Fodders Favourite: Beat ’em up


I heard a rumour that this genre is commonly referred to as “brawlers” now. Why? Why would you do that? I blame the hipsters. My mind is already conjuring up images of some zany hipster, in his rainbow pattern leggings and crop-top combo, ranting on about how we need to “diversify words”, or some such bullshit. Fucking hipsers man… *shudders*, second only to clowns.

It’s not that I don’t like change (it is), change is fine – often good – but remember the golden rule: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Speaking of “golden”, that brings me nicely on to my pick for favourite beat ’em up: Golden Axe on the Mega Drive.


Budgie smugglers

Budgie smugglers

Golden Axe was just one of a string of very similar games at and around the time. Double Dragon, Final Fight, Streets of rage and I seem to recall a great ninja turtles game; they all fill me with a sense of nostalgia, but Golden Axe hacks its way to the front.

As I say, nostalgia plays an important role and is especially prevalent in this game, but I think there are some more tangible reasons backing up this choice as well. Sharpening Golden Axes edge were some nice little touches that didn’t really innovate the genre, but did add subtle depth and variety. Firstly, each of the games three controllable characters were different in more than just appearance. The most obvious was their magical abilities/levels, but there were also slight differences in their attack range. As for the magic powers, to use them you needed to gather pots of magic. This was done by chasing after, and beating up little treasure goblin dudes – making them drop their potions. A something and nothing moment really, but it added a frantic, almost comical aspect to the game.

The ability, granted to both the player and the enemy, to mount a number of different steeds, added another layer to the gameplay. They each had a different attack and were a real asset on the battlefield. This often led to battles within the battle, as you fought with enemies over control of these mounts, until the animal would finally have enough and bugger off altogether. There was nothing worse than being kicked from one of these creatures and then have it’s power turned against you.

Must of been something I ate

Must of been something I ate

Another little aspect I really liked was how the game told the story between levels, drawing your progress on a map. It’s these subtle little details that really add up, bumping the overall presentation of the game and helping it stand out.

To prove to myself that it isn’t just nostalgia, I recently played Dragons Crown. This game could be classed as a modern take on the classic beat ’em up, and it actually reminded me a little of Golden Axe. It may look better, support more players and have a bit more depth, but the actual gameplay is a complete cluster fuck. There’s too much going on in too small a space, breaking the ability to have balanced gameplay. What this tells me is that; things may well be constantly moving forward, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are moving up.

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  1. Fodders Favourites | Fodders Gaming Blog

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