The 8 Best Beat ‘Em Up Games of All Time, Ranked

The 8 Best Beat ‘Em Up Games of All Time, Ranked

These classics are some of the best beat ’em up games in gaming history.

The arcades were flooded with a lot of genres that are almost distinct in the modern gaming world today. There was a ton of variety of vertical and horizontal shooters, fighting games, racing games, and brawlers. The brawler/beat ‘em up genre was largely successful thanks to two companies: Konami and Capcom.

They made some of the best brawlers in history and they are still fun today. The Simpsons Arcade Game, Aliens vs Predator, Captain Commando, and Final Fight are all great examples. While they are classic, more modern brawlers have taken what they started and made them better. The classics will always remain classic, but these eight games truly are must-play brawlers.

8 Sifu

Fighting enemies in Sifu

Sifu combines old-school brawling action with a roguelike. Players assume the role of a martial artist who is seeking revenge for the death of their master. This hero can die, but every time they get resurrected a certain number of their overall life will be lifted from their body which is represented by age. Players only have one human life to get their revenge and it may not be enough. Thankfully, roguelike upgrade elements help keep the fight alive in this intense punch quest.

7 Yakuza 0

Kazuma in Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the entire series and a great place to start for any beginner. This modern-day 3D brawler combines the best elements of classic games like River City Ransom and Japanese dramas. It is one of the zaniest games in the series and that’s saying something because Yakuza games are notoriously odd. From chicken friends to panty thieves to kill robots, this series has it all. Rewind time to the 80s and have a great, colorful time by bashing thugs with bikes, couches, umbrellas, and whatever else is in reach.

6 Castle Crashers

Fighting enemies in Castle Crashers

Castle Crashers was one of the earliest indie games to rock the Xbox 360 when they were bringing young developers to the spotlight. Players could choose to play as one of four colored knights and they all had unique elemental powers besides their various weapons. The Blue Knight could shoot ice whereas the Green Knight could spray poison.

Knights leveled up, more characters could be collected along the way, and other secrets were hidden too. The four-player co-op was one of the best features then and it remains one of the best features now especially for brawler fans.

Fighting enemies in Full Metal Furies

Full Metal Furies was developed by the same team that revolutionized the roguelike genre, Cellar Door Games, through Rogue Legacy. Full Metal Furies is a strict brawler with four characters who adhere to different classes. Two of them are based on melee while the other two are gun-based fighters. There are specials with cooldowns, basic attacks, and players can team up in four-person squads to wreck the armies of evil. Characters can level up, upgrade weapons, and so much more in this sprawling brawler.

4 River City Girls 2

Misako and Kyoko in River City Girls 2

River City Girls was a reboot of the Kunio-kun franchise and River City Ransom is part of that series. River City Ransom was unique on the NES because it was a brawler but it also had forward-thinking ideas like an open-city to explore, leveling up, a money system, and so much more. The best brawlers, most of whom appear on this list, owe their lives to River City Ransom. That said, River City Girls 2 improves upon both its direct predecessor and River City Ransom in a myriad of ways. The gameplay is smooth, the art is gorgeous, and the soundtrack is pumping.

3 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Fighting enemies in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder's Revenge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is probably the TMNT game that most fans would vote as number one. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, like River City Girls though, improves upon that as a spiritual sequel. It’s a modern recreation of what players thought was good about Turtles in Time and reworks it in a new light.

The inclusion of more playable characters like Casey, April, and Splinter is one way that makes it better. The leveling-up systems, overworld, and six-player co-op option is another way that makes it a stronger experience.

2 Dragon’s Crown

Fighting enemies in Dragon's Crown

Dragon’s Crown, compared to the other brawlers on this list, is an RPG first and a brawler second. It still makes the list because it knows how to blend the two genres. Players can choose one of six characters to start as like a Fighter who is a strong melee fighter with high defense or an Elf who is speedy and shoots from a distance. Go through a level, collect loot, and repeat. There are not that many levels, but each one has a branching path to keep players coming back. Also, like most good brawlers do, Dragon’s Crown has four-player co-op and it is one of Vanillaware’s best.

1 Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game

Fighting enemies in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World The Game

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game is everything a fan could want in a modern brawler and as a tie-in to one of the nerdiest comics out there. The overall comic sees the titular Scott Pilgrim going after the evil ex-boyfriends of his girlfriend, Ramona Flowers, so that they can finally be together. Going through the comic or movie is certainly not necessary to enjoy this game but it helps and they are both worthwhile anyway. The game references stuff from the comic along with games like Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, Guitar Hero, and many others. It is a treat for fans of the comic and brawler genre with four-player co-op waiting for any eager challenger.

MORE: Streets Of Rage: Arcade Classics That Also Deserve A Comeback

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