Beat ‘em up games were the number one genre between 1992 and 2001. Games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, River City Ransom, X Men and The Simpsons Arcade, and more were all on the rise. Gamers lucky enough to own a Nintendo, Sega Master System or to visit an arcade were able to experience these works of art at their prime.
Unfortunately, as gaming started migrating into homes and console gaming became the standard, gaming started to evolve. 16 and 32 bit games were a thing of the past. Games started to make the switch to 3D and this change made games more realistic which gave a new meaning to art and world building. Sadly beat em ups were barely able to survive in the growing 3d game era.
These types of games didn’t completely die however. Ninja Turtles constantly kept being released and Playstation One games like Gekido and Fighting Force were released. Amazingly enough though, games like Spike Out for the original xbox and many others tried to bring beat em ups to the more modern 3D Era. But overall the beat em up genre was dead.
In 2004 the X-Men Legends series completely evolved the genre by adding upgradeable characters and a very in depth story. This quickly morphed into Marvel Ultimate Alliance which added more RPG elements to the genre. Since then, Castle Crashers, Scott Pilgrim and River City Girls have released and dominated the beat em up world adding stories and quests along with rpg elements. They took cues from the games of the past and brought them forward to join the current gaming world. Questing and upgrades were introduced and integrated. The beat em up genre was reborn and so far it seems to be here to stay.
With the start of this review I felt it necessary to mention the past and how vast the beat em up genre was back in the day. Many gamers (especially the new ones) haven’t the slightest clue about this genre since it’s so underused and it lay dormant for so many years. When a new one comes out, the game is negatively compared to other games in the genre and creates a toxic environment, where people compare similar styles gameplays or visuals to another game.
Video games are and have always been about inspiration and the beat em up genre is no different. Generally all Beat em ups are the same, but there are always differences that make players love the familiarity taken from past games. Usually there’s enough unique content added to a game to differentiate it from others of the same genre. Ninja turtles did not feel like River City and they certainly did not feel like Golden Axe or even Captain Commando.
Mayhem Brawlers by Hero Concepts is the new 2021 beat them up game developed for all Standard home platforms. This three player co-op beat him up has you taking on the role of one of three super powered police officers in modern day society. Stronghold, the old man, does not understand the internet or the purpose of social media and is always grumpy and impatient. A young girl named Star always stays on social media and tries to keep up with the world. And last, a strange looking man code named “Dolphin” that’s always down for anything and is actually a humanoid dolphin. This review is for the Nintendo switch version of the game
Mayhem Brawlers has interesting world building methods, for example the game uses things like social media similar to Twitter on the right hand side of the screen during cutscenes. So for instance, you could see what the citizens in this game world thinks about what’s happening with these officers. This is an interesting touch that I personally like because it gives you both sides of the situation that is happening within the game world looking through the glass door so to speak.
Look and feel
This game’s graphics and aesthetic are fantastic, a beautifully hand drawn comic book style with deep vibrant colors that popped on my Oled display. The visuals of this game are very similar to the newest Streets of Rage. With the creation of this unique graphical style, we can now expect to see more games that look just as beautiful (no point in gate keeping the visuals). One thing I can say I absolutely love is the level selection is each Chapter select is made to look like you are selecting the next issue of a comic book series. Marvel inspired comic book covers are shown in order to set the tone of the next chapter. This portion of the game really stood out to me. Hopefully, this means we will get more of a series than just the one game. This game really shows the love for comic books.
The controls for the game are very tight and responsive and I never felt any delay in my attacks and combinations. My only wish is that if I were to hit an enemy into the air, I’m able to continue attacking them and and have the ability to do some type of air combo or have the ability to attack enemies as they fall to the ground so I can continue to juggle. Unfortunately this is not a feature of the game although it doesn’t take away from the very satisfying combat the game has. Many other combat options are given and fighting feels really satisfying
Since it’s a beat them up you have your basic up, down, left, and right. You can move forward and back into the foreground along with progressing forward or doubling back If you need to run away. expectedly you have your regular attacks and your special attacks along with some ultimate moves. Some interesting changes as far as running and attacking is that there is a different type of animation for each movement.
In this game you have four difficulty settings. Cadet is the easiest gamemode as it’s just for casual beat em up players. The medium difficulty is called Superheroes as it’s for a seasoned player; basically someone that’s probably been playing since the 90s. The hardest difficulty setting is called Legend and well good luck.
This game offers a variety of consumables to heal yourself and weapons to pick up and fight with as well. Mayhem Brawler definitely did not skimp on the loot drops and consumables department. With plenty of drops throughout the levels, one is never going to be in short supply of health or ammo.
The music sounds pretty good but it wasn’t very memorable. With that being said, the music does fit the game and theme of the stage. A strange issue I have had is sometimes when I boot up the game the menu has no music or the music starts up very late. While playing through the levels, the characters are also narrating the story. So while the players are fighting, the characters are talking about the situation at hand, their general goals and the things that are happening around them which is a really nice touch. Usually beat em up games just have you go from point A to point B with the inclusion of grunting sounds of the fighters and no real story. This game keeps you involved in the story the whole way through and the voice acting is great.
As an avid gamer and a lover of the classics, I can only hope they choose to continue this game with a sequel of some sort. Mayhem Bawler is both a nice touch of nostalgia and a bit of unique characteristics as well. Beat em up games almost died once. I don’t think they should die a second time. With hours of countless fun, Mayhem Brawler is both made for old gamers and new alike. Mayhem Brawler is available now for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4,5, and the Xbox Family Consoles. Try it for yourself and see what the craze is all about.