Developed jointly by three studios: DotEmu, LizardCube and Guard Crush Games, located in Montreal and Paris, Streets of Rage 4 is the bold bet to resurrect the SEGA franchise, 26 years after episode 3 released on Genesis/Megadrive at the time.
In this period of remasters, remakes, and sequels of old games, Streets of Rage 4 completes the offer in beat’em all that are very rare nowadays. Of course the developers are fans of the first hour and it is a dream that is fulfilled for them, to be able to create their own sequel to the game of their childhood.
Since its announcement in August 2018, DotEmu, also the game’s publisher, has released numerous development videos. We learned many details such as the fact that the game is playable up to 4 players in cooperation, with 2 players online, that the developers went to look for many composers including those of the original episodes (Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima) and Hotline Miami to compose the soundtrack of the game. We also see the way they studied the old episodes to recover this rhythm of play, the impacts of the blows, so dear to the fans of the first hour. If you haven’t seen them yet, I recommend them, it’s very informative.
But is it really worth your attention and your time, foodstuffs so rare in our time?
10 years later
Axel, Blaze and Adam Hunter are featured in a sequel set 10 years after the events of Streets of Rage 3 (Bare Knuckle 3 in Japan). They have naturally aged physically, and are accompanied by 2 new characters in the franchise: Floyd and Cherry. On the menu, fights in the street in 12 different levels, to get rid of the new local underworld. For those unfamiliar with the genre, it’s about directing his character in multi-level shots, punching, kicking and using weapons, to fight armies of villains.
All this is done in a very cartoon atmosphere, a mixture between western and eastern style. No drop of blood will interrupt you. The handling is really nice. The impacts are well transcribed visually and auditoryly. 2 types of special moves are available to you in addition to the usual basic combo. The Special lets you launch a shot that consumes your health bar when you use it.
In exchange it is a coup with greater range and stronger properties. You can, however, recover the consummate health bar, which then appears green instead of yellow, by hitting enemies. A risk-taking mechanism to be rewarded with better moves. The second is the Star Move, it’s a devastating fury that can launch as many times as you have stored stars. You start each Continuous with a star, and you can recover some in the levels.
Each character has its characteristics: speed, power, special moves. It’s worth the cost of starting the game over with the different protagonists, especially since you unlock the Genesis versions of the characters, all in large pixels. It is possible to play in old levels, with old music, old pixelated persos and the old configuration of 3 buttons. The developers thought of everything.
Normally, 3D models of characters, (even if they appear as in 2D) are illuminated by different neon lights, spots, and lights in the environments you will travel through. It’s very pretty and it shows special attention to detail. And details, the whole game is teeming: the sets are sumptuous, the characters are very well animated, the music contains samples of old pieces of SEGA titles.
Many graphics options also exist on consoles and PCs, with the exception of the Windows 10 and Xbox One versions, which contain only two: Brightness and screen shake. Knowing that these 2 versions were worn by a different team, it is likely that the other options will appear in a future update.
Strangely, the online mode allows you to reach only one other person so, instead of 3. Its existence has been very little publicized. It is not very reliable at the moment. Lag and errors are to be denoted but no doubt that it will be corrected soon. Note that you will not be able to play with a friend who has the game on another platform.
If you are tired of the story/cooperation mode, there is also the anecdotal Arena mode, as at the time that allows you to face your friends, up to 4 players this time.
Each version has its advantage
- Xbox One and Windows 10 can be played directly in the Xbox Game Pass right now.
- Nintendo Switch can be played in portable mode.
- Steam PC can be played in Remote Play Together. Up to 4 players online simulating a local mode.
It’s up to you to choose what’s right for you
It’s hard to blame much for that. Available everywhere for a small price, Streets of Rage 4 has everything to become a must-see for sessions with friends, and to revive an interest in the beat’em all genre. Who knows, if the game is a big enough success, maybe the other developers will be inspired to make theirs.
Game provided by the publisher. Released on April 30, 2020.
Playable from 1 to 4 players locally.
Playable with 2 players online.