Streets of Rage is one of my all time favorite side-scrolling beat ‘em up games. This is due to great characters, a killer soundtrack and classic action from start to finish. Known in Japan as Bare Knuckle, it was released by Sega in 1991 for the Sega Mega Drive. It is the first installment of the Streets of Rage series which was followed by Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3. The game was also converted over to Sega’s Game Gear, Mega-CD and Master System. In 2007, the game was released for the Wii’s Virtual Console in North America and Europe, and in 2009 it was released for the iPhone OS via the App Store. There was even a comic strip series based upon the games which appeared in Sonic the Comic. These three stories are based on Streets of Rage 2 and do not feature Adam. The game features an acclaimed soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro, which was released in the Japanese music market.
What was once a happy, peaceful, productive city, full of life and activity, has fallen into the hands of a secret criminal syndicate. The leader of the syndicate has somehow managed to keep his identity a secret. The organization soon absorbed the city government. They even had the police force in their clutches. Looting, random violence and destruction are rampant. No one is safe walking the streets, day or night…
As the chaos continued at full strength, three young police officers tried to establish a special attack unit. They were repeatedly turned down by their superiors, most of whom had been bought by the organization or were too afraid to make a stand. One day, when they could no longer stand by and watch their city being demolished, they quit the force!’
Adam Hunter, Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding decided to forgo their careers in legal law enforcement and put their lives on the line. They are without weapons, but each possesses great hand-to-hand combat abilities. Get ready to rumble folks.
Adam Hunter (left), an ex-cop and an accomplished boxer. He is noticeably slower but stronger than the other characters. This is Adam’s only appearance as a playable character in the Streets of Rage series (until the fan-based remakes), although he and his kid brother, Skate, figure largely into the plot of the sequels.
Axel Stone: An ex-cop and skilled martial artist. He is the most moderate of the three characters, as he is slightly slower but stronger than Blaze and faster yet slightly weaker than Adam. His only negative attribute is his weak jumping ability compared to the other characters. Along with Blaze, Axel features prominently in each game of the Streets of Rage series.
Blaze Fielding: An ex-cop and judo expert. She is somewhat weaker than the other characters but is the most agile of the three as she can jump the highest and move about more quickly. Her jump attacks have the longest range, and (because of her judo abilities) her throws and body slams have the highest damage. Along with Axel, she is playable in all three games of the series.
Back-Up Enforcer: He is not a playable character and is only seen during “special attack” and during the ending credits. The one good cop left on the force, he has secretly allied himself with the three player characters and so provides fire support to all three throughout the game and is summoned when the player is in tight situations, he clears the area with either a missile-launcher or heavy-duty machine gun.
The gameplay is simliar to that of Golden Axe which was released two years prior by Sega. Throughout the game enemies walk onto the screen from both sides as well as occasionally appearing from other locations. The player must defeat each opponent to progress through eight locations, known as rounds. With the exception of round 7, there is a boss battle at the end of every round with a disproportionately large enemy. Unlike its sequels, none of the enemies are named within the game (only in the Japanese version’s manual) and only the bosses have life gauges. As in contemporary games Double Dragon and Final Fight, weapons can be picked up, and these include bottles and drainpipes. In Streets of Rage, the special attack is assistance from a police car which will pull up at the level’s left and fire explosives, taking health from all enemies. The player is given one special attack per life or per level, with power-ups shaped like police cars giving another. In round 8, the special attack can’t be used.
Depending on whether the game is played as one-player or two-player co-op and the player accepts or rejects Mr. X’s offer to become his henchman, there is a possibility for an alternate ending where the player becomes the new head of the crime syndicate.
Streets of Rage was followed by two sequels: Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3. There were plans for two more games, one of which was developed by Core Design for the Sega Saturn, But Sega pulled the Streets of Rage name during development after a disagreement with Core about porting it to rival formats. The game was eventually released on the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 as Fighting Force.
I’d personally love to see a new HD Streets of Rage hit the scene in classic side scrolling style. There just happens to be a Streets of Rage 4 HD in development made using the popular OpenBoR engine. Produced by Zhang Qiang and Allan.Cylakes, the game showcases some impressive and unique hand-painted sprites, backgrounds and cutscene artworks, courtesy of the talented Huang Wentao and Xia Ji. The development team have gone to ground in an attempt to completely re-imagine the visual style of SOR in High Definition, and the result, as you can see from the screenshots here, is breathtaking. There is a lot of potential here, and it promises to be something very special indeed if the gameplay can match the quality of the visuals. A release was planned for PC and PSP, though it is unclear if and when this will finally happen. Things seem to have gone quiet on the development front for this fan game. In the meantime though, you can check out this playable demo, at least. Be sure and post up your thoughts on this nostalgic title and what your favorite levels or characters were.