1996-1997: A honor where honor, Capcom gratifies his followers with Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara and Battle Circuit, two great achievements in farewell. The editor will revive the genre with Viewtiful Joe on Game Cube and PS2 years later. Treasure develops the excellent Guardian Heroes for the Sega Saturn. The game keeps 2D gameplay while using the 3D for the graphics, featuring successful zooms and effects. The system is spoiled, as the same year SegaSoft gratifies it with the very fun Three Dirty Dwarves. Back then, if you wanted to play good new Beat them up, you had only one thing to do: get a Sega Saturn ... and remember that it will not last forever either!

Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara / Battle Circuit
Capcom, faithful to its style and to 2D... until the end!
Three Dirty Dwarves / Guardian Heroes
Some 3D Beat them Up tries quite successful by Sega on the Saturn

The tendency is even more marked during these past two years, and with such rare and sporadic releases, the genre as the players have known it during its golden age will never rise again. Beat them Up in fact is in agony since fall 94. The counts are stark: four new titles in 1996, three in 1997... and nothing, not even a shitty game in 1998. The editors have moved on, and if in the future gamers will eventually get some more fighting games like these (very uneven quality, anyway), the glorious hours in the arcades are over. Beat them Up is dead. Vive le Beat them Up.

Mike Haggar

And life after death, it became a reality with the PGM system (Poly Game Master) developed by IGS in 1996. It's an arcade hardware largely inspired by the success of the MVS and using a similar architecture, but in a modern version. Some great games like those of the Do Donpachi saga and other Cave shoots were developed on this media, but alas this one never knew the majestuous career that experienced SNK's system. Nevertheless, we owe IGS some of the last Beat em Up released in arcade until 2007. Recovering this niche abandoned by major editors, they perpetuate the tradition of 2d games. The guys made all four games of the Knights of Valour series (plus improved versions like "Plus" or "Super Heroes ") as well as two episodes of Oriental Legend (1997 and 2007), with the first game of this saga being the entry of the firm in the world of BTU. Their series shamelessly retrieve frames and ideas of the great Capcom, Konami or SNK games from the past,  without showing the talent nor provide such flavor. Additional companies are making offerings on the Beat them Up altar: Brezzasoft releases in 2001 the poor The Crystal of Kings, while Noise Factory develops Gaia Crusaders in 1999 and Sengoku 3 for the Neo Geo in 2001. Altogether, sixteen games spread over thirteen years (1998 - 2011) and which quality never equaled major titles of the great years.

Oriental Legends
Oriental Legends - IGS - PGM
Knights of Valour
Knights of Valour - IGS - PGM
Knights of Valour 2
Knights of Valour 2 - IGS - PGM
Sengoku 3
Sengoku 3 - Noise factory - Neo Geo

Balance and Stats

Like Shoot them Up, VS fighting, platform and other genres, Beat em Up has seen its own mutation taking place with the advent of 3D in videogames. The gameplay dramatically changed with these new capabilities, to the point that we're facing different genres between 2D and 3D games of fighting. In fact, it seems obvious for any player - worth of the name - that the principles of Final Fight and Devil May Cry are the same (blow the shit out of everyone), but besides these respective gameplay sensations have nothing in common. It's now time to look back and contemplate for a moment to consider the fate of this genre and its impact in the world of gaming. Below is a table representing the evolution of creativity for BTU from 1984 to 2008:

2D Beat them Up creation evolution through time
2D Beat them Up creation evolution through time

The creative peak lasted seven years, before sinking slowly into the general disinterest. We see that the very best titles of the genre emerged when competition was at its climax and the great companies invest up to take market parts, between 1988 and 1994 - despite the evolution of hardwares.


Key dates of Up Beat them that will remain in history:


1984 - Kung-Fu Master, the pioneer

1986 - Renegade, the first modern Beat them Up

1987 - Double Dragon Revolution 2 players

1989 - Final Fight, the new standard 16 bits

1991-1994 - The Golden Age of Beat 'em Up


It's not easy to stay in memories among so many titles...
It's not easy to stay in memories among so many titles...

From 2D to 3D (1996-....)

If 2-D Beat them Up is an almost extinct breed in 1999, the declination of the genre with 3-D already exists since several years. We reviewed games such as Three Dirty Dwarves or the excellent Guardian Heroes: these were among the first to integrate 3-D. We should also differentiate in this category 'real 3d' Beats, and those maintaining a two-dimensional gameplay similar to our old games. Pioneers in the arcades - part of the first category - were Die Hard Arcade and Dynamite Cop, two Sega titles that came in 1996 and 1997. Those they were relatively close to old-school gameplay, despite the use of polygons and mapping. Among the most recent titles which tend to keep this old-school way of playing,  we can name games like Get Backers for the PS2 (Konami) or Demolish Fist on  Atomiswave (Sammy).

Die Hard Arcade / Dynamite Cop
Die Hard Arcade & Dynamite Cop, in their arcade versions (1996/1997)
Demolish Fist / Getbackers
Demolish Fist on arcade and Getbackers on Playstation 2 (2002/2003)

The birth of "real 3D" Beat them Up was in 1996 on 32-bit home systems. And this probably didn't do too much good to 2-d games... 3D BTU precursors such as Crisis or Fighting Force on the PSX were already offering a "modern" gameplay , with changing camera angles, rotations and other stuff became possible. The Dynasty Warriors franchise is probably the most famous 3d Beat them Up made for consoles. The first episode appeared on the Playstation in 1997. This saga still experiences nowadays a great success with more than twenty episodes publishedon all known modern systems. We can also mention Capcom's Devil May Cry or Sony's God of War, as large series of this kind. If those are excellent titles, affiliation with what was the 2-D Beat' is quite difficult to do, as the gameplays are diametrically different. We are far from the sensations felt in the arcade halls during the eighties and the nineties, but now fighting games are this way. It is therefore necessary to distinguish two-dimensional and three-dimensional Beat them Up, two types of games belonging to different eras.

Devil May Cry, Dynasty Warriors, etc...
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