Restoring Happiness Back To The Streets, One Thug At A Time.
There was once a time when the city enjoyed "streets of happy" however all of that changed when Mr. X and his criminal syndicate took over everything by force and draped the roads in RAGE! With complete control over the local government and police force, the violent organization ruled with an iron fist and ran amok with all the freedom in the world to spread as much malice as it wanted. All hope seemed lost of ever restoring the city back to its previous state until three young police officers- Adam Hunter, Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding threw away their badges and vowed to put their lives on the line to punch and kick their way back to the more pleasant streets of yesteryear!
Streets of Rage is a 1 or 2 player simultaneous side-scrolling beat em' up where you take control of one of the heroes of the game- Adam, Axel or Blaze and fight your way through hordes of random thugs and unique bosses across 8 stages en route to the final encounter with the leader of the crime syndicate, Mr. X. Each of the 3 playable characters has different attributes and their main attacks include punches, kicks and throws though they can also use different weapons found throughout the game (such as pipes, knives, bats and more) as well as a special bonus move that deals damage to all adversaries on the screen. Additional items that can be collected include apples & roasts which restore health, money & gold bars which give you points and police car icons which grant you an additional bonus attack.
The levels consist of varying "waves" of enemies randomly accosting the player(s) as they walk from the starting point to the end where a boss awaits to challenge you before proceeding. As you progress, these end-stage opponents gain in difficulty and defeated ones will return for revenge to try and take you down at different points throughout your journey. There are 3 unique difficulty settings that can be changed at the on-set of the game which increases adaptability to both new and experienced players. Utilize the strengths of the 3 heroes and battle your way through Mr. X's entire criminal organization to complete the game.
- Gameplay: 4/5 (I like it)
The most difficult hurdle for beat em' ups in terms of gameplay has always been monotony as your pretty much doing the exact same thing from start to finish but Streets of Rage does a way-above-average job at keeping you engaged throughout your power-walk through the cities crime sector. While I do wish that the enemies had a deeper move-set so that you saw more variety from them, they provide a worthy challenge as they swarm you through your trek from one side of the screen to the other and the satisfaction of taking each one down just never gets old. Certainly gotta give extra points for the opportunity to join Mr. X's organization right before you fight him which added replay value as well as a chance at an alternate ending.
- Controls: 5/5 (I love it)
Nothing to complain about here as the controls feel good and respond the way they should in all facets. While it may seem like quite the task to mess up a game with a control scheme that mainly consists of jump and destroy, Streets of Rage actually feels pretty good when moving around your characters and performing various attacks. The hit detection is some of my favorite of any beat em' up and making contact with your fists feels appropriately stiff in the right way.
- Music/Sound: 5/5 (I love it)
The music of Streets of Rage absolutely rules and envelopes the game in a testosterone-filled leather jacket of awesomeness with its hard-hitting and catchy themes. The sound effects are fun as well (I really love that broken bottle sound) though the yelps from defeated enemies sound dated and you hear them WAY too often. Regardless, it's very minor and you'll be spending too much time enjoying all of the satisfying smacks and thuds from beating the crap out of your opponents while bopping your head to a super-cool and catchy soundtrack anyways so no worries.
- Graphics: 4/5 (I love it)
With distinctive sprites, nice animations and detail-rich backgrounds, the graphics in Streets of Rage look really good and give the game another coat of aesthetic polish to add to the overall pile. The main critiques I have are the "graininess" that sort of muddles up many of the sprites and foregrounds as well as some of the strange color choices such as the overabundance of yellows at times. Still though, taking into account the game's release date (1991) the visuals look really good and give it an appropriate 80's action-movie look that fits nicely with the premise and gameplay.
- 'Tude Meter: MAXIMUM (Coolness guaranteed)
Dude... I think the 'Tude Meter is in love! Streets of Rage is a bar-setter in the 'tude department with its super-rad criminal bashing concept, dark and gritty settings, use of crude weaponry, etc. and sits at the top of the food chain in an exclusive club as being one of the coolest and best representations of the 'tude era bar none. At the beginning of this review, I mentioned that there was just "something" about this game that makes it stand out and in all truth it REALLY is the red line maximum 'tude as no other beat em' up series has ever felt as edgy and badass as this one coupling perfectly as a console-exclusive to the equally rebellious Sega Genesis.
Final Verdict: 5/5 (Great game)
Man do I love me some Streets of Rage! It's quite literally one of the coolest game franchises EVER anchored down by this fantastic original which deserves a playthrough from anyone that calls themselves a gamer. It's simple to learn and consistent in design so its accessibility is top-notch for beginners while also providing an intriguing challenge for veterans on harder difficulties showcasing a broad appeal to all types of virtual maestros. While most of the greatest innovative brawler experiences were being had in the arcades during Streets Of Rage release, it was pretty righteous to see Sega buck that tradition and release this "killer app" exclusive that represented the Genesis library like a 300 lbs. bouncer ready to throw down! Further, the amazing score by Yuzo Koshiro, tight controls, co-op support and the appropriately gritty graphics accompany your journey down these streets like a black belt and a license to kill enhancing the experience past many glass-jawed pretenders!
Without a doubt, the #1 complaint I have is the terribly redundant banshee-wails that pollute your ears as your dispatching Mr. X's army of misfits sounding cheap and out-of-place when associated with all the other high-quality components of the title. Besides that, any other downfalls (like one-note enemy a.i. and issues unintentionally grabbing your co-op partner during crucial moments) fall under a much-larger umbrella that shades itself over the entire genre in the macro making it far less applicable to critical analysis in the micro unless it's just blatantly unavoidable which isn't the case here. No, like most beat em' ups, it's the job of the developers to design a superficial environment so flashy that players overlook these issues long enough to continue their way through to the end and there's no doubt that these streets pull that off as well as anything you'll come across in this category... without EVER having to insert 1 single quarter! Now that's value! So don't wait any longer - strap up with your high-tops, fingerless-gloves and ninja headbands and join me on the Streets Of Rage for one of the most 'tude-filled, face-punching donnybrooks you'll ever see.
*Excellent and appropriate musical score
*Level of 'tude is nearly off the charts
*Boring enemy patterns
*Colors are a little dull
*You hear the death screams WAY too often
The 'Tude Dude's Bottom Line-
Carving out its own bare knuckle-shaped niche within the beat em' up genre, Streets Of Rage complimented the Sega Genesis as well as any other franchise on the system executing its side-scrolling fisticuffs assembly-line to a brutally refined magnificence.
Thanks for reading!