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Hack & Slash

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Hack & Slash games are beat 'em up games with intense weapon-based combat and a deeper focus on story.

The genre was started by games like Golden Axe. The genre was later evolved with the advent of 3D games. The 3D Hack & Slash games are more like action-adventure game, with puzzle solving and a story driven plot.


Golden Axe (1989) was acclaimed for its visceral hack & slash action and cooperative mode, and was influential through its selection of multiple protagonists with distinct fighting styles.[1] It is considered one of the strongest beat 'em up titles for its fantasy elements, distinguishing it from the urban settings seen in other beat 'em ups.[2] Other 2D examples include Knights of the Round, The King of Dragons, Dungeons & Dragons Collection, Guardian Heroes, and Dungeon Fighter Online.

The Dynasty Warriors series, beginning with Dynasty Warriors 2 in 2000, offered traditional beat 'em up action on large 3D battlefields, displaying dozens of characters on the screen at a time.[3][4] The series to date spans 14 games (including expansions) which players in the West view as overly similar, although the games' creators claim their large audience in Japan appreciates the subtle differences between the titles.[5][6] While critics saw Dynasty Warriors 2 as innovative and technically impressive,[5][3] they held a mixed opinion of later titles. These later games received praise for simple, enjoyable gameplay but were simultaneously derided as overly simplistic and repetitive.[5][7]

In recent years, the beat 'em up genre has seen a revival in the form of popular 3D hack & slash games in the style of Devil May Cry (2001 onwards), including Ninja Gaiden (2004 onwards), God of War (2005 onwards), Heavenly Sword (2006), Afro Samurai (2009),[8] and Bayonetta (2009).[9]


  1. Kasavin, Greg, Golden Axe Review, GameSpot, Dec 1, 2006, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  2. Cassidy, William, Hall of Fame: Golden Axe, GameSpy, June 8, 2003. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sato, Ike, Dynasty Warriors 2 Review, GameSpot, Aug 17, 2000, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  4. Villoria, Gerald, Dynasty Warriors 3 Review, GameSpot, Dec 18, 2001, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Fitch, Andy, Dynasty Warriors 6 (Xbox 360), 1UP, Mar 7, 2008, Accessed Mar 19, 2009
  6. Nutt, Christian, Interview: How Koei Aims For Western Audiences, GamaSutra, Dec 8, 2008, Mar 19, 2009
  7. Ramsey, Randolph, Dynasty Warriors 6 Review, GameSpot, Mar 28, 2008, Accessed Mar 18, 2009
  8. Arnold Katayev (2009-01-31). Afro Samurai Review. PSX Extreme. Retrieved on 2011-02-26.
  9. Jeff Bakalar, Scott Stein and Dan Ackerman (January 4, 2010). Bad hair day: Bayonetta hands-on. Retrieved on 2011-02-26.

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