These topics are kinda interesting because sometimes help you dig into your memory and found things that were buried.
The first games that come to my mind are the following:
- God Hand: just tried it in a past in which I was not very much into the genere, it was too hard and complicated for me so I quit it. Now I don't have a PS2 anymore and my pc can't handle the game on the emulator, but it's a ctually a game I want to try because it looks very interesting. From what I understand about it, it's focused on efficiency and it has a customizable combo system, which means I can create my pown attack strings. So, some moves are really powerful, but I guess I could come up with fun ideas for restricted runs in which I ban some moves and learn to use lower tier ones. Looks really promising. A lot of people praise the game too. I'm not a huge fan of Kamiya but this game seems very interesting.
- Shinobi PS2: tried it on PS2, like GH, and quit it for the some reasons. Also I didn't like that when I killed the enemies they didn't go immediately into the death animation LOL (I know it happens because there is a mechanic related to it). People praise this game for being challenging. I've seen some video about it and it seems to have a good movement system, so I'm curious about it, I like having fast dashes in an action game.
- Dragon's Crown: this is not pure action, it is actually an action rpg, it fuses 2d sidescrolling beat em up mechanics with inventory management mechanics and is inspired to CPS2 Capcom Dungeons and Dragons games (I think the director of this game has been involved in the making of one of the D&D games). I tried it last year and I think it's fun.
The good of this game is that it has different characters that play in completely different ways (aside from mage and sorceress that share a lot of things). Another strong point of the game is that it has various difficulty levels and also a very challenging mode that you unlock late in the game, where enemies are supposed to become very strong. Also it has a mechanic that rewards you to play through multiple stages without going back to the hub where you can level up or refill your items (not going much in details but it's a cool mechanic).
The bad of this game, at least for me, is that it has a lot of inventory management, which is very simple during the first hours of the game, but it is supposed to be much more important when you'll reach the hardest parts of the game, so it'll take a lot of time to do, and it lacks some functions like selecting multiple items to sell or appraise which makes things a bit slow. Also the initial part of the game is very easy, and (not sure but almost sure about this) if you want to try another character you will have to replay the game from the easiest difficulty setting. So, I still think I want to get into this game, but since pure action games already exist I think I'll never get the chance because there will always be pure action games which I'll think are more worth playing for my personal preferences. But I think Birdman could like this game alot aside from the rpg parts, because the archer class is really fun, and there are two other ranged classes that he could use.
Also, compared to Nioh, I think the rpg mechanics in this game are much better done and integrated with the gameplay. While in Nioh they seem to be there just to help people that are not skilled, in DC they are perfectly integrated with the gameplay and feel like a natural part of it. I still don't like them from a subjective point of view, but they are objectively well integrated in the game and it feels like the game was actually designed to interact with them.
The game has online multiplayer and can be played up to four players I think, or you can have AI companions which you can deactivate for playing the full game solo.
- Knights of the Round: yeah, another 2d sidescrolling beat em up, but this is a true one. I love this game, though I never beat it in one credit. It's really fun because it has some mechanics that feel fresh compared to older games like Final Fight. You have a regular combo and jumping attacks, then you have a strong attack that knocks down, and a block. You can stay in a block stance for just a second (roughly, more or less), and if enemies hit your shield you'll get full i-frames for a short period of time. If you stay too much in a block stance without actually blocking an enemy hit you'll go into a fatigue stance (looks similar to Nioh fatigue stance) and you are totally vulnerable to enemy attacks. You can also mount on a horse, and there is a good variety of enemies, bosses and stages. You can select three different characters, which are Arthur, Perceval and Lancelot from the King Arthur myth. Despite the game having a block/i-frames mechanic I find it really tough.
- Cadillac and Dinosaurs: same genere, same developer (Capcom). It's not considered the best Capcom sidescrolling BeU, but I personally like it a lot because it has a run mechanic. You can go into a run by double tapping the joystick into a direction, and pull off a running attack which knocks down enemies, but inflict low damage. But you can also interrupt your dash by pressing up or down on the stick, and then go into normal combos. So I like using the dash for movement, and choose the different attacks according to the instances. Again, I didn't get the 1CC for this game in the past so I wanna go back to it someday and attept it, this game is kinda accessible in difficulty so probably I should be able to do it.
Teoretically, I also have some jrpg's on my backlog, just I don't really like going through a lot of text to enjoy a game, lately. Keep in mind that a pure rpg is different from action rpg, and I feel that meshing the two generes into a product that it's actually good is very difficult. So, a lot of times, pure action games and pure rpg games are much better than action rpg's. Imo, Vanillaware games (Princess Crown, Odin Sphere, Dragon's Crown) are good examples of action rpg were the rpg and action mechanics are well integrated. That's because these games were born from unique ideas and concepts, they felt very inspired. Sadly, a lot of modern action rpg's are just a try to appeal to the broader audience possible.