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Streets of Rage (Sega Master System) artwork

Streets of Rage (Sega Master System) review

"I felt that it was tedious and uninspired"

Sega Takes to the Streets on the Master System
There were three series that were the "poster boys" of the Golden Age of beat 'em ups...Double Dragon, Final Fight, and Streets of Rage. Streets of Rage was originally created for the Sega Genesis in 1991, became wildly popular, and, two years later in Europe and South America, was downported to the Sega Master System (SMS). The SMS port lost some features, most importantly lacking 2-player capabilities and only allowing 2 enemies on screen at one time (along with the expected downgrade in graphics and sound). Even so, the downport still delivers an impressive beat 'em up experience for 8-bit gamers.

Streets of Rage (Sega Master System) image

Solo the Syndicate
Streets of Rage for the SMS gives gamers pretty much everything you can expect from an 8-bit beat 'em up. You can play as one of the three heroes: Adam Hunter, Axel Stone, or Blaze Fielding. They all have similar movesets but with minor variations to set them apart, such as being faster or more powerful, and having their own animations. This is great since you will get a slightly different experience depending on the character you play. The downside to that is that your experience will only differ slightly. Unfortunately, the characters don't really feel too distinct from one another. Regardless, no matter who you play you will be able to mash out a basic combo, jump kick, use weapons, or throw among a couple other things. Your moves do add a decent amount of variety to how you beat 'em up, especially in an 8-bit game, but, honestly, pretty much everything offered is par for the course...standard and expected in any competent beat 'em up. Another cool thing is that the environments offer a degree of interaction, with some breakables along with some pits to fall into (or throw enemies into). I should also mention that Streets of Rage also looks and sounds pretty good, surprisingly not suffering from any slow down or flickering.

While it does feature much of what was expected from a beat 'em up game, it is missing perhaps the most important component, multiplayer. It may be pretty cool to choose from one of the three heroes, but it would have been an absolute blast to be able to choose from two of the three heroes with a buddy! Another issue with the game is that it only allows for one enemy type at a time on the screen. You will generally be fighting two bad guys at a time, but they will both be the same, having the same attacks and attack patterns. This makes the game feel pretty stale, especially in the later levels when some of the enemy types can be really tedious to fight. The worst is the whipping girl, Nora, who will crouch and become unhittable after behind hit once in later stages. If they had mixed enemy types this really wouldn't be as much of an issue since you would encounter a lot of different mixes of enemies. However, as it is, you'll really feel like you are just playing through a lot of the same, uninspired, gameplay. Additionally, the game is pretty lengthy, consisting of 8 levels ...which isn't generally a bad thing...however, the fact that you are just faceplanting your way through an unchanging horde of baddies gets dull, fast, and being a long game does not help that. There are also some minor issues worth mentioning. You can use a "special" once a level (or life), but it requires you to pause the game...and with the pause button located on the console, you may just forgo using it. Another issue is that the hit boxes seem to be a bit off, but it works in your advantage because your basic attacks have a TON of reach, almost like you have a weapon.

Streets of Rage (Sega Master System) image

Long, Lonely Road to Justice
I honestly never played Streets of Rage on the Sega Genesis, so this was my introduction to the series. I was unimpressed. While this game does stand out among the sparse library of beat 'em ups on the SMS, that doesn't necessarily mean that it stands out as a game. To me, I felt that it was tedious and uninspired, however, the core of that lies on the fact that it is long and there is no 2-player option. If that option was allowed in, my opinion would immediately be reversed...but that is not the case, so I didn't get a ton of enjoyment out of the game. For sure though, any beat 'em up fan should pick up and try this game. It offers a solid core experience, and perhaps the best single player experience on the SMS for a beat 'em up with different selectable characters, a varied array of moves, and mobs upon mobs of baddies to beat. For the rest of retro gamers, I'd recommend trying it if anything about it appeals to you, but, if not, you probably won't regret missing out.

Streets of Rage is a 3 / 5, for giving a solid core beat 'em up experience, but feeling a bit monotonous and really suffering from lacking 2-player capabilities.


Never3ndr's avatar
Community review by Never3ndr (December 05, 2015)

Retro-Gaming Enthusiast!

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