WHACK!!💥 Here are 5 beat 'em up games worth checking out on the Nintendo Switch

By: Tobin Carlberg | February 5, 2023

Feeling nostalgic for those coin-op machines you used to play at the local arcade?

While not as popular as they were in the early ‘90s, we’ve seen a resurgence in the classic ‘beat em up genre, as more fans have been craving that simple punch-and-kick format. For those who are unfamiliar, beat ‘em ups are usually characterized by their 2D omnidirectional scrolling and chaotic combat system, which requires you to fight multiple enemies at once. Mix that with a ton of combo moves, and you’ve got yourself hours of fun!

The great thing is, now you don’t have to shovel out all your quarters just to enjoy some fun retro-inspired brawlers, because the Nintendo Switch has a ton of titles that are sure to take you back to the good ol’ days. Here are a few beat ‘em ups on the Switch that we think are great ways to satisfy those combo-inducing thrills.

Castle Crashers: Remastered

(Image Credit: Behemoth)

As probably one of the most replayable beat em’ ups, Castle Crashers blends an epic but silly story, many unique movesets and weapons, and a variety of characters to unlock, with crazy ones like Fire Demon and the Necromancer, to name a few. This game allows up to four players to fight by your side, each with their own set of elemental powers to master.

As you level up, you unlock new combo abilities. Learning how to complete air combos is key; it’s hilarious to juggle enemies in the air with slash attacks until they fall helplessly to the ground. Once you start mastering different movesets, it will become much easier to defeat the more challenging bosses — and most importantly, to show off to your friends that you’re a top tier player.

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors

(Image Credit: Natsume Atari, Tengo Project)

As a reimagining of The Ninja Warriors games, The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors breathes new life into the series with impressive visuals, fluid attack animations, and two player co-op. In this version, you can choose to play as one of five android ninjas. Each ninja has their own combat style, with more power-heavy characters that will crush all enemies in your path, or speedy characters that can jump high and perform flashy air attacks.

But instead of the full range of movement that most beat 'em ups are known for, this game only lets you move from left to right. While this limitation makes it more difficult to flee from enemies, it forces you to take down baddies from either side. You can perform combos and specials, grabs and drop kicks, or even use objects around you to take them down from afar, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to team up with a friend and fight for your freedom in this dystopian ‘80s-inspired sci-fi adventure.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

(Image Credit: Tribute Games, Dotemu)

Pulled straight from the old arcade games and the ‘80s cartoons that came before it, Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge updates the classic combat you know and love with new upgrades and skill combos to master. Play as four of your favorite pizza-loving brothers, with each of them sporting a more lively coat of animation than in previous iterations. Not to mention, they all have their own weapons and abilities, so every turtle feels unique. Michelangelo's dual nunchucks make for some really quick movesets, while Donatello’s versatile bo-staff gives him incredible range. On the other hand, Leonardo sports a more balanced playstyle, and Rafael uses his brute strength to tackle enemies to the ground.

This game also brought three more playable characters to the stage: Splinter, Casey Jones, and April O’Neil. This means that you have the option to play with up to six players online or locally on one system! So, if you have a handful of friends and enough controllers to play with, this is a great time to join in on the action.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

(Image Credit: Ubisoft)

Fan of the Michael Cera movie? Or maybe you grew up reading the comics? However you found the Scott Pilgrim franchise, this game offers everything you’re looking for and more. The story stays pretty true to the film, where Scott Pilgrim falls for this girl named Ramona, but has to take down seven of her evil exes to win her over fair and square.

While the storyline sets the tone for the rest of the game, it’s mainly just a backdrop for the retro 8-bit style animation, arcade-like gameplay and its chiptune, punk rock-fused soundtrack. But come on, who really plays a beat ‘em up for the plot? It’s all about those fast punches and explosive kicks!

Streets of Rage 4

(Image Credit: Dotemu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games)

Streets of Rage 4 is a sequel to the classic trilogy that helped define the beat ‘em up genre in the ‘90s. Taking place 10 years after the events of the third game, the evil crime syndicate has returned, and all your favorite characters are back to take on the thug-infested streets of Wood Oak City, with 12 well-paced levels and an epic boss waiting for you at the end of each stage.

While the basic punches and jumping kicks are here, this game offers a mixture of supercharged attacks, headlocks, and grappling moves that help you pull off major combo attacks. All of these features round out this experience for some of the best brawler action ever developed. On top of that, the beautiful hand-drawn graphics and smooth animation are a welcome addition to the series and a refreshing upgrade from the 16-bit graphics of its predecessor. However, you can still unlock retro characters with their original pixelated models, which look awesome in contrast to the new graphics.

Arcade-style action with a fresh coat of paint

Not only does the Nintendo Switch include a ton of old favorites, but there are many indie developers out there designing new and creative beat ‘em ups to help revive a previously forgotten genre. But in all seriousness, can they release the Simpsons Arcade Game on new consoles already? That’s another hidden gem to complete the collection — oh, and we can’t forget X-Men 1992! After Ninja Turtles proved itself as a fan-favorite remake, it’s only fair that these two get their time to shine.

Since many of these beat ‘em ups are better played with friends, you might be in the market for some new controllers. If that’s the case, check out our Switch controllers, they offer a variety of unique styles and handy features. Otherwise, keep an eye on our weekly blog for new tips & tricks on everything tech!

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