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NES

Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu

Players
1
Length

0:45

Difficulty

Medium

Release

’86

Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu from Konami is the world’s first hybrid brawler/RPG. It stars the folk hero Goemon, who’s a noble thief. You explore an open map, talk to NPC’s, and buy items. When you hit the streets, the game becomes an incredibly simple beat ’em up. This game never left Japan although some of its sequels were brought over under the "Mystical Ninja" moniker.

GB

Ganbare Goemon: Sarawareta Ebisumaru!

Players
1
Length

0:50

Difficulty

Easy

Release

’91

Ganbare Goemon: Sarawareta Ebisumaru! is a Japanese-exclusive exploratory Game Boy brawler from Konami. It’s obviously part of the Ganbare Goemon series, which is known as Legend of the Mystical Ninja in the US. Like the Goemon games on the NES, it features light brawler gameplay with an emphasis on light RPG elements such as exploring towns, finding items, and fulfilling objectives to proceed.

ARC

Gang Wars

Players
22
Length

0:45

Difficulty

Hard

Release

’89

Gang Wars is an early Double Dragon-esque brawler. Its combat emphasizes using weapons and special techniques against relatively small gangs of enemies. It has guns, finisher moves, and digitized cutscenes.

GBA

Gekido Advance: Kintaro's Revenge

Players
1
Length

2:00

Difficulty

Hard

Release

’03 ’02

Gekido Advance is a GBA-exclusive single-player brawler that emphasizes adventure elements such as exploring mazes, dodging traps, talking to townsfolk, and solving quests. Its graphics features smooth animation with an anime style like a King of Fighters game. Its combat emphasizes alternating the two attack buttons to perform various combos as well as picking up a multitude of powerups.

SNES

Ghost Chaser Densei

Players
22
Length

0:50

Difficulty

Medium

Release

’94

Ghost Chaser Densei is a port of the arcade brawler Denjin Makai. Like the original, it’s a futuristic take on Final Fight with more moves and advanced energy-based charge attacks. Although it’s lacking half of the playable characters and some of the stages of the original, it’s still a deep brawler with plenty of bizarre enemies and a phenomenal soundtrack.

ARC

Golden Axe

Players
22
Length

0:15

Difficulty

Casual

Release

’89

Golden Axe created the hack n’ slash sub-genre of brawlers. Its weapons-based combat, screen-clearing magic attacks, mountable creatures, and barbarian aesthetic made it one of Sega’s most successful early franchises. It’s also notable for its short playtime, casual difficulty, and unique scoring system.

GEN

Golden Axe

Players
22
Length

0:15

Difficulty

Casual

Release

’89

Golden Axe is a faithful port of the super-popular arcade classic by Sega. Although its axes aren’t golden, it adds an extra stage, a boss fight, and a credit sequence at the end of the game.

SMS

Golden Axe

Players
1
Length

0:20

Difficulty

Hardcore

Release

’89

Golden Axe on the Master System is a scaled-back port of Sega’s arcade classic. Although it’s single player and you can only play as Ax-Battler, you can select any magic at the beginning of the game. It doesn’t have the extra levels of the Genesis version, but it’s a little harder than that port.

PCE

Golden Axe

Players
1
Length

0:20

Difficulty

Easy

Release

’90

Golden Axe on the PC Engine is a shoddy port of Sega’s classic arcade hack ’n’ slash brawler. It removes the distance-based combos of the original and is single-player only. It does, however, maintain the magic system and riding of Bizarrians, as well as adding voiced cutscenes and a remixed soundtrack.

GEN

Golden Axe II

Players
22
Length

0:40

Difficulty

Medium

Release

’91

Golden Axe II is a console-only sequel to Sega’s beloved hack ’n’ slash classic. Its combat is slightly refined and it features new enemies, magic attacks, and stages but is otherwise very similar to the original.

GEN

Golden Axe III

Players
22
Length

1:15

Difficulty

Medium

Release

’93

Golden Axe III is the Japan-exclusive final chapter in the Golden Axe trilogy. It features a revamped combat engine, an all-new cast of characters, and branching stages while maintaining Golden Axe standards like distance-based attacks and stock-based screen-clearing magic attacks.

ARC

Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder

Players
4444
Length

1:00

Difficulty

Medium

Release

’92

Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder is an updated sequel to the hack ’n’ slash hit from Sega. It features an all-new cast of distinct characters, impressive sprite scaling, four-player gameplay, and an expanded combat engine including team attacks. It also retains classic Golden Axe elements like screen-filling magic attacks and mountable bizarrian creatures.

SNES

Gourmet Sentai Bara Yarou

Players
22
Length

0:45

Difficulty

Hard

Release

’95

Gourmet Sentai Bara Yarou is a weird futuristic two-player beat ’em up from the makers of Cho Aniki featuring their signature bizarre style. It features stages composed of giant mechanical feet as well as a robotic Moa head that’s being controlled by a tiny little man who jumps on your head and does the Russian dance. Its gameplay is heavily inspired by Final Fight yet adds unique new techniques such as nailing the enemy into the ground. Additionally, you must cook meals from ingredients you acquired during each stage to refill your health.

ARC

Growl

Players
4444
Length

0:50

Difficulty

Hardcore

Release

’90

Growl is an early brawler from Taito that features rangers who protect animals from poachers. It plays a lot like Double Dragon but puts an extreme emphasis on weapons including whips, swords, guns, and grenades. Occasionally animals will fight alongside you after you free them.

GEN

Growl

Players
22
Length

0:50

Difficulty

Hardcore

Release

’91

Growl is a faithful port of Taito’s animal-themed brawler. Although it’s limited to two players, it captures the original’s chaotic gameplay.

SAT

Guardian Heroes

Players
22
Length

4:00

Difficulty

Hard

Release

’96 ’96

Guardian Heroes is a one-of-a-kind weapons-based brawler from Treasure. It sets itself apart from the pack by restricting vertical movement and adding a three-lane system that you can jump between, sort of like the Fatal Fury games. This allows for complex fighting game-style move inputs for advanced techniques. It also has an RPG stat and experience system, as well as allowing you to control a golden undead night in battle.

ARC

Guardians of the 'Hood

Players
22
Length

0:45

Difficulty

Hardcore

Release

’92

Guardians of the ’Hood is a strange fighter-brawler hybrid from Atari. It features five buttons, tons of attacks, has no dedicated jump button, and has vs. stages between levels. It’s also notable for its pre-rendered graphics and sprite scaling effects.

ARC

Guardians: Denjin Makai II

Players
22
Length

0:50

Difficulty

Hard

Release

’95

Guardians: Denjin Makai II is a late-generation brawler from Banpresto that never left Japan. It’s got it all: a whopping 8 playable and entirely unique characters, gigantic movesets with energy-based specials, team attacks, bizarre enemies, plenty of weapons, and even some shooter stages to mix up the action.

PSP

Guilty Gear Judgment

Players
22
Length

2:30

Difficulty

Hardcore

Release

’06 ’06

Guilty Gear Judgment is a spin-off of the Guilty Gear series of fighting games from Arc System Works for the PSP. Although it’s a brawler, it features many qualities of the original such as a ton of playable characters, gigantic advanced movesets, fluid animations, and rapid gameplay. Besides that, it’s a traditional beat ’em up in terms of enemy design and structure. It has 2-player co-op gameplay via the PSP’s ad-hoc multiplayer as well as a standalone fighting game in addition to the brawler portion.

ARC

Hachoo!

Players
22
Length

0:40

Difficulty

Easy

Release

’89

Hachoo! is a strange cartoony martial arts-themed early brawler from Jaleco. Its two-button combat is exceedingly simple, and doesn’t even have jump-attacks. Its claim to fame is that it’s the first beat ’em up that lets you throw enemies directly at the screen, which results in impressive sprite scaling and hilarious pixel art. Besides that, it’s a mediocre brawler featuring choppy gameplay and forgettable music.

ARC

Hook

Players
22
Length

0:50

Difficulty

Medium

Release

’92

Hook is a pirate-themed brawler from Irem based on the movie of the same name. It features 5 playable characters with expansive movesets. Its combat has unique combo finishers that grant invincibility as well as several aerial throws. Its art style has fluid animations and goofy caricature bosses.

ARC

Ikari III: The Rescue

Players
22
Length

0:45

Difficulty

Brutal

Release

’89

Ikari III: The Rescue is the final chapter in SNK’s Ikari Warriors series, and the first game to be a brawler. Its unusual combat features an overhead perspective, punch/kick/jump buttons, and a rotating joystick like in the original Ikari games. It’s notable for its military setting, gun-based boss fights, unique input device, and brutal Ikari difficulty.

NES

Ikari III: The Rescue

Players
22
Length

1:00

Difficulty

Hardcore

Release

’91 ’90

Ikari III: The Rescue is a military-themed two-player overhead brawler from SNK. Unlike its predecessors, it’s not an overhead shooter, although there are shooting segments in the form of boss fights. In true Ikari fashion, it’s intensely difficult, although nowhere near as hard as the original Ikari Warriors.

SNES

Iron Commando: Koutetsu no Senshi

Players
22
Length

1:00

Difficulty

Hard

Release

Iron Commando: Koutetsu no Senshi is a Japanese-exclusive two player brawler from Arcade Zone, the guys behind Legend. It’s notable for its hectic gun-heavy gameplay, plentiful weapons, vehicle stages, and impressive graphics that feature an array of effects from fog to parallax scrolling. It’s also one of the only brawlers with a dedicated grab button, which is also used to pick up weapons.

GBA

Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Darkhand

Players
1
Length

1:00

Difficulty

Medium

Release

’01 ’01

Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Darkhand is a GBA-exclusive brawler based on the kids’ animated cartoon show starring Jackie Chan. Its two-button combat engine emphasizes scoring. It features multiple difficulty settings and an optional Training mode.

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