Streets of Rage 4 has been canceled twice. During the Dreamcast era, a global restart was quietly canceled at the prototype stage.
In recent years, Sega has been more than ever interested in reviving their classic IPs (especially after the success of Sonic Mania), and Lizardcube had the perfect trump card in its hands – an exemplary remake of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap.
The same can be said for Streets of Rage 4 – this is an amazing game by the fans and for the fans. We recently revisited the history of the series, and now we are talking in detail about how Lizardcube and Dotemu managed to resurrect the classic Streets of Rage.
City of a thousand lights
The worst thing that could happen to a sequel is a complete, or even partial loss of the old atmosphere. The success of the original game was largely based on a unique aesthetic: a symbiosis of picturesque views of night metropolises (an architectural hybrid of a Japanese and American city) with gangster slums, as if descended from the cult film The Warriors.
Any Streets of Rage caught the game of contrasts. Here the player is fighting in dirty alleys, and at the next level he is transferred to the beach or a cruise ship. In the background, a sunset, skyscrapers, neon signs or flickering lights of a night city will surely flash. Of course, there was a slight skew in the direction of science fiction and cyberpunk in the sequels, but this did not spoil the old formula.
Fortunately, in SOR4 the spirit of the series is carefully preserved. And this despite the fact that all sprites and backgrounds are drawn in the style of comics and cartoons of the 90s. The new style is so authentic that you can easily imagine all the previous games in it. Overall, visually, Streets of Rage 4 will satisfy many fans. This is definitely not the level of the upcoming Battletoads reboot, which has been criticized for its overtly controversial cartoon style.
Lizardcube also added several optional filters to the game at once, which pixelate the image and apply special cosmetic effects to character sprites. On top of that, there are classic versions of the heroes from the previous installments. True, they will be allowed to play for them during the second passage, and only after a certain number of points have been scored.
The plot is in the best traditions of the series: the crime syndicate again seized power in the city. Only this time, the head of the mafia is not Mister X, but his children – Mister and Miss Y. They want to enslave the minds of the inhabitants with the help of zombie music.
They are confronted by both old heroes and newcomers: Cherry Hunter, the daughter of Adam Hunter from the first game, as well as Floyd Iriah, the cybernetically enhanced student of Dr. Zana. The plot in SOR has always been nominal, so it is not necessary to go through the previous parts.
However, only fans will understand some of the visual and gameplay references. For example, one level has a kangaroo from Streets of Rage 3, another has a poster of Ash (a boss and a secret playable character that was cut from the US version of SOR3), and one of the bosses’ special attack is a police car from the original Streets of Rage. And such nostalgic little things await the player throughout the game.
Old in a new way
The combat system and all basic mechanics have not undergone major changes. Is that the items here are selected by pressing a separate button. On the one hand, now in the heat of battle you will not accidentally pick up anything (for example, food that you wanted to leave a friend), and on the other hand, old players will still press the attack button near the item due to inertia.
In place of intuitive control, old super moves and tactical depth in battles. For example, Cherry has weak punches, but she is very fast and long-range. Floyd moves like a turtle, but he stacks weak opponents.
There are still no blocks or parries, although it is easy to dodge the blow with the help of a nimble trip. As in the previous parts, you can take any melee weapon, use it against enemies or obstacles. Thrown objects now fly away from opponents, so you can throw enemies with knives, metal pipes or shockers for a long time.
There are also two new types of opponents: police officers with energy shields and girls with dangerous flasks that can poison, set fire or strike with electricity.
There are few innovations, but they are noticeable. Ultimates take away health as before, but now it is easily restored with a spectacular combo combo. Juggles have appeared – opponents can be beaten in the air or thrown against the wall.
Added Star Move – very powerful techniques, like magic from Golden Axe. The player must find the star, enter the crowd of enemies and press a combination of two buttons. In addition, a hit counter has appeared, for the continuous accumulation of which points are awarded.
But in some ways, SOR4 took a few steps back. Let’s take a brief look:
the combat system is based on the second part, not the third. Only Cherry has running, and there are no rolls;
endless continuations and assists. After losing all lives, the player can increase their number and even start with three Star Moves (to the detriment of the number of points). Increase life is allowed even at the Maniac difficulty level. Of course, there is an Arcade mode, but it opens after the first playthrough and is deliberately overcomplicated compared to the classic games. In the older parts, the player had multiple sequels, not just one.
removed special attacks with melee weapons;
complete linearity. There are no forks in the levels and only one ending (versus four in SOR3).
Simply put, SOR4 is a hybrid of gameplay solutions from the first and second parts. Classic beat’em up without any frills.
Because of this, both the overall duration (two and a half hours) and the replay value are lame. Of course, beat’em up games have never been very time consuming, but SOR3 motivated to replay, if only because of the endings.
However, SOR4 also has replayability. For example, to get all the trophies and the highest rating, you need to replay the game at least 8 times. In addition, secret retro bosses are hidden in SOR4.