The TakeOver

If you played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, it’s very likely that you were won over by the game’s retro charm, awesome pixel art, and satisfying beat-‘em-up gameplay. The game can be finished in about two or three hours, so it might leave you wanting more. Well, if you already did a few runs and find yourself in the mood for some more arcade-like goodness, we’ve got you covered.

Here are five indie beat-‘em-up games you should check out if you had a good time with TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge.

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 - SoR 4

Released in 2020 by Dotemu, the same company that published TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, Street of Rage 4 is a similar modern-day revival of a fan-favorite franchise. It was developed by the aforementioned Dotemo alongside Lizardcube and Guard Crush. The action is tight and fast-paced, allowing you to throw punches and kicks and build combos at a rapid pace. There’s something super satisfying about juggling enemies in the corner of the screen and just seeing them bounce around as you pummel them.

Aside from strikes and grapple attacks, SoR 4 brings back the ability to pick up weapons off the ground. You might be fighting corrupt forces, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bend the rules yourself! You’ll snag knives, lead pipes, and even throwing stars. Hey, they were gonna stab you first, right?

Streets of Rage 4 can get a bit chaotic, with thugs, bikers, and brutes filling the screen in a matter of seconds. That said, it’s absolutely cathartic taking down baddies left and right, especially if you’re playing alongside a buddy. While Shredder’s Revenge can be a bit on the easier side, even on the higher difficulty setting, Streets of Rage 4 just gets tougher the deeper you get, making for an imposing yet satisfying challenge.

Where Shredder’s Revenge went for a classic pixel art look, Streets of Rage 4 features more of a comic-book graphical style. It looks great, and this direction works really well with the early ‘90s outfits and set pieces you’ll see.

The TakeOver

The TakeOver Gameplay

The TakeOver wants to be Streets of Rage so bad that it had no choice but to be a really fun game. Seriously, one look at it, and you might even mistake it for Streets of Rage 4, which is interesting considering The TakeOver actually predates that game.

The gameplay, the visuals, and the style of The TakeOver all take cues from Streets of Rage as well as Double Dragon, Final Fight, and other arcade brawlers of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Thankfully, that’s not a bad thing when the overall package provides a few hours of good, wholesome beat-‘em-up entertainment.

The stages in The TakeOver are pretty lengthy, too, so you can expect to get sucked into a solid, arcade-proper action experience. It’s maybe not as tight as Streets of Rage 4 or TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, but if you’ve got a hankering for some arcade goodness, this title from developer Pelikan13 is definitely easy to recommend.

Raging Justice

Raging Justice

Raging Justice wants to be Streets— Oh, wait, we already went there. Well, the cool thing about a game emulating another game is that it can sometimes turn out to be pretty cool in its own right. Think of a rock band, for example: Just because a certain band didn’t originate a genre and sounds a lot like another band doesn’t mean said band has to suck. They could be pretty rad, too. That’s what Raging Justice is — a game with very clear influences that doesn’t necessarily raise the bar but still manages to provide some solid entertainment.

You’ll string together combos, toss enemies around, and pick up weapons. It’s not exactly original, but Raging Justice does a few things to keep you engaged. Each stage has optional objectives, such as beating a boss within a certain amount of time or arresting rather than killing some enemies. These objectives add a nice change of pace to the flow of the action.

Oh, you can also ride a tractor sometimes. Yeah, it’s pretty cool being able to just run down gangs of enemies. It’s 100 percent ludicrous, no doubt, but it’s a good time.

Visually, Raging Justice has a fun 2.5D look to it. The animations can be a little stiff and choppy, but not in a way that’s detrimental to the fast-paced nature of a beat-‘em-up. There’s definitely a scrappiness to the game, but it’s just so enjoyably dumb that it’s hard not to get sucked into it.

Like The TakeOver, Raging Justice is kind of an underrated gem. To Developer MakinGames Ltd I must sY, y’all put out a solid one!

Super Crush KO

Super Crush KO

While Super Crush KO is the only game on this list that doesn’t include co-op, don’t brush it off just yet. The game, developed by Vertex Pop, mixes fast-paced beat-‘em-up and shoot-‘em-up gameplay that results in quick, combo-based action. You’ll juggle enemies, blast ‘em to bits, and pound them into oblivion.

Super Crush KO is a little easier than other beat-‘em-ups, but it’s still a blast to play. The real challenge comes in stringing together long combos and getting as many S-rankings as possible in each stage.

Where other beat-‘em-ups usually feature a gritty, urban decay look and vibe, Super Crush KO goes in a different direction from its brethren. Everything is cheery and easy on the eyes. It almost looks like something you’d see in a comic book from publisher Boom. The story is equally lighthearted as it follows a young lady who’s taking down invading creatures in order to save her cat. That’s it! That’s the plot! And you know what? It’s pretty cool.

Mother Russia Bleeds

This is probably the darkest game on this list, thematically speaking. Sure, crime, urban decay, and moral collapse are all themes that most beat-‘em-ups revisit quite often, But Mother Russia Bleeds from Le Cartel Studio gets incredibly grim.

The game follows four characters who are living in poverty as part of a street-fighting ring in an alternate-reality Soviet Union. One day, they awaken in an underground lab beneath a prison. The game’s protagonists are experimented on, injected with a highly addictive drug that, among granting them immense strength, also causes them to hallucinate and puke their guts out.

The drug, dubbed Nekro, is actually an integral part of the gameplay, as you’ll constantly shoot up to go into a powered-up mode and tear through scientists, guards, and thugs, as well as to regain health. How exactly do you go about obtaining Nekro, you ask? Well, you’ll take a syringe, extract the drug from the corpses of enemies you kill, and then inject it into yourself. It hardly sounds sanitary, but it makes for an interesting gameplay hook!

As far as the action in Mother Russia Bleeds goes, it’s right up there with the best of ‘em! The arcade beat-‘em-up mechanics are fast, the challenge is high, and the game is just about as addictive as you might imagine Nekro is.

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1 year ago

I’d recommend Guardian Heroes (Saturn). It’s only £1.69 on Xbox Live store.

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