Title: The Beat-'Em-Up Genre is in Acoma
Posted: March 11, 2006 (05:45 PM)
Jeff Gerstmann recently wrote, "The Beat-Em'-Up genre is dead." And while Final Fight: Streetwise was truly a disappointment, I don't think the genre is dead. It's just been knocked unconscious. Ever since The Bouncer and Final Force came out (or as Jeff's puts it - "ever since [gaming] has went polygonal"), the industry sees the genre as a curse. For those that do delve into the genre, no one has really stepped up to the plate. Not even Jade Empire, The Matrix, Shaolin Monks, or The Warriors.
I don't want Grand Theft Auto without weapons. I don't want a game where blood tries to splurge from every direction it can possibly splurge.
What I want is hand-to-face, punch-to-stomach, knee-in-groin action.
And is it really so much to ask? Turn Def Jam Vendetta's raw gameplay into a beat-'em-up, put in a street, and it would work. What about wrestling? Just work on the hit detection, work on the movement controls, and there, and voila! Sure, it's easier said than done, but it seems that all it would take is a few tweaks to the core mechanics. And plenty of games have tempted us. Tekken 3, 4, and 5 have been toying us with Tekken Force and "Jin: The Devil Within". But they are so poorly executed that I feel like someone is dangling a carrot in front of my face.
I mean, the 2D fighting genre is painfully similar. Why hasn't Street Fighter had a beat-'em-up spin-off yet? It has a puzzle game for Pete's sake! And if we're going to get technical, the very first Street Fighter was a beat-em-up. Why can't it return to its roots? Why not extend the playing field of Street Fighter III? It has the flow, precision, and accessibility. Is making a beat-'em-up such a sin?
So what would it take to have a great beat-em-up? I think it's going to take "Fight Night Round 3 on the Xbox360" hit detection. It doesn't have to be detailed to the point where I can see faces ripple, but at least let us see some blood, some bruises, some cuts. You know, damage?
More improtantly, it's the repetition that needs to be cracked. Urban Reign, Final Fight, and The Bouncer are too repetitive - it's what to be expected coming from a game that involves mashing buttons. But then again, the genre can learn from his brethren like God of War. Kratos is essentially a beat-'em-up character except with axes. What was so great about it? That you could lay the smackdown in the most bad ass of bad ass of ways. Let's translate that to this genre. Don't just punch the minotaur but get into a mini-game and thrash the beast. How? Let your imagination go wild. Pulverize the minotaur in the stomach, kick its head off, split its skull open with your hands, or get all Scorpion fatality on its ass.
Think visceral. Think Wolverine. Think Condemned without the weapons. You can hear your footsteps in the mist. Heaving between the teeth. Your enemies can taste you, but you have your fists ready. A beast gnarls, rushes without mercy. But you stiff arm. You mount it and get all UFC on it, bludgeoning its face from left to right.
You can hear its pain and your exhaustion. And as you can hit from behind, you spew out blood from your mouth as your head hits the wall. But it only makes you angrier. As you leap off the wall, your eyes see the guy's neck, and your hands seizes it, slamming him onto the tiled floor. Your friend, a black belt clasped across her waist, sends her hand through your enemy. And his ribcage cracks.
What more does it take?
Make it crisp. Make it serious. And you've got yourself a hit.
It's time the beat-em-up genre woke up.
Posted: March 11, 2006 (08:29 PM)
I think that's true to an extent, but you're trying to revive a genre by making it something that it never was. If I want to make people love 2D shooters again, I'm not going to claim that 3D is the solution. What I want to see is a good 2D or 3D brawler that doesn't try to do anything more than evolve what worked so well about games like the original Final Fight and Double Dragon games. I don't want a convoluted plot and I don't want a bunch of CGI sequences where people swear at each other or whatever. Games like Final Fight didn't have any of that and they were better for it. That's what we need: a revival of actual street fighting games.
Your ideas will work perfectly well for other games, but they are different enough that even if we see games made like the ones you suggested, they're not really street fighting titles.
Posted: March 12, 2006 (12:27 AM)
Hmm... I don't think you need to revive the genre by doing what made it so popular in the past. I believe you can revitalize the genre with any high-quality beat-'em-up title. In this manner, I should give The Warriors more credit. It has put the genre back on the map. For a while. And to compete with current products on the market, I think it's more than valid to take at new mechanics in the playing field and use what would be immerseive yet workable in a beat-'em-up game; that is, without making it into something it's not. A delicate issue.
But frankly, I want a 3D beat-'em-up to work. Not that I'm against the 2D kind - I just think it's about time that the genre caught up with, well, everything else (except perhaps the puzzle genre).