People have a lot of fantasies, am I right?. Flying on dragons, driving sweet cars, sticking GI Joes and stuff up their butts after their stepdad catches them sniffing their stepmom’s underwear or whatever. Mine? I’ve always wanted to wear a goofy outfit and beat the crap out of an entire 1,000 member street gang in about an hour using like… four moves. Highly specific, I know. But that’s why the Beat ‘Em Up genre and I were made for each other. Yes, the enemies are hookers with electro-whips, obese guys in overalls that like to charge a lot (and sometimes blow fire), robot frogs and other weird shit… like I said, Yes.
Within the genre there are a ton of great games, and I mean a ton. Splooged all over the arcades, wiped and smeared across the home consoles, and even oozing from your befouled Tiger portable. As a SNES kid, I had a handful of choices at home, but always found myself going back to the Rushing Beat trilogy.
Known in the United States as Rival Turf, Brawl Brothers and The Peacekeepers, this series is often listed, even if just in part, among the greats of the 16 bit era. Final Fight, the undisputed king of beat ’em ups on the SNES, has a first entry without 2 player support (and a missing character), as well as a bland second entry. Final Fight 3 is a masterpiece of course, and one of my favorite beat ’em ups, but its more polished than it is inventive. Fact: I get bored playing it. And Dean sucks, and looks weird.
That and you can’t tell me Mike Haggard doesn’t bother you a little. Just look at that creepy ass behemoth. Big ole Republican Mike Haggard, out to crush some hippy liberal ass. And depending on what era you were born in, you can feel free to read into the crushing ass part differently.
The Rushing Beaters
While first-outingRival Turf is notably, shall we say, lacking, the overall presentation of the entire series is solid. The latter two games have a relatively large number of characters, vibrant graphics, extra moves you don’t see in a lot of beat ’em ups from this era, interesting level design and more. When I slap them in the SNES they’re fun every time, and that works for me. The only other beat ’em up I can personally say that about on the SNES is Captain Commando (but we’ll talk about that another time).
So back to the series debut, Rival Turf. Its an okay game, but feels more like a demo for the other two. As a clobberfest it works well enough, but don’t expect much more than a really basic experience. It’s elevated a bit by its connection to its sequels and its impossibly silly box art, but that’s about it.
Skipping the second entry for a moment: Third release Rushing Beat Shura has been hailed by most critics as the best in the series. And indeed, Shura is a great big hunk of bulging, veiny gaming, featuring branching paths, some screen-clearing super moves a la Golden Axe (not really a plus in my opinion), alternative endings, a four player versus fighting mode, and six characters to choose from. Two of them are not immediately available without a code, but that’s a small price to pay for such a huge roster. The Japanese version of this game is definitely the one to get, as it is cheaper and free from having been mutilated by whoever created the English port. It sort of sucks not being able to read the story text, but its equally as fun to get shitfaced and just blurt out what you think they might be saying. One hell of a solid game experience, and certainly one of the most feature-rich beat ‘em ups I’ve ever played on a home console.
A note on the cornholing: Rushing Beat Shura took a huge hit when it was ported to English as”The Peacekeepers.” A WTF moment if there ever were one. A terrible story rewrite, scrapped animations and even the removal of most of the game’s music (what the fuck indeed!), among other things, render this game mostly useless — unless you have a hard on for dorky western references, such as one of the streets being named “Snake Plisskin Ave.” Admittedly, that bit is pretty cool, but still… time machine to-do list: 1. Kill Hitler, 2. Fix this port.
3. Kill my ancestors so I won’t be born and therefore don’t have to go to work.
Rushing Beat Ran vs. Rushing Beat Shura
I saved the second for last because I personally feel it is the pinnacle of the series. Rushing Beat Ran, or Brawl Brothers, starts you off with two characters of your choice, but expands to five as you progress and beat the shit out of them (they were-mind controlled… thank the lord you came along and hit them in the face). While the Shura roster has no serious issues, the characters feel quite wooden in comparison to Ran. The gameplay is fast, the music is phenomenal, the stages varied and colorful with plenty of places to toss people off of shit — a real pleasure.
Ran takes full advantage of one of my favorite parts of the entire series: ikari / anger mode (present in all titles). Punches to the face getting you down? Turn red, invincible, and gain the ability to literally throw people across, or off, the screen. It creates the illusion of some dynamism when it comes to the damage you are inflicting – something beat ’em ups were never able to produce as well as fighters.
There are a lot of other nice touches to Ran, such as comic-style “SPAK!” bubbles when you knock someone’s block off — something mistakenly removed in Shura. I also really like the fact that you can continue beating the shit out of enemies while they’re on the ground. This was also done away with for Shura, which… what the fuck, dudes? Being able to take cheap shots adds a lot to the gameplay and keeps the action going when other titles would have you standing around waiting for enemies to get up. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll know exactly how annoying this can be.
Now while this is sure to vary from person to person, Ran also seems a bit more difficult across the board, which is a plus. I like to dig into these kinds of games and kick a lot of ass… I’m not really trying to beat them, so much as I am just trying to beat someone. Getting my skull crushed by some 1,000lb. half-robot midget followed by a Game Over screen is just part of the deal. First time I played Shura I got to watch the credits roll, and though the last boss is hilariously obnoxious and I’m pretty sure I’m in love with his pre-Super Saiyan hair (play it and you’ll understand), I instantly wished I had jacked the difficulty up.
The most often criticized aspect of Ran is the hit detection. Admittedly, it is pretty damn tight. It’s not broken or buggy, you’ve just got to pay more attention to where you’re at in regards to the horizontal plane than in a lot of other games from the genre. Honestly, its not nearly as bad as reported. Everyone I’ve seen play the game for more than three or four minutes stops noticing. But hey, there’s some criticism. Fair and balanced, just like FOX News.
Note to Reviewers: please actually play the games you’re discussing first.
Conclusory Statement That Will Sum Up Your Manipulated Feelings On the Matter
The best part about beat ’em ups is that even the shitty ones are fun to some degree or another. The simple joy of repeatedly punching people in the face, I guess. Whether you know the genre well or have yet to play one, branch out a bit. Try the #10 on that Top 10 list. Find something that suits you, as a person who like to kick digital peoples’ asses. All three games would be great in any collection, and certainly worth every penny. That’s the statement we’ve been working towards. Congratulations, you’ve arrived. And you’re welcome.
There’s More? Much More!
Before I sign off, I thought I’d share a little behind the scenes action with you. Originally having written this document at the dinner table, schnockered out of my mind at a family party, I saved a few amusing tidbits from the editorial knife that might provide some better insight than the crafted language above.
“You get a regular guy, a girl whose main attacks are kicks (because she’s a girl), a dude with a thing, and a guy that can’t do a run because he’s a big stupid fucking oaf.”
“Just spaced out for about ten moments talking about my Dad’s swollen leg. The character’s don’t suck, the unlockable ones. There’s Jack, or whatever, the regular bastard from the earlier two games, and he’s a fucking great guy. I bet if you went to his house he’d offer you all sorts of stuff and give you a great place to sit down and enjoy the conversation that would, of course, occur thereafter.”
“If you hang out with old people enough, you’re bound to hear a story about someone being cremated. Fact.”
“Anyway, in Brawl Brothers you can run and slide and kick people who are down. You can punch people who are down. If they let you take a fat steaming shit, you could do that to someone who is down as well. Not in Shura. Was it considered a bug? No idea. But they shouldn’t have fucked with it.”
“There is no fucking ice cream cake here, only cupcakes.”
“Anyway. I just said anyway, but whatever. It’s a good word to use for a transition. The music, level design, character design, moves, music… all better than Shura by a factor of like, a good factor… not epic, but good. You know? Regular old good.”
“There’s no ‘biff!’ things that pop up when you Jackson Pollock a motherfucker.”
“See, I like to run around and just clobber shit. Brawl Brothers facilitates this.”
“It does have cooler bosses and weirder fucks to punch in the throat, though. I really like that part.”
“I hope you like what I have done, and I think it would be great if you didn’t buy The Peacekeepers, because that shit is butchered as fuck and currently more expensive than Shura anyway. Enjoy your times with this.”
By Gamesman Anus