When you had a hard day at school, sometimes you just wanted to grab your best friend, head home or to the arcade, and start up a game where the entire goal was to beat the snot out of anything that moved.
Beat 'em ups are one of our favorite oldschool game genres, and these ones in particular kept us coming back for more.
1) Final Fight (Arcade, 1989)
One of the most influential games in the genre, you have to save young Jessica from the evil Mad Gear gang, taking control of either her pro wrestler / city mayor father Mike Haggar, her boyfriend Cody, or his best friend Guy.
Originally intended as a sequel to the original Street Fighter, it became its own thing and was an instant hit in arcades.
Fun fact: the North American release changed the character of Poison to a male, as there was concern about the images of large men beating up women. This has caused a debate in the fan community about the character's true gender ever since.
2) Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis, 1992)
The Streets of Rage franchise was Sega's answer to Final Fight, and with the second game in the series, they put out a title that could totally hold its own with the big guys.
With a cast of four characters that all played very differently, and awesome music by composer Yuzo Koshiro, Streets of Rage 2 was a great way to spend an afternoon with your best friend.
Who was your favorite? I was all about Blaze and her awesome all-orange getup.
3) Battletoads (NES, 1991)
One of the first major Nintendo games made by Rare, this was a game that was as fun as it was frustrating.
It was at both its best and worse when you brought a friend along, because it made beating the enemies easier, but you could also accidentally kill each other.
And who can forget the jetski level? Ugh.
4) Double Dragon (Arcade, 1987)
The game that really sealed the trend, you controlled Billy and Jimmy Lee as you try to beat up the Black Warriors gang to save Billy's girlfriend Marian (does this sound familiar?).
The game was memorable for both its gameplay and its hilarious cast of baddies, especially the legendary Abobo.
it also had one heck of a twist; when you rescue Marian, she makes you fight each other to decide who earns her love!
5) River City Ransom (NES, 1989)
An underrated little gem from the original NES, you control best friends Alex and Ryan as they try to, what else, save Ryan's girlfriend from the evil Slick. I'm sensing a pattern here.
Unlike other beat 'em ups of the day though, this one actually let you buy things like food, books, and music that you could use to upgrade your characters. You could make them hit harder, have more health, or even learn entirely new moves!