How important do you find it?
Personally, I feel like the move set is the core gameplay of a given beat 'em up, even if you can
cheese the game on 1 or 2 moves. So I think the larger the move set, the better the beat 'em up, for more than 1 reason.
First of all, like I said, it's essentially the core gameplay aspect. You can strategize more with a greater move set. Decide which moves work best against which enemies, or situation(specific enemies with hazards around).
Second, the games that made people fall in love with the genre, in general, were the arcade versions of Double Dragon and Final Fight. For '80's games, both have some fairly expansive move sets. Is it coincidence that those are the more popular arcade games over the like of, say, TMNT for example, which while fun in it's own right, doesn't have nearly as great a move set for the players to work with? Which is probably why Konami was often capable of(or needed to be able to) making 4 player arcade cabinets.
Third, perhaps a bit of a shallow view, but I find the games with the greater move sets often tend to be the better ones. As if by having the time to expand what the playable character is capable of, the developer also has the time to expand on all of the other elements of game design. The one case I would suggest otherwise is with Shadow Force. I'm not suggesting it's a bad game, but the enemy AI sitting back, while the game locks the player into focus against one enemy, takes something out of a genre called "beat 'em(as in them
, more than 1) up."
I'm also not saying the controls need to be complex, just have a good amount of moves. A great example, one most(if not all) of us should be familiar with, would be Streets of Rage 2, where the most complex movement on the players part is the Blitz attack, forward, forward & B. Aside from the Blitz, you have 2 specials(one of which doesn't drain health until it connects), 3 jump attacks, 3 grab attacks, vault into a 4th grab attack(from behind), reverse attack(same buttons to throw weapons), and throw recovery. Then some characters have their own unique moves. It's not a terribly large move set, considering where the genre ended up, but for a specific home console game in '92 it was something else.
That isn't to say I don't think one couldn't have fun with Bad Dudes, or Kung Fu Master, or something, but they're hardly as
fun as say, Ninja Baseball Bat Man, or Guardians/Denjin Makai II, (or Streets of Rage 2
)in my opinion.
What do you think on the subject?