Having played all of the beat 'em up games on the SNES / SFC, I've been gradually reviewing them for Gamefaqs. With the best of them already posted on this website, I have met the guide-lines to compile my findings into a list of the top 10 best ones for the console. There is no nostalgic bias to warp the actual quality of these titles, and you will find that many the nominated games aren't widely known. This introduction is getting a bit wordy, so onto the list..

A step up from the original game, Sonic Blast Man 2 had an expanded cast and a much deeper fighting engine. The graphics were pretty good, and there were enough enemy designs to keep things interesting. Although beat 'em up games can often churn out lots of boring combat, Sonic Blast Man 2 manages to keep things interesting right up to the last level. My only complaint is that some of the enemies could be extremely cheap.

Rushing Beat Ran is a kind of buffer zone between the best game of the series (Shura) and the least impressive (the original, which is still a good game). You'll have five unique characters to choose from (more than any Final Fight game ever dolled out) and a nice array of enemies to fight (I personally like the gas-mask wearing punks and guys wearing some kind of mechanical augmentation). The thrills set in pretty soon, with the first stage having a helicopter that stalks your character and shoots apart anything that falls into its crosshairs. Its too bad that the American version (Brawl Brothers) was altered in a negative fashion.

Legend is another less known beat 'em up that was released here in America. It plays much like Golden Axe, with a similar magic system and the same type of hack and slash combat. The enemy AI was intelligent and aggressive, flooding the screen with numerous foes and never giving the player any room to breath. It boasted very impressive visuals and a moving score to immerse me in the frantic battles.

Although incomparable to the original game, Final Fight 3 tries to stand up to its legacy by implementing several impressive features. There are four selectable characters, up to two at a time - and you can even arrange for the computer to control the second character if you can't find another living person. There was also a decent soundtrack, and multiple routes to pick in each stage - some leading to different bosses! All these innovations came at a price, though - namely constant lag and graphical flickering. The enemy and boss designs also weren't as good as the past games. Nonetheless, it is a great beat 'em up that deserves a place here.

Sporting some of the most detailed graphics on the SNES/SFC, Undercover Cops is an awesome beat 'em up that lost some points for being only one player and having very cheap enemies and bosses in the later stages. Where else can you rip concrete pillars out of the ground to bash crazy baseball players with, or crush a cyborg under a hydraulic press? Undercover Cops was slated for an American release but was cancelled - they even had boxart created.

TMNT 4 was an impressive beat 'em up venture in the early years of the SNES, featuring all of the turtles as playable characters and many of the bad guys from the show featured as bosses. It stood out from other brawlers with interesting things like hurling enemies at the screen and having enjoyable vehicle levels.

Taking the branched route idea from Golden Axe III, Rushing Beat Shura expands upon it greatly - creating an elaborate beat 'em up experience with several alternate portions you cannot experience in a single playthrough. The graphics, sound, and story are the strongest of the entire series - the game is filled with nicely connected battlegrounds and a more interactive dialogue than the majority of old school beat 'em ups. A significantly butchered version was released in America under the title "The Peace Keepers".

Both ninjas and cyborgs were common place in the beat 'em up genre, so what better way to condense the awesomeness of each than by combining them? The Ninja Warriors (or The Ninja Warriors Again, in Japan) featured three playable characters to fight against a ruthless dictator and his legion of disposable soldiers. You'll find yourself pounding away at various cannon fodder, smashing their bodies against pipes and other background objects with going head to head with huge bosses. When both yourself and the robotic enemies die - they blow apart - piece by piece. You don't need words to describe the sensation of smashing motorcyles down on a legion of grunts, or fighting a giant man wielding a chainsaw with your nunchaku. If it only had two player co-op, it might have edged Knights of the Round out of the 2nd place slot.

The legendary adventures of King Arthur were bestowed upon the 90's gaming scene in the form of a wonderful beat 'em up. It was eventually ported from the arcade to the SNES/SFC, keeping intact the majority of the experience. The once and future king, along with his two loyal knights - wage war againstan army of honorless knights, savage barbarians, scheming wizards, and even a samurai. Not only is the brawling action equal to that of Final Fight, but there is also a nice level up system that rewards you with new armor and weaponry. Knights of the Round is one of my favorite console beat 'em ups, and if the RPG aspects were as developed as the #1 game on my list there may have been a tie.

This is it - the best beat 'em up experience to be had on the Super Nintendo / Super Famicom. Choosing between the five selectable characters can be tricky, as each come with their own strengths and weaknesses that are gradually altered as the game progresses. The RPG aspects of this game evolve around killing as many enemies and obtaining as much treasure as possible. Doing this will transform your weak inital weapons and limited defenses into the embodiment of a walking tank. There are 16 levels, all of which look different and most having their own unique bosses. Two player co-op is even more interesting, as you switch between working as a well-knit team to trying to horde all the points and power-ups to yourself. The graphics are nice, the soundtrack is atmospheric, and the replay value is unrivaled on the SNES/SFC. You could beat this game five times in a row and still desire going back and seeing if you can upgrade your character to their final level. This is without a doubt the best beat 'em up on the console, and it continues to entertain me over a decade later.

There you are: the top 10 best beat 'em ups on the Super Nintendo / Super Famicom console. It wouldn't be a bad idea to base any purchases or emulation on my chart, although I respect your opinion if you disagree with my choices. There were a few other games I considered for the #9 and #10 spots: Final Fight 2, Ghost Chaser Densei, The Combatribes, and Birume Sentai Barayarou. In closing, I will inform you that a Top 10 List for the "Best Sega Genesis / Megadrive Beat 'em ups" shouldn't be more than a month or so away.

List by xenodolf (08/02/2007)

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