In a once peaceful city, an organized crime syndicate lead by a mysterious man named Mr.X plunges the city into chaos. He has managed to subdue the city government and is able to pull the police department's strings. Three ex-cops decide to battle him anyway and they take the fight into the streets and on to Mr.X's high-rise deep into the city.
Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage 2 Streets of Rage 3:
Axel, Blaze, and Skate return to action and their get together ends with them defusing a bomb. Mr. X has returned with a plan in the works, but Axel and crew are in the dark on what's going on. They seek out Mr. X to put an end to his plans again accompanied by a cyborg named Dr. Zan. -summary
Streets of Rage 2
was definitely among my favorite Sega Genesis games back in the day. Whenever I wanted to get my fix on the two player side scrolling brawlers it was one of my choices amongst Super Double Dragon
and Captain America and The Avengers
. Streets of Rage 2
normally won there for its faster game play and cool soundtrack. So when I read in Gamepro back in 1994 that Streets of Rage 3
had been released I really couldn't wait to get my hands on it.
Now something that must be mentioned because I'm kind of thinking that people are talking about a different game here. After I got my hands on Streets of Rage 3
, I couldn't help but wonder how come the magazine I trusted with my gaming life could have been so off the mark. I mean Streets of Rage 3
was being praised as an instant classic that surpassed the second game on all levels, now that's a good thing. But many folks claimed it was just as easy as the second game with that being the only real flaw. Hmm, not really much of a good thing. I would later learn that these individuals (the magazine writers and fans) actually played the Japanese port Bare Knuckle 3
, which was apparently easier and was overall better developed. Ahh, we're on to something here. While being released over here in the states, the game apparently went through some changes that up to this day I still don't know the reasons for. In any case, my memories of this game weren't too fond.
Fast forward a few years, I decide to give the game a complete go through again, and my feelings are still the same. Now, Streets of Rage 3
is anything but easy, but that's not my gripe here. This sequel feels like it made some progress, yet it feels uneven in so many areas. I just need to get to my description on this already. Game Play: Streets of Rage 3
is still a two player co-op brawler, that follows four characters beating the hell out of all who attempts to interfere in their mission to stop Mr. X. Now, this is one of the cool new additions. The game has multiple endings, and shooting for the good ending adds to the replay value of the game. When looking at the multiple endings, it's obvious that Streets of Rage 3
is more story driven than the previous two games, and through cut scenes with dialog, you will get to see the story unfold. Although some of the interactions and dialog may seem cheesy, it's still a nice feature you didn't always get with games like these.
Axel, Blaze, and Skate, all return with minimum changes to their moves list. If you played the previous game then you will feel right at home with them, as the fighting engine really hasn't changed much. However, what bit of changes there were couldn't have been better. The characters can now dash forward and start running when the D-pad is held in the direction you choose to go, and from there you can go into one of their special moves, which is the exact same charge attack they had from the second game. They can also roll up and down moving vertically on the screen to dodge projectile attacks or attempt to escape onslaughts. I think the best addition had to be the power bar for using the special attack. There's a small gauge in the top middle of the screen that fills up within seconds. When the bar says "ok", you can use your special attacks without losing health, which was the case in the previous game. This is very good because you can constantly finish off combos on enemies with your special or even open up your attacks on groups with it. Blaze and Zan are really good here.
The characters still possess the ability to wield weapons differently from the other and it's taken up a notch here. For example, Blaze can still use bats and pipes, but she excels with knives, shurikens, and swords; when using the dash with her, she performs a charge attack with the sword no one else can do, or a rising uppercut with the shuriken and knife that can hit multiple times dealing out some decent damage. Axel on the other-hand handles pipes and bats better, as he can dash into a powerful swing. The other characters also have their own niche when using weapons. The weapons also have a limited amount of use, after several uses it would become useless and the character will automatically discard it and you will need to pick up another one.
The second game introduced new characters, this third game does the same with a new one playable from the start and two secret characters. The new selectable one is a cyborg named Dr. Zan, who takes the place of Max from the third game. Zan has his advantages with a longer reach being the only thing I think he's good for, but he is no way a better character than Max. I always found him very boring to use and I don't like almost any of his moves. I also don't like the way he handles weapons either; everything he picks up forms into a ball of energy that can be used by dashing which can be hard to do if the enemies are all over you. The others are the boss Shiva who fought by Mr. X's side in the second game and a Kangaroo named Roo. They add something a little different to the lineup but they never really grew on me.
The stages have some variety to them with drop offs being added, which can be used to hurl enemies off to their deaths, and it doesn't matter how full their power bars are either. Various obstacles are used as well to hinder your progress, and I guess this is where I should begin a host of my complaints. One of the reasons I didn't care for the first game was because it was too straight forward with no obstacles, while I praised the second one for having a very small amount that didn't interfere with the brawling aspect. This game features way too many that I find to be heavily distracting from it's main selling point... the brawling. One stage, the fourth for example, features a run away train car that runs on two sets of tracks and will either appear from the right side on the top tracks or the left from the bottom tracks. There is a way to pick up where the thing is coming from, but it forces you to remove your focus from the brawling aspect of the game, which is supposedly the bread and butter here. I doubt anyone came into this with intentions on doing anything other than beating people up, and there are other segments like these too; such as trying to find an exit out of a room filling up with gas or battling robots on floors with an electrical current running through. I find it strange how serious Streets of Rage
fans panned Final Fight
for using devices like these yet give this game a free pass, when it's far more annoying than that game.
The developers for some reason felt it necessary to go back in time to the first game, and reuse elements from that annoying AI. Now, I thought it was a good move giving the enemies some form of intelligence, such as searching for easy grabs on you, not attacking until they have you surrounded, and scrambling in a hurry to pick up dropped weapons. But the enemies once again have the ability to increase their speed to what seems to be god-like. I'm dead serious here, the regular grunts will run circles around the faster characters being Skate and Blaze. The bosses are much worse here. Remember in the original game the two female twins who all they did was jump around, making it difficult to land blows on them? Well try to imagine fighting them over and over again, which is what you get here from most of the bosses. The bosses in stage two go from Q-Bert to Road Runner at the drop of a dime, and although you can land a grab here and there, a majority of your landing offense will be regular punches. The fourth boss in which you have to fight three different versions of this guy is the exact same way, and you'll find yourself spamming a single move, in the case of Blaze for example, just to do some type of real damage. All of this jumping and running that the bosses do make the fights longer, tedious, and once again, distracts from the brawling aspect of the game. If this wasn't bad enough, the characters are indeed toned down in power and even special attacks aren't that strong. I don't mind hard games, in fact, that's what I look for. But I'm not a fan of increasing the enemies strength, speed, and intelligence, while at the same time crippling the players. Slower characters like Axel and Zan should have the power to make up for their lack of speed, which was clearly the case with Max in the previous game. Controls:
Thankfully everything performs well for the most part, because awful controls would have really hurt this game. The new moves respond well when tapping twice in either direction, the same with running. This is the best part of the game. Graphics/Music/Sound:
From go I was completely unimpressed with the visuals and as a sequel I saw almost no improvement. Streets of Rage 2
is far superior here. The character designs are not as detailed with crisp textures that deliver a very clean and polished look found in the previous game. Instead, they appear to be on the grainy side which can be easily detected during the character select screen when looking at their faces. The animation is more on the hit side than miss, characters such as Blaze and the boss twins have some nice, fluid movements, while Dr. Zan looks way too stiff and just too uninteresting. The backgrounds can be pretty good, the second stage stands out here during the nightclub segment, which boasts a host of different lights and colors, that are constantly flickering giving off a disco effect. Other than that I really can't honestly say that something else may have stood out. It all feels way too bland.
The music is the biggest disappointment by far. Whenever for some odd reason I decide to bother with this game, it's always a mystery to me on what the fuck I'm listening too. I remember being told and even reading reviews on how bad the music was, but it's nothing like hearing it for yourself. This game in no way compares to the first two, it's an ant amongst giants and it does nothing to enhance the action or the atmosphere. The BGM is blanketed with extremely forgettable experimental techno music. That very small group out there who claims that they LOVE this BGM really need to find themselves a way to buy some new ears. But I don't think they believe that themselves though, as far as I'm concerned it's just more padding to say how great this game is. The sound effects take me back to the blandness of the first game, nothing really worth noting except that they disappear on some occasions and all you hear is that hideous soundtrack. Replay:
Trying to unlock all the endings and playing with all the characters was the only reason I came back to this. But if I need a Streets of Rage
fix, I won't be playing this again. Final Thoughts:
If you come into this expecting what you played and heard previously, then you're setting yourself up for some serious disappointment. I was able to get my hands on Bare Knuckle 3
, and it's indeed the better game with a better story and game play. The issues with the visuals and audio were still present, but it was not as unbalanced. Again, I don't mind a high difficulty in a game, but I prefer my characters to have all the tools necessary to deal with the hazards presented, or else it's going to be far more frustrating than challenging. Pros:
-Some real nice improvements, and a little replay
-A step back visually, poor music score, too unbalanced