Kung Fu

Beat ’em ups seemed to be released every week in the late 80s/early 90s with some legendary titles like Golden Axe, Double Dragon, Streets Of Rage, and Final Fight at the forefront. These and every game like it owe everything they are to Kung Fu. The first of it’s kind, they made it count (unlike Dk Jr Math) and it spawned more games that ate quarters than can be mentioned in one review. The lead programmer, Takashi Nishiyama, went on to Capcom where he was the head of a little game named Street Fighter. He could’ve been quite content with his legacy left at that but the guy went on to even greater heights when he was hired by SNK and designed a cutting edge contraption called the Neo-Geo System Board. This mad professor of gaming could’ve stopped THERE but what did this under-appreciated genius do as an encore? He created every major SNK fighting IP as he went along. Yes, the head programmer on Kung Fu is responsible for all-time heavyweights Fatal Fury, Art Of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, & the epic King Of Fighters franchises. Quite the fucking résumé no?

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Riot Zone

Does this sound familiar or even kind of standard for side scrolling beat em up games? Well, that is because this is pretty standard. The game plays a lot like Final Fight and toss in some Double Dragon just because we can. The gameplay is simple, you walk from left to right fighting enemies that can appear from both sides of the screen. Like Final Fight, you face a boss at the end and move on until the final boss. Unlike Final Fight, there are no weapons, only items for health and points.

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Altered Beast

Graphics wise, the game looks good in stills, but in movement doesn’t appear so impressive. There are lots of things that look out of place, like the mist which bosses dissolve into when you defeat them, that just don’t fit into the aesthetic of the game. This results in giving the game a weirdly low budget veneer, even when you take into consideration its age.

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Bad Dudes

Should Blade or Striker get the better of their armed opponent, they can pick up the dropped weapon, be it a knife or nunchuks, and use it to extend their attack range. This comes in handy for the end-of-level bosses. Speaking of bosses, even Karnov makes an appearance. Once you have ploughed through evil-doers across seven levels, you reach the final boss – the one and only, Mr Dragon Ninja himself. Defeat this evil kingpin and it is happy times as President Ronnie is freed from his kidnappers.

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Toxic Crusaders

There are even the usual beat-’em-up elements like a skateboard level (quite essential to any 80’s or 90’s gaming experience) and even an underwater stage. The enemies are pattern-based, as repeated plays will make passing the waves of baddies much easier as the player learns their vulnerabilities, most of which amounts to “do not attack in a straightforward manner; rather, move up or down directly into an attack, or even let them move vertically to you as you are swinging.” Each of the six levels has a boss fight, and there are items hidden in destructible objects that can increase health or mop meter.

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Super Double Dragon

Super Double Dragon is also known as Double Dragon 4 and it’s by far the best Double Dragon game to date. The game’s soundtrack is a joy to listen to and the gameplay is incredible. You feel like you are in control of your guy more than in most other beat em up games. Billy and Jimmy come packed with amazing moves that help you create different ways to defeat the bad guys. Just like the other Double Dragon games, you don’t know how much life bar your opponent has so all that’s left to do is to beat the hell out of him (or her at some times but not in this game) and hope they will vanish after getting their ass kicked.

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Streets of Rage 3

The game is part of the trend of beat em up games during the early 90s. This genre was very popular and both Sega and Nintendo wanted in on the money making beat em up master gaming goodness! In my personal opinion, the streets of rage games beat Final Fight by a long shot. By the time Final Fight 3 came out, it was just the same thing as the first one, except with different characters. Streets of Rage 3 introduced different characters as well as new aspects to make the game play different and better to some.

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Final Fight

Final Fight was one of those games that after a stressful day at school you could play and release some anger on a horde of bad guys. While the graphics and animation were nothing special it did have some simple sound effects and music that kept you in the game. It also had a great “continue” screen where your character would wake up tied to a chair with a roll of dynamite ready to explode. If you put in a coin and hit start in time a knife would fall out of nowhere and cut the wick and you would magically appear back where you were knocked out.

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