A staple of 8- and 16-bit consoles, 2D Beat ‘Em Up games are experiencing a quiet renaissance these last few years thanks to titles like Streets of Rage 4, River City Girls, and Fight’n Rage. There’s even a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brawler on the way. Luckily, you don’t have to shell out full price to get your co-op, fist-fightin’ fix.
Some of the best modern releases are available through online subscription services, and many of the classic titles from the ‘80s and ‘90s that defined the 2D Beat ‘Em Up genre are available on the cheap through digital collections.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia)
Based on the graphic novel and movie of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a beloved 2D brawler. Originally released in 2010, the game was instantly considered one of the best co-op Beat ‘Em Ups ever made. Unfortunately, the game was discontinued and delisted in 2014 due to licensing issues…until it was suddenly resurrected earlier this year by publisher Ubisoft.
The new version, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition, is available for purchase on all major platforms. However, if you sign up for the Ubisoft+ subscription service ($15/month on PC), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition is included for free, along with over 100 other titles.
Xbox Game Pass (Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Windows PC)
The Xbox Game Pass library is always changing, but there’s a small selection of classic and modern Beat ‘em up included as part of the monthly subscription price: $10/month on console or PC; $15/month for Game Pass Ultimate (includes console and PC). If you’re a new subscriber, you can sign up for $1 for the PC or Ultimate plans. Right now, the available Beat ‘Em Ups include:
- Battletoads (2020)
- Rare Replay (console only) – Contains the original Battletoads and Battletoads Arcade.
- River City Girls
- Streets of Rage 4
- Unruly Heroes
Sega Genesis Classics Collection (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
The Sega Genesis Classics Collection’s 50-game lineup includes more than just Beat ‘Em Ups, but several of the Sega Genesis’ best brawlers are available in the package, including:
- Alien Storm
- Altered Beast
- Comix Zone
- Golden Axe
- Golden Axe II
- Golden Axe III
- Streets of Rage
- Streets of Rage 2
- Streets of Rage 3
The full roster is available here. You can purchase the entire catalog as a single collection on Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, and PC, or buy individual titles a la carte on Steam for just 99 cents.
Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
This standalone collection bundles many—though not all— of Capcom’s Beat ‘Em Ups into a single game. The catalog includes arcade and home console favorites like:
- Final Fight
- Captain Commando
- The King of Dragons
- Knights of the Round
- Warriors of Fate
- Armored Warriors
- Battle Circuit
Due to licensing issues, Capcom’s Dungeons & Dragons and Alien vs. Predator titles aren’t included, but you’ll still get tons of co-op gameplay out of this collection.
Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4)
Yet another 2D Beat ‘Em Up collection, this time covering the Double Dragon series and the various titles starring Kunio-kun. The collection includes over 18 retro Beat ‘Em Ups, including 11 games that were never released in North America until this collection. The North American games are:
- Double Dragon
- Double Dragon Ⅱ
- Double Dragon Ⅲ
- Super Dodge Ball
- River City Ransom
- Crash ‘n the Boys Street Challenge
Check out the game’s official site to see the full list.
Nintendo Switch Online collection
All Nintendo Switch Online subscribers get an ever-expanding catalogue of classic NES and SNES games. The current line up features 86 games and spans every genre you can think of, including a smattering of Beat ‘Em Ups—many of which now include online co-op, and a few that were never released in North American until now.
- Double Dragon
- Double Dragon II
- Kung-Fu Heroes
- River City Ransom
- Brawl Brothers
- Psycho Dream
- The Peace Keepers