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3D Streets of Rage (3DS) artwork

3D Streets of Rage (3DS) review

"Not even M2's efforts could salvage this game."


That was pretty much my reaction when I found out Streets of Rage made it into the Sega 3D Classics line. To a degree, I can understand why Altered Beast and Ecco the Dolphin made it into the list, but SoR's induction felt like an anomaly when its better sequel could've gained from the autostereoscopic treatment. And this is coming from a person who's not even fond of Streets of Rage 2! Then I remembered there's an interview, and it all made sense: a tight schedule combined with a straightforward beat'em up that could "easily" be reworked into 3D.

Don't get me wrong, I get why the first game was memorable when it came out on the Sega Genesis; with the Super Nintendo nabbing a watered-down port of Final Fight, the closest Genesis owners could cling onto was Sega's blatant "tribute" to the former title, complete with mohawk thugs, dominatrices with caps, and one protagonist that looks suspiciously like Cody. Though, giving credit where credit is due, Streets of Rage did have its own touches, like the simplistic realism of the character models that a lot of Sega games of that era incorporated, the distinctive club soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro, and the option to play co-op, the latter being a huge deal since the feature was omitted from the SNES version of Final Fight.

But when you actually view the game in the broad spectrum of the beat'em up genre, the quality releases that came before, and the sequels that came after, Streets of Rage is a really sloppy and extremely repetitive journey. Most beat'em ups are repetitive by nature, but SoR seems to bask in it, as if the dev team figured they could get away in doing so. Moving from left to right while beating up enemies is a design the genre is known for, but in nearly every other game, at least there's variation to go along with it: a diverse cast of opponents, branching paths, vertical scrolling, bonus segments, and even vehicle-controlled stages. This title, however, stubbornly sticks to the standard template in such a way that it runs out of fuel on the second of eight stages.

Streets of Rage's biggest problem is that you pretty much see everything it offers in the very first stage, from the small rogues gallery to the number of weapons you get to pick up. Each type of enemy have their own way of attacking, from throwers to knife-rushers to whip-wielders, but none are very quick or agile enough, so an easily-placed button mash can incapacitate them. From the second stage onwards, the additions are super sparse, and they're not even good ones at that; stage two introduces... torch-juggling clowns; stage four's bridge has small, avoidable pits; the factory in stage six features slow, giant press machines that you can phase through once they're down. The game doesn't even have the luxury of supplementing each stage with their own unique boss, so starting with stage five, you're already fighting past opponents as mid and end-stage bosses.

Suffice it to say, SoR was in drastic need of brevity, as certain stages simply could have been condensed and melded together as one. The inner city setting of the second stage, for example, is merely an extension of the first stage's city restaurants and shops, and the seventh stage's elevator ride up to the headquarters seriously could've been the first leg of the final stage. The factory level should have been scrapped altogether, especially since, as a latter stage, it holds next to no challenge with its rehashing of enemies. Just seems like they put it in due to Final Fight having a similar level. While all this editing won't make all the repetition disappear, it surely would have killed the unnecessary length. It's also very annoying that the final stage is basically a condensed gauntlet of the previous seven stages. It's almost as if everything the developers did beforehand just went over their own heads.

That's why I questioned its existence as a Sega 3D Classics inductee, and even after that was pretty much answered in the interview, I still view Streets of Rage as a trivial choice. Not to discredit M2's work on the port job, as the 3D effects are surprisingly well done in certain stages, adding depth in places I likely never gave a glance to in the original. It actually seems like I can peek into alleyways in the first stage, and the backdrop of the city during stage seven's elevator sequence no longer looks like some weird, pseudo painting, instead feeling like I'm staring off into the distance. They also give players the option to knock out enemies with one hit in Fists of Death mode, which is something I happily picked when I dreaded having to do a second playthrough of this port. Though, even as I plowed through goons at a faster rate, it's telling that the game is still very much repetitive.

I just hope Streets of Rage's throwaway inclusion wasn't for naught, as I'd hate to see this 3D series get canceled or abandoned before we get more solid entries, thus leaving us with masterpieces like this and Altered Beast. With any luck, M2's experience reconstructing a beat'em up title into 3D will surely lead to possible future titles like Streets of Rage 2 or, and this is probably wishing too much, something unexpected like The Revenge of Death Adder. I know that's a stretch, but let me dream...


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (January 27, 2014)

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