Arcade (style) Brawlers, Beat-Em-Ups, Belt Scrollers

The topic of arcade beat-em-ups came up in the Nostalgia thread, and I though we could use a separate thread to talk about them. Obviously, classic arcade games are a big part of this, but the genre has had a bit of a renaissance recently, with Double Dragon 4, Streets of Rage 4 coming up, and River City Girls.

And that’s not even including some titles that are clearly brawler roots, even if they add other elements, like Friends of Ringo Ishikawa.

On the arcade end, there are a good chunk of emulated arcade games available these days across platforms, especially the Capcom Beat-Em- Up Bundle, which has a handful of the classics of the genre, including Final Fight and Battle Circuit. Hamster has also put out a nice haul of SNK games in the ACA Neo-Geo line, like various Sengoku games.

Also, I kind of want a thread to talk about the train wreck that is Paprium.

The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa on Switch is a great, contemporary take on the genre. It’s like a classic 2D beat ‘em up, mixed with a bit of Persona. I like it and I don’t even like the genre that much.

For anybody with interest in this genre, I also wanted to call out the upcoming 1CC Marathon (hat tip @DaveLong).

It’s a streaming marathon, not unlike, say AGDQ (although there’s no charity involved afaik), but instead of running for time, they’re all running for 1CC (1 Credit Clear), beating the game with a single credit. So, there’s some speed-running strats, but also a focus on seeing 100% of the game content (to be true to the spirit), and some emphasis on safe strats rather than risky ones. Since these games are built to be quarter-munchers, it’s quite a challenge.

They’re doing a new one next week, you can see the schedule here, although there’s no real need to watch live, it mostly ends up on youtube afterwards. There’s usually a little bit of commentary, but generally some really neat high level play. I mostly associate 1CC with shmups, but shmups seem to make up a minority of the games in the schedule, mostly beat-em-ups, arcade platformers in there.

Oh to me there is. There is just a heat of the moment, and a fantastic ambiance. Just like sports events, you have to be able to say “I was there”!

I’ve been playing King of Dragons again yesterday and today. A friend had bought the PCB in the early 90s, when the all-in-one dual joysticks jamma readers were the new craze, and I remember we played it stupidly in freeplay, because that’s what you do after spending so much in the arcade. This gave me quite a bad impression of the game, and playing it again now while sticking to the one coin rule, I appreciate it much more. It’s really a lovely little game. And like all those Capcom belt scrollers, it’s so tough.
At least in this one, there is no dash, so someone here can enjoy it without issues ;)

Controversial opinion: I don’t think games like Shank belong to the same genre as Streets of Rage. If there’s front/back axis then it doesn’t count.

Yeah the spawns of Vigilante, Green Beret and Ninja Warriors are a different genre.

Have you played the original Renegade? I’ve yet to get my hands on a version, but it had front to back AND you could jump on fallen people and give them a pummeling! Advanced mechanics for the time.

I hadn’t played it in the arcade, but I played the very weirdly ported 8bits version.
It featured a “dual sticks” control scheme with the keyboard… excepting the arcade game didn’t have such a control scheme. The weirdness doesn’t stop here, since another technos fight game, Karate Champ/Karatedo was playing using dual sticks. So I have no idea who thought to make an hybrid of those two games on our computers.

But Target Renegade which was a computer exclusive featured finally a sensible control scheme, and retained the pummeling on the floor that is so satisfying, so I can relate ;)

I played that one so very much on arcades back in the day. I loved it even more than I hated it. ;)

Good time to point out that we’re two days away from the 1CC. 12:15 Eastern on Friday for Armored Warriors, which is on the Capcom Beat 'em Up Bundle.

I have a lot going on this weekend, but I’ll definitely do my best to make time for it and of course catch up later on what I missed.

Watching a couple of Pasky’s training session has been enlightening as ever.
In particular, watching his playthrough of Tenchiwokurau 2, associated by the clean emulation of the Capcom bundle and the ergonomics of the M30, has upped my game to a point it had never reached before.
I cleared only the 3 first stages with a virtual coin so far (and not in hardest mode, he is insane), but that’s one extra stage already! 1CCing such a game doesn’t seem that absurd anymore. Maybe that’s the root for true despair though!

Warriors of Fate is pretty long, I think? For sentimental childhood reasons, I’d like to get good at that one, but it seems daunting.

I’ve been training on Battle Circuit, because it’s

  • in the Capcom Beat-Em Up Bundle
  • new to me so I won’t get tired of it as easily
  • apparently one of the easier Capcom Beat-Em Ups

Watching replays really opened my eyes on it. Like, in Battle Circuit, you get a ton of invincibility after your Desperation Move, so there’s a lot of strategies involving using it when there are no enemies nearby in order to bypass projectiles, or just to get invincibility and approach a boss.

I’ve been replaying the bosses over and over using save states to get better at them (the levels are generally pretty easy). Even though I’m far from executing, I can see how it would be possible to beat all the bosses without dying, which is new for me.

Pasky emphasized something about this in Warriors of Fate (thanks for the translation!) that changed totally my approach to the game: using the desperation move as soon as you are about to be taken in a pincer. I was always grindy about using those — now I have to just get to a point I won’t have to think about using them, but do it as a reflex. I still need to really think about it before using one, but it’s improved my survivability the most.

To me, all those games are pretty long, over 30 minutes to complete, but I might be wrong.

I think the Warriors of Fate 1CCs I saw on YouTube clocked at about an hour, which seems long. Checking now, there’s speedruns that are shorter, but they might not hit all the content?

I think that’s the hardest change to make having played these games my entire adult life… using those desperation moves as a defensive measure or positioning measure is never something I even thought of doing. When I started watching Pasky and others playing these games, that’s what stood out the most. That and things like the backwards jumping in Final Fight and other weird movement quirks I never even knew existed or did accidentally.

I think it’s really made me better at ALL videogames to have seen these things. I now look for exploitative things like that which are totally within the rules of the game in pretty much everything I play. It has frankly made me even better at first person shooters like Apex, too.

It’s kinda energized me about gaming in general.

I think they’re a little different.

The backwards jump seems more like a speedrun “tech” than an intended design decision. My understanding is that you backwards jump because the game only scrolls if you’re facing to the right, so you can back-jump to position yourself without triggering additional enemy spawns. I don’t think the average player would have ever figured that out in the course of normal play.

Stuff like “how do I use DM-invincibility to my advantage” requires a different approach, but it feels way more obvious once you learn about it, to the point where you wonder why you never thought of it. Like, that’s why triggering the move doesn’t incur damage, you only take same when you hit an enemy with it, which wasn’t always the case.

It is amazing how rich a game can be with just like 3 verbs though.

While I agree they’re in a different category (arcade-action/arcade-action-platformer?), I think they’re definitely cousins. Ninja Warriors is the most beat-em-up adjacent.

Speaking of which, Ninja Warriors has been remade, for modern consoles:

I guess the version I’m most famiilar with is the SNES one? The original had such punch with its enormous sprites. This remake looks the way the original looks in my memory.

Thing has been on my wishlist forever.
Fun fact, it’s priced twice the western price in Japan’s eshop. Was almost an incentive to buy it on release, it felt like 50% off!

This is a remake of the SNES game. I’ve heard nothing but good things. I intend to purchase eventually.

I recently played the arcade original for the first time ever at Galloping Ghost. I think the SNES game is better.

I didn’t even know there was a SNES game! It must have been a late one?

The arcade game was quite terrible: you had to stop all the time while progressing to kill guys spawning in your back, like in Green Beret — but the wide screen made it even worse! The soundtrack was really striking. It was also incredibly hard. I don’t think I ever made it past the first level. Actually, were there levels?

It’s there, with Dragon Ninja, as one of those rare arcade games that left me an impression as a kid but got me shocked at what they really were when I saw them again. I’m glad they are the exceptions and most are even better when I get to play them nowadays.