Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #17 Evil West
- #16 Paint the Town Red
- #15 Final Fight
- #14 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
- #13 One Finger Death Punch 2
- #12 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredders Revenge
- #11 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game
- #10 Captain America and the Avengers
- #9 Fight’N Rage
- #8 The Punisher
- #7 Streets of Rage 4
- #6 Lost Judgment
- #5 God Hand
- #4 Sifu
- #3 Yakuza 0
- #2 Batman: Arkham Knight
- #1 God of War
Beat ‘em up games are a dying breed as we know them traditionally, more suited for those arcade machines where you would spend all your money as a child. But one thing is for sure–looking back at those famous titles of our youth, the nostalgia is real, which is why these simplistic games will always have a place in our hearts. That got us thinking about which games would rank on a list of the best beat ‘em up games of all time? Surprisingly, we were able to narrow it down to a few winners.
#17 Evil West
Publisher: Focus Entertainment / Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, XSX|S
Release Date: November 22, 2022
Are you ready for some vampire action? No, not that kind of action. The action as in you’re the person that’ll put down a vampire threat!
In Evil West, a vampiric threat has arisen, and the United States is now in danger of being consumed by the dark threat! You are the last of your kind, a cowboy of sorts that was trained to kill the fanged beasts. Use your vast arsenal of weapons to take out these monsters as they pop out of the ground!
Guns, gauntlets, and other weapons will be at your disposal. Use them all to put them down.
#16 Paint the Town Red
Publisher: South East Games
Developer: South East Games
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Windows, Xbox One, Linux, Mac OS
Release Date: October 2015
Paint the Town Red is a unique and unusual game with an odd, quirky aesthetic. The first couple of times you play this game will be a fun experience filled with wackiness and a couple of engaging game modes, but the fun won’t last long because this game gets incredibly repetitive, almost like you’re in a constant loop of big-headed characters and recycled mechanics. Still, this game is fairly violent, and you do exactly what it says on the tin–paint the town red with people’s blood. For the price, it’s not a bad deal for some stress relief.
#15 Final Fight
Platform: Arcade, Super NES, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, X68000, Mega-CD, CPS Changer, Game Boy Advance, Java ME
Release Date: November 1989
This is the first game on the list where the nostalgia blows over you like a cool 80s breeze. This side-scroller was supposed to follow Street Fighter as a kind of sequel but instead was turned into a standalone game with a slightly different feel. Final Fight tried to put more emphasis on the narrative, where you play as one of three characters who are all skilled fighters in their own arts hunting down the gang that kidnapped one of their daughters. It’s a classic game that’s fun to revisit now and then, but it certainly hasn’t aged well. Nostalgia goggles are rough sometimes.
#14 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, Amazon Luna
Release Date: August 2010
Released in conjunction with the film of the same name, this side-scrolling beat ’em up game is quirky, vibrant, fun, and difficult to master. A throwback to classic games of the genre, it reaffirmed people’s love of simple mechanics while also elevating them to new levels. You can also play this game with a group of your friends, which offers even more enjoyment. Play with up to four other people as you attempt to take down Ramona’s evil exes. You might need all the help you can get.
#13 One Finger Death Punch 2
Publisher: Silver Dollar Games, Doublethink Games, and EastAsiaSoft
Developer: Silver Dollar Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Android, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
Release Date: April 2019
This second installment is as enjoyable as the first, but with a few tweaks that improve the overall experience. A quirky little two-button action romp where the artwork is comprised of stick figures, with enemies attacking from the left and right, forcing you to have eyes in the back of your head and brutally murder them as best you can – obviously the more brutal the better, right? One Finger Death Punch 2 manages to avoid the problem of repetitiveness by sticking to its creative and violent fundamentals. This game a simple treat.
#12 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredders Revenge
Developer: Tribute Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
Release Date: June 16, 2022
Sometimes, all we need is a throwback experience to truly go and enjoy something that isn’t really around anymore. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredders Revenge is the perfect example of that as the game allows you to go back to the old-school arcade days of the beat’em-up fighter title as you play as your favorite TMNT characters.
What’s more, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredders Revenge let’s you have 6-person co-op! You’ll be able to play as all four main turtles, Master Splinter, April O’Neil, and when you unlock him, Casey Jones!
The game is fast, fun, full of references, and clearly full of love. You won’t want to miss out on this game.
#11 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game
Platform: Arcade, Famicom/NES, PlayChoice-10, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox 360
Release Date: October 1989
The very definition of a classic arcade game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game features everyone’s favorite crime-fighting anthropomorphic ninja turtles. In the game, up to four players must fight through various levels and defeat villains such as Shredder and Krang. The animated series was released two years prior, so the game was released during a particularly high point in the life of the franchise. A massive hit, it became the highest-grossing arcade game of 1990 in the US. Sadly, its numerous sequels didn’t quite possess the same endearing qualities as this first game. You clearly can’t improve on perfection.
#10 Captain America and the Avengers
Publisher: Date East
Developer: Date East
Platform: Super NES, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System
Release Date: October 1991
Another old-school beat ‘em up arcade game that was easily the best superhero game at the time, Captain America and the Avengers invites players to take on bad guys as one of four members of the Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, or Vision. Each character has hand-to-hand skills and is also able to use their specific skills and weapons to defeat their enemies. Red Skull is the game’s primary villain, but there are also appearances from the likes of Juggernaut, Ultron, the Sentinels, and many more infamous Marvel foes.
#9 Fight’N Rage
Publisher: SebaGamesDev and Blitworks
Developer: SebaGamesDev and Blitworks
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
Release Date: September 2017
A side scroller beat ‘em up game that took inspiration from the 90s arcade games we all know and love, Fight’N Rage is set et in a distant future where humans are enslaved by disturbing mutants. Two humans and a mutant rebel are willing to risk it all and fight against their oppressors. The game was well-received upon its release, praised for being a throwback to a bygone era. The title turned out to be an homage to two classic games–Final Fight and Streets of Rage. Fight’N Rage delivers an engaging and stylish modern-day classic.
#8 The Punisher
Platform: PlayStation 2, Xbox, Microsoft Windows, mobile phone
Release Date: April 2004
Another game that was released in tandem with its movie counterpart, The Punisher is a third-person shooter that offers a combination of exploration, stealth, and combat. It’s fully loaded with fun ways of murdering your enemies; you can either attack normally or use a one-button “quick kill” option, and depending on the villain, the location, and the amount of aggression steaming out of Frank’s ears, one of the numerous fatal assaults will be performed. The Punisher faced controversy upon its release due to it being incredibly violent, featuring gruesome scenes of torture and gore, but this is the Punisher, everyone’s favorite vengeance fuelled anti-hero. What else would it be?
#7 Streets of Rage 4
Publisher: DotEmu and Yooreka Studio (Greater China)
Developer: DotEmu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Linux, macOS, Google Stadia
Release Date: April 2020
The Streets of Rage series was widely popular in the early ’90s for its side-scrolling beat ‘up gameplay, and that hasn’t changed in this installation. Up to four players can duke it out against waves of enemies as they pick up different dropped items and power-ups, the same as the classic arcade game. There is even some fantastic DLC that you can take advantage of, though we won’t go into detail–it will spoil the main game. If you’re a fan of titles like The Simpsons arcade game, then there’s a good chance that you’ll like Streets of Rage 4.
#6 Lost Judgment
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Release Date: September 2021
A sequel to the Yakuza spin-off Judgment, this successor is by far the superior game and doesn’t live in the Yakuza shadow. The title focuses on Takayuki Yagami as he investigates a criminal accused of two crimes. Lost Judgment builds on the action sequences of the first game but also invests heavily in the stealth approach as well, and includes several fighting styles, new and old. It is fun, stylish, has a great narrative structure, and the pacing is perfect; nothing is rushed and you’re able to become fully immersed in the darkness that submerges this unsettling and realistic story.
#5 God Hand
Developer: Clover Studio
Platform: PlayStation 2
Release Date: October 2006
God Hand features a truly bizarre concept and has gone down in history as an absolute cult classic. The final game to come out of Clover Studios is a mix of western and Japanese comedy, focusing on over-the-top characters and ridiculous storylines. It includes traditional beat ‘em up elements and a wave of new features to help modernize it, some of which includes a new system that lets you create combos and add certain fighting styles to the gamepads. You play a martial artist who must protect his friends, wielding a legendary divine arm called the “God hand,” and, as you would expect, the arm’s powers are at the center of everything that is insane with this game.
Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Release Date: February 2022
Sloclap’s action beat ’em up Sifu might be on the shorter side, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in creativity. Sifu is a slick, extremely cool, and very elegant beat ‘em up game that brought with it a new style, including great mechanics and epic violence. It feels like a modern-day classic martial arts movie; films of the new wave like The Raid and Merantau, where you are allowed to submerge yourself in expert choreography and gorgeous visuals.
You play the child of a Sifu and must seek revenge on the people who killed your father, but it’s not that straightforward. When a player takes fatal damage in the game, they simply “reset.” Rather than a simple respawn, the protagonist returns multiple years older. As the player character ages, their strikes will be more powerful, but they will have less health. It’s a challenging and rewarding grind worthy of the highest praise.
#3 Yakuza 0
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Amazon Luna
Release Date: March 2015
Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the original game and one of the best-reviewed games of the series. Set in late 1988, seventeen years before the events of the first game, this story follows Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima as they get sucked into a conflict between rival Yakuza factions seeking control of different areas. Because of its popularity, this game is often labeled as the one that raised the franchise’s sales and following in the west, as it was originally deemed too obscure for those audiences. It’s a top-tier game nonetheless and remains the best in the series.
#2 Batman: Arkham Knight
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Platform: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: June 2015
The fourth installment in the much-beloved series, Arkham Knight is set nine months after the events of the previous game, with Batman now having to confront Scarecrow who has launched his attack on Gotham City. The original Arkham game was part of a new wave of the beat ‘em up genre, keeping the basic premise and concept the same, but improving on it with expertly woven mechanics and the ability to roam around a huge map. These games are basically open-world ones, but with the genetics of those beat ’em up games integrated into their DNA. This one might not be the best of the series, but it is still a phenomenal game that has changed the genre for the better.
#1 God of War
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Platform: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: April 2018
A game that took the industry by storm when it was released just a few years ago, the latest installment in the highly-acclaimed God of War series is the best of the lot–no wonder it won the game of the year by a landslide. Kratos has now moved to Scandinavia to dive headfirst into Norse mythology, and with him is his son Atreus. The two must fight waves of enemies – big and small – to achieve their goals. There is no denying that this is one of the best games of the last decade. God of War was always going to top this list of the best beat ’em games with its perfect combat, great storytelling, and engaging and challenging puzzles.