I love old school brawlers. The simple side scrolling concept of kicking ass and smashing buttons just works for me. Often these games are multiplayer allowing many hours of social bonding as you pummel or be pummeled by various bad guys. The plots are sometimes cool, but often it’s all about the game play. The controls need to feel simple yet deep, and the levels must offer something engaging.
5. Altered Beast:
This title was one of the first games available for the Sega Genesis. The concept was simple. You are a centurion raised from the dead by Zeus to save his daughter. Athena is being held captive by the Demon God Neff. To conquer this foe you turn into various beasts like wolves, tigers, dragons, and bears. By the end of the game you’ve rescued the girl and made Zeus happy.
The game itself is nothing too special. The combat is very simplistic, and the level design is repetitive. Changing in to different creatures, however, was always a blast. It provided a unique experience that was rarely duplicated in this genre.
4. Golden Axe:
Similar to Altered Beast, Golden Axe takes place in a mythical land where bad guys want to do horrible things. Death Adder plays the villain in this Sega hit, and used the Golden Axe to capture the King and his daughter. You play as a male dwarf, or a male and female human warrior, bent on revenge against Death Adder. The game has numerous features that include magic and mounts. Each character has a unique supernatural ability, and the mounts increase in strength as the game progresses. This game is truly a classic, and it is no surprise that it is picking up in popularity today. The upcoming Next Gen sequel, Golden Axe: Beast Rider, and the recent release of the original title on Xbox Live Arcade will allow this title to reach a whole new generation of gamers.
3. Double Dragon:
This game is one of the most recognized classic brawler games around. It’s like the Karate Kid finished puberty, got cool, and found a kick ass buddy to kick it with. Chilling in there garage these bodacious bros notice a hot chick being kidnapped by some gun wielding maniac. Naturally these dudes hit the streets hard. Kicking ass and taking names against numerous foes, these guys kick and punch there way to that sweet ass.
The game features basic level design, but an amazingly deep combat system. Kicks and punches can be combined together, back-attacks exist, and of course there are awesome karate jump kicks. The game provided me with hours of entertainment, and paved the way for numerous future titles.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of my favorite childhood shows. I have seen countless television series, movies, and played many video games staring Leo, Michael, Don, and Ralph. In this epic saga, the Turtles discover that Shredder has shrunk and stolen
There are five levels consisting of the city streets, secret hideouts, caves, ghost ships, and of course the Technodrome. Jammed pack with classic villains the levels consist of wave after wave of Shredder’s foot clan and a boss at the end of each level. Not all of the television stars make the cut in this game, and it is a little short. The replay value, however, is high thanks to an intense combat system. The three buttons are Run, Jump, and Attack. The combination and timing of the three buttons produce dozens of moves. Jumping, for example, has four different attacks with the same two buttons. Add a smooth frame rate, awesome graphical presentation, and decent sound, and you have the number two in this top five.
1. Streets of Rage 2:
The sequel to one of the best original brawlers, Streets of Rage 2 adds to its predecessors strong points with style. Taking the role of a karate expert, female judo master, skating kid, or oversize wrestler you fight through numerous bad guys to save a character from the previous game from Mr. X. The levels are fairly generic, but the combat is fantastic. The three basic attacks remain—punch, jump, and special—but are a little different then the last game. There are several more moves for each attack, and the characters abilities have an abundant variety. Each special attack takes a small amount of health, but there is a secondary special move that doesn’t affect hit points. The enemies are also diverse with there own special attacks. Many of the mini-bosses and bosses are difficult, and even some of the basic villains are a challenge. All these features improve the replay value significantly, and more then make up for the somewhat bland levels.
Well that is my overly biased top five multiplayer old school brawlers countdown. If anyone is reading this, then feel free to comment on your favorite old school brawlers.