Tuesday, January 22, 2019
The Mean Streets
The franchise starter was, at the time of its release, fairly unique when compared to the rest of the Genesis library of games. That said, much of the DNA found in Streets of Rage can be traced back to other games in the genre, namely Final Fight and Double Dragon. Even the screen-wide AOE special attacks seen in Golden Axe worked their way into the gameplay. Additionally, another nod to this fantasy beat'em up predecessor comes in the form of some enemy types (especially bosses) towering over the player characters. Either Mr. X is ten feet tall like the Death Adder or Blaze, Axel and Adam are all midgets. One thing that helped Streets of Rage stand apart from other beat'em ups was its excellent soundtrack. Even the sequels never quite matched it in terms of quality.
The last entry in the Streets of Rage series is a bit of an oddball. The plot of the games had been pretty silly up to that point, but the replacing-people-with-robots throughline of the third installment feels specifically like a jumped-the-shark moment. Gameplay-wise there are some improvements to the formula such as the ability to dash left and right or roll up and down with a quick double tap on the D-pad. Powerful melee attacks can be used without health loss this time around provided the player lets a special energy bar refill between uses. In theory this sounds like a good thing except for the fact that some bosses are reworked to pretty much force the constant use of special attacks in order to be defeated.