Happy 24th Birthday, Streets of Rage 2!

It makes you feel old, doesn’t it, knowing that a game that you played in your youth is now 24 years old? In the case of SEGA’s Streets of Rage 2, it feels like I was only just playing it yesterday. Though, to be honest, it’s that timeless a classic that I could have been.

There are not many games as old as Streets of Rage 2 that I’ll willingly return to again and again. Somehow though, Streets of Rage 2 is as good today as it’s ever been. Its colourful 2D visuals still ooze style and character, its simple but rewarding gameplay still engrosses, and its sublime soundtrack is still one of the greatest ever created. It may be 24 years old, but it undoubtedly remains the best side-scrolling beat’em up on the market. That’s some achievement.

It’s seen plenty of competition over the years, mind. From its successor, Streets of Rage 3, to the recent Mother Russia Bleeds, many have been and gone. Enjoyed, but not as fondly remembered. They all miss the je ne sais quoi that makes Streets of Rage 2 so special – that ‘certain something’ that elevates it above its peers. There’s yet more competition to come too, in the form of The TakeOver and Raging Justice. Both look promising, but will they surpass Streets of Rage 2? Somehow, I doubt it.

So if you hold Streets of Rage 2 dear in your heart, like me, take a second of your day to thank SEGA and all those involved for bringing it to us. Maybe someday they’ll realise just how loved the franchise is and serve us up another impeccable piece of the action, though, they’ll probably not. And if you’ve never played Streets of Rage 2 before, do so, now. You can pick up a snazzy 3D version on the Nintendo 3DS store, and it’s also available as part of the backwards compatibility program on the Xbox One to name just two methods of acquiring it. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

So, Happy 24th Birthday, Streets of Rage 2. You may be getting older, but the years are being kind, and long may they do so.