All The World’s A Stage – PC – Foul Play – 2013


Foul Play
© 2013
Genre: Side Scrolling Beat ’em Up

Dear readers, I will tell you something that I tell few people I meet offline: one of my other hobbies is LARP.  I write this because, this weekend, I’m going to the current game I’ve been playing.  At this game, I play a demonologist and monster hunter from a steampunk “definitely not victorian england” land.  In search of inspiration, I’ve been playing a few games recently, many more popular than others (I’m looking at you, Dishonored).  I decided to go a little off the beaten path, to check out a game that’s had mixed reviews from the internet, an odd title that brings demon hunting… to the stage.  I present to you, Foul Play. Continue reading

OMGTHAT’SALEG!!!1 – Sega Genesis – Growl – 1991

Sega Genesis
(c) 1991
Genre: Adventure Beat Em’ Up

It’s somewhat rare nowadays to find a game that tackles tough issues. Every so often, we see Mario fighting pollution or a stray Scribblenaut picking up trash, but back in the day, there were so many games that fought against drugs, littering, robots- you get the idea. Even fewer, however, dealt with the rampant issue of ‘poaching’. Okay, so it’s not exactly ‘rampant’, and Sonic the Hedgehog loved to saved animals from dire fates, right? Well, had he done it with an array of weapons and explosions complete with bloodless limb-flying, I think it may have been a bit more poignant. With that descriptor, I present to you Growl for the Sega Genesis.

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A Different Kind of Comic – Sega Genesis – Comix Zone – 1995

Comix Zone (U) [!]_000

Comix Zone
© 1995
Sega Technical Institute
Genre: Comicbook Beat’em Up

When I was younger, I’d occasionally grab a copy of Sega Power in order to really enhance the fact that I not only played video games, but wanted to buy a new one with the money from my paper route or ask for one for my birthday (or the holidays).  When I spotted Comix Zone in the magazine, I thought it looked fantastic.  Sadly, I never managed to find a copy in my local stores (which were phasing out Genesis & SNES games), so I didn’t get to play it until I found emulated versions later in life on my PSP. Continue reading

Howard Would Be Proud – Sega Genesis – Golden Axe – 1989


See if you can find all the hidden weapons in the kanji!

Golden Axe
(c) 1989
Genre: Dark Fantasy Hack n’ Slash

Many games borrow heavily from iconic imagery found outside of the world of videogaming. The arcade crime beat’em’up Dead Connection has pretty liberally used images from multiple mobster movies.  Snatcher, a cyberpunk mystery point and click, has scenes lifted straight out of the timeless classic Bladerunner.  Even much beloved games franchises have done it – look at the Silent Hill debacle, where they based their entire creepy elementary school off of the film Kindergarten Cop.  Thankfully, most games do avoid lifting straight from their source material, and try to stick more to homage.  The Golden Axe franchise has its roots in the works of Robert E. Howard (famously known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian stories), and the artwork of Frank Frazetta (Some NSFW art), but does an excellent job of standing up on its own. Continue reading

Rise from your Grave – Sega Genesis – Altered Beast – 1988


Beast mode: activated

Altered Beast
Sega Mega Drive
(c) 1988
Genre: Sidescrolling Beat ‘Em Up

When gaming and looking back on things you enjoyed from your childhood, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish games that are still good, challenging titles that have withstood the test of time, and games that are good due to the nostalgia they can induce.  Altered Beast, while challenging, has not aged as gracefully as it could have.   This side scrolling beat’em’up is remembered more often these days for the laugh inducing, bizarre vocal clips and strange scantily clad heroes than the gameplay itself.  That being said, it doesn’t stop it from being a challenging and enjoyable game. Continue reading