One of my least favourite gaming genre’s is the beat ‘em up, I just never put lots of time into it over my many years of gaming. That being said the ones I did enjoy were pretty great & have lived long in my memory.
This top 10 is based on those games, the beat ‘em ups that I played for many hours & still hold dear to my heart.
10 – Injustice: Gods Among Us
One of the more modern beat ‘em ups to appear in this list, Injustice takes the heroes & villains of DC universe & pits them against each other. The game has a compelling other-world lengthy, single player story. Cool special attacks, stage transitions & interactive elements add more to each battle & its great fun trying out the many different styles of the varied character base.
9 – Primal Rage
I first played Primal Rage on the SNES & never got to experience the arcade version which is supposedly the definitive version. A violent & gory fighting game that saw you fighting as variations of dinosaurs & apes, it was so much fun even if it didn’t have much depth in character base or story.
8 – Battle Arena: Toshinden
I loved this weapon-based fighting game & played it for many hours on the PS1. It didn’t have the deepest selection of characters but it was the first that could properly boast about being in true 3D with the characters able to side-step left or right! It also had a really good soundtrack that matched the urgency in the fights.
7 – Killer Instinct
Another that I played on the SNES…Killer Instinct stands out from the pack thanks to elements that were unique at the time. The 2 life-bar system & the combos that wouldn’t be half as cool without the voiceover that accompanies major ones. A cool cast of characters & single player story added plenty to keep me coming back.
6 – Soul Calibur IV
The first fighting game I played since the days of the GameCube was the 4th in the famous Soul Calibur series & it had enough to keep me hooked for weeks. The arcade style of the fights, the shiny graphics, the varied characters, the extra modes such as the Tower of Souls, an online multi-player that tried hard to balance player’s skills, great stages, an interesting single player story for most of the fighters and even some Star Wars bonus characters thrown in!
5 – Tekken 3
The best version I ever played of Tekken was the 3rd on the PS1. A huge roster with a gripping single player story the game was addictive as hell. The fluidity in gameplay…it was such a huge improvement over many previous fighting games.
4 – Virtua Fighter 2
While not as addictive as Tekken 3, the amount of time I put into this game & the fun I had means it has to rank higher. With a killer soundtrack & so many unique elements that meant hours of fun, it was the first 3D fighting game I ever played. I loved the addition of ring outs that added a bit more strategy to the whole experience & the final battle under water with Dural was incredible.
3 – Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
I chose this one because it is the definitive version of Mortal Kombat 3 adding characters & modes that were previously not including. Mortal Kombat has always been one of my favourite series of beat ‘em ups thanks to the violent battles & gory finales (fatalities). The more realistic character designs, interesting stages & well thought out moves are the reason it has the No.3 position.
2 – Super Smash Bros: Melee
I spent countless weeks playing this on the GameCube, it is incredibly fun. It was also very different to any fighting game I had ever played & drew from many of my favourite Nintendo games over the years. The idea of fighting to force the other player out of the boundaries of the stage was very clever. A health bar indicated by a percentage that got higher & made it easier to be knocked back out of the stage. The stages were always exciting to see, the music renditions of songs from the past, loads of different characters & a fun single player mode that changed the gameplay.
1 – Street Fighter II
The ultimate fighting game that almost every gamer in the world will have played. Street Fighter II is a revelation & continues to impress even at today’s standards. Colourful, great music, cool stage designs, characters that are wildly different in look & style & an end boss that you just wanted to beat! I’ve spent years learning many of the difficult moves & attempting to master every character.
The best beat ‘em up ever by a longshot.
So what got left off the list? What beat ‘em up do you think should have made the top 10?