The Super Nintendo was a treasure trove of incredible beat ‘em up games. In fact, there are so many great ones that this could have easily been a Top 20 list.
There are a few that stand out from the rest, though, at least in my opinion. With that being said, here are the 10 best SNES beat ‘em ups.
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10. Pirates of Dark Water (1994)
Based on a fantasy animated American TV series that first aired in 1991, Pirates of Dark Water is a quirky beat ‘em up that ticks all the right boxes without being anything too spectacular.
If you’ve seen the animated series, you’ll probably enjoy this a bit more, but it’s not essential. This 2D side-scroller allows you to play as Ren, Ioz, or Tula – the protagonists of the series – as you work your way through 8 different levels as you attempt to eliminate the Mer of the Dark Water.
It’s not the best SNES beat ‘em up of all time, but it’s a solid game and definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre.
9. The Ninja Warriors (1994)
If you’re a fan of beat ‘em ups (which you probably are if you’re reading this…), you’re not gonna want to sleep on The Ninja Warriors. It’s easily one of the best SNES beat ‘em ups.
Yes, it does everything that you’d expect from a beat ‘em up, but it also has an awesome soundtrack and a unique humor that makes it stand out from the crowd.
There are 3 characters to choose from, my favorite being the cyborg ninja, mainly because he looks completely ridiculous, but also because he has a cool-looking move set.
There are 9 levels, and a hard mode for those wanting an extra challenge. The Ninja Warriors game does exactly what it says on the tin, and it won’t disappoint.
8. Captain Commando (1991)
Captain Commando is completely surreal and bizarre, and for that I absolutely love it. This futuristic (well… set in 2026) SNES beat ‘em up allows you to choose between 4 different characters, with one of them being a super-genius baby who controls a gigantic robot suit.
You probably don’t need another reason to love this game, but if you do, this is one of the most diverse SNES beat ‘em ups in terms of the number of levels, environments, enemies, and visuals.
Perhaps the best way to play Captain Commando is in the multiplayer mode, and fighting gangs of criminals as two giant robot babies is exactly as fun and wacky as it sounds.
7. Super Double Dragon (1992)
If you’re looking for a stylish SNES beat ‘em with cool movesets, a fun multiplayer mode, and a diverse array of levels and enemies, Super Double Dragon may be right up your street.
It’s a neat, smooth beat ‘em up game that requires a bit of skill to become good at. You need to time your kicks, and learn to block enemy patterns effectively if you want to beat the game.
The elephant in the room is how slow Super Double Dragon is, and it really is slow compared to most games in the genre. For me, though, this change of pace is a breath of fresh air and, at the very least, offers something different in the world of SNES beat ‘em ups.
6. Gourmet Sentai Barayarou (1995)
Gourmet Sentai Barayarou may have gone under the radar when it was first released, as it was only released in Japan.
It may not be everybody’s idea of the best SNES beat ‘em ups, but I absolutely love the complete wackiness and absurd nature of this beat ‘em up.
There is a special button dedicated to flexing and posing which, despite being completely useless, is a unique feature and can provide a few laughs here and there.
So, if you’re in the mood for one of the more lighthearted SNES beat ‘em ups, I recommend you give Gourmet Sentai Barayarou a shot.
5. Legend (1994)
Developed by Arcade Zone, Legend is a hack-and-slash beat ‘em up that is immensely fun, especially if you like the medieval aesthetic.
It’s slower than your average beat ‘em up for the SNES, but for me this adds to the achievement of completing it and also requires you to play with more skill in terms of accuracy, blocking, and timing.
The pace means that it is, understandably, not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re willing to put in a shift and sink some time into a nostalgic SNES beat ‘em up, I’d recommend this. It’s also available on Steam right now, so you can check it out there.
4. Knights of the Round (1991)
Knights of the Round is another Capcom entry in this list of the best SNES beat ‘em ups, and for many it’s their best offering in the genre.
One of the best things about Knights of the Round are the different bosses. Each boss feels like an event and they all have unique fighting patterns that you’ll have to learn in order to beat them.
You can choose between three characters – Arthur, Perceval, and Lancelot – and you get two lives and nine continues to beat the seven stages of the game. In fact, you can end up being each character in one run, as the continue screen allows you to change your character.
Knights of the Round is easily one of the best SNES beat ‘em ups you can find, and you must try this if you haven’t done so already.
3. Final Fight 3 (1995)
Final Fight 3 was an exclusive to the Super Nintendo and, in my view, is the best game in the FInal Fight series. It takes the gameplay up a level from the previous games.
There are 4 characters to choose from, each with unique abilities and special moves that provides a bit of diversity to the gameplay. It very much keeps the format of its predecessors and, indeed, most of the beat ‘em up genre. Side-scroll to the right, side-scroll to the left, beat up some bad guys and make your way to the bosses at the end of each stage.
The graphics are crisp, the levels are well planned, and the enemies are sufficiently challenging. If you’re looking for one of the best SNES beat ‘em ups to play right now, Final Fight 3 is one you simply have to try.
2. Turtles in Time
Nine times out of ten, if you ask a random SNES fanatic what their favorite beat ‘em up for the platform is, you’ll likely hear TMNT 4: Turtles in Time. It’s easy to see why, too, it really is a phenomenal game that is often used as the benchmark for SNES beat ‘em ups.
The fast-paced fun creates a chaotic gameplay that is majorly amplified if you’re playing in the multiplayer mode. Even as a single player, though, Turtles in Time is incredibly fun.
The game has one of the best soundtracks to ever have graced the SNES world, and the silliness of the TMNT world just makes this an absolute blast to play.
You’ve probably already heard of Turtles in Time, but just in case you haven’t, this is easily one of the best SNES beat ‘em ups around and, in all honesty, probably one of the best in the entire genre, period.
1. The King of Dragons (1994)
For me, The King of Dragons is absolutely the best SNES beat ‘em up of all time. I’m aware of the bias that nostalgia is having on my decision to rank it at the top of this list, but if everyone’s top 10 was the same that would get quite boring.
This side-scroller beat ‘em up by Capcom has all the common elements of medieval fantasy games and is abrim with orcs, wyverns, swords, axes, and bows and arrows. There are 5 different characters to choose from, and each of them provide a different experience. I personally like the archer the best as it brings a unique take to the beat ‘em up style.
To get the most enjoyment out of The King of Dragons, play the multiplayer version if possible. Here you can work with a partner to eliminate the hordes of enemies with a series of magic, melee, and ranged attacks.
In my book, The King of Dragons is completely worthy of its place at the top of the best SNES beat ‘em ups, and for those who have tried it, I’m sure you can see why.
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To see more of The King of Dragons, watch the gameplay YouTube video below by the World of Longplays.