Hit the streets and unleash your rage in exactly the way that you would expect to in this long-awaited sequel.
Developer: Dotemu, Lizardcube,
Guard Crush Games
Publisher: Dotemu, Yooreka Studio
Release date: 30 April, 2020
The original Streets of Rage was released on the Sega Genesis twenty-nine years ago and the trilogy that it developed into has long been a staple of gaming. Some of my earliest memories involve Streets of Rage 2 and I’ve gone back to it plenty of times, especially as it’s readily available on Steam via Sega Mega Drive and Genesis Classics. That said, Streets of Rage 4 has taken its spot front and center as the best in the series and one of the best side-scrolling beat ’em ups all-around.
The Streets Crew Returns
Streets of Rage 4 comes with an impressive selection of characters to unlock, though many of them are the different forms that the cast has taken throughout the series (yes, pixel art and all). At first, you’ll only have access to two of the classics, Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding, and the two new additions, Cherry Hunter and Floyd Iraia. As you progress through the story, and later the additional modes, you’ll be able to unlock Adam Hunter with his new Streets of Rage 4 model, and all of the sprites of the characters from previous entries in the series. This means that you can pull in Max, Skate, Dr. Zan, and Shiva in as well, though it’s a shame they don’t have modern models. I’d love to see these added in the future.
Each of these characters has a unique feel about them and the player base is likely to be divided on their favorites just like in ye olden days. I’d always been a boring Axel player in the past with his balanced fighting style that offers a middle ground between power and speed, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I may have been converted to Adam in this version. Adam seems to have a balance between speed and power himself, as does Blaze who leans slightly more toward the speed side than power. Cherry and Floyd, the newbies, fill in on either side of the extremes. The former is a lightning-fast speedster while the latter is this title’s raw powerhouse. I at least played a level or two with each of these characters and I found them all to be fun which certainly isn’t always the case in beat ’em ups. I look forward to the discussions on which characters are everyone’s favorites.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Streets of Rage 4 is soaked in nostalgia. If you’re a veteran of the series, you’ll recognize many of the minions that you’ll face off against and even a boss or two. They’ve all been brought up to the visual standard that’s expected her, though they’re up to their old tricks and you may already be on to them when they pop onto the screen if you’ve got a good memory. That said, there are also plenty of new foes showing up that you’ll have to adapt to if you’re hoping to survive these mean streets.
The level designs will be joining you for that trip down memory lane. They’re familiar, not only for Streets of Rage, but for the entire 80s-90s city beat ’em up genre that’s developed a soul of its own. The first level is a stroll down the city streets, though later you’ll end up wading through the sewers and duking it out with martial artists in Chinatown. It’s good, clean fun and the introduction of new enemies, weapons, and hazards in every level guarantees that you won’t get bored for a while if this is your thing.
Streets of Rage 4 fulfils its promise and carries the series torch forward with pride. The gameplay is classically retro with a few additions to spice up the old formula and the story mode is the perfect length for grabbing a friend to pound it out in a single sitting. If you’re a fan of the old beat ’em ups, you’re going to want to throw this into your collection. If you’re not into the genre, you’ll want to give this one a pass as it doesn’t stray much from the classic formula. Either way, if this game catches your interest, feel free to look up the classic trilogy as they’ve aged well and are still a blast to play.