Back in the 90s, there was one gaming franchise that Super Nintendo fans were desperate to be a part of; Streets of Rage. Unfortunately, the only way to be a part of it was to pick it up on the Sega Mega Drive and back then, most gamers could only afford one console. Things have changed, though. Fast forward to 2020 and we now have Streets of Rage 4 available on all home consoles, as well as on PC. In this review, we’ll be taking a look at the PC version.
The good news is, Streets of Rage 4 has kept the elements that made the old games so fun. It’s very much the case that it’s over the top, beat ‘em up fun. There are four characters to choose from at the begining, two of which should be familiar to seasoned veterans. Blaze makes a return, as does Axel, although both of them do look older as you’d expect. In terms of the new additions, the first is Floyd. Floyd actually reminded me a bit of The Terminator mixed RoboCop in terms of just how powerful he is. He’s a slow mover, but he can decimate anyone, or anything that gets in his way.
Cherry is also available and can be likened to Zero Suit Samus from Smash Bros. She’s very light on her feet, and therefore extremely nimble. In comparison to Floyd though, she’s just not as strong. In addition to this, there are other characters that can be unlocked as the Story progresses. To unlock them, you need to get enough points during the Story mode. There are also 16-bit skins available for Axel and Blaze which is a nice touch. In terms of completion time, each play through can be done in 3 hours or so, depending on your skill level.
On the face of it, the game is simple; batter anything that moves until it no longer poses a threat. That’s certainly one way to get through the game. However, by being methodical and stringing together combos it makes the game so much more enjoyable. Certainly when it comes to the higher difficulty settings this is something you’ll need to do. At the higher end, it can get really tough, and it won’t be the first time that you’ll need to get additional lives in order to progress through the game.
Of course, using a special move that builds up over time is a great way to dispatch as many crooks as possible in the shortest time frame. In a nice touch, it’s easy to see just how well you’re perofmring in terms of combos thanks to a massive display appearing in the left hand side of the screen. The greater this is, the greater the points at the end of the level.
At the end of each stage, you’ll be awarded points on how quickly you bashed through the stage, as well as how many hits you got in and how many of these were tied to a combo. That in itself does add a lot of replayability to the game as a whole, especially when you find a character that you really excel with.
For those that are finding it a challenge, it is also possible to bring in three friends in local multiplayer in order to get you through the tricky parts. It can be frustrating at times, but learning the right combos and selecting the character you work best with really is the best way forward. Of course, when it comes to the co-op mode, you’re also at the mercy of the skills of your mates which can be a bit hit and miss!
Visuals and Music
The visuals are something which is going to be the biggest change to those that grew up with the series. The pixel art is out, and instead it looks more like a comic book. This isn’t a bad thing at all, quite the opposite. Whilst the pixel art look of older games holds up really well when scaled up to 1080p, moving towards a comic book aesthetic is much, much better. The animations on show here are fantastic, as are the special effects. Overall, it just feels more modern and fresh, instead of simply taking the older looking content and upscaling it.
What is really interesting is when the 16-bit skins are overlaid onto the modern aesthetic. It shouldn’t work at all, but it looks bloody beautiful. It just feels right.
Likewise, the music is a charming addition to the new visuals. It’s retro with a modern twist. Each punch and kick also has an extremely satisfying thwack each time you make contact with an enemy which adds to the overall charm of the game. The sound aspect is something which some people overlook when it comes to playing the game, but in Streets of Rage 4, it adds to the overall level of immersion that you get when it comes to playing the game.
Streets of Rage 4 is available now on the digital shop fronts of your consoles, as well as being available on Steam.
Game title: Streets of Rage 4
Sound and Visuals
Streets of Rage 4 is a brilliant game, and is a welcome return to form for the iconic franchise. There is a lot to unlock in it, and with the ability to play with friends, it brings back the glory days of playing SOR back in the 90s. Highly recommended.
A fantastic return to a brilliant franchise
Initial length may be a bit short for some players
Can get extremely tricky at higher difficulty levels