Saturday, December 03, 2011

Old School Game Reviews: Streets of Rage

Welcome to a new section of the website called the “Old School Game Review”. Now this is basically a gift wrapped game review so in theory it’s nothing new, but what is different is that before I divulge into the review I’m going to talk about what makes this game so good, and some facts and memories the game gave me. Oh and what counts as an old school game? My ruling is the game has to be at least ten years old. So the inaugural “Old School Game Review” is the classic, Streets of Rage.

When did this game come out? August 1991
What console was it released on? Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
What else was it released on? Sega Game Gear, Sega CD, Sega Master System, Nintendo Wii, iPhone
Compilations? It’s appeared on “Mega Games II”, “Sega Genesis/Mega Drive 6-Pak” and “Mega 6” for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, “Sega Classics Arcade Collection” for the Sega Mega CD and the “Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection” on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (which I reviewed here)
Other interesting facts? It’s considered the spiritual successor to the “Golden Axe” series. Its spiritual successor is considered “Fighting Force”, which didn’t sell well and flopped on the Playstation and Nintendo 64. After Streets of Rage III, no other game in the series has officially been made.
Why review this game? It’s probably the first multiplayer I absolutely fell in love with. It was one of the first games I ever played on the Sega Mega Drive, as part of the “Mega 6” mentioned earlier. I have some absolutely golden memories playing this with my two sisters when I was a wee child.
Best memories? I remember the first time got to Mr X with my sister and we chose different options to join his syndicate. If you didn’t know, if you play two-player and get to this stage and choose different options, you get the bad ending. You then have to fight each other and the survivor gets the option again, if you choose not to join the syndicate, it doesn’t matter, it gives you the bad ending regardless. The first time I got the bad ending, with the horrible ending music and the sprite of your character sitting in the chair looking into your soul from the TV gave me chills. Of course, that and beating the crap into your sister on games was always fun and there was a lot of doing that I promise you!

Now onto the review!

Streets of Rage packs a mighty punch as a game on top of its generation.

Streets of Rage was released in August 1991, making it twenty years old. Two years earlier Sega had released Golden Axe; a side-scrolling beat ‘em up that was set in a medieval fantasy land with monsters and warriors. While the game was successful, there was an idea to have a similar game in a modern setting. That’s where Streets of Rage came in.

The game is set in a high-energy city that was once nice and peaceful, but has recently fell under the control of a criminal syndicate. The damage and effect on the city was so big even the police had their hands tied. Violence and crime was rife and no one could do anything there. Three police officers try to take control on an attack in the city. But the police didn’t want a special unit to disrupt the syndicate’s activities. In disgust, they hand their badges in and decide to take matters into their own hands. On their own, the three ex-police officers, with brute force and firsts, take on the syndicate to bring the city’s control back to the people.

The three ex-police officers are the three characters available for choice in the game. They all vary in fighting style, jump abilty and speed. First there’s Adam, who’s got a boxing background and is the strongest character in the game and can jump well. To compensate, he’s also the slowest. There’s then Blaze, who has a judo background, who is the quickest character but compensates it for being the weakest. Axel is the third character with a martial arts background, and is of medium strength and speed, but is a poor jumper. All three characters are useful in different ways and are very well balanced.
This is some party.
The game’s controls are simple. Moving with the D-pad, you simply press one of the eight directions you wish your character to move to and they will move on the terrain in the direction you choose. You press “B” to attack an enemy in front of you, and rapidly to do a combo. If you walk towards your enemy and latch onto them, you can apply a grappling body attack. If you grab them from behind you can suplex them backwards. To jump you press the “C” button, and combine it with either moving left or right to jump in either direction. Combining a jump and an attack is also simple, press “C” to jump and then “B” to kick them mid-air. If you press the “C” button when you have hold of an enemy, you can jump over them, either forwards to backwards or vice versa, to suplex them or pummel them, depending what way you’re facing them. If you are grappling them, pressing the “B” button and the opposite direction to which you are facing to throw them behind you, possibly throwing them into multiple enemies.

As well as melee attacks you can also use weapons. To pick up weapons simply press the “B” button when directly above one. Weapons vary from baseball bats to knives and vary in use; bats can reach enemies from further away but knives can be thrown.

That leaves one button on the Sega Mega Drive controller, which is the “A” button. This is your special attack, one that you get automatically per life you have, or you can pick them up on a very rare occasion otherwise. Your special attack calls on a secret member of the police force who is discretely supporting the three ex-cops, and shoots from afar; either with a large missile launcher or a heavy duty machine gun. Both of these actions do the same thing, which is basically wiping the screen completely of enemies. The exception is the bosses, and instead it takes a chunk of their health.
This is an even better party!
Streets of Rage has eight levels, which you progress from left to right in typical side-scrolling fashion. There are different enemies on route, with different levels of health and difficulty. Also on your way are breakable items, for instance, the first level is the street, and here you can find telephone boxes to break. On the fourth level is a bridge, and you can find cones lying around which you can break. In these items are different things, either apples or steaks that give you a health increase, the former less than the latter that brings your health to the max. There’s also bags of cash, other weapons, and on rare occasions, extra lives or extra uses of your special. After side scrolling to the end of the level a boss will appear. These bosses are large in size and pack a punch. Bosses have their own fighting style and increase in difficulty as you progress through the game. On some of the later levels you may have to fight bosses multiple times throughout the level.

The one thing that has always stood out about Streets of Rage is the fantastic soundtrack. Every level has its own track that fits perfectly with its design and the boss music is absolutely brilliant too. All the games in the Streets of Rage series has good music but for me personally neither sequel has beat the first for quality. Aside from the music, the sound is as good as any Mega Drive title; the enemies give out cries when they are defeated and the sounds that are made when you attack and are attacked are different. I wouldn’t say it’s realistic, I mean this was 1991, but the idea is there and it sounds good enough.
...the party is not so fun anymore.
To finalise, Streets of Rage is one of the best games of its generation. Yes the second game improved on the foundations this game set, but back in 1991 there was nothing better than this. Streets of Rage still brings great satisfaction and enjoyment today, in a time were complexity and graphics are considered favourable. The game is great if you’re playing on your own and takes around an hour to complete, but it’s even better with a friend. If you’ve never played this game before, you’re missing out, get a copy, you can find it quite cheap in many different places. Or get the “Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection”, which features this and the other two titles in the series, amongst its 40+ game collection, which you can find for less than £15 in some places. Streets of Rage packs a mighty punch as a game on top of its generation.

Rating: ****1/2 stars

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  1. This is arcade games which i was playing on my Nintendo 32. I knew about this game which is too much old. This game was disappeared from market. Now it is hard to find in current market.

  2. On the Wii, you can get it on the Virtual Console. As for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3, you can get it as part of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (or in the UK, the "Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection"), which you can find here -