The Cream of the Crop! 5 more Retro Gaming Beat'em ups

Retro Gaming Brawlers

In the previous article, we covered five of the best retro gaming beat-em-up games from yesteryear. We had horse-riding knights, wrestlers-turned-mayors and genetically modified turtles.

But why stop at five?

Without further ado, here are some more of the best beat-em-ups from the days gone by. Enjoy!

Streets of Rage 2 – Sega Genesis (1992)

Streets of Rage 2 is an icon of the brawler genre. It is one of the most refined, good-looking and unabashedly fun games to grace the Genesis. Even today, a decade and a half later, Streets of Rage 2 still holds up. And that’s saying something.

Set a year after the events of the original Streets of Rage, the sequel picks up with the main villain Mr. X getting back to doing no good at all. This time, he’s hurting from the bruising you put on him last time and has sent out his legions to terrorize your town. To top it all, he’s kidnapped Adam, one of the original heroes. So it’s up to Axel and Blaze to set things right. And this time around, they’re joined by two new characters – a gigantic wrestler called Max and Adam’s skater bro called Skate. These characters are fun to play as because they force you to play a certain style. Max, for example, hits really hard but is slow. Blaze, on the other hand, is slightly faster, but doesn’t deal as much damage. And this time, all the characters have their own unique moves. Featuring a pulse-pounding soundtrack and stellar graphics, this game is an absolute must-play.

Battletoads – NES (1991)

If you’ve heard about Battletoads, you’ve probably heard about the third level. Yes, the lava lake is insanely tough and may induce bouts of hair-pulling. But don’t let that dissuade you from enjoying a fun beat-em-up. Battletoads is a unique and rewarding experience for players who dare take the challenge.

Since the heroes are toads, the game features a pleasantly outlandish mix of enemies and level design. You’ll fight rats, pigs, ravens, killer plants and even ride around on dragons. Yes, you read that right. The game features an insane array of set-pieces and requires near perfect timing to finish, but that’s part of the charm.

Splatterhouse 2 – Sega Genesis (1992)

There are few games that give you the pure rush of playing an unstoppable badass like the Splatterhouse games. Splatterhouse 2 starts off weird and creepy, and itRetro Gaming Beat'em Upsonly gets better and gorier from there. You have a mask that keeps whispering cryptic things as you’re going around beating the brains out of a wide variety of monstrosities. As Rick, wearer of the mask, you are a force of nature who has to fight your way through a nightmarish landscape populated by lots and lots of demons. And this is a good thing. Along the way, you can pick up chainsaws, metal pipes, a shotgun and even a severed head to splatter your enemies and send them back into the depths of hell. There are eight stages to play through, and each of them has a boss fight, most of which are pretty challenging and fun. And things get real gnarly real quick, so you’ll have to keep your reflexes up to finish this game. The game looks great, with all of the gothic imagery and hilariously over-the-top gore to keep you satisfied.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – SNES (1994)

Everything old is new again. After years of rumors, the Power Rangers movie trailer just dropped recently. And it hit all the nostalgia feels for folks who were Power Rangers fans back in the day. Newer gamers may not realize this, but Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were an absolute phenomenon during the 90s. Every band of kids had their own make-believe team of Rangers. And what better way to make-believe than play as your favorite superheroes in a kick-ass video game?!

The game features a fairly generic storyline which has you fight monsters through a bunch of areas until you get to the final boss. You have to choose from the different Power Rangers (Red, Black, Pink, Blue and Yellow) each of whom have a unique weapon and fighting style. You begin each level as the civilian version of your hero until the boss shows up. And then, ITS MORPHIN TIME! The graphics look pretty good for the time, and the heroes and enemies are well-animated. Plus, it’s all worth it when you get to the end level. Trust us on this one.

River City Ransom – NES (1994)

River City is in peril. The once tranquil town is now in the throes of terror, with gang war and delinquency disrupting the lives of good folks. And now, this war has spilled over into the schools. To make things worse, a good-for-nothing called Slick has kidnapped your girlfriend. You know what this means – it’s time to pound some fools into the pavement and restore order to River City.

River City Ransom is truly one of the long-standing classics of the genre, and for good reason – it has an interesting combat style and offers character progression that feels meaningful. You can play as one of two characters – Ryan and Alex. They’re both basically the same, with slightly different skins. You have to kick, punch and use weapons that your enemies drop to fight your way through. However, this is where River City Ransom deviates from the norm – you can equip different items, read tomes and eat food items to grow stronger and gain new abilities. Different books allow you to punch or kick better, and some even allow you to unleash special moves like “Acro Circus Array” – a flying, spinning attack.

Even on the lowest difficulty settings, this is a pretty tough game. And the bosses take some serious work to beat. Playing the game in co-op makes it more fun because you can manage the battlefield more efficiently. If you’re a fan of the genre, check this out.

Honorable mentions – Splatterhouse 3, Golden Axe, Captain Commando, Mighty Final Fight, X-Men Mutant Apocalypse.

So, what did you think of our retro gaming beat'em up list? Did it make you want to go out and play some of these brawlers again? Did we miss out on mentioning your favorite beat-em-up? Let us know in the comments.  What more info on the great but almost forgotten genre, the Retro Gaming Brawler?  

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Sunday, 25 September 2022