Tag Archives: beat ’em up

Double Dragon: Defining the Brawler

Every gaming genre out there has that one title that helped to codify — if not establish — conventions that would continue to be followed for many years to come.

For the beat ’em up genre, that game was Technos’ Double Dragon, a title that is widely regarded to have kicked off something of a “golden age” for the genre with its innovative mechanics, simultaneous two-player action and large, chunky sprites. It also got an NES version developed by Technos themselves which doesn’t get talked about nearly as much. Which is a shame, because it’s an interesting game and most certainly isn’t just a straightforward attempt to ape the arcade machine on limited hardware.

Fortunately, we can now enjoy this intriguing take on a classic in a couple of readily available ways if you don’t have an NES to hand: via the Double Dragon and Kunio-Kun bundle released for modern consoles by Arc System Works, and as part of the Technos Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming platform.

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Renegade: Birth of the Brawler

It’s always interesting to return to the very earliest examples of a particular genre, just to see how things got off the ground in the first place.

As you’ll know if you’ve read my feature on the history of the beat ’em up, which formed part of the Senran Kagura: Estival Versus Cover Game feature here on MoeGamer, Renegade is where the fine art of punching things in the face really got started so far as video games are concerned. But how well does that original brawler hold up today?

With equal parts trepidation and curiosity, I slid my Technos Collection 1 cartridge into my Evercade retro gaming system, and prepared for what would hopefully be some button-mashing fun.

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Streets of Rage 3: The Most Notorious Localisation

Ah, Streets of Rage 3. Probably the most notorious entry in the franchise due to how heavily it was altered between its original Japanese release as Bare Knuckle III and its Western incarnation.

Thankfully, modern compilations such as the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection make it very easy to access the Japanese version — though it’s worth taking a look at the Western release too for an extreme example of what unnecessary localisation due to external pressure looks like.

Let’s hit the streets once again!

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Waifu Wednesday: Blaze Fielding

For many players of a certain age, Blaze Fielding would have been one of the earliest high-profile female characters we got to spend some time with — one who made no secret of her gender, anyway!

She stood out — not only was she an attractive young woman, which obviously appealed to those who appreciate such things, but she was also highly capable of kicking vast amounts of booty on the streets without any need for support from smelly old men. Although, of course, if you had a friend who didn’t mind playing as a smelly old man, she would always welcome the backup.

With the long-awaited Streets of Rage 4 now out for everyone to enjoy — and my Limited Run copy still not here at the time of writing — let’s take a moment to celebrate one of the most ass-kicking ladies of 16-bit gaming.

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Streets of Rage 2: Everyone’s Favourite

Speak to pretty much anyone familiar with the Streets of Rage series, and chances are their favourite installment is probably the second.

While the first game may have set the template for the series to follow by being a beat ’em up designed for the home rather than the arcade, the second is where it well and truly hit its stride. Streets of Rage 2 demonstrates what the humble Mega Drive is truly capable of in the hands of real masters of their craft.

And it’s a game that is still relevant, enormously playable and impressive to look at, even to this day. So let’s take a closer look.

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Streets of Rage: Dawn of a Phenomenon

The Streets of Rage series is an all-time great in gaming, and you could practically hear the collective sigh of relief from the entire community when the brand new fourth installment, released at the tail end of April 2020, turned out to be good.

How do the older installments hold up today, though? Having not played them for a few years, I figured “while I wait for my Limited Run copy of Streets of Rage 4 to arrive” would be the perfect time to revisit them all. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.

We begin, of course, with the first game in the series, which first hit the streets in 1991 with releases for the Mega Drive, Master System and Game Gear. We’ll be concentrating on the 16-bit Mega Drive release for today, since that’s still the most readily available version for modern audiences. Let’s dive in.

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Ninja Combat: From a Distance

One cool thing that we’ve started to see in the last couple of console generations is publishers bringing formerly Japan-only releases to the West — not necessarily fully translated, but simply providing us access to games that were previously difficult or impractical to get hold of.

One such example is ADK Damashiia compilation of Neo Geo games that was released for PlayStation 2 back in 2008. It was ported to PlayStation 4 in 2015 for Japanese players — then, two years later, it got a surprise Western release via digital download, followed by a limited packaged release courtesy of Limited Run Games at the tail end of 2019.

ADK Damashii features five games to enjoy, all developed by former SNK partner Alpha Denshi Kabushiki Gaisha, also known as Alpha Denshi Corporation or, you guessed it, ADK. Let’s begin with a look at the rather literally titled Ninja Combat.

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Waifu Wednesday: Kurokishi

I may well be writing myself into a corner with this one, but after this week’s discussion of beat ’em ups on The MoeGamer Podcast, I spent some time with Denjin Makai. And I’m in love. Or possibly just lust.

Denjin Makai, for the unfamiliar, is a beat ’em up from Winky Soft and Banpresto that originally hit the Japanese arcades in 1994. It got a port to Super Famicom under the name Ghost Chaser Densei, but neither the arcade version nor this port ever came West in any capacity.

Which is a shame, because Denjin Makai is superb — as is its sequel Guardians, which likewise didn’t make it over here — and Kurokishi is super-hot. Let’s see what we can find out.

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Warriors Wednesday: Her Name is Rio – Warriors All-Stars #5

Arnice takes a back seat this time around as Rio decides to lead the party into battle.

We do our best to fulfil some of Kasumi’s unreasonable demands before moving on to face Laegrinna, star of Deception IV: Blood Ties. She does not want to go down without a rather sneaky fight, but surely the invincible Girl Power team of Rio, Arnice, Christophorous, Kasumi and Honoka will prevail, non?

Warriors All-Stars is, so far, doing a very good job of paying homage to its incredibly diverse source material through a combination of its playable characters, stages, music and overall game design. We’re in this for the long haul, I think!

Warriors Wednesday: Who’s That Girl – Warriors All-Stars #4

You know sometimes how you see someone and you know that you know them, but you just can’t remember their name? Yeah, that.

How could I forget dear old Honoka, though? She’s become quite a high-profile mascot for the Dead or Alive series in various crossover collaborations — besides Warriors All-Stars she also had a guest appearance in Senran Kagura — but her name just fell right on out of my head for some reason.

Oh well. At least I remember her name once she’s said it a few times… and once she’s joined Arnice’s brigade of brave warriors!