Streets of Rage 4 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

In the 16-bit era when I was a kid (well, a teen), I only had a Super Nintendo.  Back then, kids didn’t usually have both a SNES and a SEGA Genesis, you had one or the other.  So there were a lot of Genesis games I missed out on.  Most of the time I was OK with that, as the SNES offered more games for my tastes.  But there were a few times when a Genesis game caught my eye, and ones I didn’t even know about altogether!  The Streets of Rage series was one of those games.  I didn’t discover them until I played the second one on one of those early SEGA Genesis classic collections.  But once I did play it, I was blown away by the graphics, gameplay, and especially the music.  The secret to its success was that it was developed from the ground up to be best on a console, not like the other beat ‘em ups out there that were originally arcade quarter munchers.  After three games, the Streets of Rage series only stayed on the Genesis, until now.  FINALLY we get a sequel with Streets of Rage 4, available on current game consoles and PC (reviewed on PS4 here).  Does it live up to the legacy?  You’ll just have to read on to find out!

Streets of Rage 4 is set ten years after the last game.  Mr. X, the villain from the earlier titles, is gone, but in his place are his kids, the Y Twins who are set try to take over the city again.  So in Streets of Rage 5 are we going to go up against the Z triplets?  Anyway, one or two players can pick from several brawlers in this side scrolling classic style beat ‘em up.  You have mainstays like Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding, a guy with two robotic arms, a rock ‘n roll newcomer named Cherry, and many more hidden and unlockable ones, too!  All the characters are varied and fun to play as, so there is quite a bit of replay value here, especially since there are loads of secret characters and stages to discover.

One of the best parts of the game is the play control, which is very quick and snappy.  Jump with one button and punch and kick with another.  Combine these two buttons with joystick movements for more moves like jump kicks and such.  The triangle button will allow you to perform a special move that will take off a bit of your energy, but is useful if you’re in a pinch.  The circle button lets you pick up healing food items off the floor, as well as weapons you can use or throw.  These include familiar knives and pipes, as well as new ones like tasers and spears.  You can also pick up bonus money for points, as well as stars that let you do a near screen clearing special move when you press both the circle and triangle buttons together.  It’s very satisfying to defeat bad guys with such responsive controls.

While I do miss the original sprite-based graphics, the hand drawn artwork on the characters and backgrounds here are a treat to look at.  Both good and bad guys are cool and full of personality (Blaze is my favorite along with the lady police officer).  And the stages are just fun to look at.  Some highlights include an art museum, police station, and Chinatown.  My only disappointment with the game is the music.  Yeah they did get Yuzo Koshiro, the composer of the first three games to do some songs here, but they’re not as memorable to me for some reason.  But then, nothing beats the baseball stage theme from Streets of Rage 2!

Game modes include Story, where you play through the game’s dozen stages in progression and can set your difficulty level from easy to crazy hard.  After you beat that, you’ll unlock a few other modes as well.  Stage Select lets you pick any level, but you have to beat it first with only a couple of lives.  If that’s not challenging enough for you, you can try Arcade mode where you only get one credit to beat the whole game!  Beat all the bosses in a row in Boss Rush, and challenge a friend to a one on one brawl as well.  You can also unlock a really neat art gallery and the Options menu lets you even choose what food you pick up off the floor!

So is Streets of Rage 4 better than its predecessors?  Well, it’s hard to say, since I consider Streets of Rage 2 to be one of the best Genesis games ever made.  So that’s a tall order!  But aside from the music being slightly disappointing to me, I’d say it’s absolutely just as good as those classics, or at least darn near close!  Definitely a must-get game and a keeper if you enjoy classic styled 2-D beat ‘em ups.

Kid Factor:

Streets of Rage 4 is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Cartoon Violence, Mild Language, and Mild Suggestive Themes.  You do punch and kick all manner of bad guys, thugs, and even corrupt police officers, but there is no blood and the characters look like cartoons anyway.  I didn’t really notice any bad language, and the suggestive themes come from some of the skimpy outfits the female characters wear.  I played games like this all the time as a kid and teen, and I turned out OK.  Two player co-op makes it a great game to play with someone in your family as well, either couch co-op or online.

One Response to “Streets of Rage 4 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)”

  1. I’ve been playing this quite a bit, I agree on the music although I have not made the effort to switch to the old games soundtrack.
    I’ve been getting lots of laughs out of the achievement titles (XB1 version) the from the way bad guys are treating their subordinates. all the unlockables give something to aim for.
    Fully intended to purchase but have been playing it on Gamepass but that should change before the end of summer.

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