5 Best Switch Games to Play with Friends During the Holidays.

With the holidays here in full bloom, now’s as good a time as any to look at the best choices to play games with your friends. While you’re quarantining at home and want to play online, or offline, you’ll find a number of choices you can enjoy. If you have family to play with at home or you’re hanging out with friends for a day, you’ll find a few games here, older and newer alike, which will certainly add to the mood!

Unfortunately, the release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury just can’t come soon enough. Until Nintendo releases this magnificent 3D platformer on the Switch, check out these 5 games that you’ll definitely want to spend time playing your friends with during the holidays.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2

This 8-bit retro Castlevania throwback offers 2-player co-op with 4 playable characters in the initial playthrough and even more when unlocked. Players can change to any character as well as play as a clone of the main character, Zangetsu.

The co-op gameplay in Bloodstained plays well despite the otherwise classic stiff 8-bit controls. Also, the levels pace themselves well, and you’ll certainly get a strong challenge out of it if that’s what you’re seeking. You can also set it to Casual if you’re just having fun with the game.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

What makes Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity special is that it’s the prequel to the beloved 2017 title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. More than that, however, this Musou title features fast-paced hack-and-slash action with an epic metal soundtrack.

It’s quick and easy to pick up and play. Pick your favorite Zelda characters, join up with a friend, and get ready to clear missions as you take out hundreds of enemies at a time.

Streets of Rage 4

The long-awaited return of this beat ’em up franchise appears on Nintendo Switch with online and offline co-op play. Offline play can support up to 4 players while online can support 2. Streets of Rage 2 is often heralded as the best beat ’em up in existence and Streets of Rage 4 carries that legacy to a T.

With its gorgeous new hand-drawn artwork, the catchy soundtrack and hard-hitting action evolve with a new combo system. Nothing feels quite as bonding as helping your friend dish out damage to enemies in a combo strung from what you might see in a fighting game. Streets of Rage 4 is one of the most ideal titles to add to your library if you love a fresh take on a 2D classic in one of the best co-op games of the past decade.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart remains an irreplaceable part of multiplayer gaming and fun. 6 years after the original MK8 released on Wii U, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still maintains itself as the best-selling Switch title. Featuring over 40 tracks, Battle Mode, and a ton of racers and customization options, the fun never ends.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ultimate racing experience. It’s a thoroughly polished title without a single bad track in the game. Every single track feels incredibly fun with gorgeous visuals and some of the most catchy music heard in a Nintendo title. Whether you want to race or battle, you can play against friends or even join up in Team Battle online or offline, handheld or on TV screen. This should not be missed by anyone.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Smash Bros. is as flexible as Mario Kart when it comes to the number of ways you can play the game. You can join up with a friend in Classic Mode co-op and take out CPU enemies together. You can also join up with a friend online, or offline, for some doubles action (2v2). You can even play offline with a group of friends and enjoy some Squad-Strike as teams or using multiple characters. Plus you can also try Home-Run Contest when you want a slight change of pace.

Whether you’re teaming up or competing against your friends, items on or off, the fun never ends with Smash Bros. It’s hard to keep track of the time and makes for the ultimate party experience.

Which 2D Beat ’em Up Series Need to Return?

The beat ’em ups of yesteryear recently made a return to form with the release of several prominent games. Also known as Brawlers, this 2D side-scrolling genre began in the ’80s. With or without platforming action, the characters could jump, punch, kick, throw, and use weapons against hordes of enemies. The genre became famous for 2-4 player co-op and fighting against powerful bosses.

Double Dragon II (1988)

Brawlers of the 80s and 90s made their presence known on Arcade machines. Titles such as Double Dragon II, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Final Fight were but a few major names of the era. When Capcom’s Final Fight was ported to the SNES with limitations, Sega went onto create their own title. Following their own Golden Axe and Altered Beast titles, Sega created one of the most prolific beat ’em ups on the Genesis: Streets of Rage.

Streets of Rage 2 (1992)

Unfortunately, Beat ’em ups began to phase out of popularity in the late 90s which was during the rise of 3D gaming. With the exception of few titles, the genre became a sort of novelty and less of a norm. With the release of recent games, such as Streets of Rage 4, however, perhaps the gaming industry may see a new revival of the genre.

3D Beat ’em ups

While names like River City Ransom, Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon became synonymous with the genre, 2D beat ’em ups were not the only titles. The mid-2000s boasted several titles that featured similar gameplay. One example was Clover Studios’ God Hand. Despite being only one player, this cult classic became a favorite among those who played it.

Another was Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. While reimagining the story of Mortal Kombat 1 and 2, this title featured 2-player co-op, juggling combos, and even Fatalities. Much like many titles featured here, Shaolin Monks never received a sequel or a re-release.

3D beat ’em ups began to take form in one particular series. Sega’s Yakuza series adapted the fighting style for its combat in the series. Additionally, using skill trees, Kiryu can unlock new abilities. Plus, Yakuza animated the fights and special moves with ass-kicking technique.

Yakuza 0 (2017)

2D beat ’em ups in the post-2000s.

Viewtiful Joe lead the example of a 2D brawler during the big wave of 3D titles. This single-player adventure served as a platformer/brawler hybrid. Its stylish VFX moves, cel-shaded visuals, and overall charm won the hearts of many players. Viewtiful Joe would continue with several sequels and spin-offs before quietly disappearing from the gaming industry.

Meanwhile, developer Vanillaware created beat ’em up/JRPG hybrids such as Odin Sphere. Original a spiritual successor to their 90s beat ’em up, Princess Crown, the developers would later follow-up with Dragon’s Crown. The latter title not only featured multiple lanes but 4-player co-op as well. Vanillaware’s titles, which were published by Atlus, would be remastered on the PlayStation 4.

Sega re-released their Saturn classic, Guardian Heroes, on Xbox 360. The Xbox Live Arcade release featured updated visuals and gameplay. The controls came inspired by fighting games while the fantasy setting falls in line with similar titles such as Golden Axe. Guardian Heroes is still available to play for Xbox One owners.

Studio 5pb and MAGES’ Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds serves as one of the highlight beat ’em up titles released in the last decade. This anime-inspired game came from a spin-off of Japan’s fighting game, Phantom Breaker. The studio is also known for the visual novel, Steins;Gate, which was successfully adapted into an anime. As a result, Kurisu Makise is featured as a playable character.

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds Overdrive is currently available for all major consoles and PC. It features 4-player co-op as well as online gameplay.

More recently, several companies would make attempts to revive the genre or add a throwback. WayForward revived the Double Dragon series with Double Dragon Neon. Several years later, Arc Systems Works, as well as Double Dragon series creator, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, would release Double Dragon IV. Despite attempting to revive a classic, the title would come out to unfortunately lukewarm reviews.

Double Dragon Neon (2012)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Perhaps the most pressing title that sparked interested in the genre once more was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. Based on the graphic novel and movie, Scott Pilgrim largely paid homage to River City Ransom. The title allowed players to enter shops, bash enemies with unconscious enemies, and level up their stats. The art style also took cues from the River City series.

In addition to making references to multiple popular games, it ended up being widely successful. Unfortunately, the title was pulled from digital markets.

However, more recently, series creator Bryan Lee O’Malley mentioned that Ubisoft, developers of the game, have contacted him likely in talks for a re-release of the title.

Gone But Not Forgotten

One of the saddest things about the genre is how developers incorporated licensed franchises into beat ’em ups. While Konami’s titles – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, and X-Men were all re-released in the 2010s, the same could not be said for other classics of yesteryear. X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse remains unreleased since its debut on the SNES.

This beat ’em up/platformer hybrid allowed you to play as 5 different X-Men which all featured their trademark abilities. Similarly to Capcom’s Street Fighter II, each character utilized button input commands for their special attacks. Featuring over 15 different stages and boss fights, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse was surprisingly well-polished for a title licensed from a comic book series.

Meanwhile, although one TMNT game made the re-release, the same could not be said for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES) or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (Arcade/SNES). Both titles succeeded and improved upon the arcade classic and were hallmark brawler titles for their respective systems.

The counterpart to Turtles in Time was released on Sega Genesis. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (1992)

While Turtles in Time Re-Shelled made an attempt to remake the original classic, it was only a half-baked attempt to do so. However, more recently, a new TMNT arcade game came out developed by Raw Thrills. The game may be found at your local Bowlero or Dave ‘n Busters.

Future of the Genre

With the recent releases River City Girls and Streets of Rage 4, developers attempt to bring back a genre many once thought died. Furthermore, the recently-released Battletoads brings hope that, once more, beat ’em ups will return.

While it feels pleasant to relive those days,  players want developers to remain consistent with their works. Instead of just reliving the past for nostalgia, we want the developers to continue evolving on these brands. Players want to see Streets of Rage, Ninja Turtles, and Double Dragon become a thing once again.

Capcom keeps the spirit of Final Fight alive through Street Fighter V: Champion Edition (2020).

It’s up to the developers to create quality titles, polish them, and market them to get more players to try their games. Old-school fans will always flock to these titles. But if they want to continue growing the fanbase, they’ll need to keep evolving. When you consider the quality of life improvements gaming has evolved with, along with the technology we have in games today, we might be starting off with the strongest era of beat ’em ups in history.

What was your favorite beat ’em up? Let us know in the comments below. Also, make sure to follow our social media channels to keep up with us and take our latest gaming content with you!