Release date: 1991 Systems: Arcade, SNES, Playstation, PS2, PSP, Xbox Captain Commando came out two years prior to Cadillacs & Dinosaurs and, in many ways, feels like practice run. A lot of the things that C&D does well are already present in this title, which builds upon everything Capcom had learned in Final Fight and … Read more

This isn’t a full-blown Welcome To The Fantasy Zone post, but since I’ve been writing a history of beat em ups for a solid 8 months now, I wanted to point you in the direction of Streetfighter 2: An Oral History. (warning: Guile’s theme auto-plays on the site) It’s a really fascinating look at the … Read more

Release date: 1993 Systems: Arcade Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I believe Capcom’s Cadillacs and Dinosaurs is one of the best 3D sidescrolling beat em ups ever released. Today, I will present you with incontrovertible proof of its badassery – indeed, so convincing will my evidence be, please have an inverted hat or similar … Read more

Release date: 1991 Systems: Arcade, SNES Hey faithful companions. It’s another in my series of posts plodding through the history of the beat em up. As I wrote in December, they’re probably going to remain less than weekly as writing commitments pile up, but I will see it through to the end. Just want to … Read more

Release date: 1992 Systems: Arcade Everyone who ever played a beat em up looks back on Golden Axe with fondness. When I get into pub conversations with anyone from casual gave-games-up-when-they-hit-18 dabblers to hardcore Gamer Til I Die sociopaths, and I mention I’m working on a history of beat em ups, everyone immediately says ‘Oh … Read more

Release date: 1991 Systems: Arcade, Commodore 64 Remember when The Simpsons was edgy and impossibly funny and we all liked it? Remember how we laughed at the escapades of the titular dysfunctional family as they fought to save their youngest daughter Maggie from cackling master criminal Smithers? (and check out the canonical age of Homer … Read more

Release date: 1988 Systems: Arcade, Master System, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST I remember the first time I played Dynamite Düx at the arcade in Weston-super-Mare. A friend and I made it to the Stage 3 end-of-level boss, the rock golem, before finally our fighting spirit and pocketfuls of 10ps ran out. … Read more

Release date: 1991 Systems: Arcade Hovering at the fringes of the beat em up genre is the slash em up – a (usually Conan-flavoured) romp through pseudo-medieval Fantasyland, slaying goblins, kobolds (I’m normally pretty good when it comes to bestiaries but if anyone can tell me the difference between a goblin and a kobold I’d … Read more

Release date: 1991 Systems: Arcade, SNES Most gamers of a certain age are familiar with the 4-player arcade title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As the 80s rolled into the glorious technicolor 90s, pretty much every amusements in the UK had a Turtles machine. Contrasted to the dual screen, 6-player X-Men cabinet, Vendetta, or even The … Read more

Release date: 1991 Systems: Megadrive, Master System, Game Gear, Wii Virtual Console, Nintendo 3DS Right, let’s have it. As an unreconstructed Nintendo fanboy I’ve gotta confess that the knives were out for Streets Of Rage the moment I decided to embark on this foolhardy history of the beat em up. Alongside Golden Axe it’s a … Read more

It’s been a long road since we started our history of beat em ups way back in May, but I think we might just about be hitting the halfway mark. Cor! Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at all the major 3D sidescrollers before moving onto player v player beat em ups. That means … Read more

Release date: 1990 Systems: Arcade, SNES, Virtual Console O Combatribes! Renegade‘s poor forgotten scion! There are a lot of beat em ups neither you nor I remember, and most of them deserve their indefinite detention in the dank oubliette of abandonware obscurity. Because they are f’awful. But Combatribes dares to ascend to the vertiginous heights … Read more

Release date: 1991 Systems: Arcade Released in Asia as Crime Fighters 2, Vendetta was Konami’s follow-up to crappy 1989 title Crime Fighters, a sub-par version of Final Fight with one of my coin-op pet hates – a numerical energy meter that decreases over time, regardless of whether you take damage. It’s a cheap way of … Read more

Release date: 1987 Systems: Arcade Over the last few months, in our ongoing history of video games beat em ups, we’ve been looking at the 2D sidescroller: a game where the player character walks along a single plane – usually left to right – punching and kicking waves of marauding goons. It’s a genre that … Read more

Release date: 1988 Systems: Arcade, Turbografix So what’s the best 2D sidescrolling beat em up ever? Perhaps you thought this was a subject you could sneak through life not having an opinion on! Wrongo! The best 2D sidescrolling beat em up of all time is the arcade version of Splatterhouse. I first encountered this game … Read more

Release date: 1991 Systems: Arcade, Sega Megadrive In the distant future of 2010, New York is rocked by ‘nuclear explosions of unknown origin’. 20 years later, the clean-up operation has barely begun when a mutant gang full of mean dudes, calling themselves ‘Big Valley’ (I can’t read that name without immediately substituting early 90s cheese-reggae … Read more

Release date: 1988 Systems: Sega Master System, PC Engine, PC Engine-CD, Famicom, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga, DOS Altered Beast is one of those games that everyone remembers through a fog of nostalgia. Before Sonic The Hedgehog, it came as the built-in game on the Sega Megadrive. Like last week’s … Read more

Release date: 1988 Systems: Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, NES, ZX Spectrum A ‘dude’ used to be a sort of metropolitan dandy, but the word underwent some totally badass semantic drift and, during the 80s and 90s, generally referred to any guy who was really, really cool. Now it … Read more

Release date: 1985 Systems: Arcade, Sega Master System We started our journey through the history of beat em ups way back in April – we’re three months deep already. If you missed previous posts they’re all available to browse. Slowly, slowly, we’re building a bluffer’s guide to the hallowed video game genre known as the … Read more

Release date: 1985 Systems: Arcade, Commodore 64, Amstrad, ZX Spectrum Genre isn’t something inherent in a novel, movie or video game. It’s something we do to it when we consume it, a certain prescription of spectacles. Its creator may or may not have had those spectacles in mind when he or she made it. Last … Read more

Release date: 1983 Systems: ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, C64 When I was growing up, we didn’t know much about the world, but a few facts were passed round the playground as inviolable truths: Michael Jackson was the coolest person in the world, Madonna was the sexiest, and Bruce Lee was the hardest. This … Read more

Release date: 1990 Systems: Arcade, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, NES, ZX Spectrum, DOS, Game Boy, Mega Drive/Genesis And so we come to the last game in the Double Dragon trilogy. Other titles went on to bear the brand, granted, but this was the one that emphatically killed Double Dragon as a viable … Read more

Release date: 1988 Systems: Arcade, NES, Mega Drive, PC Engine, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Amiga, IBM PC, TurboGrafx CD, Virtual Console, Xbox Coming out a year after Double Dragon exploded into arcades and revolutionised beat em ups with true side-scrolling, 3D playing field action, Double Dragon 2: The Revenge is both … Read more

Release date: 1987 Systems: Arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, IBM PC, Atari ST, Amiga, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Game Boy, Mega Drive/Genesis, Lynx, Game Boy Advance, iPhone, Xbox, PS3 I believe it was the late, great Friedrich Nietzsche who said ‘Double Dragon is a rope, tied between … Read more

Release date: 1989 Systems: Nintendo Entertainment System, Sharp X68000, PC-Engine Super CD-ROM, Game Boy Advance You wouldn’t know to look at it, but River City Ransom is a follow-up to Renegade. Made by Technos, the creators of Double Dragon, it’s a weird hybrid of beat em up and RPG. I have this theory that the … Read more