11 Best Beat ‘Em Up Games to Crack Some Skulls


Anybody who has any knowledge of video games will tell you that Beat ‘Em Up games have dominated the gaming industry for a long time. And guess what? They still possess significant popularity among gamers worldwide. Draping your knuckles, hitting the streets, and beating up enemies to a pulp – what more could a person possibly ask for?

What makes Beat ‘Em Ups so exciting is that they stay true to their name. Your main goal in these kinds of games is to lay waste to your enemies before they lay waste to you. Sounds interesting, right? Yes, they are. Beat ‘Em Ups rank among the best time-killers out there. Besides, many people used to play them back in the good old days, you know, when life was not so complicated. So, when they play these games again, it reminds them of the days they had left behind.

➡️ What are Beat ‘Em Up games?

Beat ‘Em Up games, also known as Brawler games, are a genre of video games that focuses on hand-on-hand combat between a protagonist and a huge number of foes.

Beat 'Em Up Games (Castle Crasher)
Source: Amazon

The most distinct aspect of Beat ‘Em Up games is their unrealistically large number of enemies. Such games have multiple levels, with each level having a boss at the end of it. What makes these games different from typical fighting games is that while the latter revolves around one-on-one bouts, the former does not. Instead, Beat ‘Em Ups are all about scrolling levels and fighting with lots of opponents.

In case you were unaware, scrolling levels are when the player walks from the start of a game world to its end, with each level usually scrolling horizontally. As the players keep walking, they will come across groups of foes that they must defeat to proceed further.  

➡️ Beat ‘Em Ups always spark the 90s nostalgia

For those who like to play retro games, the titles from the late ’80s and early ’90s are of great importance. Just mentioning the name of these games in front of them can send them on a trip down the memory line and make them nostalgic. If you are a retro gaming enthusiast, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Retro video games nostalgia

While Beat ‘Em Ups initially became popular in arcades, they later went on to flourish on consoles too. During the late ’80s and early ’90s, Beat ‘Em Ups used to have massive appeal. Soon, these games became the most significant games of the 16-bit era.

Their simplistic yet interesting gameplay made gamers, especially the youth, spend hours and hours disconnected from the happenings of the world around them.

But even after their prime, this particular genre of games is still popular among retro gamers and many gaming buffs.          

Now, take a look at the Beat ‘Em Up games you can play today:

The Warriors

A classic Beat ‘Em Up from the Golden Era from the house of none other than the legendary Rockstar Games, The Warriors is still a fan-favorite. It takes players on a journey to the neon undergrounds of New York City.

You are part of the ‘Warriors’ – a street gang that is the victim of a huge misunderstanding. The armies of the night are incredibly large in number, that is 60,000. And every one of them thinks that the ‘Warriors’ are the killers of a rival gang leader, namely Cyrus. Needless to say, that is a wholly wrong assumption.


Now, they are out for blood, and you have to brawl to stay alive. As you fight through your bloodthirsty enemies for survival, you learn what loyalty truly means.

There is a total of 18 levels with thousands of enemies. During your fights, up to 8 of your Warrior buddies can assist you.

Preview Product Rating Price
The Warriors - PlayStation 2 The Warriors - PlayStation 2 No ratings yet

Plus, there are ‘drugs’ in the game, contributing to the boost of your health, speed, and strength.

Developer: Rockstar Toronto (PS2 and Xbox versions), Rockstar Leeds (PSP version)

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Release Date: October 17, 2005

Altered Beast

Developed and published by Sega, Altered Beast takes players on a journey through Ancient Greece. Here, you play as a centurion that Zeus brought back to life to rescue Athena – his daughter.

YouTube video

This resurrection has granted you the power to transform yourself into various beasts using power-ups. In fact, the name of the game comes from the shapeshifting ability granted to the player.

As the Roman centurion, you have to beat numerous undead beings and monsters, before finally defeating Neff and rescuing Athena.

Preview Product Rating Price
Altered Beast - Sega Genesis Altered Beast - Sega Genesis No ratings yet $7.00

Plus, each of the beasts you turn into comes with their own special abilities, such as flight and lighting, petrifaction, and more.

Developer: Sega Wow, Sega Shanghai

Publisher: Sega

Release Date: February 25, 2005


As the name suggests, Battletoads is a classic Beat ‘Em Up that makes players step into the shoes of a toad that can… you know… battle.

YouTube video

Published by Rare, this game starts with the abduction of your best friend and the most attractive girl this side of the Mazallion Star Cluster has ever had. And who is the kidnapper? The wicked Dark Queen.

What are you going to do to save the day? Remember that you are not just any toad. You are a mighty Battletoad. So, buckle up and go out blasting.

However, the Dark Queen is a fearsome enemy and has many nasty tricks up her sleeves, such as the Saturn Toadtrap, the Psyko Pigs, the Mutant Ratpack, and more.

Up to 2 players can play Battletoads together. So, get your friend to play with you and double the fun.

Developer: Rare, Arc System Works, Mindscape

Publisher: Sega, Mindscape

Release Date: June 1991

Castle Crashers

Developed by The Behemoth, Castle Crashers has a fictional medieval universe as its setting where a dark wizard has stolen a magical crystal and has taken four princesses captive.

YouTube video

Now, the king has assigned four knights with the task of saving the princesses, taking the crystal back, and punishing the wicked wizard.

Some of the large number of enemies that players have to fight along the way include a frost king, the legendary Medusa, demons, ninja pirates, and even aliens.

The game also has a co-op mode where up to 4 players can team up and fight their foes together. So, if you’ve got a Switch, this is a Nintendo Switch co-op game that can’t be missed!

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Castle Crashers [Online Game Code] Castle Crashers [Online Game Code] 41 Reviews

In addition to it, there are animal characters in the game that you can take with you as cohorts, receiving much-needed assistance during overwhelming battles.

Developer: The Behemoth

Publisher: The Behemoth (Win, Switch), Microsoft Game Studios (360), Sony Computer Entertainment

Release Date: August 27, 2008

Dragon’s Crown

Bursting onto the scene straight from the house of Atlus, Dragon’s Crown revolves around the wrath of a mystifying dragon and six selfless heroes out to save the world.


The tyrannical dragon has brought about a reign of terror on a lovely land. Hence, our heroes have assembled and took up arms to bring peace back.

There are concealed treasures, objects, arms, etc., that can come in handy in getting the best out of your potential.

Preview Product Rating Price
Dragon's Crown - Playstation 3 Dragon's Crown - Playstation 3 563 Reviews $21.00

Plus, Dragon’s Crown lets up to 4 players conquer monsters together, maximizing the fun. This is a fantasy game that set the stage for plenty of other, newer games!

Developer: Vanillaware

Publisher: Atlus, NIS America

Release Date: July 25, 2013

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

Capcom’s classic Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a compilation and reworking of its two celebrated hits – Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara.

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This definitive edition sees players go to war with mythological creatures from the Dungeons & Dragons board games universe. Here, you get to fight your enemies using a mix of hand-to-hand, ranged, and magic attacks.

I like the fact that besides offering the OG arcade modes, Chronicles of Mystara lets players choose the House Rules to get an entirely new gaming experience. These include Unbreakable (objects with infinite durability), Enemy Rush (a special Time Attack Mode), and Make it Rain (slain foes and chests drop lots of gold).

Up to 4 players can start playing the game in co-op mode with the freedom to drop in or out of the game whenever they want.

Also, the game utilizes an RPG-like system that fits smoothly atop the existing game and a new Challenge System.

Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: August 22, 2013

Final Fight 3 

Capcom’s Final Fight 3 is a solid addition to the Final Fight franchise, marking the return of the protagonist Guy and his old friend Hagger along with the introduction of new characters Lucia and Dean.

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The game requires the players to go on an action-filled journey to eliminate the Skull Cross gang from Metro City.

Final Fight 3 lets players fight with enemies together with a CPU-controlled companion. You can choose to play as either of the four available characters.

The game features six stages with six unique bosses. What amuses me the most about this game is the presence of multiple ways that alter the areas you visit, foes, and bosses.

Plus, your chosen character, the path you pick, and the difficulty setting all contribute to the endings of the game. This is a fighting game that you should get your hands on!

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: December 22, 1995

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Published by Ubisoft, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World takes its inspiration from the popular comic and film of the same name.

YouTube video

Players can choose their character from the available primary four – Scott Pilgrim, Kim Pine, Stephen Stills, or Ramona Flowers, or unlock/download more characters like NegaScott, Wallace Wells, and Knives Chau.

There are seven levels, each requiring to defeat Ramona’s seven malicious exes. Each character comes equipped with a unique move set.

You can summon Knives Chau or the assist character named Mr Chau upon unlocking using Guts Points too.

The game features a multiplayer co-op mode as well, enabling up to 3 players to play together. Also, the Network Mode of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World can help you play online by joining a random game or creating your own lobby.

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Chengdu

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release Date: August 10, 2010

Knights of the Round

A classic Beat ‘Em Up from the early ’90s published by Capcom, Knights of the Round is a loose adaptation of King Arthur and the Knight of the Round Table’s tale.

YouTube video

After Arthur pulls out the sacred Excalibur from the rock, he apprehends that it is his fate to become the paramount King of the Britons.

Later, at the instructions of Merlin, Arthur, along with his two closest associates, Lancelot and Percival, embarks on an important quest. He now has to dethrone the wicked ruler Garibaldi and unify Britain.

In case you didn’t know, there are seven stages, each with a boss (the final boss being Garibaldi) and numerous basic enemies.

Besides the single-player mode, Knights of the Round has a co-op mode, allowing up to 3 players to beat up enemies together.

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: November 27, 1991

Streets of Rage 4

Published by Dotemu, Streets of Rage 4 is a worthy entry to the Streets of Rage franchise, where players fight waves of adversaries. This classic brawler sees you combat various evil criminals and reclaim the city.

YouTube video

Not only the beautiful hand-drawn graphics is pleasing to the eyes, but the gameplay has also enhanced a lot. As a player, you go through 12 unique stages fighting formidable bosses.

While the game is relatively new (2020), it offers players a chance to play as many classic Streets of Rage as well as new characters in their pixel forms. I mean, how cool is that?

Streets of Rage 4 lets up to 4 players (offline) or 2 players (online) join forces, and knock your enemies down like they deserve. So, if you’ve got a PS4, this is a PS4 co-op game that’s worth your time and money.

Preview Product Rating Price
Streets of Rage 4 - Anniversary Edition - PlayStation 4 Streets of Rage 4 - Anniversary Edition - PlayStation 4 No ratings yet $20.88Amazon Prime

Also, the game is known for its elite-level soundtrack that ranks among the best soundtracks ever.

Developer: Dotemu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games

Publisher: Dotemu, Playdigious

Release Date: April 30, 2020

Beat ‘Em Up Bundle

When talking about Beat ‘Em Up games, not mentioning Capcom’s Beat ‘Em Up Bundle would be a crime.


The Beat ‘Em Up Bundle consists of a comprehensive collection of the Beat ‘Em Up games developed by the studio. These include Final Fight, Captain Commando, Knights of the Round, Warriors of Fate, and The King of Dragons, along with two other previously unavailable titles on consoles – Battle Circuit and Armored Warriors.

All seven games support online multiplayer modes. Additionally, I like the fact that all these games allow gamers to play both the English and Japanese versions of them.

If you are a sucker for retro gaming and the nostalgia that comes with it, you must get your hands on the Beat ‘Em Up Bundle.

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: 18 September 2018

Final Words  

As you can see, the Beat ‘Em Up or Brawler games are one of the finest genres to look for if you strive for entertainment and fun.

Even though they are way past their glory days, Beat ‘Em Up games are still a perfect choice for people looking to time travel without a time machine. They can instantly transport the players back to a bygone era and relive their happy days.

Here, I listed a few of the best choices to go after if you want that raw, unadulterated Beat ‘Em Up experience. Hurry up! Try them out today!

Now that we’ve discussed some exciting beat ’em up games, you may also check out our amazing compilation of the best boxing games for PC.

Samyak Goswami
Samyak Goswami
Samyak Goswami, a passionate gamer and skilled gaming content writer, indulges in the world of virtual adventures. With a penchant for tinkering with tech, he brings a unique blend of expertise and enthusiasm to the gaming website.

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