Insert Imagination-

Just in case your wondering... I LOVE beat em' ups! They're stupidly simple while at the same time being a pleasure to the senses with usually impressive graphics and sounds. During the 'tude era, the genre was especially effective at drawing people in thanks to these traits which is why they translated into being the ultimate quarter munchers at the arcades. No matter if you were loitering around at your local liquor store or waiting for your upcoming showtime at the movie theater, beat em' up games (such as Captain Commando and The Simpsons) provided the perfect time-wasting distraction helping to fuel the imagination further than it had been before.

Speaking of movies... I love them as well (who doesn't really?) especially the awesome action romps of the 80's and 90's such as The Terminator and Demolition Man just to name a few. These fast-paced thrillers set the bar in the realm of science-fiction during this time coinciding with the rise of video game popularity which lead to an eventual blending of the two in the form of movie-licensed games (direct transitions aiming to tell the same exact story as the film with some liberties such as The Terminator on the NES or Demolition Man on the Sega Genesis) as well as titles clearly inspired by films but not direct adaptations (like how Contra poaches obvious ideas from the Alien franchise while shrewdly avoiding any copyright issues). Unfortunately, the quality of these titles left a lot to be desired (for the most part) with clunky designs and boring mechanics however consumers continued to gobble them up thanks in large part to the built-in cast, setting and plot which excited gamers (and then quickly disappointed them) to the concept of enriching the film's experience even further in virtual form. I mean, how the hell are you really supposed to make a game based on comprehensive stories involving time-traveling robots or dystopian cops and robbers anyways? While developers struggled to find answers to these and many other movie-licensed games coming out during this period (just try playing some of The Terminator on NES, I DARE you!), we ultimately continued to dip our hands into the action/platforming fray with futility hoping that we could get some kind of uniquely awesome experience, yet time after time results were lackluster leaving us wanting more.

This got me thinking... how come there isn't more movie-licensed arcade beat em' ups? It really is a genre that works well in terms of accessibility to new players (something the consoles seemed to have the most difficulty with) plus there's plenty of room for story narration with cut-scenes during and in-between levels. I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in the reality that getting all the rights to these films would be a logistical marathon for even the sleaziest of lawyers but screw that noise... some movies desperately need an arcade beat em' up adaptation and I'm here to scour the 'tudiest action bonanzas that Hollywood has to offer to see which ones seamlessly fit into the world of right-walking badasses who punch and kick everything in sight all for the sake of points and a happy ending.

Now first off, not every action movie is going to be perfectly translatable into the beat em' up realm so some parameters are gonna have to be set in order to keep the list coherent and understandable. For instance, most of these arcade-style brawlers are multiplayer consisting of anywhere between 2 and 6 cooperative gamers fighting together to achieve a common goal which means that the best movies to mesh into this formula would be ones that contain 2 or more main protagonists which can represent the playable characters for the game. This, of course, negates the prospects for lone hero films such as First Blood (Rambo) and Commando from making this list which should help to narrow things down a bit. Instead, look for movies that contain either 2 stars sharing top-bidding (something like 48 Hrs. perhaps) or a group working together (such as Young Guns) that many different players can control.

Additional to multiple protagonists, another major component to the arcadey formula of beat em' ups is a large group of enemies usually made up of a mixture of grunts and bosses that the players must trample through in order to proceed. This aspect should also help to additionally parse the field in terms of what movies are applicable to this list as clearly not every film would truly fit with this concept which is why the action genre provides the best examples. While the world of video games typically allows for all the narrative freedom that developers could ask for, movie-licensed games require more boundaries so as not to stray too far from the film it's based on and I feel this same idea would apply when given the beat em' up treatment. In other words, the only movies that should mix into this world are ones that actually contain a decent number of enemies in them which can represent the antagonists of the game giving your hero characters a reason for all this brutality.

So the bottom line is, while there are concessions that can be taken to tie a movie into a video game, some films are clearly more translatable than others especially when you confine it into one particular genre (beat em' ups in this case). Because of its hypothetical nature, the ultimate goal for this list is to determine the 10 movies that are the MOST translatable to the world of arcade-style brawlers in The 'Tude Dude's opinion and not necessarily the best because... well... they don't exist. It should also be noted that while many of these movie choices will be ones that have absolutely no video game adaptations whatsoever, some of the films that are chosen may have one (or more) already however as long as they aren't considered beat em' ups or have never been adapted into an arcade game in any way then they will still be eligible. Furthermore, if a choice on this list contains the adage (any individual movie or the entire series) then that means that the movie's premise fits the game across the spectrum of the entire series that its being compared to and therefore could be based off of any individual film in the group or the entire span of movies as a whole and either way it wouldn't effect how I view its translatability (like how putting Star Wars in your game's title doesn't necessarily have correlate to a specific movie for example). Besides that, factoring in which films would have the most drawing power as an arcade game will also be a consideration in the final equation as the built-in popularity of the movie would be a huge start to getting quarters pumped into it regardless of the game's quality which would increase its marketability and make it more likely to be produced in higher quantities across the world. So follow me, The 'Tude Dude, as we comb through some of Hollywood's greatest action films to determine which ones would have (and possibly still could be) integrated perfectly into the simple but effective world of arcade beat em' ups .

The following is a list of The 'Tude Dude's 10 best examples of movies that desperately need an arcade beat em' up adaptation.

Perhaps the ultimate buddy-cop film series, Lethal Weapon follows the saga of Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh after the unlikely duo is paired together following Riggs transfer due to his erratic and suicidal behavior. After some initial bumps in the road, the wild and reckless Riggs and the straight-laced Murtaugh develop a strong chemistry and combine their efforts to take down a mysterious criminal element in the first movie with sort-of similar plots in the sequels. It's a simple premise executed to perfection with action and comedy elements befitting of the genre and an arcade adaptation would appear to make sense even if from just a business standpoint. I'm thinking something similar to the 2 player action of The Punisher but with even more gun-toting to better tie it with the movie maybe even incorporating a Rolling Thunder-type side-scrolling cover system. The enemies would mainly consist of Shadow Company mercenaries and the like and you've definitely got the potential for some pretty sweet boss fights between dudes like Gary Busey's "Mr. Joshua" from the first movie or Jet Li's "Wah Sing Ku" from the fourth. Plus, the in-game speech and cut-scene potential from the films makes this yet another i.p. concept with built-in assurances to success.
"I don't make things difficult. That's the way they get, all by themselves."

As if Marvel needs any more money! Guardians of the Galaxy follows a roguish group of anti-heroes (Peter "Star-Lord" Quill, Gamora, Drax "the Destroyer", Rocket Raccoon and Groot) as they put their usually selfish differences aside to aid each other in a daring escape from captivity leading to their newfound friendship and ultimate involvement in a larger plot to destroy the universe. The success of Guardians was yet another large feather in Marvel's movie-making hat as the developers brought to life not-as-well-known characters through excellent script writing and casting choices, catapulting these heroes into the stratosphere with the elites right out of the gate while at the same time making this one of the most special series in their lineup of films. That's, of course, why then a beat em' up adaptation makes sense as it involves multiple main protagonists, a ton of badass enemies and an insanely popular property which would be sure to draw the flock right out of the gate. I'm thinking something resembling the comic-book aesthetic of 1991's Spider-Man: The Video Game but with high-res shine to help this blend with its beautiful movie counterpart better. It's also open for interpretation but I kind of like the idea of a 4 player cabinet with Groot and Rocket sharing a character slot since I feel they work so much better as a pair then separately but would be fine with a 5 player as well. Regardless, the player options would be amazing and enough to entice a large group to play together similar to the X-Men arcade which is a pretty good recipe for quarter collecting. The enemies would certainly be lethal and interesting as well especially the projected boss encounters that you could have with Nebula, Yondu and Ronan the Accuser not to mention the excellent dialogue clips that could be harvested from the film. Oh man, that soundtrack also could be pretty ridiculous though talk about having to do some serious copyright legwork however this whole thing is entirely hypothetical anyways so for the sake of argument... sure, why not it's in there too! Would be an absolute blast to slay through a bunch of goons with your buddies while jamming out to the pina colada song ("Escape" by Rupert Holmes)!
"I am GROOT!"

Just when you thought pirates were out-of-style *POW* along came this series to remind us just how cool thievery on the high-seas really is! Pirates of the Caribbean follows the exceptionally eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow along a series of movies involving all manners of oceanic lore such as cursed treasure, ghost ships and giant sea monsters. Additionally, there's sword fights, ship battles, rum-drinking and skeleton sailors all of which being awesomely translatable to a stellar arcade beat em' up (especially the rum-drinking). I'm thinking a 2-player cabinet starring Captain Jack and Will Turner as the main characters with elements from other weapon-based brawlers such as Knights of the Round and The King of Dragons for the gameplay. The main glut of the enemies could be a mixture of royal navy and cursed pirates and there's no doubt that the boss battles would be pretty sweet as well including the likes of the Kraken, Captain Barbosa and Davy Jones just to name a few. Plus, it would be pretty funny to hear Jack squabble random lines in his perfectly odd cadence while fending off legions of intimidating adversaries with the help of the much more proficient Will Turner. *hmph* Now where's my rum so I can quickly forget this incredible idea!
"Me? I'm dishonest and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest."

Another great hybrid movie ripe for arcade adaptability. Men In Black follows the story of an N.Y.P.D. officer who is recruited into a mysterious organization whose primary purpose is to protect the Earth from hostile aliens. Not to mention, non-hostile aliens live among us and seek refuge from the black-suited group which only adds to the new recruit's confusion and the audience's entertainment value. It's fast-paced, clever and full of surprises putting it right under the microscope of analysis for this list. For starters, I'm thinking it could be either side-scrolling or top-down (maybe even a mixture of both) with a nod to ideas like Alien vs. Predator and Smash TV. Players could take control of either agent (J or K) with some distinctions between them possibly weapons or something like that. From there the game could write itself as there's a ton of interesting alien concepts from the movies that they could use as enemies/bosses and creators could have as much free reign as they want to develop more in order to fill the game's stages. Weapons could be really fun as well as you could include the ones we know from the movie (like the Series 4 De-Atomizer and the hilarious Noisy Cricket) with new ideas to further expand the Men In Black franchise. Plus like many of the other choices on this list, there's a treasure trove of funny one-liners that would be absolutely perfect for the game at random intervals which would add to the already robust collection of soundbites heard at the video arcade-
"I make this look good."

The inspiration behind this list's conception. Tango & Cash is the ultimate odd couple/buddy-cop movie and yet another great example to be turned into a beat em' up/run and gun-type game. Victims of their own tremendous success, Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash are framed for murder by some of L.A.'s criminal masterminds in an attempt to remove the 2 top cops from service and open the floodgates for their syndicate which has been routinely stymied by both. Jokes on them though as the 2 resourceful officers put their philosophical differences aside to work together, escape prison and send the criminal organization to a frustrating end all while humorously bantering with each other like a married couple to the audience's delight. I could see a game based on this cool movie being something like a NARC meets Streets of Rage mash-up with a focus on action and comedy similar to the film (the soundbites of these 2 would be legendary). It would also be interesting to see the differences between the title characters as you could go a few different directions such as Tango having more health because he works out routinely or Cash having a more powerful gun with the laser-sight for example. You could even get Cash's gadget-making buddy Owen to supply new items and drop a few appropriate lines from the movie in his ridiculously unique helium-voice - "You guys aren't holding out on me are you?" Not to mention, you could have a mega-rad vehicle stage starring the "R.V. from Hell" where you blast monster trucks and heavy equipment loaders with your turret all while navigating the maze-like junkyard exterior of the organizations final holdout. Yep, this one's as good a choice as there is and yet another game that I would happily donate my entire allowance too (...even now)!
"I think that with your IQ, you're unarmed and still VERY dangerous."

Say it with me... 2 VAN DAMMES!!! If your an action movie fan then chances are good you've heard of "the muscles from Brussels" a.k.a. Jean-Claude Van Damme and his rad lineup of cheesy romps the most prominent of which released during the 'tude era. Whether kicking dudes directly in the face with fierce martial arts precision or shooting all manner of firearms, Van Damme movies provide everything that's needed for a fun entertainment fix without too much of an investment which is why many of them would cross-over to the video game universe quite nicely. The only problem in terms of this list is most of them are usually just JCVD saving the day by himself which more closely resemble a 1-player affair however there is one choice in his filmography that is perfectly suited for the world of beat em' ups - Double Impact! The proverbial socks were blown off of the world's feet when we were introduced to this killer concept. 2 VAN DAMMES FOR TWICE THE KILLING POWER!!! What kind of magic is this? The film is your basic run-of-the-mill revenge story involving long lost twins reuniting under the banner of finding their parents killers but who cares really... there's 2 VAN DAMMES!!! As long as they're jump-kicking countless goons and blowing up buildings then you can count me in for sure and both are supplied generously here which lends to the video game aspect. I'm imagining something like Double Dragon (of course) but with more emphasis on the 2-player component either in the sense of tandem attacks or increased power to reflect the combined strength of 2 VAN DAMMES (I can't say 2 VAN DAMMES without yelling it... sorry ). Plus, you've got the potential for some righteous enemies including an awesomely scarred Bolo Yeung boss fight which would probably rank as my favorite beat em' up encounter EVER if this was a reality! Besides that, sprinkle in some random cut-scenes to tie the movie's simple plot around the game and presto you've got a killer arcade brawler guaranteed to eat up the local youth's quarters.
"You want some advice? Take your fancy clothes and your black silk underwear and go back to Disneyland."

"Who you gonna call!" Yet another movie idea prime for the beat em' up universe. Ghostbusters was an instant smash in theaters following the machinations of humorous scientists (Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler and the later-recruited Winston Zeddemore) as they use their unique high-tech gadgetry to help rid New York City of its impending ghost problem - exterminator style! It was such a success that merchandise from the film of any kind seemed to be made of gold back in the day however this was not the case with video games in terms of the movie-licensed releases as consoles were mostly plagued with mediocre examples containing confusing and uninspiring gameplay. That's why a beat em' up/run & gun-type game would make the most sense similar to 1987's The Real Ghostbusters arcade game (which was based off of the cartoon and not the movie) but with more polish. I'm thinking something more akin to the 4-player graphical design of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles combined with the top-down execution of Neo Geo's Shock Troopers for the gameplay (utilizing proton packs and ghost traps instead of guns) with tons of funny exposition and dialogue from the film(s) peppered in for good measure. The enemy and boss designs could get really creative as well combining characters that we know (such as Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man) with awesome new ghost ideas to help further the adversary count to expand into the video game realm. Who wouldn't want to play this with their buddies if they saw it at the arcade? Not to mention, the cabinet design could look all sorts of out there with ambulance sirens, oozing slime and the famous say-no-to-ghosts logo pasted all over it drawing attention instantly as soon as it was spotted by anyone within visual range. That does it. It's time to actually pick up the phone and call the Ghostbusters and make this happen! (5 seconds later...) Annnd I'm disappointed.
"Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!"

"Everybody relax... I'm here." Man I would absolutely lose it if I ever saw this iconic fantasy/martial arts action movie turned into an arcade beat em' up. Big Trouble In Little China follows the exploits of truck driver Jack Burton as he aids his friend, Wang Chi, in the retrieval of his fiancee who had been kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Lo Pan who rules the underbelly of San Francisco's Chinatown. Along the way, Jack and Wang are more than shocked to discover the depths of Lo Pan's kingdom containing the likes of monsters, magic-users and karate goons all fiercely loyal to their leader. As if that ridiculously cool concept wasn't enough, the film is an absolute riot of funny quips as Jack hilariously assesses his situation with the kind of stubborn precision that every American can relate to when surrounded by foreign stuff beyond our realm of understanding ("I'm a reasonable guy. But I've just experienced some very unreasonable things.") This wonderful balance of comedy and action makes this one of my personal favorite films of all time and provides a unique backdrop in the world of beat em' ups. I see a sort of Final Fight /Cadillacs and Dinosaurs hybrid here with a mixture of melee and shooting though the guns would mostly just be found randomly and not last very long. Clearly, this should be a 2 player cabinet with users taking control of Jack and/or Wang as they battle their way through Lo Pan's minions en route to the final encounter with the "man" himself. This idea is interesting because each character could provide a completely different approach. For example, Jack would be slower and more sluggish but would do slightly more damage than Wang with his knife while also enriching the experience with his more-memorable quotes from the film (ensuring a fan-favorite status for him despite some proclivities) while Wang would provide the speed, precision and attack quality, making him the smoother and more accessible option of the 2 (while also bringing some funny lines from the movie himself). Meanwhile, the enemies and boss encounters could vary from the expected to the fantastical as players start off battling through legions of Lords of Death street thugs and Wing Kong fighters on their way to unknown monster-like creatures and the 3 storms (Rain, Thunder and Lightning) before a date with "The godfather of Little China" himself, Mr. David Lo Pan in the final showdown. Not to mention, you could have 6-demon bags as a power-up with Jack proclaiming "I feel kind of invincible " with his spot-on delivery when he obtains one which just sounds too good of an idea to not include in the game. Oh well, as long as I can still go back and veg out on the movie then I'll be happy but there's no doubt that the world of arcades missed out on a golden opportunity with this one however its influence can be undeniably felt in one of the greatest fighting game series of all time - Mortal Kombat .
"Old Jack always says... what the hell ."

Man does this make sense! The Lord of the Rings trilogy follows a band of heroes as they trek from one side of the Middle-Earth map to the other in an epic quest to destroy the last remnants of an evil entity contained within one very powerful ring. Along the way, the group is accosted randomly by hordes of the entities allies hell-bent on recovering the ring and reviving their master. Seriously though, if I need to explain the plot of Lord of the Rings any further then you've got some movies to watch! All you really need to know is that there's kick-ass sword battles, amazing visual landscapes, a good mix of heroes and an intimidating cast of enemies beset with a fantasy/medieval structure which would all seem to fit into the world of gaming like a glove however the movie-licensed action/adventure releases that have come out so far have been met with mixed results. That's why I feel that a simplified and aesthetically pleasing arcade beat em' up molded with a Golden Axe meets Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom motif would serve this great series perfectly in the virtual realm. While the hero count is high in the films, the game would follow the exploits of the 3 main warrior-type characters - Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli as they do their part to aid in the efforts of destroying the ring of power. All 3 characters would be governed with the unique attributes that you would expect i.e. Aragorn has average speed and strength, Legolas is fast but weak and Gimli is slow but stout all while wielding their proper weapons and armor. It also seems like incorporating some kind of Gandalf screen-clearing super move would be par for the course as well. In addition to this, the enemies and bosses could push the envelope for awesome no matter if this was based on one specific movie or the entire series and the beautiful backgrounds from the films would inspire designers to display the graphics with the upmost diligence which is yet further reason for this idea to exist. Who wouldn't want to have an intense side-scrolling boss battle with Saruman amidst an impressive backdrop of Ents descending upon the tower of Isengard? I know I would and I'm sure many of you would as well! Plus, every arcade would be instantly cooler with the flaming eye of Sauron saying "I see you" in it during the demo of this joining the cackles of "Finish him" and "Tiger uppercut" among the menagerie of exclusive background fodder only heard around a group of gaming rigs. *Sigh*
"Anyways, you need people of intelligence on this sort of mission... quest... thing."

Even though this choice feels a little obvious, I still can't help but think that the combination of Marvel's epic superhero squadron and the pleasingly simple foray of beat em' up mechanics would be a recipe for printing quarters. I mean, it's got an absolute perfect storm of fun playable characters, engaging adversaries and cool settings which would surely intrigue even the staunchest of prudes to at least give it a try. Right off the bat, I'm thinking it's got to be at least a 6-player machine (like the X-Men arcade) but imaging if they pushed the envelope even further and incorporated an 8 player design to better stand out from the crowd possibly with multiple screens or something like that! This would allow for a radical roster of playable heroes from the films including the 4 from the original Captain America and the Avengers 1991 beat em' up (which is not based on a movie fyi) - Captian America, Iron Man, Vision and Hawkeye plus Scarlet Witch, Thor, Black Widow and The Incredible Hulk marking this as the ultimate brawler experience that could be had in the arcade... in theory. It really wouldn't matter also if you were basing the story off of one particular movie or spanning the entire series though it might effect what characters would be applicable to the game as some weren't around yet (Vision and Scarlet Witch are not in the first Avengers movie for instance). Regardless, there's absolutely no denying the sheer drawing power of Marvel and their properties so no matter what route was chosen, arcade owners could rest easy in the knowledge that the game would be successful and profitable increasing further the likelihood of its initial existence and probably sustainability. In fact, screw the lack of arcades today! I think this would be worth making now and could even help to reinvigorate the old brick-and-mortar game zones back from the dead with its awesomely unique design as long as the quality was top-notch of course. You've already got a pretty solid blueprint with the X-Men arcade game after all, just upgrade on that formula a bit and your all set. Now place this next to #9 on this list (my proposed Guardians of the Galaxy arcade), the X-Men arcade, The Punisher and Spider-Man: The Video Game to create the ultimate quarter-consuming singularity in the universe - The Marvel arcade beat em' up Infinity Guantlet!

"The city is flying. We're fighting an army of robots. And I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense."

Extra Honorable Mentions-

The Expendables: The action movie hero equivalent of The Avengers, The Expendables could produce a kick-ass multiplayer arcade cab with tons of variety and drawing power.

Tombstone: Get ready to skin your smoke wagons, Tombstone would be a killer 4-player run & gun similar to Sunset Riders but with more violence.

Thelma & Louise: Perhaps a bit of a stretch (...ya THINK!), an all-female beat em' up starring these 2 southern gals equalizing their way across the United States on the run from the law would actually be pretty awesome.

Starship Troopers: Equal parts fun action and harmless cheese, Starship Troopers is yet another prime example of a movie property that can be converted to an arcade-style game with very little effort.

Friday: Okay, okay... so this isn't exactly the most ready-made idea on here but you know your interest would be piqued if you saw this dopey brawler game involving 2 stoners beating the crap out of the local drug dealers syndicate in order to prevent their eventual assassination.

Honorable Mentions-

Willow, Bad Boys, Star Wars, Charlies Angels, Double Team, G.I. Joe, Showdown In Little Tokyo, Wanted, The Matrix, Young Guns, The A Team, Red, Saving Private Ryan, The Karate Kid, Transformers, Starsky & Hutch, Predator, 48 Hrs., Training Day, Sucker Punch, Renegades, The Fast & The Furious, Pulp Fiction, Unforgiven, Toy Story, The Rock, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Men At Work, Ant-Man And The Wasp, 21 Jump Street, Shanghai Noon, Watchmen, The Goonies, Red Heat, The Last Boy Scout, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, The Outsiders, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Rush Hour, Smokin' Aces, Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Incredibles, The Other Guys, The Boondock Saints, The Magnificent Seven, Wild Wild West, S.W.A.T., 300, Avatar, Money Train and the awful movie but no doubt would be a great arcade game, Suicide Squad.


List by TheTudeDude (06/21/2021)

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Gamer, writer, sports fiend and reveler of all things '80's & 90's related, The 'Tude Dude focuses mainly on reviewing and analyzing his favorite games from the NES, SNES and Sega Genesis era. Push It To The Edge-Have More Fun!
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