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Coronavirus GLOBAL STATISTICS

All countries
548,935,393
Confirmed
Updated on June 27, 2022 1:19 am
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21,853,741
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Updated on June 27, 2022 1:19 am
All countries
520,730,887
Recovered
Updated on June 27, 2022 1:19 am
All countries
6,350,765
Deaths
Updated on June 27, 2022 1:19 am

Virtual scuffle: analysis of the beat ’em up genre

In the 1980s, slot machines ruled the industry. Then such genres as shoot ’em up and beat ’em up became widespread – arcade “shooters” and fights. Fighting games spun off from beat ’em up, but the old genre did not die. Now it includes both projects for a nostalgic audience like Street of Rage 4 and the new Battletoads, as well as blockbusters – take the recent Sifu. Let’s talk about the rise of beatmaps in the 2D era, attempts to hone gameplay in 3D and modern representatives.

The essence of the genre
First, about general concepts. If in fighting games battles are thundering in the 1-on-1 format, then in beat ’em up your hero confronts several opponents at once.

In general, beat ’em up (beat them up) is translated from English as “beat them” (beat them up, beat them to death / unconsciousness). It is understood that you will deal more than one blow to deal with your opponent. Until the advent of “beatemaps” in the second half of the 1980s, in such fighting games, one hit was enough for the enemy. Another project of the beat ’em up genre is called brawler (“badass”, “brawler” in English).

Two-dimensional “beatemaps” are classified as arcades, three-dimensional – as action games. Usually they have a choice of 2-4 characters with different tricks. You need to fight with your bare hands and with the help of objects scattered here and there: a bit, a vase, a katana … Pumping is superficial, its goal is to expand the set of movements. Replenish health with healers. Often you have to look at the timer ticking at the top of the screen – the location must be “cleared” for a certain time.

As for the plot, the developers do not particularly think. A typical motive is to save a friend / girlfriend from the clutches of bandits.

Classic in 2D
We will present the history of the genre through bright projects. We will not focus entirely on the series, only on the first issues.

Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun, aka Renegade, cemented the foundations of the genre in 1986: horizontal scrolling through levels, street showdowns, and combos. It was followed by Double Dragon (1987), which is much more familiar to our gamer, with a joint mode and a high difficulty – there are no “first aid kits”, there are enemies and traps all around …

Splatterhouse (1988) brought in a dash of horror. You are locked in a mansion and use all sorts of cleavers and harpoons in order to deal with the monsters. Sounds and scenes of violence are savory.

Final Fight (1989) offered three heroes to choose from and a fun co-op. Streets of Rage (1991) followed the same path. On the Genesis, this beat ’em up looked great, plus at the start the difficulty is gentle, it’s easy to get involved.

Battletoads (1991), in contrast, almost immediately knocks the ground out from under the gamer’s feet. Races with obstacles here are made at a manic level of difficulty. Nevertheless, anthropomorphic toads with enlarged limbs have become one of the most recognizable heroes of the 8- and 16-bit era. Battletoads fell in love with the boring gameplay and original humor.

Heavy transition to 3D
At the dawn of the 1990s, 2D “bitemaps” could not compete with fighting games. Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat marched triumphantly across the planet.

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Beat ’em up got its second wind in 3D. Die Hard Arcade (1996) used the Die Hard license but offered to knock out robots and wrestlers. It has QTE, however, in the mid-1990s, before the arrival of Shenmue, they were not called that yet.

Fighting Force (1997) could have been Streets of Rage 4, but Sega turned down a pitch from Core Design. As a result, the authors of Tomb Raider made a “bitemap” under their own brand. Notable is the ability to choose which location to send the heroes to.

In 1998, the cult SpikeOut from Toshihiro Nagoshi, later the “father” of Yakuza, landed on arcade machines. Advanced graphics, a lot of tricks, a convenient camera, a dynamic co-op… Those who were lucky enough to play SpikeOut on the machine remember it as a unique experience, because the project was not ported to the console or PC.

Shenmue (1999) is also a beat ’em up, even if it splits the playing time in half with the adventure game. Shenmue grew out of Virtua Fighter and partly out of SpikeOut. For the first time in the history of the genre, developers at Sega took the script seriously. Dialogues and story action scenes are intelligently directed, in the same style, with frames that stick in the memory.

In Zombie Revenge (1999), the plot is the tenth thing. To have fun, a scattering of firearms and measured punches is enough. Heroes are opposed by crowds of the walking dead. Interestingly, Zombie Revenge is an offshoot of The House of the Dead, an incredibly popular rail shooter in arcade halls.

The Bouncer (2000) was intended by Square to wow the PS2 audience. The character design and graphics are really commendable. However, the game is short, for 2-3 hours. At the same time, it seems that there are more cutscenes in it than gameplay segments. In addition, the game is ruined by a clumsy camera that gets lost in narrow spaces.

At the beginning of the 2000s, the hack & slash genre, which relies on edged weapons, finally separated from the bitmaps. And he immediately gave life to slashers – unlike beat ’em up, they have one character, not several to choose from, but what a character! Just think of Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden or God of War.

In 2003, in the wake of the Matrix frenzy , the action/beat ’em up Enter the Matrix saw the light of day. Mediocre in terms of graphics and with Niobe and Ghost instead of The Chosen One. Against the background of other “beatemaps”, it is distinguished by a variety of techniques. The motion capture process involved the stuntmen of The Matrix.

Grabbed by the Ghoulies (2003) cannot be left aside from the famous Rare. As in the ancient Splatterhouse, you run around the “scary” mansion. The best weapons against skeletons, mummies, zombies and spiders are frying pans and furniture. The scenery is interactive – the skeleton can be launched into the window. Management is unusual – all blows are hung on the right stick. The left stick is responsible for moving, and the “triggers” are responsible for turning the camera. The plot scenes are presented like in a comic book. And one more thing: cel shading technology is applied, which turns the picture into a “cartoon”.

Cell shading awaits you in Crimson Tears (2004). This beat ’em up earned its place in history thanks to its random level generation.

Of the projects of 2005, four deserve mention at once: Urban Reign, The Warriors, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and Yakuza. Urban Reign and The Warriors are big-budget beatmaps from Capcom and Rockstar, respectively. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, you, along with Liu Kang and Kung Lao, throw opponents into stake pits and impale them on hooks hanging from the ceiling. Fatalities are not forgotten, and they can be applied to all enemies at once, regardless of how much health they have left.

Yakuza copied and developed Shenmue’s ideas. It spawned a hugely successful series that achieved recognition in Japan and the West. It is now Sega’s flagship line. The components of success are a well-thought-out scenario, silly side quests (for unloading), a lot of mini-games like working as a cook and a taxi driver, and exemplary combat segments. In fights, they are encouraged to use everything that comes to hand, and to carry out brutal finishing moves using garbage cans and bicycles.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon – Day Ichi Edition (PS4)
[18+, action, release date: 11/10/2020, voice language: English, extended edition]
Not available
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An honorable nomination on our list goes to God Hand (2006) by Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil. For bold ideas. So, here you hang tricks on the face buttons of the gamepad, and choose super attacks from the menu with circular scrolling.

Our days. Nostalgia and more
Since the second half of the 2000s, beatmaps have been putting pressure on nostalgia and adopting the features of other genres. They are equally well represented in 2D and 3D.

From two-dimensional ones, let’s recall the cheerful cooperative Castle Crashers (2008), the humorous Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game (2010), crossed with metroidvania Guacamelee! (2013), imbued with the retro spirit of Streets of Rage 4 (2020). But the new Battletoads (2020), in contrast to Streets of Rage 4, failed, it was let down by unpretentious fights and bust with dialogues.

 

 

In 3D, The Legend of Korra (2014) makes a good impression, primarily due to the variability of the combat system and situations. Dragon Ball: Xenoverse (2015) is worthy of an anime fan’s attention, and the average fan of the genre will find it curious, as well as the rapid transition from showdowns on the ground to an exchange of cuffs in the air. Crows: Burning Edge (2016) at one time intrigued the Western gamer with trailers with massacre involving Japanese hooligans, but so far has not received an English localization . Gravity Rush 2 (2017) is one of the longest beatmaps in our memory, how nothing to do will take you 20-30 hours.

Judgment game (PS5)
[18+, action, release date: 04/23/2021, voice language: English, standard edition]
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Definitely worth playing Judgment (2018) and Shenmue 3 (2019). The first will please with technical fights and a killer detective story, the second will intrigue with the color of the Chinese hinterland. There, in China, calls 9 Monkeys of Shaolin (2020) from the Russian Sobaka Studio.

Shenmue I & II Game (PS4)
[6+, arcade, action, release date: 08/21/2018, voice language: English, standard edition]
Not available
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Well, this year the attention of fans of the genre is riveted to the hardcore Sifu from the Sloclap studio. After death, the character in it is reborn as an aged one – experience is added, and the former agility gradually disappears. An interesting concept.

***

The beat ’em up genre has proven that it is tenacious to match the arcade “relatives” – fighting games and platformers. He is let down by the repetitiveness of the gameplay and the careless attitude of the developers to the plot. The advantage is that the entry threshold is much lower than in fighting games. Co-op is often implemented, which makes beatmaps a good choice for gatherings with friends.

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