Gamer Koala

Double Dragon and Other Classic Beat ‘Em Ups You Can Play on Switch

Rising to popularity in the mid-80s came the beat ’em up genre. These belt-scrollers defined the features that became de rigueur for fighting games. Here are the 10 best classic brawlers you can play on Nintendo Switch.

10. Renegade


Renegade was released in arcades in 1986 and is a grandfather of the beat ’em up genre. It also spawned both the Kunio-kun/River City and Double Dragon franchises. This classic brawler revolves around a high school delinquent who must stand up against a series of rival gangs. Drawing on extensive fighting moves, his ultimate goal is to rescue his girlfriend being held captive by a mob boss.

9. Double Dragon

Double Dragon
ARC Systems Works

Iconic among beat-em-ups and influenced by Bruce Lee’s film Enter the Dragon, 1987’s Double Dragon introduced cooperative multiplayer to the genre. The game features a variety of interesting missions. The player fights off various bizarre foes while seeking to rescue the protagonist’s girlfriend from a gang and defeat the boss.

8. 64th Street: A Detective Story

64th Street

Bringing a gritty 1940s vibe, 1981’s 64th Street: A Detective Story features two playable characters. A brawling, short-tempered gumshoe, and a teenage delinquent trained by the detective. They solve cases by beating up criminals they encounter. Its story template is similar to Final Fight. The final set piece and climax make this a must-play.

7. Sengoku 3

Sengoku 3

Released in 2001, Sengoku 3 is the final in the series. Players choose one of four initial playable characters, and two more can be unlocked during gameplay. Players battle against an assortment of undead enemy spirits. This side-stroller has some fascinating stages to fight through and the boss battles are wild.

6. Crime Fighters

Crime Fighters

Released for arcades in 1989, the characteristics found in Crime Fighters led to later brawlers like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Players control a duo (or squad) of undercover cops assigned to rescue teenage girls from an army of punks and their crime boss. The gameplay is tough, but worth the challenge.

5. Vendetta 

System 3

A follow-up to Crime Fighters, 1991’s Vendetta was a huge title for the genre. The Cobras Gang’s four playable hero characters feature stand-ins (expies) resembling Mike Tyson, Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Their quest is to retrieve their kidnapped fifth member from the Dead End Gang and defeat the Big Boss.

4. Zero Team

Zero Team

Zero Team is a rarity mostly known to gamers well-versed in arcade history and dedicated to the beat ’em up genre. It’s from Japanese arcade manufacturer Seibu Kaihatsu, best known for Raiden. Zero Team is its entry into the brawler genre. It’s a very colorful and enjoyable title, with four-player support

3. Mutation Nation

Mutation Nation

Released in arcades in 1992, Mutation Nation is a two-player brawler against various mutated and mechanical enemies. Players fight through six different levels, each containing one or more sub-bosses. The big boss appears at the end of each stage. The enemies sometimes mutate mid-fight and the bosses are wild.

Read More: 10 Retro Games Like Street Fighter Available on Nintendo Switch

2. Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden

There’s trouble growing in the pop-culture view of America in 1988’s arcade game Ninja Gaiden. It’s set in a retro-futuristic version of 1999. The player controls a ninja hired by the US government. The goal is to defeat an evil cult led by Bladedamus, a descendant of Nostradamus, who seeks to fulfill his end-of-the-world prophecies.

Read More: The 10 Most Important Games of the 1980s

1. P.O.W.: Prisoners of War 

Prisoners of War

Originally released as an arcade game in 1988, P.O.W.: Prisoners of War is set in the Cold War. Players control a pair of military prisoners who break free and fight their way to the enemy’s main base. They must bring down the entire enemy operation and eliminate the leader to escape.

Read More: The 10 Best Nintendo Multiplayer Games from the 1980s