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Streets of Rage (Genesis) artwork

Streets of Rage (Genesis) review

"Back when I was a youngster, I looked forward to the one week of the year my rural community held its county fair for one reason and one reason only. For those seven or so days, I lived only a couple of miles from a working Final Fight arcade machine. "

Back when I was a youngster, I looked forward to the one week of the year my rural community held its county fair for one reason and one reason only. For those seven or so days, I lived only a couple of miles from a working Final Fight arcade machine.

Each day of the fair, Iíd pump quarter after quarter into that contraption, gleefully pounding my olí buddies ďDugĒ and ďBredĒ into pulp as I strolled from slums to subways to other parts of a fictional city. That Capcom coin-eater provided a slew of pleasant memories ó ones that Iím still trying to fully relive.

The SNES port of Final Fight made an admirable effort, but fell short due to the limits of the timeís technology, while the second game in the series came a bit closer (as for the third....well, Iíll just quit while Iím ahead). Other brawlers on that system ranged from solid (Pirates of Dark Water) to abysmal (Rival Turf), but none captured the essence of that arcade gem from my past.

So, I moved on to the Sega Genesis in an attempt to find something Iíd missed out on with the SNES. Streets of Rage seemed to be the Genesis alternative to Final Fight ó at least thatís what I initially thought. Sadly, it turned out to be just another failure. Thanks to a strong conclusion, it was not a failure on the same level as, say, Rival Turf, but definitely not what I was hoping for.

You (and a buddy, if applicable) can take your pick of three heroic types, all of which seem to play about the same. Yeah, there are some minor differences between each one, but these folks are far more evenly-matched in all-around ability than Haggar and Guy were. They also have a limited-use special attack that seems more of a joke than anything. If you find yourself under too much duress, the click of a button will send in a police car that will fire sufficient artillery in your direction to kill most normal foes and give bosses something to think about. It kind of makes me wonder if my presence was even necessary when the cops have that sort of firepower at their disposal.

Then again, that does give you something to think about as you go through eight levels whaling on generic thugs before finally putting your fists to the face of Mr. X, whose style of attack reminded me a bit too much of Final Fightís final fight. These foes go without names (at least on the screen) and only bosses are even allowed to have visible life meters. And most of them are pretty short, blocky and non-detailed ó a far cry from the large, well-drawn foes of Final Fight.

All of which likely would mean nothing if this game played like a dream. Sadly, the play control and hit detection both seemed a bit lacking for my tastes. I found my character to at times be a bit slow to react to my button jabs, causing me to take a few unnecessary hits and making me look completely impotent in one particular boss encounter. At the end of the fifth level (and right before Mr. X, as well), you get locked into confrontation with a tag team of nimble babes. While this sort of thing would normally be a dream come true, here it was a nightmare. Those girls proved capable of executing a non-stop series of jumps, kicks and throws while my character stumbled around gawking like a drunk at the nudie bar, hoping to successfully penetrate their defenses and get his hands on their nubile flesh....I mean, defeat them. Yeah.

Of course, itís not like many of the other boss fights were that fun, as success sometimes seems to be determined more by you being in the right place at the right time than by any actual fighting skill on your part. Look at the fire-breathing fat guy, for example. At first he seems impossible to topple, as he emits a gout of flame as you approach him and stampedes toward you with devastating results. If you position your character just right, you can run right by him, turn around and send him straight to intensive care. But, if you havenít figured out where to stand, heíll either run over you or scorch you. Every single time.

Sadly, those bosses arenít so bad in comparison to their lackluster array of subordinates. As you progress through the gameís eight levels, youíll encounter countless numbers of slack-jawed thugs that often prefer gliding around and waiting for you to make the first move ó and then clocking you with a deceptively quick punch when you lurch within their range. Other foes include jacket-wearing doofuses that start out as utterly pathetic, but eventually gain a wicked throwing attack in latter levels; as well as whip-using chicks, martial artists and jugglers. Streets of Rage doesnít have a large gallery of foes, with each thug merely getting recycled three or four times with a slight wardrobe change (differently-colored threads) each time.

Really, if it wasnít for the super-fast action of a couple of the latter levels, this game would be a complete flop. Fortunately, as you near Mr. X, the challenges that await you are enough to pull this game up to at least mediocrity. Much like my beloved arcade Final Fight, youíll be opposed by hordes of foes at once, and also like Final Fight, they work together to really make things tough for you. Youíll be socking it to a pair of street thugs and suddenly: THWAPP!, you just got taken down by the whip of a gutterslut standing just outside the range of your fists of fury. So, you stumble to your feet and decide to go Ike Turner on her....only to get tossed to the ground by some pansy wearing a lime-green jacket.

So, you get a bit miffed at all the butt-kickings being handed to you and stab the special attack button to call the cops out to eradicate all living foes. Which is all well and good, except now you no longer have that option for future battles and GUESS WHAT? Within seconds, the next wave of foes will emerge, surround you and pepper you with another barrage of attacks. Now thatís the kind of action I like in my brawlers!

Sadly, I had to wait a bit too long to really experience that sort of fun play and the time I had waiting to get there ranged from boring to frustrating and back again. Controlling bland heroes to fight hordes of the same tiny handful of enemies over a series of generic stages just isnít the kind of action I like in my brawlers. While Streets of Rage made a valiant attempt to redeem itself in the final couple of stages, to me, it still falls a good distance short of the sterling standard set by Final Fight.

overdrive's avatar
Community review by overdrive (June 15, 2005)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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