#68, August 18th 2020
Four heros make a stand for friendship and peace in Streets of Rage 2 in an effort to rescue Eddies brother, Adam who has gone missing. The games playable characters range from a slow but devastating Max down to the fast and agile Skate. Returning characters to the series fall somewhere in the middle in terms of stats, Axel & Blaze. The attack inputs on the Genesis controller are very straight forward, which can pull off a variety of combos depending on the amount of times you hit it as well as speed is your main attack. Unlike fighting games that require you to master multiple inputs, Streets of Rage 2 has only a select few combos that make its tough combat fair for newcomers like myself to the genre to play.
Streets of Rage 2 will throw every thug and the kitchen sink at you to stop you in your path to defeat the main villain Mr. X. Sub bosses that you meet early on in the game will be thrown in with normal enemies soon after and as the game progresses the variety and amount of previous sub bosses will litter the screen forcing you to quickly dispatch enemies or face an impossible crowd. Enemies start with standard punches and progress to knife attacks, electrics whips, regular and kick boxers, wrestlers and kung fu masters. Since these attack patterns have different lengths, prioritizing which to dispatch first for crowd control is a must.
Boss fights are tense, the easier the boss typically the more normal enemies will enter the screen. Most can easily be taken down once perfecting the rhythm of stun attacks with B. The final Boss Mr. X is a fun finale pitting you against a machine gun raging maniac.
The main composer of Streets of Rage 2, Yuzu Koshiro presents an excellent soundtrack that is a mix of electronic dance music. Hailed as one of the greatest composers of the chiptune era, Koshiro tunes reflect the environments of each area perfectly as well as giving the player boost to beat down any enemy the game decides to throw at you. Some other notable games Koshiro has worked on under his company Ancient include Streets of Rage 3, Beyond Oasis and Shenmue.
If you are coming at it from a perspective of playing it from the first time in 2020 like I am or at a later date and want action, this game delivers. The game is broken up into 8 stages, each around similar length. The story is light, but for a beat-em-up game from 1992 the main focus is the action and not stopping the flow by giving you cutscenes littered with text. Each stage location changes the location to keep the graphics interesting. You will make your way through a variety of locations including Downtown, Amusement Park, Stadium, Ship and finally fighting your way to the top of the Syndicate building. The enemies for the most part keep the same designs throughout the entire game and do not reflect the environments, the only distinguishable character is a side boss you fill fight once in the jungle that does not appear at any other point in the game.
In regards to content, the game took me around 3 hours to finish with one character. With multiple other characters and movesets this game easily has enough replay value that makes you want to return to the action to see if you can beat the game with someone faster or slower. The length of the game is perfect in my opinion, it’s easily beatable in one play session while not overstaying its welcome. Being the first side scrolling beat-em-up I have ever played, this game has a huge lasting appeal for me and has got me interested in future Streets of Rage games as well as other games in this genre including River City Ransom, Double Dragon and others in the fantasy realms such as Golden Axe.