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. -summary
Back in the late 80's to early 90's, the side scrolling beat'em up was still running pretty strong, withFinal Fight out there being a serious quarter muncher (for some odd reason). Sega already took a stab at the genre with Golden Axe being the most notable brawler from their line up. Later, they decided to dive into the waters once again with Streets of Rage in 1991, and in all honesty, I was never truly impressed by the game. I know of people to claim that it some how revolutionized the beat'em genre. How exactly? It lacked the depth of both Double Dragon I and II, it wasn't the least bit innovative as Vendetta, and to make matters worse, it pretty much copied Final Fight with no shame, and even worse than that, time hasn't done it any favors. So let's see what yours truly has to say about this awful brawler being passed off as an all time Sega great.
Streets of Rage follows the three characters; Adam, a buff black male who's the strongest of the three yet the slowest, Blaze, a female who happens to be the fastest of the group but does the least damage, and the hero blond guy Axel, who's in the middle of the road in terms of power and speed, as they clean up the town whipping everyone in site, from lowly thugs sporting mohawks to hookers with whips. There's no real difference in the characters repertoire and the only thing that sets them apart is their speed and jumping range, so it boils down to which one you prefer. They all have a single combo string, two throw moves, a knee grab, and the ability to pick up weapons. The only one I can say who is kind of cool here happens to be Adam; he has a vicious combo where he follows up his two jabs with a mean ass uppercut, pulls out a spinning side kick while the enemy is in mid-air, and kicks the sad fucker off the screen. Grabbing the enemy is very useful and simple as all you have to do is walk into them; tossing the enemy into others is a good tactic, and it's possible to flip over your enemy and pull off a suplex.
The game is two player co-op; you will traverse through 8 stages beating down goons and will face an end boss with a pretty long health bar. If you choose to play the game with two-players, then you will face two twin bosses to keep the battle even. The goons have a very small amount of variety, some attack with punches, some with kicks, others with throws, and they'll sometimes wield weapons.
The grunts can be challenging as they use the numbers game on you, and the bosses have different fight patterns that will prove to be challenging once in a while as well. For example, there's a big, fat, fire breathing guy who can be pretty hard to stop when he's coming your way, to top it off, if you try to throw him then he'll crush you because the characters can't toss his weight, and the hardest bosses in the game are two female characters who are the exact same design as Blaze, and their speed can be hell for Adam. To even things up, the players have a "special move", where they call for back-up, and a squad car appears to unleash a bomb into the fight area killing or weakening all of the enemies. I was never too fond of this move and I think it's corny, but it does have advantages especially in two player mode.
Streets of Rage indeed has problems though and it's all in the game play. The lack of diversity in the characters moves as well as their limited moves list grows boring rather too quickly and the weapons are seriously lacking. The player will be able to pick up bats, pipes, bottles, and knives, and they do so little in terms of working to your advantage. Where as games like Double Dragon and Vendetta which came before it, provided another dynamic with the weapons that rewarded you, here, you just don't see much of a difference. The knife does the exact same amount of damage as all the other weapons, unlike in Double Dragon, the whip will kill your enemies faster than the baseball bat, and the knife does major damage making it the most valuable weapon in the game. The same for Vendetta, where if you hit an enemy in the face with a bottle, outside of the bosses, they're asses is dead on the spot. The weapons in this game just aren't fun to use and there's no real reason to try and grab them. Hell, you can kill enemies faster with your attacks. There's just no excuse for that.
The game play suffers more from an annoying AI, where the characters can just increase their speed and run circles around you. The level designs are pretty much all straight forward for the most part with like no obstacles at all. I'm not saying it should've felt like a plat-former, however, getting from point A to B with no type of resistance other than a horde of enemies is just lame. Length is another issue too and it shows. Eight stages for a side scrolling beat'em up is just too god damn long, so long, that Sega had to rehash a boss for one stage, and another stage didn't have one at all. These stages could have been left on the cutting room floor and Streets of Rage wouldn't feel so repetitive, which, well... leads to being boring as hell.
The slow movement really has more to do with the game play, so I believe the controls are pretty good. Picking up weapons, pulling off the grabs, and behind the back moves is pretty simple. Everything works out fine and it's easy to pick up and play.
The soundtrack is indeed the strongest part of the game, which uses a blending of techno, hip-hop, and electronica. Some of the stage tracks will get you into the game more than others, and most importantly, it feels perfect for the game. The visuals have its ups and downs with the first stage looking pretty good, as it boasts neon signs and lights along with stores and restaurants. Stage two attempts to mimic the first, but the backgrounds which are just buildings give off a very bland look. The third which takes place on a beach is a step up, with the wind blowing a little bit of trash around and the water hitting the shore. The fifth is actually my favorite which takes place on a boat, with the sun appearing to set while the screen is slowly moving up and down. This may be the best part of the game visually. The character designs really aren't interesting at all, since practically all of them feel like ripped versions of Final Fight and other games. There are some details in the three lead characters such as different fighting animations, and the animation itself is alright at best. I wasn't impressed with the sound effects at all, as there's no real distinction between bats and pipes crashing against someones ribcage.
There's a small amount of replay here, since there's actually two endings and the curious may consider powering through this game to get the second one. Other than that, with the far superior sequel out there, I can't imagine anyone coming back to this game ever.
I was around to see the side scrolling beat'em ups at their most influential and creative; the very fact Streets of Rage had to rip almost solely from Final Fight is pretty damn sad considering that game isn't really much anyway. Saying nothing of the fact that it felt a few steps behind Double Dragon and its sequel, plus time hasn't helped it one bit either. It's hard for me to look back on this fondly and give it much credit. Thankfully the sequel was a huge improvement, and I would more than likely agree that game revolutionized the side scrolling brawler, as well as it being an all time Sega great.
Pros: -Music, graphics
Cons: -Very bad game play with almost no innovation
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May 22, 2011
Jun 15, 2013 08:21 PM UTC
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Streets of Rage, known in Japan as Bare Knuckle: Ikari no Tekken "Bare Knuckle: Furious Iron Fist"), is a side-scrolling beat 'em up released by Sega in 1991 for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. It is the first installment of the Streets of Rage series which was followed by Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3. The game was also converted over to Sega's Game Gear, Sega CD and Master System. In 2007, the game was released for the Wii's Virtual Console in North America and Europe, and in 2009 it was released for the iPhone OS via the App Store.
There was also a comic strip series based upon the games which appeared in Sonic the Comic. These three stories are based on Streets of Rage 2 and do not feature Adam. The games features an acclaimed soundtrack by Yūzō Koshiro, which was released in the Japanese music market.