We are back again to the streets to clean them up in Streets of Rage 4! It was the early 90s when I first played Streets of Rage on the SEGA Mega Drive and I remember the first time getting to choose your character Adam, Alex, or Blaze. Each character had their own unique style of fighting and of course their own special move. The special moves they had was in the form of backup from a squad car that would see the driver jump out and fire of a rocket that would devastate anyone in its path. I also remember the twist at the end of the first game where you were given a choice, be the hero or the next kingpin.
Fast forward to 2020 and DotEmu/Lizardcube is now at the helm of the latest iteration of Streets of Rage. It has been ten years since we defeated Mr. X and his Syndicate and everything is peaceful, but as always on the streets, peace never lasts. A new crime boss has emerged, the Y Twins, who just happen to be the offspring of Mr. X himself. We start the game and we get to choose between Alex Stone and Blaze Fielding (both original characters), and newcomers Cherry Hunter and Floyd Iraia, with Cherry being the daughter of Adam Hunter from the original series.
Once you have chosen your hero, it is time to hit the streets and clean up the city. I chose Alex Stone and as you can see, the guy has aged a bit and is a lot beefier that before. However, Alex can still dish out some pain and has combined all his moves that he has learned over the years with some new ones thrown in for good measure. Alex has all his usual punches and kicks, with his special powers he acquired in SoR2 where he can do a flurry of fast punches that leads him to do a Ryu style of jump punch (Shoryuken). If your character can pick up gold stars that are located throughout the levels, you will get a chance to activate their STAR MOVE. The screen goes dark and unleash some holy hell on your enemies, but its best to keep these moves during boss fights if you can.
In the previous games these specials would normal eat away at your health as was always risky to pull off. However, with Streets of Rage 4, if you get a green health bar added to your main health. This only happens if you can manage to successfully get hits on enemies without receiving any damage yourself. There is a risk versus reward factor to consider while you play, and I like it. I will definitely be jumping back in to check everyone else powers during my multiple playthroughs!
The controls and gameplay physics are spot on and you would think that you are still playing the original games that we played on the SEGA Mega Drive. How the characters move, fight and jump, all gives you flashback moments as if there was never a skip in time to the previous games. Each of the boss fights that you encounter are well thought out and drop a nod in to the originals as well. There is one such boss that you meet, well there is more but I won’t ruin it, but one you meet is Estel near the start. As you fight her, she calls in back up which is a squad car that the driver then jumps out and fires of a rocket launcher. This is a nod back to the original Streets of Rage where our special move was a squad car coming in and wasting the screen full of enemies with a rocket launcher. It’s a nice nod and there is a few in the game that you will spot as your playthrough.
The story you play through only takes a couple of hours and nothing major in terms of time and you could complete it easily enough. The difficulty of the game really ramps up if you have it on the harder levels and really provide a great challenge to the most hardened gamers. As you progress you will also unlock characters that you can later play like Adam Hunter, an original character from the original games. On completion of the main game, you will unlock Boss Rush Mode. This mode allows you to go back replay all the boss battles in quick succession. It will be a test of your skills as there is no save option on this mode, a non-stop brawl, can you survive until the end? Also, like in previous games, Streets of Rage 4 lets you have up to 4 players locally., but you can only have 2 player co-op online and team up with other fans of the game and hit the streets and deal out some pain together.
When it comes to the graphics of the game, Streets of Rage 4 backdrops and animations of the characters in the game drops a nod to the previous titles and each of the characters and enemies are instantly recognisable. The bright neon lights of bars, shops and clubs, the characters and their over the top outfits and the boss levels themselves. The game has been improved visually by given a comic book art style, and shows off some really cool water reflections. The comic book style even moves across to tell the story in the cutscenes and looks like a storyboard of sorts.
The games soundtrack is still the same cool instrumental of tracks with a blend of electronic thumping beats. The levels on offer has their own tracks just like each boss fight gets their own signature track and it really gives off the same feels as the original games from the 90s.
The teams at Lizardcube/Dotemu have done an amazing job in bringing the Streets of Rage to a newer audience, while giving us older gamers a chance to reminisce about one of our favourite childhood games. Visually the game looks like something out of a comic book and the soundtrack jolts your memories of the 90s gaming trends, which is always a plus. With the added Boss Rush mode and the online co-op options, you will be jumping back in this game for quite some time. My only gripe is the online play, as I feel it should have been 4 player, but this something that could be implemented in a future game.
GoG Rating: 9/10