History Of Beat 'Em Ups

Welcome to the comprehensive history of beat 'em ups since the introduction of the genre in 1986 with Taito's Renegade.

Beat 'em ups (also known as brawlers) are a video game genre featuring melee combat between the protagonist and an improbably large number of underpowered enemies. ;xNLx;;xNLx;The First Age is comprised of traditional beat 'em ups that took place in side scrolling levels with limited color palettes. This age is noted for its simple gameplay; a source of both critical acclaim and derision. Two-player cooperative gameplay and multiple player characters are also hallmarks of this age.;xNLx;;xNLx;The Second Age began with a marked increased in mechanical sophistication and nuance. Every aspect of the beat 'em up experience was improved by a substantial margin. Most of this select handful of high quality games were created by Capcom on their CPS2 hardware.;xNLx;;xNLx;Unfortunately, the very promising Second Age was cut short by the advent of 3d gameplay on the home console. The brief Dark Age is comprised of a few remarkably poor titles that were produced and marketed on the excitement of early 3d gameplay.;xNLx;;xNLx;The Third Age was ushered in by Devil May Cry 1 and put the beat 'em up back in the spotlight with 3d gameplay that finally looked and felt good. The third age has been a 10+ year renaissance, only losing momentum in recent years.;xNLx;;xNLx;The greatest threat to the beat 'em up has now appeared in the form of "Watch 'Em Ups", a genre of games that looks like beat 'em ups but are actually a wholly different experience.

Double Dragon 3

Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone is a side-scrolling beat 'em up produced by Technos Japan Corp. that was originally released as a coin-operated arcade game in 1990.


Renegade is a video game released in American and European arcades in 1986 by Taito. It is a westernized conversion (including changes to all of the sprites and backgrounds) of the Japanese arcade game Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, released earlier the same year by Technos.

Final Fight 2

Final Fight 2 is a side-scrolling beat 'em up released by Capcom for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993. It is a sequel to the coin-operated video game Final Fight (which was also released for the SNES).

Double Dragon

Double Dragon is a 1987 beat 'em up developed by Technos Japan and distributed in North America and Europe by Taito Corporation.

Double Dragon 2

Double Dragon II: The Revenge is a side-scrolling beat 'em up produced by Technos originally released as a coin-operated arcade game in 1988. It is the sequel to Double Dragon, released during the previous year.

River City Ransom

River City Ransom is a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was developed by Technōs Japan and originally released in Japan on April 25, 1989. It was one of the first console games published by North American subsidiary American Technos.

Final Fight

Final Fight is a side-scrolling beat-'em-up game originally released by Capcom as a coin-operated video game in 1989. It was the seventh game released by Capcom for their CP System arcade game hardware.

Final Fight 3

Final Fight 3, released in Japan as Final Fight Tough, is a side-scrolling beat 'em up by Capcom originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995. Like its predecessor, it was produced by Capcom's consumer division with no preceding arcade version released.

Golden Axe

Golden Axe is a side-scrolling, beat 'em up, hack and slash arcade video game released in 1989 by Sega for the System 16-B arcade hardware. It is the first game in the Golden Axe series. Makoto Uchida was the primary developer of the game and also was responsible for the creation of Altered Beast.

Golden Axe 2

Golden Axe II is a side-scrolling beat'em up released for the Sega Mega Drive on December 26, 1991. It is the home console sequel to the popular game Golden Axe.

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