Best beat ’em up and fighting games for the iPhone

Jan 6, 2010

If you are aching to play some games that are all about fist-fighting hordes of henchmen, the beat ’em genre is definitely the best place for you to invest your hard earned dollars. These are some of the most entertaining games where your mission is to kick as much butt as possible. iPhone games, best […]

If you are aching to play some games that are all about fist-fighting hordes of henchmen, the beat ’em genre is definitely the best place for you to invest your hard earned dollars. These are some of the most entertaining games where your mission is to kick as much butt as possible.

iPhone games, best of the beat ’em ups

In Chop Chop Ninja ($1.99) you are deadly ninja appointed the task of rescuing the Emperor’s daughter. If you’ve played video games before, you are familiar with this overused storyline. Yet the most intriguing aspect of Chop Chop Ninja, by Gamerizon, is the utilization of touch controls that work better than a joystick and action buttons. This game also has smooth, cartoon-style graphics and tons of great power-ups to better dispatch your foes. Whether you’re running around bashing evil samurai or soaring through the air with a rocket strapped to your back, this authentic game will keep you interested.

If you are looking for a scrolling 3D beat ’em up, Kroll (99 cents) is most certainly at the head of the class. In this game you fight magical creatures as Kroll, the last of a once-great race of mage lords, in the begotten land of Leterna. This game has an interesting control scheme, using identical attack and directional buttons on either side of our protagonist. According to the company website, Digital Legends Entertainment has not released an app since 2008 and Kroll’s story was transcribed into awkward English. Still, this beat ’em up adventure boasts seamless gameplay and provocative boss battles.

Neptune Interactive, the developers of Tap-Fu ($1.99), understand what it takes to make an addictive beat ’em up game. After all, they mention in their notes that this game is inspired by Double Dragon. Tap-Fu comes with two control options, Gesture combat and Joystick mode, as well as several unlockable achievements, mini-games, and an online scoreboard. Like Chop Chop Ninja, this game utilizes crisp cartoon graphics and sound effect, but strays slightly from the formulaic rescue storyline. Instead of rescuing some princess you are charged with recovering your Master’s stolen candy, thereby satisfying his sweet tooth. Diabetes, anyone? Good thing it is only a game.

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Stick figures make the best punching bags, and iPhone apps

From the makers of the real-time tower defense game Cartoon Wars comes Cartoon Wars-Gunner (99 cents), an intense action experience in which your goal is to kill off waves of stick figure adversaries and bizarre creatures. The weapon upgrade system is rather intriguing, even if the worthwhile weapons (like a samurai sword) cost 25K gold. Obtaining such a divine weapon seemed impossible after I racked up a mere 1,541 gold after ten levels. Despite that heroic feat, this game is extremely difficult and I enjoyed every second of it. Looks like BLUE GNC has another hit on their hands.

Stick-Fu (99 cents) by is another fun fighting game featuring a cast of stick figures. After passing a level, your StickFighter is rewarded with skill points to increase power, agility, or health. This simple game is colorful and plenty bloody, too. The App Store gave it a rating of 9+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence. Even though we are dealing with stick figure blood, this game is suited for an older audience.

One-on-one fighting/boxing games

Gameloft is responsible for some of the better games available in the iTunes App Store. Blades of Fury (99 cents) is the only 3D fighting game available and it comes equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options for multiplayer mode. The gameplay graphics (and intro video) are quite impressive, even if some of the character voices are somewhat annoying. The controls are easy to master and the game menu includes an ‘Attack List’ offering moves from basic attacks to special magic combo attacks. This is the best option as far as one-on-one fighting games go, even though it is eerily similar to NAMCO’s fighting game franchise Soulcalibur. 

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Super KO Boxing 2 ($2.99) is like Punch Out! for the original Nintendo, but without the payoff of fighting Mike Tyson. Kids will get a kick out of this one because it is easy and good for a laugh. This game has three fighting circuits, solid graphics and cast of memorable opponents make this a great boxing title that anyone can enjoy.

Tempting, but not worth the download

I used to play Streets of Rage ($4.99) on my SEGA Genesis, but the nostalgia wore off rather quickly once I started playing the iPhone adaptation. The controls are awful; they take up too much screen space and are difficult to manage. All-in-all, this brawler game is not worth the cost considering there are cheaper beat ’em up options in the iTunes App Store.

The Simpsons Arcade ($4.99) by EA, based on the popular arcade version, has better playability overall but its just too pricey for a button-masher. In this incarnation the player can play only as Homer, unlike the original that allowed players to pick any of the members of the nuclear family. This game also needs a multiplayer mode and a boost in difficulty.

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Stephen Danos

Stephen Danos is the Associate Editor for,, and Appolicious. He has contributed to articles published on TechCrunchThe Chicago Sun TimesThe Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere.

He received his BA in English from the University of Iowa and MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Playhouse State (H_NGM_N Books, 2012) and Gravitational (The New Megaphone, forthcoming).

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