Beat 'em up


Beat 'em up

Beat 'em ups (often called scrolling fighting games, fighting action games, scrolling beat 'em ups or sometimes brawlers) are video games where close combat fighting against multiple opponents is the main objective. Beat 'em ups based around mêlée weapons are often called hack 'n' slash. Though firearms may be featured, unlike shoot 'em up games, the purpose of the game and main means of progress is hand-to-hand fighting against waves of enemies.

Beat 'em ups are a distinct genre, separate from fighting games. There are several distinguishing features. Beat 'em ups take place over a large level, with the screen scrolling as the player moves through the stage. Competitive fighting games have evolved to include a greater variety of attacks that the player can use, while beat 'em ups offer fewer attacks with a simpler control scheme.

In this type of fighting game, one or more players (most often two, but sometimes as many as six) each choose a unique character and team up to punch, kick, throw and slash their way through a horde of computer-controlled enemies. Thus, unlike fighting games, when several players play simultaneously, they do not fight each other. Rarely, players are able to do damage to one another, but this is the exception and not the rule. The fighting occurs in a series of side-scrolling stages, some with a powerful boss enemy at the end. Most beat 'em ups are characterized by that in addition to moving left and right (and/or jump/duck) the players can also move vertically, in and out of the scene.

History

Beginnings

Early beat 'em ups were generally far simpler than the later, more refined games of the Golden Age, and were commonly single player games without depth-movement. The perhaps most commonly known example is Irem's "Kung-Fu Master" from 1984, but some other then-popular titles are "", "Knuckle Busters" and "The Way of the Tiger" from 1986, and "Altered Beast" from 1988.

An early, perhaps the first, example of a beat 'em up with depth-movement is "Renegade" (known as "Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun" in Japan). "Renegade" introduced three features which would become central to the genre: a 3/4 view with the ability to move not only left and right, but also vertically, in and out of the field of view; the 3-button control layout; and a unique boss at the end of each level. There are two features that most specifically set "Renegade" apart from its followers: the lack of multiplayer, and very small levels; in "Renegade", each stage is set in an enclosed area, two screens in width, whereas all subsequent beat 'em ups involve fighting enemies and traversing obstacles along a long path that leads to the boss, in the style of most 2D scrolling games.

Golden age of beat 'em ups

Starting with the 1987 arcade game "Double Dragon", levels were lengthened into linear paths, which the player(s) would have to traverse, battling enemies along the way, and which usually ended with a fight against a boss. Two major milestones which utilized this approach are "Double Dragon" and "Final Fight"; both of these games spawned franchises that still survive today, while some of the most popular scrolling fighting games from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s utilized the same gameplay approach. At its height, the side scroller was one of the most popular kinds of arcade games, but they have since fallen out of fashion. Capcom was known for producing several popular scrolling fighting games, ranging from original titles such as "Captain Commando" and the "Final Fight" series to licensed works such as "", "The Punisher" and "Alien vs. Predator".

Video game consoles also had some very popular beat 'em ups. Apart from conversions of arcade hits, particularly games like "River City Ransom" for the NES, and the "Streets of Rage" series for the Mega Drive/Genesis (which was also released for the Game Gear and Master System) were major console exclusive hits.

The proliferation of beat 'em ups in the late 1980s and early 1990s can not be over-emphasized; there were literally "hundreds" of different beat 'em ups made, and even franchise cash-in games such as "Bebe's Kids" adopted the formula. Their popularity did not wane until long after versus fighting games caught on (which happened slowly, beginning in 1991 with the release of "Street Fighter II").

Modern beat 'em ups

Some modern video titles have featured bonus games in an homage to old-school beat-em 'ups. "Bushido Blade", a realistic weapons fighter, and "Tekken 3", one of the most successful versus fighter games, both for the PlayStation features modes similar to beat 'em ups. "Guilty Gear Isuka", a 2D versus fighting game, also has a Boost Mode similar to a beat 'em up using the playable characters. However, the Bushido Blade slash modes limit the enemy opponent to one at a time, as contrary to typical beat 'em up standards.

Attention should also be paid to the 2005 PS2 and XBox game, The Warriors, a video game based on the original movie of the same title. In the Warriors hide-out there is an arcade machine that is accessible by the player. Upon approaching the machine and activating it the player is offered the chance to participate in a 'mini game' that mimics the game Double Dragon in both style (albeit a fully 3D rendered version), and content. It also offers the option for a second player to participate at the same time.

As for modern additions to the genre, 3D beat 'em ups exist (some examples are "Urban Reign", Sega's "Die Hard Arcade" and "Spikeout", Squaresoft's "The Bouncer", Konami's 2003 "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" game and Capcom's "Viewtiful Joe"). They are mostly attempts to capitalize on popular franchises on previous video game consoles (with the exception of "Viewtiful Joe" and its sequel, which attempt to recall the "glory days" of video games.) The major innovation of the modern games is the introduction of combo, and versus fighting game style moves to execute various attacks. In a combo system, the player can execute a certain series of moves to prevent the opponent from being able to counter attack and possibly receive bonuses for the number of consecutive hits. These gameplay extensions are in part due to the expansion of the amount of buttons on modern controller interfaces, but also to add depth in what has been historically very simplistic gameplay (with some exceptions, such as the fighting system in the "Kunio-Kun" games).

However, modern beat 'em ups have increasingly taken traditional gameplay elements created new hybrid gameplay with other genres. These games are characterized by an added depth accomplished by presenting variety of missions, much more gunplay (and fighting abilities that involve guns such as disarming moves), and slow-down/"berserk mode" abilities. Essentially, the 3D beat 'em ups has been merged with the third-person shooter genre. Games that take this unified "The Warriors", and "Dead to Rights".

"Dynasty Warriors 2" is a new-school hack and slash that spawned a new style featuring large, open levels, and abandoning the linear progression of classic arcade spawned beat 'em ups. "Devil May Cry" helped popularize another style of hack and slash that incorporates exploration elements as well as some very light adventure elements. (A similar, but much more obscure example of this type of game is "".) It has influenced others like "Ninja Gaiden", "God of War" and "Heavenly Sword".

tyles of beat 'em ups

There are two main variations on the style of gameplay: a and martial arts emphasized, or weapons emphasized. Fisticuff emphasized games focus on primarily fighting opponents with hand-to-hand combat. On occasion these games will have weapons which the player can find lying around in the game world, or can take from opponents holding them (e.g. knocking down an opponent holding a bat in "Double Dragon" and "Final Fight" makes the opponent drop the bat). Since the primary focus of gameplay is hand-to-hand combat, it is common in this type of game for weapons to disappear relatively shortly after a player acquires them. This typically happens whenever a player is knocked down, uses the weapon more than a specified number of times, or heads to another stage. Example of games with martial arts emphasized include the "Streets of Rage" series, "River City Ransom", "Final Fight", and the "Double Dragon" series, though in River City Ransom, the player has a "Weapon" attribute that affects damage with certain weapons, thus a player may be encouraged to maintain a preferred weapon for as long as possible.

Weapons-emphasized games usually have a plethora of martial arts weapons (such as nunchaku and shuriken) as well as other types of weapons that are already at the player's disposal or can be found as the player progresses through the game. While some of these games do have hand-to-hand combat moves, like being able to throw a close-standing opponent, the focus is on mêlée or ranged weapon combat. Because the player is armed, these games typically have more opponents attacking a player at one time than games where the emphasis is on martial arts. Examples of games with weapons emphasized include the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series, and the "Golden Axe series".

Several games of this genre share another common characteristic. Often, the player has a choice of one of three characters: a strong but slow character, a weak but fast character, and a character that is balanced between strength and speed. The classic example of this three character template is the "Final Fight" series (Haggar is strong but slow, Guy is fast but weak, Cody is balanced). Also, health is almost always replenished by eating food, usually found in breakable items such as garbage cans or barrels.

ee also

* List of fighting game companies
* List of beat 'em up games

External links

* [http://scrollboss.illmosis.net/mainmenu.php Scrollboss]
* [http://capcomarcade.classicgaming.gamespy.com/ Capcom Arcade Beat-'em-up Shrine]
* [http://www.ysrnry.co.uk/articles/completeguidetobeatemups.htm The YS Complete Guide To Beat-'em-ups]
* [http://www.the-underdogs.info/genre.php?name=Action&subgen=Beat%20em-up Beat em-up games] at Home of the Underdogs
* [http://www.mobygames.com/browse/games/action/fighting/ Fighting games] & [http://www.mobygames.com/browse/games/action/fighting/side-scrolling/ Side-scrolling fighting games] at MobyGames
* [http://www.shoryuken.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page Shoryuken Fighting Game Wiki]


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