Streets of Rage (known in Japan as Bare Knuckle: Ikari no Tekken, translated to Bare Knuckle: Furious Iron Fist) is a 2D side-scrolling brawler developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis on July 17, 1991. The first in a trilogy of the same name, Streets of Rage chronicles the hunt for a powerful criminal organization (led by the secretive Mr. X) through the criminal-infested streets by a group of ex-cops (accomplished boxer Adam Hunter, skilled martial artist Axel Stone, and judo expert Blaze Fielding).
The game was ported to Sega Game Gear and Sega Master System (Europe only) between 1992 and 1993. Unlike most ports to the systems, both use different graphic and gameplay engines. Both, however, omit Adam as a playable character. The original game was also ported to the arcade using Sega's Mega Tech and Mega Play arcade boards (both based on the Genesis hardware) in Europe, Australia, and Asia. The only difference between them is that the Mega Tech charges players for play time and the Mega Play charges for continues (like a traditional arcade game).
Streets of Rage was re-released for various platforms over the years:
Streets of Rage plays like a traditional side-scrolling brawler. Up to two players can choose between one of each of the game's main protagonists as they face eight levels of constant enemies:
Adam Hunter (an accomplished boxer who sacrifices movement speed for both attacking power and jumping distance)
Axel Stone (a skilled martial artist who sacrifices jumping distance for both attacking power and movement speed)
Blaze Fielding (a judo expert who sacrifices attacking power for both jumping distance and movement speed).
The main objective is to clear groups of enemies within a certain amount of time (which resets after groups of enemies are finished) and move forward to the next area. At the end of each level, the music changes and players fight an end boss. Once the player defeats the boss, the level ends (giving player an end bonus while refilling their health and Special Attack amount).
Players earn score by defeating enemies and picking up money items. They also earn a bonus at the end of the level, composed of a clear bonus (of 20,000 points), time bonus (100 points for each second remaining), and level bonus (10,000 points for each difficulty above Easy). At the end of the game, they also earn 1,000 points for each life remaining (multiplied by the difficulty).
Each player starts with three lives, and can get extra lives by either reaching certain score thresholds or picking up rare 1UP items. When the player's health meter is fully depleted (or the timer is fully depleted), he/she loses a life. If he/she has any lives remaining, he/she respawns from the top of the screen, knocking down all enemies on the field. If all lives are lost, then the player can input a name for the high scores list (if they have a valid score) and is given the option of using up a continue (giving the player three lives and removing all of his/her score). Each player starts with three continues, and if the player has no continues or lives remaining, then he/she gets a game over.
Basic Controls and Attacks
Players move around the screen using the D-Pad and jump around using the Jump Button (defaulted to the C Button). Pressing the basic Attack Button (defaulted to the B button) causes the player character to punch enemies, while pressing it repeatedly produces a combo of damaging punches and kicks. Pressing the Attack Button while jumping causes the player character to perform a jump kick, knocking down enemies in his/her path.
Pressing both Jump and Attack buttons simultaneously causes the player character to perform a Rear Attack, which knocks back enemies behind him/her.
When the player has at least one Special Attacks available (shown by the health meter as the S symbol), they can press the Special Attack Button (defaulted to the A button) at an opportune time to stop the fight as the screen quickly scrolls left to show a police car arriving at the scene. The passenger officer then helps the protagonists by firing either a Napalm Missile (if player 1 activates the attack) or Rocket-Propelled Grenades (if player 2 activates the attack).
Both attacks are the same, however, as they deal heavy damage to all enemies on the screen (while knocking them down). Each player starts with one Special Attack, which can only be replenished by completing a level or respawning. They can, however, earn extra Special Attacks by finding a special item (a toy police car) at two points of the game. In the final stage (Round 8), Special Attacks are completely disabled.
By approaching enemies close enough (and not getting attacked), players automatically grab enemies from either the front or the back. After a short amount of time, they automatically release the enemy. By pressing the Jump button, they perform a shoulder vault, alternating between Front Grab and Back Grab positions.
In the Front Grab position, players can tap the Attack button to perform a fury combo and use the Attack button while holding the opposite direction on the d-pad to throw the enemy behind him/her. In the Back Grab position, players can use the Attack button to perform a powerful Backdrop suplex.
Players can also work together by grabbing each other and performing special team attacks. By holding the opposite direction on the d-pad and pressing the Attack button, the grabbing player throws his/her partner, who performs a flying kick. By pressing the Jump button, the grabbing player flips over his/her partner, performing a flying kick.
Weapons and Bonus Items
Throughout the game, players can find weapons either dropped by enemies or by destroying certain objects (such as barrels, crates, and traffic cones). Players can equip a weapon by standing over it and pressing the Attack button. However, they can only pick up one weapon at a time, and picking up another weapon causes the player to drop the other weapon. The player also drops the weapon when he is knocked down. Dropped weapons disappear over time.
- Bottle - Powerful close-range attack.
- Knife - Powerful close-range attack, which can also be thrown at far enemies.
- Lead Pipe - Slow to attack, but powerful with a long range.
- Baseball Bat - Slow to attack, but powerful with a long range.
- Pepper Shaker - A throwable weapon that creates a puff of pepper smoke, stunning enemies into a sneezing fit.
Alongside the five weapons, there are six items located throughout the game which give the player health (or other goodies) or adds to the player's score. They are found by destroying objects (the same type of objects used to hold weapons) and are picked up using the Attack button. (Unlike picking up weapons, picking up items does not drop the player's current weapon)
- Apple - Common item that restores about a quarter of the player's health bar.
- Beef - Uncommon item that restores the player's entire health bar. Usually found at the end of the level.
- Cash Bag - Common item that adds 1,000 points to the player's score.
- Gold Bars - Rare item that adds 5,000 points to the player's score.
- 1UP - Rare item (little doll versions of the player characters) that gives the player an extra life.
- Special - Rare item (little toy police car) that grants the player an extra Special Attack.
Enemies and Bosses
Throughout the protagonists' quest, they will be constantly assaulted by groups of punks. In order to progress to the next screen, they must clear out all enemies on the field. There are five types of punks to fight and, unlike the game's sequels, no names are shown for enemies on the game screen.
Garcia - The standard type of punks (in either blue, green, or red denim clothing), who primarily attacks with punches and kicks (and sometimes equipped weapons). He can also grab players from the back (allowing enemies in front of you to attack you easier), in which players can perform a two-part attack (using the Attack button twice) in which the player kicks enemies in front of him/her and counter-throw the grabbing punk. Some of the Garcia punks also run around with a knife, charging at players relentlessly.
Y. Signal - Usually shown from the back (in either yellow, purple, or green clothing). He grab players from the front and throws them foward. Some of the Y. Signal punks can also perform a sliding kick, which is difficult to dodge.
Nora - Shown as a female dominatrix (in either red, black, or white clothing), who attacks with a long-ranged whip. Some of the Nora punks lay on the ground when players knock her down, making them temporarily invulnerable.
Haku-Oh - A trained warrior shown in gray, red, or black kung fu gear, Haku-Oh jumps around and performs long-ranged jumping kicks at players.
Jack - An uncommon enemy with spiked clown hair (and red, gray, or black clothing), Jack hops around juggling either axes or torches (which damage players that get too close). After some time, they throw the axes/torches ahead of them (causing damage to players in the way) and obtain more axes/torches.
At the end of each level (with the exception of Round 7), players must fight one boss to continue to the next level. In some occasions (especially if two players are playing at the same time), players fight two of the same boss at the same time. At later levels, some bosses re-appear as mid-bosses. In Round 8, players must face all six bosses consecutively (without the ease of Special Attacks). Unlike the game's sequels, no names are shown for enemies on the game screen.
Antonio - A large punk (wearing denim clothing) holding a large boomerang. Along with kicking players in front of him, he throws his boomerang around (which returns to him after being thrown). He is the main boss of Round 1.
Souther - Wearing a red-sleeved jacket and claw-mounted gloves, he attacks with unavoidable and powerful slash attacks. He is the main boss of Round 2.
Abadede - A former pro-wrestler, he primarily attacks with powerful charging punches. He can also perform a body slam if players are close enough. He is the main boss of Round 3.
Bongo - A fat man in suspenders who charges players while breathing fire from his mouth. Attempting to perform a Backdrop attack on Bongo causes him to fall on the player, causing damage to that player. He is the main boss of Round 4.
Mona & Lisa - Japanese twins (with an appearance identical to Blaze) who fight together, performing jump kicks, forward throws, and Backdrop attacks. They are the main bosses of Round 5.
Mr. X - The final boss of the game. Armed with a machine gun, he alternates between firing the gun (spreading bullets around the screen) and performing a powerful charging rifle butt.
Streets of Rage is the first brawler to feature multiple endings, which is determined by both players' choices at the end of the game. Before the fight boss fight, Mr. X asks the players if they want to be his right-hand man. This has one of three choices:
If all players say "Yes", then Mr. X tests them by sending them down a trapdoor, resetting the game back to Round 6.
If all players say "No", then they fight Mr. X and get the Good Ending, in which they celebrate after bringing justice.
If one player says "Yes" and the other says "No", then both players fight in a duel. Once a player loses all his/her lives, Mr. X then asks the victor if he/she wants to join his organization. If the player says "Yes", then Mr. X tests him/her by sending him/her down a trapdoor, resetting the game back to Round 6. If the player says "No", then the player fights Mr. X and gets the Bad Ending, in which the player takes over the corrupt organization.