Beat Em Up

Beat em up, is a genre of video game in which players control characters that engage numerous enemies en mass, pummeling the insurmountable odds into submission until they have achieved victory. This kind of game is best characterized by the Capcom classic, "Final Fight" which debuted in arcades in 1989. You choose one of three characters, brawler, wrestler, or ninja, and take to the streets of Metro City, bashing the goons of the Mad Gear gang until you rescue the mayor's daughter. Sure it was simple, a punch button and a jump button were all people needed back then. As games evolved, the Dynasty Warriors franchise fused these ideas with feudal Chinese History. God of War pushes the envelope for epic confrontations, and Dante's Inferno is a prime example of literature and video games co-existing, however these games fall under the purview of action/adventure, than they would a beat em up.

The core idea of walking around bashing things senseless has become far too stale over the many years. Most, if not all, of the genre's best titles occurred back in the early 90's on 16-bit consoles such as the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and the Super Nintendo. The Dynasty Warriors franchise has become more redundant with each entry and even with the latest titles on the current next generation consoles have somehow managed to regress in their overall design and philosophy. Titles such as Yakuza break the mold by focusing on intense storytelling and a highly interactive Japanese downtown. However the actual brawling that takes places is an awful array of programming that makes me wince just thinking about it. Martial arts masters look like they are using the ancient art of epilepsy to combat each other.

Beat em ups are going through rough times, and if this once beloved genre is to survive it needs to adapt. These days most games have staple RPG elements, such as experience points for killing enemies, subsequent level ups. Even Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce (their latest attempt) has introduced various RPG elements such as item and weapon crafting, as well as equipment that alter your characters statistics. Character customization is also a necessity, as players are far more vested in controlling characters they design and create. Taking queues from games like LittleBigPlanet would be a great idea; letting players create their own "Metro City" as well as their own "Mad Gear gang" for other players to download and jump into would be a great way to promote the creativity that is the new wave of gaming.

No comments: