 2” is a definite step up from its predecessor and really finds its footing in the sub-genre of beat em ups. It’s also a infinitely replayable nineties nostalgia trip with some great music and vicious baddies.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
This is what TMNT video games are made of. This time around you can play as one of the foursome of ninja turtles and have to go through endless obstacles to stop Shredder and the Krang. Using their special dive kicks and special moves involving their weapons, you navigate through a warzone of endless foot soldiers, and you also get to battle some of the TMNT’s most famous villains, including Slash, Metalhead, Bebop and Rocksteady, and even the fly mutant version of Baxter Stockman. Filled with a ton of Easter Eggs and channeling the spirit of the original eighties series, this is one of the best of its kind.
X-Men: The Arcade Game (Arcade)
Based on the eighties “Pryde of the X-Men,” this beat em up is legendary for its arcade unit which allowed players to play as any one of the featured X-Men in the video game. I know the game mainly through online ports and it definitely lives up to its hype. It’s exciting, it’s action packed, and it is definitely as difficult as looks. What’s more is that it hearkens back to classic X-Men when they had a bit of a punk rock edge to it. You could play as either Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler or Dazzler, and of course my favorite of the bunch is Wolverine and Colossus. Sorry Cyc.
Golden Axe (Sega Genesis)
I love the “Golden Axe” series as a whole, but playing the first one was a revelation. I love fantasy games, and it’s a treat being able to play as a barbarian, a dwarf, or a hot Amazonian. I’m a little of all three, as everyone knows. Utilizing a very open environment, you’re able to hack and slash through a plethora of foes including men on giant birds, undead warriors, and the like. You’re also able to pick up various items between stages, allowing you to power up for the next stage. I always loved playing as Gilius Thunderhead, the angry dwarf as he’s quicker with his weapon and on his feet. Armed with sequels that just upped the ante and quality, “Golden Axe” is the dependable title I go to when I want to bash medieval bastards.