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RetroReview: Streets of Rage (1991)

Streets of Rage is your typical side scrolling action beat 'em up that was the Sega Genesis' answer to Double Dragon.  Just like Double Dragon the game has you moving left to right and kicking the crap out of anything that gets in your way.  Unlike Double Dragon you do have three different characters to choose from.  Also these three character are rating in three different categories; Strength, Speed and Jumping.  It doesn't matter what character you choose as they are really play the same.

Streets of Rage is great fun going solo but add a friend and it is a whole different game. Not only can two players handle the numerous enemy attackers more effectively, but you can work together and do some really great combo moves using both players if your timing is correct. Speaking of moves, Sega originally advertised the game as having dozens of moves that the player can learn to pull off, but Streets of Rage is really a lot simpler than they made it sound.  If you find the situation is becoming hairy then you can use a Special Attack where a police car pulls up behind you and launches missiles at your enemies.

Graphic wise, Streets of Rage is very "neon" looking.  If I didn't know better I would swear that Joel Schumacher directed this game!  The characters are smaller than those in Final Fight but are well drawn for a Genesis game and there is no slowdown even when the screen gets filled with enemies.  Unless you hate "neon" then you shouldn't hate the graphics at all!

A really big surprise is the music, it is actually good.  Even thought the Genesis probably had the worst sound chip in the 16-bit era Yuzo Koshiro somehow was able to create some absolutely brilliant tracks for the game.  For those of you who don't know, Yuzo Koshiro also did music for Y's, Actraiser and Shenmue.  If you are a fan of his you will want this game for your collection.

Like any game in the genre though you will find that Streets of Rage will become repetitive as you progress in the game. I also found the difficulty wasn't balanced correctly as you will soar through the level only to find your ass being handed to you repeatedly during boss encounters. Save those Special Attacks for bosses!

Overall Streets of Rage is a very good side scrolling fighter and holds it's own against the arcade boys like Double Dragon and Final Fight.  And if that isn't enough goodness for you then check out it's two sequels!

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