Genre: Side-scrolling, Beat ‘em Up
It has been three decades since Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding fought together against the wrath of the Syndicate, in the struggle to protect the streets of Wood Oak City.
Originally the creation of Sega, French developer and publisher, Dotemu, would this time round take up the task of bringing the best-selling series back to the mainstream, with our heroic crime fighters once again risking it all…even their lives, on the Streets of Rage…
Bringing the Streets of Rage franchise back from the brink was unforeseeable, especially from a development team outside of Sega. Yet, through the efforts of Dotemu, the team has recreated the series with a slick, and dynamic style that still provides a nice touch of nostalgia.
With its gameplay still intact, fans of the classic trilogy get to relive the gripping brawls in a fight against crime and corruption, whilst enticing new fans with contemporary graphics whilst introducing new characters which expand the series.
Old Timers and Newcomers
The Streets of Rage is no stranger to introducing a new cast of characters to play in the never-ending battle against the Syndicate, with veteran characters Alex Stone and Blaze Fielding being the exception.
The new breed joining this time around are Cherry Hunter, the energetic guitarist and daughter of Adam Hunter (from the first Streets of Rage), and Floyd Iraia, Dr. Zan’s apprentice with robotic arms powered by Rakushin.
With four characters to choose from, each are provided with their own stats, showcasing their strengths and weaknesses. Stone has more of an emphasis on power; Blaze fighting on the technical side; Cherry being the lightest, yet fastest of the group; and Floyd storming as the heavy powerhouse of the group.
Leading the Syndicate are the antagonistic twins, Mr & Ms Y. After the passing of their father, Mr X, the siblings took over the Syndicate with the sole aim of achieving their father’s goal of taking over Wood Oak City through mind control.
In the midst of other returning characters from previous games, such as Adam Hunter, Shiva and Max Thunder, who will become additional playable characters to unlock or download, watch out for Estel Aguirre, a Special Forces Officer who starts out as an enemy of vigilantism, but later becomes a member of the roster.
Each member of the roster brings to the table their own fighting styles from real world combat.
Blaze Fielding is a Judoka with a multitude of throws to choose from, Adam Hunter a kickboxer with the deadliest precision in striking, and Shiva a Kempo Karateka with unrivalled speed and skill.
Even Syndicate thugs bring their own fighting background and unique styles that are quite formidable to the players.
Donovan’s street-level boxing can counter an aerial attack with an uppercut; Goro’s karate makes him an impenetrable, yet dangerous, counter striker; Raven (also known as Eagle) comes soaring in with a Muay Thai background; even brawler Dylan has a unique Taekwondo style with his hands tucked in his pockets.
Like any good beat ‘em up, the player starts off with a stream of simple strikes before following up with a powerful special attack like Fielding’s Kikou Shou, or Stone’s Dragon Smash, dealing out serious damage to more than one thug.
Though it can serve as a risk to your health bar, you can restore it by laying down more combos on the opponent. Blitz attacks are powerful, spiral moves that can mow down hordes of enemies.
Players even have defensive forms of special attacks that can deal with a crowd of enemies from all directions. Aerial attacks can be used to evade weapon users and bring down a series of combos. Through DLC, players can download additional special moves to add to their deadly arsenal.
Atmosphere and Graphics
The 2D graphics are an upgrade to the pixelated style from the nineties. Now the characters are livelier and their fights have a stronger sense of impact as the animation provides more clarity to their combat.
Although the streets, the police precinct, the underground and Chinatown have a rundown, dreary atmosphere and feel, they still have a lot more personality, providing a colourful-yet-gruelling environment for a battlefield.
At the end of each level, players are presented with a major boss battle. Each boss brings their own unique, yet deadly, abilities to the table. It’s not just the Syndicate to be faced, but corrupt cops, and old friends under the control of the Syndicate.
In two cases (especially the final battle between Mr & Ms Y), players will be left facing two bosses in a struggle against their differing fighting styles, or if accompanied by one or more players, they will need to collaborate when tackling the enemies’ styles and tactics.
When the bosses charge up for their special moves, they remain unresponsive until it’s safe for the gamer to strike back, but it’ll still be possible to deal damage at their own risk. In Max Thunder’s case, this dominant wrestler under the control of the Syndicate will remain non-reactive throughout the entire fight, making him a difficult adversary.
Although the premise is rather straightforward and character development is almost non-existent, this is a worthy sequel to a much acclaimed franchise.
With crisp, vivid visuals, and engaging gameplay, fans of the Streets of Rage series get to play their favourite characters, with new additional crime fighters, and relive the chaotic brawls in the streets of Wood Oak City. It’s like the series had never left.
So, if you’re looking for some good, old-fashioned side-scrolling beat ‘em ups to quench your thirst, and get in some quality time with other gamers, this is the game for you!
- This is the first official Streets of Rage game to be released in 26 years.