Sometimes it's more like Hack 'n Slash 'em Up.
The Beat 'em Up
genre is a cousin to the Fighting Game
genre that is popular since the eighties, with their Trope Codifier
s Double Dragon
and Golden Axe
. Most games that fall under this genre have very little in the way of story
, and lots in the way of bash-the-other-guy's-heads-in-with-your-fists action. Co-Op Multiplayer
in these games is a highly popular feature.
These games eschew one-on-one duels for the protagonist (and a friend or two) rampaging across the map, handing out unmerciful beatdowns to every group of gangsters, mutants, robots and ninjas they meet, acquiring weapons from their environment and finding cooked chickens inexplicably hidden inside arcade cabinets
. Many Beat 'em Ups include weapons and magical powers.
In Japan, Beat 'em Ups of the Double Dragon
or Final Fight
variety are known as "belt-scroll" games due to their semi-isometric perspective and the fact that the characters are always facing left or right despite being able to move up and down as well. Games like Kung-Fu Master
(which is completely side-scrolling) or Beat Down
(which is in 3D) are not considered belt-scroll games.
Known as Beat 'em All
(in English) in France, due to the various occurrences in side-/belt-scrolling games where the game won't scroll any further until all enemies are down
Games in this genre include:
- Abyss Odyssey, a side scrolling Beat 'Em Up generated Roguelike style.
- Aces Wild: Manic Brawling Action, a side-scrolling platform beat 'em up which is based around High Altitude Battles with frequent Megaton Punches.
- The Adventures of Bayou Billy, which also contains driving and light-gun sections
- Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed
- Altered Beast, one of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive's launch titles. "Wise fwom youw gwave!"
- Anarchy Reigns, the spiritual successor to Mad World.
- Armored Warriors, Capcom's mecha brawler; the predecessor of Cyberbots.
- Asura's Wrath, something of an odd example, as it also presents itself as an interactive anime to an extent.
- Bad Dudes. "Are YOU a bad enough dude to save the the president?"
- Bad Street Brawler
- BANZAI PECAN: The Last Hope for the Young Century, a fanservice-laden parody indie brawler.
- Battle Beavers, a 2D Flash beat 'em up with some RPG elements.
- Battle Circuit, Capcom's last traditional 2D brawler.
- Bayonetta, a spiritual successor to Devil May Cry.
- Beat Down: Fists Of Vengeance, a dismal 2000s 3D Beat 'em Up from Capcom made to capitalize on Grand Theft Auto's success; Mainly remembered for the characters' liberal use of the F-word.
- Bio Force Ape: A beat 'em up-platformer hybrid that was eventually scrapped.
- Bleach: Soul Resurrección
- Blood Over
- The Bouncer
- Captain Commando
- Castle Crashers
- Charlie Murder
- The Combatribes
- Code of Princess, a spiritual successor to Guardian Heroes.
- Comix Zone
- Crescent Pale Mist, a hack-and-slash doujin game with platforming elements.
- Crime Fighters
- Vendetta, a.k.a. Crime Fighters 2.
- Crisis Beat
- Cröixleur, an arcade-styled doujin beat 'em up styled after the Bloody Palace of the Devil May Cry games.
- Crude Buster (a.k.a. Two Crude Dudes), a spiritual successor to Bad Dudes.
- Cyborg Justice
- Dad Game
- Darksiders, a mix of beat 'em up and an action-adventure game akin to The Legend of Zelda series.
- Defenders of Dynatron City
- The Dishwasher
- DJ Boy, with narration by Wolfman Jack, recorded shortly before his death.
- B Rap Boys, notable for having an entirely lyricized soundtrack, supposedly done by a then up-and-coming Raekwon.
- The Devil May Cry series, coined as the codifier of the modern beat 'em up genre.
- Double Dragon
- Dragon's Crown
- Dungeon Fighter Online
- Dynamite Deka, the first game was released outside Japan as Die Hard Arcade.
- Dynamite Dux
- Dynasty Warriors and its many sequels from Koei.
- EOE: Eve Of Extinction
- Fable Heroes
- Fairy Bloom
- Fear Is Vigilance, A free 2D beat 'em up web-game about a pair of college students trying to get college students to pick up free personal alarms to keep them safe at night — by creating something for them to keep safe from.
- Fighting Force, considered to be one of the earliest attempt at a 3D beat 'em up, was originally developed to be a Streets of Rage sequel.
- Final Fight
- Genocide, a single-plane side-scrolling mecha brawler; its sequel incorporates some platforming elements
- God Hand, a modern revival of the genre, which had been pretty moribund for the previous ten years.
- God of War
- Golden Axe, and its sequels.
- Grand Chase goes with 3D character models but 2D gameplay. Overlaps with hack-and-slash due to almost everyone using weapons. And magic.
- Grief Syndrome, a doujin beat 'em up fan-game of Puella Magi Madoka Magica by Twilight Frontier.
- Guardians / Denjin Makai II, a dual-titled obscure beat 'em up with 8 characters with massive move-sets.
- Guardian Heroes, a hybrid of beat 'em up, action-RPG, and fighting game with branching story paths from Treasure.
- Karateka, in 1984 being one of the oldest available for home computers.
- Kenka Bancho
- Killer is Dead
- The King of Dragons
- Knight's Contract
- Knights of the Round
- Kung Fu Master, known in Japan as Spartan X, a very loose adaptation of the Jackie Chan movie better known as Wheels On Meals in the West.
- Kung Fu Strike
- Little Fighter 2
- Lollipop Chainsaw
- Lugaru, an amateur effort.
- Mad Stalker: Full Metal Force, an interesting example as it's a single-plane mecha brawler that plays like a 2D fighting game then shifts into the latter during boss battles.
- MadWorld, featuring over-the-top violence and a comic-book style.
- Megabyte Punch, a cross between Custom Robo and Super Smash Bros.
- Metamorphic Force, Altered Beast applied to a typical belt-scroll engine; made by Konami.
- Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub Zero
- Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks
- Mutant Rampage Body Slam
- Mutation Nation
- Night Slashers, a zombie-slaying beat 'em up that predated Zombie Revenge by several years.
- Ninety-Nine Nights
- Ninja Baseball Bat Man, the general concept and initial designs were made in America with the intent of it being the follow-the-leader platformer game; It was sent to Japan for programming, and when it came back, it became "Power Rangers WITH BASEBALL!".
- Ninja Gaiden (arcade version)
- The Ninja Kids
- The Ninja Warriors
- Oni is a rare 3D example, with a bit of third-person shooter mixed in.
- Panzer Bandit, a Guardian Heroes-esque beat 'em up by Fill-in Café.
- Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds -Cocoa's Nightmare Attack-, a retro-styled spin-off of the yet-to-be-localized fighting game featuring a cutesy, super-deformed characters with gameplay similar to Guardian Heroes.
- Phantom Fighter
- Pu Li Ru La
- Ragnarok Battle Offline
- The Kunio-kun series, with two main notables:
- Renegade (a.k.a. Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun), the first beat 'em up that used the "belt-scroll" perspective, which allowed characters to move along both the vertical and horizontal axis while still facing primarily to the left or right
- River City Ransom, a co-operative brawler with RPG elements.
- River City Ransom: Underground
- Rushing Beat
- Rush'n Attack, a.k.a. Green Beret
- Ryu Ga Gotoku, a.k.a. Yakuza
- Saints Row IV has one level that adapts a mission from Saints Row 2 into this.
- Sengoku Basara
- Senran Kagura
- Sonic Blast Man
- Streets of Rage
- Streets of Rage Remake, a fan-made remake of Streets of Rage that combines all three games into one.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl mixes a beat 'em up and fighting game in its Story Mode.
- Tekken console releases starting from the third one have beat 'em up game modes:
- Tekken 3-4: Tekken Force
- Tekken 5: Devil Within
- Tekken 6: Scenario Campaign
- ...and Death By Degrees, a spin-off centering around Nina Williams.
- The Wonderful 101.
- Three Dirty Dwarves
- Tokyo Beat Down
- Trio the Punch
- Twin Blades, an iOS App game; formally available on Xbox Live Indie Games and Windows Phone 7 that was pulled due to its cartoon-ish violence.
- Undercover Cops, a post-apocalyptic beat 'em up that has a cult following in Japan, but is mostly unknown everywhere else.
- Urban Reign, a 3D brawler from Namco featuring Paul Phoenix of Tekken fame.
- Viewtiful Joe
- Violent Storm, a post-apocalyptic beat 'em up by Konami, often mistakenly labeled as the third Crime Fighters game.
- Warlords: Heroes, a side scrolling hacky-slashy beat 'em up from Ben Olding Games.
- Zeno Clash, an odd example of this genre as it uses a first-person perspective for its combat system.
- Zeno Clash 2, the sequel to Zeno Clash, which continues the story and has a more open design.
- Zombie Revenge, a side game to Sega's The House of The Dead series.
Licensed video games in this genre:
For a time, it was common for licensed games to be made in this format. Some of the more famous ones include:
- Alien vs. Predator: a single-player SNES game by Activision where you control a lone Predator.
- Alien vs. Predator: a three-player arcade game by Capcom with human and predator player characters.
- Astérix, a two-player arcade beat 'em up by Konami.
- Astro Boy: Omega Factor, a Game Boy Advance game based off of the Astro Boy 2003 anime series.
- Batman, from various sources to various consoles:
- Bebe's Kids, the craptastic SNES game adaptation of an already craptacular animated movie.
- Bucky O'Hare (arcade version)
- Cadillacs & Dinosaurs
- Captain America and the Avengers
- Cutthroat Island
- Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
- Tower of Doom
- Shadow Over Mystara
- Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage (a.k.a. Hokuto Musou)
- Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger and Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, 3D beat 'em ups for the PlayStation.
- Hook, a four-player arcade game by Irem
- Judge Dredd, the unreleased Midway arcade game
- Justice League Heroes: The Flash
- Kamen Rider for the Super Famicom.
- Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems: Spiritual Successor of X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, based on the Infinity Gauntlet Story Arc.
- Mazinger Z: Based on the popular Super Robot anime, licensed for the Super Nintendo
- Mazin Saga for the Sega Genesis
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers on the Super Nintendo.
- The Pirates of Dark Water
- The Punisher, a two-player arcade game by Capcom co-starring Nick Fury; also released for the Genesis.
- Sailor Moon had a few alongside the fighting and puzzle games; It can be very entertaining to see tiny girls like Mercury and Moon bust out DDTs and suplexes.
- Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game, the very same Scott Pilgrim comic book series, in the form of a River City Ransom-style brawler.
- Spider-Man: The Video Game, a four-player arcade game by Sega featuring Namor, Black Cat, and Hawkeye.
- The Simpsons, a beat 'em up game based on the popular TV show by Konami.
- Superman, two different beat 'em ups: a 1988 Taito arcade game, and The Death and Return of Superman for Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game for the arcades by Konami, released as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II for the NES.
- The Tick
- The Warriors: Based on the seventies B-movie of the same name. Strictly single-player, though an unlockable 2-player minigame is available if you beat it. Titled Armies of the Night, it features an homage to Double Dragon, Streets of Rage and a few others.
- X-Men, a six-player arcade game by Konami loosely based on the "Pryde of the X-Men" animated pilot featuring Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Dazzler.
- X-Men Legends and its sequel, X-Men Legends: Rise of Apocalypse, as well as its spiritual successor series Marvel Ultimate Alliance, are more recent additions to the genre.
- X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, a beat'em up and platform game by Capcom, based on the 90s cartoon series.