The beat em up genre was the most popular style of gaming during the early years of the home console invasion into the market place. From the NES to the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, beat em ups were a mainstay in consumer game libraries and helped to push arcades further away from the consciousness of gamers everywhere. Here's a list of the top 5 ultimate beat em ups of all-time:

Streets of Rage (1991)

The first in a trilogy of action, street-wise beat em ups on the Sega Genesis that was light years away from the Final Fight clone that appeared on the SNES later.

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A Genesis Original, "Streets of Rage" was an entity onto its own, with its three lead characters Axl, Blaze, and Adam seeking to shake up the neighborhoods of their city from the evil criminal syndicate.

From its pulsating soundtrack to its last battle inside the mansion of a criminal mastermind, "Streets of Rage" showed its worth as a Genesis masterpiece. Unlike most beat em ups of the time, this series never appeared in arcades and was intended solely as a console release. The soundtrack was composed by Yuzo Koshiro of Shinobi fame, and his work on both titles can now be bought on vinyl as part of the Sega Legends release series.

Golden Axe (1989)

"Conan the Barbarian" meets "Dragon Age," this arcade release was adapted for the Sega console a year later. Golden Axe is pure fantasy with its three heroes, a barbarian, a dwarf, and the female valkyrie, seeking revenge against a malevolent Mage as they travel across towns and swamps to reach the antagonists fortified compound. The soundtrack is just as brilliant now as it was then, and, as with "Streets of Rage," "Golden Axe" can be purchased on XBOX Live for under 10 dollars for the entire trilogy.

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A must-buy for anyone interested in mythology and lore.

Double Dragon (1988)

A port from the arcade, Tradewest's "Double Dragon" for the NES was a beat em up in every sense of the word. Players get to travel across a nameless city with martial arts experts Billy Lee in search of his girlfriend who was kidnapped by a gang of street thugs. One of the first beat em ups to have a true ending, "Double Dragon" provided viewers with a nice twist at the end that would shape the future of the series forever. It should be played on the Nintendo rather than the arcade, simply because that was the medium that brought the series into the mainstream. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (1992)

The last of the great turtle game era was the greatest example of an arcade port done perfectly on the home console. Either for the arcade or the SNES, TMNT is a masterpiece of side scrolling action. Join your four favorite shelled heroes on a journey across time and space, from a pirate ship to the old west, as you prepare yourself for your final confrontation with the Super Shredder on a rooftop facing the New York City skyline.

The hit detection in this game is spot on, with a soundtrack as pulsating as the theme song for the original animated series.

The Simpsons Arcade (1991)

The only game on this list to never have been adapted for a console at the time of its original release, "The Simpsons Arcade" was monolithic in ever sense of the word. With players assuming the role of our title family members, the story progresses through the town of Springfield as the Simpson family searches for the kidnapped Maggie. The game is full of cameos by other show characters like Side Show Bob, Krusty, Moe, etc, each as animated and authentic as they are on television. Now a much sought after title from fans who wish they had downloaded it on Xbox live over three years ago, "The Simpsons Arcade" still maintains a cult status for those looking for old-fashioned beat em up fun. With Marge swinging her vacuum and Bart skateboarding his way through the levels, the Simpsons is a perfect game for fun, mindless action.