Remember the Axel Stone from the original Streets of Rage? Well, I wish I could say he has returned bigger and better than ever, but he has knocked on the door pretty much in the same shape as he was almost thirty years ago. To be very honest, this is the actual beauty of the latest Streets of Rage. It is as if some ninety’s kids grew up, playing Beat ‘em ups all their childhood, and one day they decided to pay a tribute to all they grew up on.
The first thing that you notice about the game is that it screams of the nineties. The developers have not done the tiniest efforts to bring some innovation to the game. You will jump into a typical Beat ‘em up battle and you will keep moving towards the right side of the game while throwing punches to your enemies. You will recognize similar localities and characters from the earlier versions of the game.
However, why would the developers have bothered with a new title if they were to produce something highly similar to the previous games? The game comes with better graphics. But there is a limit to the graphics improvement when you are considering a two-dimensional game. Though the graphics are still bright, and the minor details are visible on the screen. The characters seem to have been illustrated by the best 2D graphic designers in the country. You will see some interesting effects that catch the eye once you attack your enemy. There is nothing new to the blue flash that follows your leg up to the enemy’s face, but it has been refined over the years. The music, however, is kept completely retro, and there is still an option to make it even more retro according to your likings from the menu. The game still makes those mesmerizing old school sounds when you put your enemy to the grave with a few punches and kicks. The health bar too is from the older games, and they have placed it as it was once, over on your head and it does add to the coolness of the game. The number of hits that you throw at an enemy is also the same as the original Streets of Rage. Nothing could be more satisfying than watching those numbers go up and flash across your screen in that old school font as you beat ‘em up.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, the movements of the players are completely refined and they seem smoother than before. It’s not like any other Street Fighter movement, where the character would take a beating just because it went upwards when you wanted it to move sideways. However, you will still come across a few slower characters who will frustrate you a lot with their slower pace when you are trying to move out from the line of attack. A few new combos have also found their way into the game. There are a few ah-mazing combos that not only take down your enemies for good, but they also take their toll on your health. A bit of planning is required to use them, keeping in mind your health condition. It is not the ninety’s anymore where the game was all about punches, jumps, and kicks.
A major aspect of the game is its scoring system. Your score meter will keep building up as you progress through the levels and in the end, you will use your score to unlock new characters. Some retro characters are also available that give you more of an old school feeling if you’ve already not had enough of that.
If you fail a level, you will be given an option to replay the game from the same level at the expense your score. This here is a bit of a tradeoff. Another thing that I found frustrating was that your combo builds up as you land non-stop punches and other moves to the enemy, however, if you are interrupted by an enemy in the meanwhile, you will lose your streak and you will have to start from ground zero. This will become even more frustrating when you get closer to the boss fights. This is when there will be a swarm of enemies coming your way while interrupting your attacks every once in a while. There are different levels of difficulty available in the options if you are a newbie and need a little relief from the stream of enemies charging at you.
As far as the retro characters are concerned, it feels kind of weird fighting with those 16-bit species in a world of modern-day graphics, but hey, everyone to their own likes since not everyone is playing for a newer gaming experience. Some of them are only here to relive their glory days.
The game also comes equipped with a few co-op options. There are two kinds of multiplayer options available, the local co-op and the multiplayer co-op. With the multiplayer option, you can only play with one other friend of yours. While with the local co-op, you can have up to three other friends in the game. This, however, makes the screen a little too crowded and squeezes the fun out of it. The game would have felt incomplete without the co-op mode. It really does make you feel all nostalgic, from when you and your brother used to go up against the enemies, side by side with the blue and red flags pointing on either character with the tag of P1 and P2. The local co-op plays smoother than ever, though the one with the multiplayer did slow the game down a bit.
And what’s a game without its drawbacks? The developers haven’t realized it in the thirty years of developing Beat ‘em up games that how frustrating it is when you have missed a bonus by an inch and stepped a little further and then you can’t move back. This was frustrating back then, and this is frustrating now. This is something I won’t call a tribute to the classic era of gaming as this was a game’s drawback back then as well. Well, I am not trying to move back to my teenage years, but perhaps an inch to the bonus that I just missed. It won’t create a hell over at the developers if they gave us a little leeway over here.
The game is not made for the newer generation. They might not find their interests in controlling a 2D character up and down the screen. The game is specifically designed for the people who used to send that coin rolling down the arcade machine to spend a few more minutes in the action. Even with all the developments the game has seen, you will find one of your thumbs on the analog and the other on the square! The Beat ‘em up games have nearly lost their original character over the years, and it was a very bold step by the developers to bring one back in in this era of modern games.