So, what's this website all about?
The goal of PunchPedia is to be the most complete and comprehensive website about beat 'em ups on the internet. Ideally, each and every brawler's page will have complete movelists, fighter/enemy/stage descriptions, screenshots, promotional art, and full playthroughs for every character. But this is still a work in progress. For now, most games only have a summary page.
Back up a second. Beat 'em ups? Brawlers? What are those?
Beat 'em ups, also known as brawlers or "belt-scrollers," are a genre of video games originating in the arcade in the late 80's. Brawlers are action games that focus on fighting several opponents at once. Traditionally, they focus on hand-to-hand combat in an urban setting, although several titles feature weapons combat and/or fantasy settings. Brawlers are known for their simple controls and fantastic co-op gameplay. Although they may seem shallow at first, most beat 'em ups hide a deep challenge that requires both strategy and skill to master.
Ya know, I mighta played one of those at some point. Can you name some beat 'em ups I might have heard of?
Oh yeah, I used to play Golden Axe and Streets of Rage with my friend as a kid. I could get back into that! So where can I play these things?
I like playing on original hardware. A Genesis (or SNES), two controllers, and a couple of games will probably run you about $100 on the internet, although Craigslist or used game stores might have much better deals. You can also get something like the RetroN 3, which is an aftermarket console that plays Genesis, SNES, and NES games. A few games are available for download on PC, Wii, PS3, X360, and even mobile phones. However, certain games cannot be played through legitimate means. Arcade games are few and far in between these days, and it's extremely unlikely that you live near an arcade, let alone one with any brawlers. However, there is another option... emulation.
Emulation? Never heard of it.
An emulator is just software that runs games on devices other than their intended consoles. For example, you can play arcade games on your computer. Emulation is an extremely quick and convenient way to play games, but there's a catch. Emulators themselves are legal, but you're only legally allowed to play games you own. So, you can download any emulator you want, but you're not allowed to download games that you do not personally own. So if you have a Streets of Rage cartridge but no Genesis, you can legally play it on any emulator you want. However, there is an option to play games for free: Virtual Super NES and Virtual NES are sites that let you legally play games in your browser. If they don't have a game you wanna play, consider donating it so that everybody can play it!
Awesome, I think I'm ready to start playing. Any tips for new players?
The single most important skill in brawlers is moving up and down. This is the foundation of the genre. Enemies can usually only hit directly in front of them, so you can move up and down to avoid their attacks and put yourself into a more advantageous position. Long story short, move up and down more. This is what I like the call "the up-downs." When in doubt, use your up-downs! Also, most bosses and enemies have specific strategies that once mastered make the game much easier. Check out the Games section for more info.