04th May2020

‘Streets of Rage 4’ Review

by Chris Cummings

I grew up playing Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2 on the SEGA Mega Drive. I loved those games. Classic side scrolling beat-em-ups that involved you walking the streets, accompanied by techno-8bit-retro music, and beating the crap out of a variety of enemies. Each stage would end with a different boss fight, with the difficulty increasing the further you progressed.

It was a tried and tested formula and the visuals, the sound, the slick gameplay and the characters made these titles into absolute classics that do still hold up today. It was only a month or so back that I sat and played Streets of Rage 2 again. I was, then, very excited and interested about the announcement of a fourth game in the franchise, some 26 years since Streets of Rage 3 arrived on the Mega Drive/Genesis back in 1994. Yikes. Time has flown.

As I settled down to play Streets of Rage 4 I was immediately taken back in time to an age where I sat on my bedroom floor, a can of Tab Coke at my side, a WWF Magazine by my feet, and the Mega Drive control pad in hand. The visuals  – from the team behind 2017’s gorgeous Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap remake – are updated and shiny, bringing a HD look to what was a vibrantly pixelated franchise. It works. The characters, such as old favourite Axel, look like they used to, just with way more detail, and perhaps a couple of hundred more muscles. The music is designed in the same way it always was, so this sounds just like the old titles. I love that they kept that in here, and with the wonderfully easy to pick up and play gameplay, it resembles those old games with enough differences to catch some attention to gamers who perhaps never experienced those classics. I mean… this plays like a dream, and I was mightily impressed from the start. Streets of Rage 4 feels just like Streets of Rage. That might sound silly, but there was some concern about whether it would. The characters are cool, with special moves and a slick combo-able move set. I’ve played as each character and bashed and brawled through 11 levels so far, and I’m having a blast.

Some boss fights are harder than others, and depending on which difficulty you choose, you may find yourself throwing your controller onto the couch and storming into the kitchen for a breather. I… I’ve heard about someone doing that. Still, Streets of Rage 4 exciting to play, full of new and classic enemies to wallop around, stages that look familiar and others that are totally new, and don’t forget all that cash, turkey and weaponry laying around. I always loved picking up an iron bar and smashing one of those knife-wielding thugs in the face with it. That ability remains. Huzzah.

This really does tick the boxes for me. It’s better than I’d hoped and fills in that big desire for street brawling nostalgia I was looking for. If you’re a fan of those classic games then you should really check this out, and if you’ve never played a Streets of Rage title before, then this is a top notch place to begin. Hell… there are even some flashback surprises to be found in here sometimes. A big deliciously violent retro punch in the balls, Streets of Rage 4 kicks it out of the park and bounces it off the heads of its fallen foes. Brilliant.

****½ 4.5/5

Streets of Rage 4 is available to download on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC now.


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