Beat ’em up games, also known as “brawlers”, are a specific type of fighting game in which the player must advance through the level while fighting off a large number of enemies using only melee combat and weapons. These type of games rose in popularity during the late 1980’s but practically fell off the map by 1992 with players shifting to ‘one-on-one’ fighting games, like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. With there being so many different types of brawlers available for you to play it, can be hard deciding which ones are even worth your time. To help with this, we have compiled a list of the top ten beat ’em up games made with pixel graphics so you don’t miss out anything.
Top 10 Beat ’em Up Games With Pixel Graphics
#10 – Battletoads in Battlemaniacs
Battletoads in Battlemaniacs is a beat ’em up video game for the Super Nintendo that was released in 1993 by Rare. The game itself follows two ‘battletoads’ on a mission to defeat the terrible Silas Volkmire and Dark Queen and stop them from taking over their world. Most stages of the game employ basic beat ’em up gameplay but some of stages require the player to control a vehicle to add variety to the game. Battletoads in Battlemaniacs is widely considered to be one of the most difficult beat ’em up games with pixel graphics ever released. The Battletoads series became so popular that at one point it even crossed over with Double Dragon to create one of the most popular video game mash ups of all time.
#9 – Comix Zone
Comix Zone is a extremely unique arcade-style beat ’em up video game that was originally released in 1995 as a Sega Genesis exclusive. What sets this game apart from other games is it’s original Comic Book style. All scenes in the game take place within the panels of a comic and all dialogue is displayed with speech bubbles. The game’s plot revolves around a comic book artist named ‘Sketch Turner’ who is tossed into his own comic book by it’s primary villain, Mortus, after a magical lighting storm. Every two pages counts as a single level and the player has to travel from panel to panel to complete the stage.
#8 – Double Dragon
Double Dragon was released in 1987 and is often considered the first successful example of a beat ’em up game. The game was so popular it was followed by a couple sequels and lead to other companies creating their own beat ’em ups and jump started the entire genre. Double Dragon was an incredibly fun simple game in which the player could choose between Hammer and Spike, twin brother martial artist, as they rescue Hammer’s girlfriend from the vicious Black Warriors gang.
#7 – X-Men: The Arcade Game
X-Men is an side-scrolling beat ’em arcade game that was released by Konami in 1992 based on the Marvel Comics characters of the same name. During gameplay, players could choose between six playable X-Men to defeat their archenemy Magneto. Fighting is pretty generic, as with all beat ’em ups, with basic melee combos and special moves but the high quality sprites make it one of the best looking arcade games ever created. This has always been one of my personal favorite games because of the all memories I have teaming up with 5 random kids in an arcade and working together to stop Magneto (Colossus for the win).
#6 – Streets Of Rage
Streets of Rage is one of the most popular side-scrolling beat ’em up games ever created. It was originally released on the Sega Genesis in 1991 but has since been ported to the Game Gear, Sega CD, Sega Master System, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and even the iOS. The gameplay allows for you to choose between three ex-police officers(Adam, Axel, Blaze) as they fight their way through the city trying to take down a criminal syndicate involving violent gangs, corrupt cops, and powerful organizations. One of the more interesting features of the game is the ability to choose whether you wish to take over the syndicate or take it out at the end.
#5 – The Simpsons Arcade Game
The Simpsons Arcade Game is an arcade fighting game that was developed by Konami in 1991 that allows up to four players to play simultaneously. The gameplay follows the Simpsons as they attempt to rescue Maggie(the younger child) from the clutches of the billionaire tycoon Monty Burns. Each member of the family has an entertaining array of attacks based on their personality which will make you want to give them all equal play time. The story line barely makes sense but getting to fight your way through all your favorite locations in Springfield makes up for it ten fold.
#4 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is one of the top ten fighting games with pixel graphics because not only is it based on beloved characters it is also a truly great game. Originally an arcade game, Turtles in Time was ported to the SNES in 1992 with various alterations to the gameplay and a new level. The plot focuses on the turtles attempting to save the Statue of Liberty from Shredder by fighting their way through time portals. If your a true fan of the beat ’em up genre you have to give this game a shot. Grabbing ‘Foot Soldiers’ and tossing them towards the screen provides you with a level of satisfaction that few games have been able to provide ever since.
#3 – Golden Axe
Golden Axe is a medieval-fantasy themed hack ‘n’ slash game that was released in 1989 by Sega. You get to choose from three characters all seeking revenge on the evil Death Adder,the dictator of Yuria, whom is responsible for the death of their friend. The popularity of the game has led to 3 direct sequels and just as many equally enjoyable spinoffs. One of the most exciting features of the game is the ability to ride on and attack your enemies with various animals rather then using weapon pickups. This gave the entire game an original feel despite the generic gameplay.
#2 – Final Fight
Final Fight is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up video game that was released in 1989 and produced by Capcom to complete with the popularity of Double Dragon. The game takes place in the fictional city called ‘Metro City’ which has been over run by the Mad Gear gang. During gameplay, the player gets to choose between three playable characters(named Mike Haggar, Cody, and Guy) as they set out to rescue Haggar’s daughter and take out the gang once and for all.
#1 – River City Ransom
River City Ransom is an open world beat ’em up game with action role-playing elements that was released on April 25, 1989 for the Family Computer and NES. The game itself centers around a couple of high school students named Alex and Ryan as they fight the way through the streets of River City to save Ryan’s girlfriend. The enemies are in gangs named after classic high school cliches such as “The Jocks”,”The Frat Guys” or “The Squids” allowing you to relive your teenage years. River City Ransom will always be one of the most beloved fighting games ever created because of it’s classic non-linear approach to the genre.
Are any of the games we listed one of your favorites? Do you think we missed a great game on our list of the Top 10 Beat ’em Up Games with Pixel Graphics? If you answered YES to either of these questions please let us know in the comments.