The beat ‘em up was one of the most popular game genres of the nineties, popular long before variety in games became possible.
Early games needed to find their niche and stick with it, making a straightforward one-on-one battle between characters enough to carry a title to the top of the gaming charts. Rocket Boy reveals that the early beat ‘em ups came our of the arcades and slowly made their way onto our home computers and consoles. The genre took a huge boost in 1991 with the release of Street Fighter II on home consoles, picking up from the arcade classic of the same name. An article by Foxy Games explains how any self-respecting video gamer could not be seen without a copy of Street Fighter in the early nineties. Created by Capcom, it is generally regarded as the forefather of everything that has come since, from Tekken to Mortal Combat.
Since then games have become more in-depth and the traditional interpretation of the genre has become more complex. Fighting mechanics have been implemented in the likes of Sleeping Dogs and the Batman Arkham series, but there are few games that ape those early releases on consoles. However, on mobile devices, the genre lives on with a number of titles trying to recreate the success of the beat ‘em up. So, we have selected a handful here for you to try. You will not regret it.
Kung Fury: Street Rage
Many of the early beat ‘em ups had a kung fu angle, even on 8-bit machines such as the Commodore 64 with IK and IK+. Kung Fury: Street Rage carries on that fine tradition, allowing you to play as one of four main characters, roaming the streets fighting. The mechanics are not unlike the classic Streets of Rage series and is available free on iOS and Android.
Fightback is available on both iOS and Android and is another that has parallels with the Streets of Rage series. There is an engrossing single-player mission in which you must punch and kick your way through hoards of enemies. There are options for picking up weapons to help you on your quest, as well as plenty of special moves to learn which will also help you progress.
Whilst the other titles we have picked look to emulate a certain style or title, this release recreates a classic from the late eighties. Double Dragon was a huge success in arcades and on early consoles and the mobile port has been described as surprisingly decent. Its appeal lies as much in misty-eyed nostalgia as anything, as many older mobile owners will remember spending their childhood battling through the streets against waves of identical enemies.
Glory Samurai is the newest title on our list and features a cartoon Bruce Lee as he battles through various locations and differing enemies. It certainly has a more fun feel than some of the others, with crisp graphics and a smooth control system. The locations are varied too, so instead of graffiti on the city streets – as is commonplace with many games – Glory Samurai takes you through a metro station, the city, the Gobi Desert and more.
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