In yesterday's Streets of Rage 4 coverage, Digital Foundry dissected the original Mega Drive trilogy, discerned the key aspects that made the original games so successful then applied the same criteria to the brand new sequel. Our verdict? It's a masterpiece, a retro modern title that stands tall alongside Sonic Mania, Mega Man 11 and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. But how do the various versions compare, and specifically, does the Switch version hold up against the other console platforms?
While we were able to cover PlayStation 4 and Steam code before launch, Xbox and Switch were not available - but the game is live now and we've been able to run the rule over every rendition of the game. The good news is that they're all brilliant, we can recommend a purchase for any given system, but there are some oddities we'd hope to see addressed in the short term via a patch.
To cut to the chase though, the number one question we've been asked since the embargo lifted concerns the quality of the Switch release - and with good reason, as this style of game would make for a brilliant handheld experience. Here, we can report that the title is totally identical to the PlayStation 4 release. Whether you're playing docked or in mobile mode, frame-rate is locked to 60 frames per second and the game's visual make-up is the same too. Even the graphics menu is fully present and correct on Nintendo's console/portable hybrid. Just like the other consoles, four-player local co-op is supported, and as you may hope, two users can each grab a single Joycon to get in on the action with no extra pads required.
Rest assured then, a Switch Streets of Rage 4 purchase comes heavily recommended. This is perhaps not surprising Seaven Studio carried out the conversion, and they're also responsible for the PS4 game we covered previously. Curiously though, different studios were assigned different console ports. Blitworks handled the Xbox version and as you would hope, it's just as good as the PS4 and Switch builds, with one exception: the graphics menu is severely pared back. It's a curious omission, but definitely not down to system limitations - some of the selectable effects in the menu manifest within the game anyway, and they're still there on Xbox, they're just not available as user selectable options. It doesn't bother us that much as the default presentation is, in our view, the best way to play. However, there's no real reason why these options should not be available for Xbox users.
The graphics menu situation is just as confusing on PC. The Steam rendition of the game has all of the options found on PS4 and Switch, along with some extra graphics tweakables and a low latency mode. However, if you grab the game from the Windows Store, you seem to get some kind of offshoot of the Xbox version. Again, the game still plays exactly as it should, it's still brilliant. However, once again, the graphics menu is missing options, and that's not totally ideal. You get luminosity, screen shake, full-screen, v-sync, low latency and max frame skip options, but much of the cool stuff from the Steam build is absent. Streets of Rage 4 doesn't require a high power PC to run well, but it would've been preferable to at least get the full range of graphics settings.
It took some time to confirm this because - once again - we encountered issues running software from the Windows Store. On one machine, Streets of Rage 4 would simply quit after loading. Installing on another PC worked out. Quibbles with graphics menus aside, Streets of Rage 4 is solid gold on all systems, it's highly recommended all round. If you have fond memories of the brawling genre from way back when, it must be played - and even if you're new to this kind of game, it's just so much fun that we strongly urge you to check it out. Oh, and the icing on the cake? While the default maximum health pick-up is a nice, piping hot chicken, Streets of Rage 4 offers a bunch of alternatives... including a vegan option!