Go Straight: The Ultimate Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-‘Em-Ups Reviewed

Go Straight: The Ultimate Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-’Em-Ups

Is Go Straight: The Ultimate Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-’Em-Ups the book for your coffee table?

Do you remember the time when you played The Simpsons at the arcade? Or the awesomeness of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and beating up Shredder’s soldiers? Or fighting in the streets on Street of Rage 2?

Do you ever feel like blowing some steam and just want to beat up bad guys in particular? I sure did. Whatever the case, the objective is the same: you beat up bad guys and move to the next section and repeat until you emerged victorious against the final boss.

Which brings me to the big and ultimate side-scrolling beat-’em-ups book, Go Straight: The Ultimate Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-’Em-Ups.

Written by Dave Cook and published by Bitmap Books, this book tells us about its history and how it became one of the most popular game genres, as well as an exhaustive list of games that appeared in a particular decade. I first came across the book on YouTube when Bitmap Books promoted the release and I was blown away by what I saw. So much so that I immediately ordered a copy from the website.

Image: Zahir Hassan

Right from the word go, you will be amazed by the book’s presentation. The images are of high quality and the descriptions well-written. Heck even Yoshihisa Kishimoto, who is famous for the Double Dragon series, contributed to the writing of the book, but what really impresses me the most is the Table of Contents section. Not only does Go Straight list the page for each decade, the designers went out of their way to even list the games in alphabetical order with the corresponding page number, along with the game console and computer formats. This is commendable, making the book a useful reference, I really appreciate this level of detail.

The history of the beat-’em-ups during each decade is clearly explained, charting the ups and downs throughout each ten year section. From the start to the late 1980s to the renaissance of the modern times, the book explains it all. Games featured within include descriptions, and while there are favourites such as Street of Rage 2, Golden Axe, etc., the books also lists games you’ve probably never heard of, such as Denjin Makai, Violence Storm, and many others.

Image: Zahir Hassan

Some games are only explained in a single page, some in two pages and some were also shown the characters in that game which is really incredible. There are a lot of beat-’em-up games to discover from this book and I can honestly say that I only played about 10% of those from the list. The book also lists in-depth information on each game, including the year released, which company made that game, and what console the was launched on.

Overall, Go Straight: The Ultimate Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-’Em-Ups is a fantastic book by Bitmap Books and is a must have for any beat-’em-up fans whether the game is old or new, the fan young or old. Honestly, their book quality is so amazing that aise from a couple of omissions (e.g. Urban Reigns for Sony PlayStation 2) I can’t find any fault to it. Other than that, this book is highly recommended.

Go Straight: The Ultimate Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-’Em-Ups is available from Bitmap Books and costs £34.99 for the hardback release and free PDF. The book is 456 pages long, measures 210mm × 297mm, and features edge-to-edge high quality lithographic printing on each page. The book publishers employed sewn binding to enable easy viewing of the stunning double-page spreads.

Now if you can excuse me, I am going to launch Violent Storm on MAME and beat up some bad guys right now.