Seeing the success of Double Dragon and then Final Fight, Sega decided they wanted a slice of the beat ‘em up pie and so in 1991 they unleashed Streets of Rage upon the world and the game was a huge success.
But they knew that just copying other people’s games was not enough, they had to better them, so in 1992 we got Streets of Rage 2. . .
Known as Bare Knuckle in Japan, the Streets of Rage series is no stranger to the 3DS. In fact one of the first Mega Drive games to get the 3D treatment was the first instalment in the series. Since then, people have been begging for the sequel to appear – and finally, here it is!
We all know that Streets of Rage is a classic game; a great beat ‘em up with an amazing soundtrack that is still loved by many. But as much as it wanted to be Final Fight, it wasn’t: the Capcom game still ruled supreme. So Sega really had to up the ante, and with this sequel they did just that. It has more levels, more moves, more enemies, better graphics, better gameplay and (dare I say it) an even better soundtrack too. Streets of Rage 2 is just an amazing game from start to finish. In fact, in my opinion, it remains the greatest game of all time. Yeah, it’s just that good!
The plot revolves around one of the characters from the first game, Adam, getting kidnapped. But we’re not here for the story: what we really want to do is beat people up, and Streets of Rage 2 allows you to do plenty of that. With Adam out of the action, in his place is his kid brother Skate, alongside team favourites Axel Stone, Blaze Fielding and another newcomer, Max, a big muscled up wrestler. Each of these new characters add new skills and elements to the game, with Max being big and strong but slow, whilst Skate is small and quick but weak. Not content with just giving us new characters, we also get new moves too, with the brilliant addition of Street Fighter II-style special attacks. Blaze has a “hadouken” and a burning cartwheel kick, Axel has a dragon punch, Max has a powerbomb and Skate can, well, use his skateboard. There are also combo moves, new grapple attacks and even team moves. All in all, there are far more ways to punish your opponent than in any other similar game of the time.
The levels take place over many varied locations, including a baseball stadium, the city streets, the park, and even a pirate ship. Each level concludes with its own boss that requires a different tactic to defeat, and many of the bosses return later on for more fisticuffs too. The final climactic confrontation with Mr. X for example, requires you to beat up a handful of the game’s previous bosses again in order to get to him – kind of like a “boss rush” before the final boss. There are also weapons that can be picked up along the way such as a pipe, sword, knives and a sai. Of course, there are also the usual range of bonus items that give you points to add to your score and health to keep your energy topped up. Racking up your score will reward you with extra lives along the way, which come in very handy.
So what does the 3DS version add over the Mega Drive original? Well, some 3D for a start obviously! I have to say that it works really well in this version, adding some great depth to the already gorgeous graphics. The stunning Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack has been replicated perfectly – and it even gives you the choice of listening to it as sounds on the Mega Drive 1 or the Mega Drive 2 (but why would you want the latter?). There are also extra modes that can be unlocked, including “Fists of Fury” that allows you knock people out with one punch, and a more interesting mode that sees you play as each character in turn. None of these extra modes are particularly groundbreaking, but they are a nice addition nonetheless.
When it comes down to it all, Streets of Rage 2 is just magnificent. And when you add in a price point of £4.49 the game becomes simply essential. If you own a 3DS you should purchase SOR2, it’s that simple. I don’t think that any game out there is perfect, but this one comes pretty damn close!