Step in Martin (@nakamuramartin), Kerry (@_kimimi), Paul (@pablo_0151), Danny (@GuyFawkesRetro), Badr (@BadoorSNK), Ant (@TepidSnake) and James (@RealityGlitch). Each of us voted for our favourite games and this list was compiled completely fairly with absolutely no intervention by this blogger at all!
10. Aliens vs Predator.
Released in 1995, AvP is a superb three player game developed by Capcom on their superb CPS-2 arcade board. Despite receiving very positive feedback on release, it has never been ported to a home system.
'What I love about this game,' said Ant, 'Is the excellent character variety and not just in terms of attack. Each character differs greatly depending on who you choose. Schaefer has a dash instead of a jump as standard and the Predators leap across the screen very quickly. This really changes how you approach the game with each character, making it stand out.
The long-range weapon, available at all times albeit with recharging ammo, gives you more attack options, of which there are loads already... And it's super-satisfying to get to use the Predator's laser cannon!'
'Yeah this is spectacular,' interjects Kerry, 'This is the AAA summer blockbuster of beat ‘em ups – showy, loads of fun, and a bit silly with a complete disregard for canon beyond plumbing the depths of both series for cool looking things to hit!'
'I absolutely adore it,' adds Paul. 'I think it's the fact that you get to take on literally hordes of screamingly violent xenomorphs...if only they'd ported this version to the SFC!'.
'It would have been a bit rubbish on SFC Paul, not sure that slow CPU could have handled it! Maybe with Super FX assistance but surely this was ideal for the Saturn. Pity it never happened.' Martin said.
'This is Capcom proving that licensed games don’t have to be terrible lazy cash
ins like so many were back then, and still are,' said Kerry.
'This should be higher on the list really,' Danny groaned. 'I completely forgot about it when collating my list so I only have myself to blame!'.
9. Guardian Heroes.
Guardian Heroes is often considered one of the best games on the Saturn, no surprised given the pedigree of the developer. Released in 1996, it is one of the more unusual beat 'em ups around with a fully blown story and multi-plane battle system.
'Treasure doing what Treasure do best – have a quick go at a new genre and get it right first time while being completely different too.' started Kerry.
'Yeah this title is immense,' adds James excitedly. With it's branching story system and massive selection of characters (especially in battle mode). This is probably the game I've put the most hours into, trying out the different story lines, collecting all the characters to use in the arena, and basically just having lots of fun along the way.'
'I've struggled to get into this myself.' said Martin. 'I have always found the visuals a bit scruffy and it feel a little messy to play.'
'The sheer amount of enemies on screen at once gives it the feel of a true brawl, though,' added Ant. Although I agree sometimes it can get so chaotic you can lose yourself on-screen.
The three-tier movement system means you never have that problem where you can't quite hit an enemy because you're not level with them and allows you to escape sticky situations easily, It also allows for magic shortcuts, tapped in like Street Fighter moves, which is a lot easier to get to grips with than mini-menus!'
'It's a simply brilliant battle system and a man that shoots laser beams from his crotch make for one unforgettable experience!' exclaimed Kerry.
'Kasumi Ninja on the Jaguar has a man shooting stuff from his crotch at that is certainly unforgettable, and not in a good way! I should really give this another go.' Said Martin. The rest nod in agreement.
Guardian Heroes is yet another in Treasure's Trove of genius. Available on Sega Saturn and XLBA, it's something that must be tried by fans of the genre.
8. Dungeons and Dragons:Shadow Over Mystaria.
One of the last 2D scrolling fighters released by Capcom, D&D: Shadow Over Mystaria features many mechanics not seen in arcade games and was fortunately ported to the Saturn for home players in 1999.
'This one's got a slightly steeper learning curve, mostly because of the Alien Soldier-style menu for selecting items and magic- you have to juggle that and not get hit at the same time.' said Ant.
'Yeah it expands the scope of what a beat em up can be. There's so much content and so many different ways to play through it.' remarked Badr. 'And there's so much depth from the magic system and other RPG elements. All that, and yet there are no compromises to the basic physical combat. Mashing attack still feels great (and is still a viable tactic).'
'It's basically a full scale D&D game mashed with Goldenaxe. I really wished I owned a copy of this. That said, the recent Steam and online console release may push the price of the Saturn version down.' said Danny.
'I play this a bit with Darran from Retro Gamer. He loves and it you can see why. Such a stunning game and so many ways to play it. Loads of levels, amazing graphics too.' added Martin.
'It's one of my all-time favourites,' Kerry said. 'And to my mind both a good game in its own right as well as a good representation of the license, seeing as it features both dungeons and dragons along the way. Multiple routes, rare equipment, co-operative attacks… this is a rare game that manages to be both an engaging spectacle for first timers as well as offer a deep experience that rewards skillful play.'
'Yeah with a fair number of branching paths and weapons/gear to find, and six very different classes to choose from, you can't see all of it in one playthrough.' agreed Ant.
'I love that that with beautiful late-era Capcom 2D artwork, with nicely animated characters, large bosses, and amazing backgrounds, and you have what might be my all time favorite 2D brawler.' Finished Badr.
A must of beat 'em up and RPG fans alike. Now it's on all home consoles and Steam with online play, there is no excuse not to play this.
7. God Hand.
Clover Studio 2006
The brainchild of Shinji Mikami and Clover Studio, God Hand is the famously IGN maligned (3/10!) but utterly magnificent 3D beat 'em up. The last game from Clover Studio before it was sadly dissolved by Capcom, is arguably their most memorable.
'Alongside Sega's Dynamite Cop/Deka games, this is a great adaptation of the genre in 3D- the difference here is it's 'true' 3D rather than the side-on perspective in Deka. It's hard to get traditional brawlers to work well like this, but Clover pulled it off.' said Ant.
'Yeah it's no surprise they did it, there are pretty much a modern Treasure when it comes to game design, utterly superb.' Added Martin. The battle system is simply incredible and easily the most viable 3D beat 'em up ever. There is so much scope in the combat with customisable combos and impact moves.'
'It's tough but fair (dodge enemies then punish their mistakes!),' agreed Ant. 'Each hit has real impact (especially when you catapult enemies into the walls) and the combo creation system gives you a chance to be creative with the art of beating dudes up.'
'The special moves are insane also. Either the roulette ultra style moves from the 'Home Run' which is literally hitting someone into the stars with a baseball bat, to the 'Ball Buster' which involves a cheeky kick to the nads! Only works on the men though!' laughed Martin.
'It also retains that silly, over-the-top 'feel' of so many scrolling brawlers, like Gene's rapid-fire pummeling techniques and the enemies taunt you with baffling expressions like "You're not Alexander!"...'chimed Ant.
'Not to mention the homosexuality and spanking of scanilty clad women, there is nothing else like it on the market!' said Martin.
Badr coughs, 'It's God Hand, nothing else needs to be said, everyone needs to play this.'
God Hand is on PS2 and PS3 via the PSN store. Everyone must play this game. Visually a little average and quite tough to start, it's a complete modern classic and we may never see the likes of it again.
6. Undercover Cops.
Irem's first attempt in the modern beat 'em up genre. A few years later after its release, a lot of the team who made the game went on to form Nazca, who created the Metal Slug game series. It received a good quality Super Famicom port in 1995.
'You can tell it's by members of the team who'd go on to make Metal Slug, as the graphics and animation are superb. With its post-apocalyptic backdrop, it's got a different atmosphere to many of the others on this list, leading to some unique enemies (like the underground mole people and cat-girls).' started Ant.
'Yeah the game has a real Metal Slug Vibe in the art, kind of scruffy but neat, edgy if you will.' Added Martin.
'I love the detailed and chunky sprites, a fantastic future wasteland setting and three distinctively different characters.' said Paul. 'Undercover Cops defines what I consider to be the perfect scrolling beat em up. Classic gameplay but it doesn't feel boring. It moves well and has lots of variety'.
'Plenty of varied moves indeed Paul,' smiled Ant. 'With wake-up attacks and weapons (lead pipes? They're for punks! You use a steel girder instead here!), it makes for a really good brawler. The soundtrack's top-tier as well- brought to us from HIYA! of Metal Slug
fame, it really captures the mood of the game well... Complete with amusing
voice samples.It's just a shame it never really got more attention overseas, as it really deserved it.'
'A huge pity it wasn't at least released in the west on the SNES.' said Martin. It's just such a supremely playable classic style fighter. I had no idea it was so old, it feels more advanced than a 1992 fighter as so many were formulaic at the time.'
'I must admit It’s not that much fun, IMO Two Crude Dudes was better.' pipped up Danny.
*everyone looks at Danny, a cat meows and licks it's paws.
Undercover Cops is a brilliant classic style game. Yet to be re-released on anything since the Super Famicom in 1995 it's tough to get hold of now but worth a play if you can.
Thanks for reading part one. Part two will follow within the next week. In the mean time, why not let us know what games you feel should be in the top 5?