Streets of Rage 4 Review
The long dormant Streets of Rage series returns with fists-a-blazin’ (literally) in Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games’ Streets of Rage 4. Is this retro revival tastier than a trash can turkey, or should the series stay put in the 90s?
Streets of Rage 4 Review
The side-scrolling beat-em-up genre isn’t known for its compelling narratives, and Streets of Rage 4 is no exception. Axel, Blaze, Cherry, Floyd, and Adam are the good guys, and the Y Twins of the Y Syndicate are the bad guys with plans to control the minds of the city through sound waves. Story Mode throws in some brief snippets of story with subtle animations and bits of text, but it gets the job done and frames the action of Wood Oak City quite well.
Rather, Streets of Rage 4 lets players’ fists do the talking. With guitars, flaming kicks, and the infamous Grand Upper at their disposal, the thugs that line the piers, precincts, art galleries, tunnels, and other locales are all too eager to line up for a beatdown from the cast and crew of this title.
For those acquainted with the original entries, the action remains the same. Players progress from left to right, with an attack button, jump button, hold button for weapons, a special, and a get-out-of-jail Star Move at their disposal. There are a number of variations at play – one can jump attack, pull off blitz attacks, or even grab objects in motion like boomerangs and pipes. Grabs can come into play too, which can be used to vault, flip, and slam into oblivion. The main control scheme is fairly straightforward, but there is enough nuance with timing and variables to keep things fresh throughout.
The Special System especially stands out in Streets of Rage 4. These moves offer up an added edge, but cost a bit of health, which is marked as green on your meter. However, this meter can be earned back if enough damage is landed back on opponents. This puts a focus on the offensive, and also helps players prioritize who to go after. It often becomes a game where the ultimate goal is to lay waste to the tougher foes with these Special Moves and then seek out the lowly Galsia mooks to serve as makeshift punching bags – it’s an absolute thrill.
Just be warned that the game pulls no punches too. This is one title where it pays to bring a friend along – those flying solo will have to be absolute masters at crowd control. It can be downright unfair to deal with a throng of enemies that all bum rush the player at once, especially since moves can be interrupted by other foes that have been left to their own devices. Those that have yet to memorize each stage and its enemy placements will be at a distinct disadvantage. For better or worse, it’s old school roots show in these moments. While this is far from a deal breaker, it does add a bit of frustration for those going through their initial playthrough.
However, Streets of Rage 4 is a game meant to be played multiple times. Leaderboards and rankings are given at the end of each level, and those that needed assists will have their scores penalized. When a run goes well – with cleavers flying akimbo and whip-wielding dominatrixes mercilessly thrown into walls of spikes – all the memorization and skill makes everything worth it.
Of course, the Streets of Rage series has also made itself known through its audiovisual splendor, and the world of Streets of Rage 4 is no exception. Music pulls from both house and electronic, with influences from artists like RATATAT and Kavinsky shining through. Animation is fluid as well, ebbing and flowing amidst the chaos and adding incredible detail and life to its world.
The main game is a short one, neatly wrapped up in a few hours. However, an Arcade Mode and Boss Battle Mode can be unlocked, along with a Battle Mode for those looking to fight with a frenemy. Of course, Online Play is also an option.
Following up a series as renowned as Streets of Rage with a new entry is no small feat, but Streets of Rage 4 hits hard with its signature frantic action and stylish audiovisual presentation.