Streets of Rage is a side 1993 side scrolling beat 'em up released by SEGA for the SEGA mega drive.
The players chooses to play as one of four unique characters who have different strengths and weaknesses. The characters are different and do play very differently to but there is one character who is massively more powerful than the other three so choosing to play as him is the sensible choice. The games features eight levels which and was the typical length of a game of the time.
The standout feature of the game and what made it such a great game was the co operative play the game allowed. There was the option for the player to go through the entire campaign mode with a friend on the same machine, there was no split screen with both players appearing on the same screen. This added mechanic gave the game immense re-playability and made it a more fun experience. Each player would choose one of the four characters and then play the campaign mode, this mode maybe is the reason so many people remember this game so fondly. The multiplayer component made working as a team and fighting bad guys so much fun that it elevated the game above its peers in the genre.
Whilst the characters all look differently they all share the standard three type of moves that were in most side scrolling beat 'em ups of the day, the jump, attack and special attack moves mean that the game is fairly easy to pick up and play. The game however does have a depth of play that many similar titles do not have, this comes from the amount of enemies the game throws onto the screen and the player must react fairly quickly to survive.
A feature of the series is the ability to not only uses the characters own weapons but to knock the enemies weapons out of their hands and to use them as well. This added feature makes the game a lot more varied than simply using just hand to hand combat. The weapons range from a simple knife to a samurai sword which is the most powerful weapon in the game and will kill most enemies in a matter of a few hits.
The question whether Streets of Rage 2 stands the test of time was recently put to the test when it was released on the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft's 360. The game attracted all gamers wanting to relieve a game from their childhood which they have viewed through 'rose tinted glasses', to put it simply Streets of Rage 2 was a great marker in the development of games but in the fourteen years since release the genre has evolved and the game is too simplistic and the mechanics feel old and jaded.
As a history lesson Streets of Rage is a good example of a game of its time. At the time of release the games industry was saturated with side scrolling beat 'em ups and whilst a good example of the genre, sadly the game is best left in the past and played for a history lesson rather than for fun.
7 / 10