Streets of Rage 2 (Genesis) review
"Mr. X would never hide Adam somewhere normal! You've got to truly search high and low to find your missing buddy. THAT is why you discover that the baseball diamond is a massive hidden elevator leading to an underground hideout! It's there because Mr. X is just that damn clever, it has nothing to do with the game designers smoking too much crack!"
When Final Fight worked its way from the arcade to the SNES, gamers everywhere cried out "Where is GUY?!?!" Even though the game was loads of fun, mags ripped on it ("Where is GUY?!?!"), HardCore arcade gamers ripped on it ("Where is GUY?!?!"), and biased Genesis owners ripped on it ("Where is THE ORANGE DUDE?!?!").
That's nothing compared to the crap Sega pulled when they made Streets of Rage 2. Yeah, Mr. Blond-Hair-Blue-Eye Axel and the lovely cleavage-flaunting Miss Blaze returned, but Adam.... WHERE THE HELL IS ADAM?!?! And did anyone care that Adam was gone? Not even biased SNES owners ripped on Streets of Rage 2 for getting rid of the proud, powerful black behemoth from the first part!
Sure, Sega added in two new characters to join in the head-butting, knife-throwing, sidescrolling beat-em-up party, but do Skate (Adam's proud, roller-skating, pipsqueak brother) and MAX (the mega-behemoth whose foot is the size of a normal man's head) make up for it? Does doubling the size of the onscreen characters while still keeping the two-player simultaneous butt-kicking action make up for the lack of ADAM??
Well yes, it does. And so, the story of 'Rage 2 begins! ...in a rather bizarre manner.
"There can be only one villain!"
The crimelord who runs the city under his iron fist — perhaps you've heard of him, goes by the name Mr. X? — well, he didn't die at the end of 'Rage 1. Or rather, he died, but he was resurrected (yes, the cinematic intro says he was RESURRECTED!!). So now, Mr. X the Immortal must be dispatched again! But X-boy, oh, he's a sly one. He realized that it was ADAM's power that crushed him the first time around, so now he has kidnapped our yellow-clad hero and hidden him somewhere in the city! Now, not only must Axel and company bash, beat, and defeat Mr. X, but they have to find their friend Adam in the process...
"Maybe Adam is in the bar!"
After you walk left-to-right through the city streets pummeling gang members and knife-wielding punks, you'll bash your way into a rustic bar, complete with wooden floor, jukebox, and electric-whip-wielding dominatrix. Every good game needs sexy women! Kick, punch, piledrive, even perform a flaming uppercut or KoDouken — leave no table unturned, leave no chair unchecked! Smash them all if you ever hope to find Adam!
While I doubt you'll run across him in the bar (Adam never was a heavy drinker) you'll find plenty of bonuses hidden as you pummel your way through the joint: weapons (you know: pipes, swords, knives, the usual), coin bags, apples, gold bars, 1-Up's... just be careful that your partner in pain manning Controller #2 doesn't grab all the goodies away from you! Though, if he does, you can always walk up from behind and deliver an "accidental" shoulder throw across the screen...
"Maybe Adam is in the Arena of Death!"
There are tons of enemies to fight. Mega-huge barbarians who look like they walked out of Mad Max will try to bodyslam you in the Arena and, if that's not enough, you'll face pirates, baseball players, gang members, Jack O Knives, firebreathing fat men, robots, and of course NINJAS! There's always room for ninjas in a beat-em-up.
But the fun isn't just in who you fight, but in how you fight. Yeah, you've got your basic punch, kick, jumping kick, and so on. But if you hold down that attack button — even if you walk around in the meantime! — when you release it, you'll launch a "sudden attack". For example, Axel will throw out a massive kick to the chin that would make Shawn Michaels jealous. Grab someone from the front and you can throw them or knee them or headbutt them (or if you're MAX you can piledrive 'em). But one of the best fighting techniques is the "flip": unless you're the unathletic MAX, you can flip over an enemy and grab 'em from behind, pulling off brand-new assortments of throws and slams!
The variety in enemies and in ways to kill them makes for a fun trip that stays surprisingly fresh... which is good, because you have to keep at the game for quite a while to find your fallen friend!
"Maybe Adam is inside this giant plant!"
Some of the levels in Streets of Rage 2 are a bit... unusual. One level takes place underground, inside a giant plant. Not a power plant: a plant, one of those green things that sprout from the ground. Except that this one is really, really big. There are also shuriken-tossing ninjas leaping around inside the plant. No, this doesn't make a lick of sense, and the giant dragon that you get to beat up doesn't make much sense either.
But they're fun to fight! We've all seen "stroll through city streets and industrial zones beating up punks" time and time again, so what's wrong with a Giant Plant, or a Pirate Ship, or a Baseball Field every now and again? Besides... Mr. X would never hide Adam somewhere normal! You've got to truly search high and low to find your missing buddy. THAT is why you discover that the baseball diamond is a massive hidden elevator leading to an underground hideout! It's there because Mr. X is just that damn clever, it has nothing to do with the game designers smoking too much crack!
"Maybe Adam is in the parking lot!"
Watch the rain fall across the parking lot in torrents of graphical beauty! This game screams loud colors with bold blues (the park at night!), reds (Mr. X laid this carpet out for you!), and yellows (real gang members wear pastel!). The characters are large and detailed: spikes stick out of jackets, ruffians sleep on park benches, and the rain — oh yes, that unforgettable rain! The overall look is a bit low-res and the game certainly lacks the massive levels upon levels of parallax found in some other Genesis titles, but it's still a rare beat-em-up on ANY system that screams "I LOOK BETTER THAN THIS!"
Better than the good graphics is the great music — one of Yuzo Koshiro's best soundtracks ever. Ever heard of Mr. Koshiro? He worked on Actraiser, Revenge of Shinobi, Sonic the Hedgehog... in any case, the music is techno with a strong beat and well-composed melody. The only downpoint is that the tunes suffer from distortion (even on the non-SmashPack version). For fans of the original Streets of Rage, the ominous boss music is back in finer form than ever!
"Where the hell is Adam?"
If you want to fend off waves of graphically-enticing punks with a plethora of gut-busting methods, check out Streets of Rage 2. Everyone has their personal favorites, both in games and characters (ADAM ROCKED!!), but for the beat-em-up fan this simply cannot — no, it WILL not! — fail to deliver the goods.
And besides — only YOU and your mad gaming skillz can save Adam!!
Staff review by Zigfried (Date unavailable)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
If you enjoyed this Streets of Rage 2 review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!