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STICK’EM UP PUNK IT’S THE BEAT’EM UP CRIMINAL PART 2: THE HACK ‘N’ SLASH BULLS
The 2nd part of a series looking at the Beat' em genre of Games and their place gaming

Posted by Invisible on Jan 21, 2011 17:55 (Jan 21, 2011 17:55)



Well, in the first instalment of this article I purposely avoided a certain area of Beat’em Ups. Why? It’s because they give you an advantage your normal bare-fisted pugilist would never dream of. Firstly, you start with weapons and they are integral to proceedings. Secondly, it is very likely that you will have some sort of magic, that maybe powered up, making the mere mortals tremor in their shoes. This ‘other worldness’ distracts away from normal Beat’em Ups somewhat, but it doesnt mean that they are without merit.

Unlike the history of the bog standard scrolling Beat ‘em Up before the hack n slash’ers have somewhat of a different origin. Sure they owe a debt of gratitude to Kung Fu Master and others but, the likes of Rastan Saga, Great Guianos, Black Tiger and Rygar are really where the genre came from as far as I can tell.
Inspired by films such as Conan the Barbarian and Jason and the Argonauts and the likes of Dungeons and Dragons (as we shall see later, directly so) the hack and slash game started off as a strange hybrid of Platformer and Beat’em Up. Rastan Saga released in 1986 is clearly based on something akin to Conan. Massive muscled bloke takes on hordes of supernatural enemies with a sword, or axe whilst climbing vines and jumping between platforms doesn’t sound like a great starting place, but as an introduction to the genre it is for want of a better word, perfect.

The game is 2D and very, very linear, it is also something of a chore, and whilst it has a number of fans, it really isn’t the greatest. What it does do though is introduce the idea of a fixed weapon into the genre, instead of using fists to kill, you are using a massive weapon to defeat your enemy as just using normal fists is not good enough to achieve this task. The game also introduces the element of the supernatural. You are not fighting people as in Kung Fu Master, these are mystical beasts, and the same rules are not always adhered to. This is why your fists will never be enough.

Rygar was similar in such that he had a massive Boomerang/Frisbee style weapon to aid his quest and in Great Guianos you had a massive suit of armour that would fall off when hit, whilst slicing and dicing your foes with a huge sword.

With the seeds sown and a progression alongside Beat ‘em Ups with games such as Black Tiger (mace on a chain, but more platformy) and Robocop, fists and then guns, guns, guns (more towards the beat’em style), the Jump to 2.5d playing fields that came with Final Fight, saw the genre shift again. Enter Sega with its seeming genre masher, Golden Axe.
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#1 May 27, 2011 00:36:50 ( May 27, 2011 00:36 )

deadpan666
 Nice Article!  Oh, and Rastan is one of my very favourite games ever!!
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