Many franchises that I fondly remember from my youth are now seemingly defunct.
Suikoden, Castlevania (the 2D kind), Outrun: these are the games that made me a gamer. But there’s one series close to my heart that’s about to make a comeback; though only in spirit, not in name. You see, MakinGames Ltd’s Raging Justice feels like the next evolution of SEGA’s venerable Streets of Rage.
Streets of Raging Justice
The similarities are plentiful. You have a choice of three characters, like the very first Streets of Rage. I’d say that they’re reminiscent of Axel, Blaze and Skate, to give you a brief idea of how they play. Movement perhaps feels closer to Streets of Rage than any other side-scrolling beat ’em up I’ve played. You can pick up weapons lying on the floor and then either wield or throw them. And the levels themselves, or at least the two I’ve played in the preview build, feel like recreations of classic Streets of Rage levels. Though perhaps a little shorter.
There are more similarities too, but I won’t dwell on them. It’s clear that titles like Streets of Rage and Final Fight have been heavy influences in Raging Justice‘s development, and that’s no bad thing. What I want to tell you about is how Raging Justice tries to build on them. Both successfully, and not so successfully.
Good cop, bad cop
Raging Justice builds on the Streets of Rage formula by giving you a choice: do you want to be a good cop or a bad cop? While cleaning the streets of ruffians by simply pounding on them is fun, it’s not exactly a good example, is it? So Raging Justice gives you another option; arrest them after giving them a bit of a pounding instead.
It’s a good idea in theory, but in practice it’s a bit hit and miss. In the heat of battle it’s very easy to cross the line, knocking criminals out for the count instead of getting the chance to cuff them. I guess it will add an extra layer of challenge for those who want to be a goody-two-shoes, though. And it’s only a preview build I’ve played, so there’s always scope for the arrest system to be tweaked before launch on 8th May.
Punch, kick, it’s all in the mind
Combat is another area where Raging Justice tries to differentiate itself from Streets of Rage and its ilk. Instead of just having one button that you can mash to perform combos, Raging Justice has two. You can perform a flurry of punches or kicks, or even mix the two up if you wish. Then you can also work jumping attacks, throws, dashes and special moves into the mix. It’s still about as deep as an old 16-bit side-scrolling beat ’em up, but it’s undeniably fun.
While on wimp difficulty the two stages of Raging Justice I’ve played were indeed on the easy side, knocking up the difficulty to normal adds considerable challenge. You’ll need to manage mobs effectively to survive, making sure you don’t get surrounded and beat down upon. At the moment, it’s the game’s bosses that are set to cause the most pain though. Perhaps frustratingly so.
Often they’ll just brush off your attacks like you’re trying to hit them with a feather duster, countering with a blow that will send you flying. It means that the only way you can reliably beat them without sustaining too much damage is to use hit and run tactics. While it does the trick, it’s not the ideal way to play.
All things considered though, good and bad, I’m looking forward to playing the full version of Raging Justice. With SEGA sleeping on the Streets of Rage franchise, MakinGames could possibly serve up something which is the next best thing. Just put some music by Yuzo Koshiro on in the background and you’re all set to pound on thugs like its the 1990s again.
Raging Justice is set for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One Nintendo Switch and PC on 8th May.