You may hate to hear this, but it has been 26 years since Streets of Rage 3 hit the shelves, but behold! We are finally getting a proper sequel to the fantastic series in the form of Streets of Rage 4, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint. This is a game that you can just sit back, have a good time, and do it by yourself or with someone nearby… or online! It is an entry fans have been waiting ages for, but here at SwitchWatch.co.uk, we are here to let you know one major thing; Is this game worth your hard-earned cash, or is this a nostalgia trip that needs to stay in the history books? Let’s find out!
Streets of Rage 4 follows the all-too-familiar formula that oldschool gamers will remember. It is a trip down memory lane, but it is done so in a way that will help newcomers to enjoy the experience whether they have played the originals or not.
The story takes place 10 years after the events of the previous game, where Mr. X and his Syndicates fell victim to Axel and Blaze. This time, Mr. X’s children, known as the Y Twins, have formed their own organization and are causing havoc throughout the city. It is up to Axel and Blaze to return to action many years later alongside a couple newcomers to stop this new problem and bring peace once again to Wood Oak City.
I found the story of Streets of Rage 4 to be the perfect kind of nostalgia. The kind where you are both drawn into the days of old and the days to come. The way they connected to previous events and characters is an awesome throwback, but the way they make it easy for anyone to understand is worthy of praise itself.
Sure, the story of Streets of Rage 4 is nothing of note. It is the simple case of good versus evil and the heroes saving the day, but when it comes to a classic-style beat-em-up, this is exactly the type of story you want and Streets of Rage 4 delivers.
As said, Streets of Rage 4 is a beat-em-up, and the series is renowned as one of the best in the genre. Thankfully, this new entry to the series is just as good as its predecessors, possibly even better in some ways.
Right off the bat, you are able to choose one of four characters; Axel, Blaze, Cherry, or Floyd. As you progress in Story Mode, you will unlock one more main character, Adam, which rounds your options to five, but you can also unlock bit-versions of the characters through normal gameplay. The cast are all fantastic, and the developers did a wonderful job making each character feel unique, strong, and vulnerable in their own way.
I first played through as Cherry, since she looked like a fun character, and wow! I was blown away by all the things she was able to do. She is fast, can turn on a dime, and can fly across the screen with some sick strikes. On the contrary, someone like Axel, who has clearly aged in this game, is significantly slower and more methodical. Playing as both Axel and Blaze feels a lot like playing their original characters from the old games, while Cherry and Floyd are basically what the future can look like for the franchise. It was awesome to see these differing fighting styles on screen, especially in playing co-op mode and working together to compliment these differences.
A lot of the old moves are back and are still just as fun to do now as they were before. You have your standard attacks, jump and jump attack, and specials that drain your health (Although this ability is absent for the bit-version characters). There are also a slew of items to use as weapons, including a lot of new ones that make their first appearance in the series. And of course, those delicious braised chickens (Or you can choose something else, like salad, if you are not a fan of meat) are everywhere to replenish your health.
New to the series are special combat abilities called Star Moves that each character is able to perform once they collect a star icon in the stage. This is an incredibly powerful attack that is not only cool to pull off but stellar to watch.
The Story Mode has 12 missions, and there are five different difficulties you can enjoy the game on; Easy, Normal, Hard, Hardest, Mania. I am not sure how Mania can be harder than Hardest, but that is what they decided to do.
Each mission can be cleared in under 10 minutes, which is standard protocol for beat-em-ups. I found the pace of each stage and the number of enemies used were really well done within each difficulty, and the bosses are all really cool, varied, and tons of fun to play against. I especially loved some of the later boss fights and how they mixed things up. The grading system in Streets of Rage 4 is also greatly implemented and gives you a sense of how well you did and what you need to work on in order to improve your gameplay.
Like the previous entries in the series, clearing the Story Mode does not take very long at all, but that is not where the game ends. Upon finishing Story Mode for the first time, you will unlock Stage Select, Arcade, Boss Rush, and Battle. This is where things really open up and get a lot more fun.
Stage Select simply lets you go back to each stage and try to improve your scores individually. Arcade is a classic challenge that gives you ONE CREDIT to finish the whole story in one go. Boss Rush pins you against all of the bosses in a row, which is basically playing the game without the grunts and minions. And finally, Battle mode, which is essentially a 2-4 player brawl against friends or randoms. Every single one of these modes, including Story, can be played in couch co-op for up to 4 players or online for 2 player action.
The multiplayer is simply top-notch. I found every mode to be significantly better with a friend, and I particularly love the couch co-op. But be warned, friendly fire cannot be turned off, so you need to be careful with your teammates… or not, if you enjoy that kind of thing. The Battle mode is a lot of fun, too, and a great addition to the series. It will not have any lasting appeal, but it is nice that it is included and does add more value to the game.
Leaderboards also surprisingly have made their way into just about every mode, which is fantastic news for scoreboard attackers. Local and online leaderboards are supported, which allows you to compete with both friends and family locally as well as anyone and everyone online. Although this is not something that excites me personally, it is still awesome to see that leaderboards are getting prioritized in 2020.
The music in Streets of Rage 4 is brilliant. The soundtrack for the game is composed by an all-star team from both Japan and the West. Each track delivers, and everywhere from the menu to the stages to the character select screen are just bumping with great tunes.
The sounds throughout the game are also wonderful. Whether it is getting hit with a steel pipe, a barrel exploding, or just the fun sounds some mini-bosses make, the game is just oozing personality and nostalgia.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
As good as the gameplay and music are, I have to give top praise to the animation team. The visuals are absolutely breath-taking. Each character sprite alone is gorgeous, but when you take into consideration the backgrounds and special attack animations, what you see is one of the prettiest and most fluid-looking games on the market. Since the team who animated Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap was behind this, I should expect nothing less.
Another really cool addition that has become standard in remakes, long-awaited sequels, and collections is a gallery, which includes artwork from the game that contains characters, backgrounds, and concepts early in development. It is really cool to check out, especially if you are a fan of the series or love to check out hand drawn art work.
Considering how beautiful the game looks and how awesome the animation is, I was pleasantly surprised to experience no technical problems whatsoever. Streets of Rage 4 ran like a dream.
Streets of Rage 4 is a bit hefty of a price at $24.99, but all things considered, you are getting a pretty game that is tons of fun and has a whole lot of replay value. If you are playing alone, clearing the game with all 5 characters and on each difficulty will take you a long time. Not only that, but the ability to play co-op both locally and online for up to 4 players is a strong selling point in and of itself.
Thanks to leaderboards and Battle mode, too, there is just a lot of reason to come back and continue playing. Streets of Rage 4 is the total package for fans of beat-em-ups, and it is a bargain for any fan of the series.
Story - 8/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Audio - 9/10
Visuals & Performance - 10/10
Value - 9/10
Streets of Rage 4 is the reboot the series desperately needed. It looks amazing, the soundtrack is stellar, and it is fun to play whether you are alone or playing cooperatively with friends. Let’s hope sales for this are stellar, because we could use some more Streets of Rage in our lives.
- Classic and new gameplay
- Beautiful animations
- Price may be intimidating for new players