Alan Smithee

A Weird Kid’s Top 10 — Arcade Beat ‘Em Ups

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like this...but in video game format...and less vandamme

If there’s one genre of games I think is getting the shaft over and over again that made me fall in love with gaming in the first place, it would have to be the beat ’em ups. These games were just notorious for eating a roll of quarters faster than a German in a Mentos commercial. The funniest thing is that many of us didn’t seem to mind doing so.

I wince when I think of all the cash that I’ve dumped into the arcades in my formative years playing these games, all of that cash that could have gone to something more worthwhile like delicious snack foods or maybe saved in my own pocket so I could afford more cartridges for my Sega Master System or my Nintendo. The biggest offence are the ones that I had beaten so many times before but I continued to play and play over and over again.

Tonight’s list are just those, the games where you too might remember playing through multiple times, but wouldn’t mind going back and doing it all again…there’s no better word to describe them than classic.


Knights of the Round

This game had it all for kids like me who grew up listening and fantasizing about Arthurian legends. You had Arthur with his well balanced attacking, Percival with his arm/shoulder guard and devastating axe, and finally that a-hole Lancelot with his long-flowing hair.

I mean, this is just the start of the list today and I’m already breaking out a game that had character leveling, and a whole slew of pretty sprites that you just don’t see anymore.


The Punisher

In my opinion, this is the only Punisher piece of media outside of the comic to be any sort of fun. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy the idea of taking up the mantle of the Punisher or Nick Fury (Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and fighting your way through the criminal underworld of the Kingpin?

Notably, this game was obscene with the amount of weaponry strewn about the levels. You had flamethrowers, pistols, MAC-10s, M-16s, and those are just the firearms…I loved this game, even when it got ported down to the Genesis/Mega Drive, except for the fact that the sexy ninja ladies got more clothing in the home version.


Cadillacs and Dinosaurs

In case you never heard of the comic series that was responsible for the birth of this game, Xenozoic Tales was a comic series that lasted about 14 issues back in the mid-eighties which featured a storyline of humanity retreating into underground cities for 600 years due to natural disasters and pollution. When the humans emerged, the Earth had been overrun with extinct species from Earth’s past…most notibly, Dinosaurs.

This game (another Capcom masterpiece) was great for the fact that it combined things that all male children who grew up in the 80s and 90s enjoyed: big cars, beating people up, guns, explosives, dinosaurs, and cussing. Yup, this was one of Capcom’s first games to actually feature expletives in the game itself. Whether it be Jack saying “damn, I’m good!” or the boss in stage 2 saying a censored “fuck you!” it didn’t matter, it had me laughing everytime.


Warriors of Fate

Based on the Manga (Tenshi wo Kurau), this beat ’em up took place in the Three-Kingdoms era of Chinese history with your character as the main protagonist for the Kingdom of Shu.

Main difference for this game over the ones I listed that were the standard Capcom side-scroller beat ’em ups, is that this one was particularly gory. I’m saying like bad guys being cleft in twain if you perform a finishing move or are equipped with certain edged weapons. Not only that, but there is a metric fuckton of decapitations and fights where the enemy just blows up from the amount of awesome you punch into them. Any fan should seek this game out just for the violence factor. PERIOD.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Following the huge pile of fail that was the NES game that all of us own, Konami sought to bring in buckets of coin with their first TMNT arcade game that would start a trend for the company. A trend that lasted through multiple ports of their arcade games, a Simpsons based arcade machine, and 2 modern-day ports onto Xbox Live Arcade.

The first game that started it all was this one back in 1989. I don’t know if any of you were around when it first started showing up in arcades, but I personally can remember going to Aladdin’s Castle and dropping many a dollar trying to get past the first couple of levels.

It wasn’t until the game received mass distribution into locales like Pizza Hut (or Mazzio’s Pizza for me in Arkansas) that I finally reached the final levels of the game. I can fondly remember the in-fighting that would happen between friends as to who gets to play a certain character. This was all new territory for kids like me and was generally quickly resolved until a certain other ‘character specific’ game came along, which is the next one on my list.



I was lucky enough to have a few locations around me that had the full dual-screened, six-player cabinets for this game. There’s nothing quite like the experience of playing X-Men with five of your buddies and not being the one that has to use Dazzler as your character.

Personally, I was always hoping to either be Wolverine or Nightcrawler because they’re two of my favorites, but I wouldn’t mind being anyone else except for Dazzler, boy what were the developers thinking when they put her in? Couldn’t they pick anyone else from the X-Men roster to use in the game?

If you’ve been living under a rock your whole life, X-Men was an excellent beat ’em up that allowed you to sacrifice life points in order to use your mutant abilities, let you beat up on enemies when they’re down, and had animation comparable with the television series, which was great for the time…plus dude, it had Marvel characters beating the shit out of other Marvel characters.


Final Fight

What else can I say about this game that hasn’t been said already. We have so many internet memes that Poison himself has been responsible for, a whole genre of anime/manga called futanari, and a mayor that is so ripped that he makes Jesse Ventura look like a she-male.

I’ll tell you what I especially love about the Final Fight series…so many of these characters have eventually found their way to the Street Fighter Alpha (and SFIII) series that it makes me feel that one day, we might see a Final Fight game that does the same and lets you clean the city up using SF characters…well at least I can dream.


Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara

If the first D&D game that came out in the arcades wasn’t enough for you, they came out with a sequel a few years after called Shadow over Mystara that blew the socks off the original. There were a few new classes over the original Fighter/Dwarf/Cleric/Elf that were in the original with the addition of the Thief and Magic User.

The best part about this game is that they really tried to make an action-RPG on par with games that we’d only see on the PC. I just find myself lucky that I bought the import version of this game with the Drow titties intact.


Alien Vs. Predator

This game almost made my number one spot…if there weren’t a game out there that completely steals my heart everytime I play it. This in my opinon, was the pinnacle of the arcade beat ’em ups made by Capcom.

It takes place on a Earth of the future where the Aliens have landed and have begun to take over the entire planet. The only hope for the California town of San Drad lies in the hands of the hands of two soldiers (one being the same namesake of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the original movie), and two Predators who have come to Earth to hunt the Xenomorphs.

I could always count on picking Lynn Kurosawa and making it through about 30% of the game on one credit before the difficulty got out of hand and it became just another quarter muncher like all of the titles before it, best thing is that it was in a game universe that I had grown to love over the years…just done really well.



Ok so I may be a bit biased here…mainly because Battletoads on the Genesis (Mega Drive) and the NES is one of those games that instantly transports me back to my childhood in ways that other games have never even come close.

The arcade version…is that game on steroids and methamphetamines. Picture a game you loved as a kid, but with ultraviolence, excellent sound, and graphics that blew the version you loved out of the water. I mean, you got to chooose between all 3 battletoads, and each one was a bit different.

Where this game shined for me was the special attacks you could perform. Sure, the bad guys were still the palette swaped giant rats from the other games, but how you could dispose of them was the selling-point. Much like how you’d play games like Super Dodge Ball, you too could control your battletoad into doing special moves that would dismember said victims in the most entertaining of ways. I’m talking Army of Darkness / Evil Dead 2 gore here people…it was enough to make me have a bit of a geekgasm.


Captain America and The Avengers

I should have loved this game but the fact that the dialogue and health system were both so horrible, I just can’t forgive it’s sins. The line that kills me is the first battle with a boss character…in the first level it’s Whirwind and the Avengers say “You cannot escape!” only to have the retarded villain quip back with “You will be the one’s escaping”…it’s just so dreadful I can’t take it.

Well, this concludes yet another Weird Kid’s Top 10 list. I hope you all enjoyed reading it. I know for certain that there are many of you out there that will disagree with some of my choices for this list, but keep in mind that this is in no way a definitive listing nor is it meant to be taken seriously. Its all for fun, just enjoy reading and take something away with you or leave a comment if you so wish.

If you have a particular Top 10 that you’d like to see email me, and I’d be happy to oblige. Thank you again for reading. See you again next time!

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