The recent announcement of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge has fans excited for the return of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael in a retro side-scrolling beat 'em up. Since the mid-80s, beat 'em ups have been a staple of gaming with their simple arcade-styled action. In particular, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise quickly became renowned in the genre with the release of TMNT: Turtles in Time in 1991.
Over the past few years, the classic arcade action of beat 'em ups have returned to mainstream attention with numerous successful indie titles. TMNT: Shredder's Revenge takes advantage of that and draws inspiration from both TMNT: Turtles of Time and the original 1987 TV series. Unfortunately, fans will have some waiting ahead of them as TMNT: Shredder's Revenge does not have an official release date but there are some fantastic side scrolling beat 'em ups that fans should try while they wait.
Originally released in 2010 a few days before the movie adaptation, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game is a side-scrolling beat 'em up inspired by the original graphic novels. Players would control Scott Pilgrim, Ramona Flowers, Knives Chau, and more as they fought through seven levels to defeat Ramona's seven exes. An homage to classic arcade beat 'em ups and 16-bit consoles, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game features a nostalgic art style and a retro chiptune soundtrack from Anamanaguchi.
Much like classic arcade beat 'em ups, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game has individual movesets for all of the characters and different special moves that can be used during battle. Players will also gain experience, collect weapons, and purchase items to boost their stats and health. The game also featured a co-op mode where players could share health or money and use combined attacks. With the recent remaster of the game as Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition, players are able to get the full experience with both DLCs on modern consoles. Fans of TMNT: Shredder's Revenge looking for a similarly modern take on classic arcade beat 'em ups should try Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game.
River City Girls is a spinoff of Kunio-kun, one of the oldest Japanese beat 'em up franchises. This time around, the heroes of the Kunio-kun franchise are captured and it's up to their girlfriends Misako and Kyoko to save them. Featuring local co-op, players can work together to brawl and combo their way through waves of enemies. Much like other titles in the Kunio-kun franchise, Misako and Kyoko can unleash combos, wield a variety of weapons, gain new skills, and use powerups.
Inspired by the arcade action of side-scrolling beat 'em ups as well as RPG gameplay, Castle Crashers was a big hit when it first released in 2008. Developed by The Behemoth, Castle Crashers was a big factor in indie developers bringing back old-school styles of games into the mainstream during the late 2000s and early 2010s. Set in a medieval world, players are tasked with saving four princesses and a crystal that are captured by a wizard. Featuring local and online co-op with up to four players, they must fight their way through stages of enemies and bosses in order to bring the wizard to justice.
Although Streets of Rage was one of Sega's most famous franchises in the 1990s, it would take over 25 years for Streets of Rage 4 to come out in 2020. Thankfully, the newest mainline entry in the Streets of Rage series remained faithful to the originals as players fight their way through waves of enemies with disposable weapons and item pickups. Streets of Rage 4 also introduced a brand new combo system reminiscent of fighter games and gorgeous hand-drawn animations. Online play and 4 player co-op are also available now that there aren't any hardware or design limitations.
Streets of Rage 4 is a fantastic tribute to its predecessors while introducing its old-school mechanics to a new generation. Packed with multiple gameplay modes, a pumping soundtrack, and cameos from previous Streets of Rage games, Streets of Rage 4 is the definitive experience for both veterans and newcomers alike. The successful revival of Streets of Rage 4 likely played a role in greenlighting TMNT: Shredder's Revenge and fans should give it a try to see how a classic series was revitalized.
Mixing together the beat 'em up style of gameplay of Streets of Rage together with the adrenaline-pumping ultraviolence of Hotline Miami, Mother Russia Bleeds is an unforgiving entry in the genre. Much more difficult than typical beat 'em ups, Mother Russia Bleeds focuses on a desperate crew of imprisoned street fighters that must overcome an oppressively authority in an alternate U.S.S.R. Players must fight their way through ghettos, prisons, clubs and more using an assortment of weapons.
Despite its gratuitous violence and difficulty, Mother Russia Bleeds is executed well through its tight controls and stylish environment design. It also features an interesting story, something that is not common in the beat 'em up genre. As players progress through the stages, the slow unravelling of the mystery helps give a more immersive experience. Though Mother Russia Bleeds is not for the squeamish, it's a must-play for any fan of beat 'em ups that are looking for a challenge.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is in development for PC and unspecified consoles.