Top 10 Arcade-Only Beat ‘Em Ups
Here on 1 More Countdown, I show a lot of love to retro consoles but I also remember spending a ton of time and quarters in the arcades of New York. Back then I played a ton of run ‘n gun games, a few racers, but mostly beat ’em ups. I wasn’t really into fighting games back then, and shooters bored me. However, beat ’em ups were the shit! They were always bright, colorful, and featured my favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters. I wasn’t the only one who loved these games because many of them were ported to our 8 and 16-bit consoles and even more are being ported to Xbox Live or PSN today.
Those games always get a ton of praise, but I wanted to focus on something a little different. So for this list we’re going to look at the beat ’em ups that never made their way to consoles. No ports, HD upgrades or anything… if there was a ‘port’ it has to be significantly different in genre and gameplay from the arcade game. The only way to play them now are the actual arcade machines, or emulation. Without further ado, let’s grab a roll of quarters and begin.
True story, Vendetta aka Crime Fighters 2 just beat out the Sailor Moon arcade game for a spot on this list. It’s mainly because I was never really into Sailor Moon, so I never played the arcade game. Although, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a crush on Sailor Mercury when I was a kid.
Vendetta is basically an arcade game version of The Expendables. That’s because the characters share a shocking resemblance to Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Van Damme, and Mike Tyson. You go through the streets fighting members of of the Dead End Gang who kidnapped your friend, Kate.
Yeah it’s a pretty generic story, but you can attack fallen enemies like in the X-Men arcade game and team up with your friends to take the gang down.
While there have been numerous Battletoads games on the consoles, the arcade game was never ported. Maybe because the game is so damn dark.
Like any Battletoads game, in Battletoads arcade you can play as either Zitz, Pimple, or Rash. For the first time in the series all three can fight alongside one another at the same time, and each control differently!
As I said above, this game is dark. It’s bloody, gory, mature and probably the best in the series.
8.) Metamorphic Force
Metamorphic Force reminds me of Altered Beast and Animorphs combined to make a beat ’em up, and that’s amazing.
Konami was the king of arcade beat ’em ups and Metamorphic Force is one of their last. The game is about stopping The Evil One from destroying the world. You play as one of four guardians, who each have the ability to transform into anthropomorphic animals. By collecting a powerup you can transform into a werepanther, a werebear, a werewolf, or a wereminotaur.
The best thing Metamorphic Force has going for it, is that it’s a lot like X-Men arcade and probably superior… but just didn’t have the same commercial appeal.
7.) Spider-Man: The Video Game
X-Men weren’t the only superheros to get their own arcade beat ’em up. The Avengers had one that was ported over to home consoles, but Spider-Man: The Video Game never was. It’s a shame because any Spidey fan would love it.
It’s similar to other superhero beat ’em ups of the time. You take control of your favorite hero (Spidey, Sub-Mariner, Black Cat, or Hawkeye) and fight against super villains like Dr. Doom and Kingpin.
The best part of this game is taking control of your favorite hero, each with their own powers and moves. I don’t know who Sub-Mariner is, and Hawkeye ain’t got shit on Green Arrow, but Spidey is as badass as ever, and I just love Black Cat. Me-ow!
6.) Armored Warriors
Who doesn’t love giant robots? No one… that’s who.
Armored Warriors was a Capcom beat ’em up. It never got a home console release, but inspired the mecha-fighter Cyberbots.
The plot is some generic war and mechs or something, but the gameplay is where shit gets real.
Being a mech means you can customize your machine. You can switch out arms, legs, and weapons for different parts which have different attacks. Build the best mech, team up with a friend, and asplode everything.
5.) Night Slashers
Sometimes all you need in a great beat ’em up, is a great theme.
Night Slashers is centered around the undead, horror movie monsters, and other horror cliches and I can’t get enough of it.
This game is basically a horror version of Final Fight. You pick a character archetype (all-around, strong but slow, weak but fast) and the beat up on enemies until an arrow tells you to go, and then eventually you fight a boss.
What makes this game different is the horror theme. You face off against the undead, Dracula, and Death himself. As a huge horror fan, I couldn’t NOT put this on the list.
4.) Shadow Force
Probably one of the most obscure games on this list has to be Shadow Force.
It doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page!
The plot is about stopping an evil guy named Mr. Wong who wants to take over the world using monsters, and you need to stop him.
Yeah, the plot is generic but Shadow Force is a beat ’em up with the controls of a fighting game. By that I mean that it’s a six-button beat ’em up with several moves and combos that you’ll never need, but can use to take down your enemies. Instead of just one or two buttons you have six, but that’s not all. You can also possess your opponents and copy their special moves. It was a bit too complicated and difficult at times, but the best beat ’em up this company ever made.
3.) Ninja Baseball Bat Man
Probably the rarest game on this list is Ninja Baseball Bat Man. I never even played it in the arcades, instead I got so many suggestions to put this game on the list, I had to download some emulators and give it a go.
You play as baseball bat wielding ninja robots that are named after baseball’s greatest players like Jose, Roger, and Straw. Your goal is to retrieve artifacts stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame from an evil robotized Babe Ruth.
Ninja Baseball Bat Man is zany fun. This game is amazing with large sprites, catchy music, and fun gameplay, but if you don’t believe me, ask the AVGN.
2.) Cadillacs and Dinosaurs
This is a Capcom beat ’em up based on a television show that’s also based off of a comic book called ‘Xenozoic Tales’.
The game is about a group of four heroes trying to stop evil dinosaur hunters. The dinosaurs in this case are neutral in that they’ll attack anyone because they’re aggressive. The game doesn’t have anything plot of gameplay wise that’s different, but it’s refined.
The controls, graphics, and music are what you’d expect from from a great arcade beat ’em up and most importantly, it’s fun.
1.) Alien vs. Predator
How the hell did this game never get a home port. I would have accepted a 16-bit release, but highly prefer it to come back on Xbox Live with online play.
Similar to the film, in this game Predators and humans team up to fight against hordes of aliens and rogue human soldiers.
You can play as either Major Dutch Schaefer and Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa; and twoPredators, a Hunter and a Warrior. Each player has a melee weapon, a gun (with limited ammo) and can pick up melee weapons and guns from defeated enemies (like flamethrowers).
The game was actually intended to be a movie tie-in, but the film was never released. A SEGA 32X port was planned, but never released. There is a SNES game with the same name, but it was created by two different companies and is not a port of the arcade game.
This is the most requested Capcom beat ’em up to get an HD port, and that’s because it’s so damn fun and my favorite game in the arcades.