If you grew up a Sega kid then you are most likely well versed in the Streets of Rage series. I can remember growing up thinking that the hip character designs and rocking soundtrack made anyone who played automatically be considered cool. However, I was afraid that the series drifted into obscuring after only ever reaching what seemed like a cult following of gamers. Luckily for me, I wasn’t the only one who had fond memories of this game because developer Dotemu has revived the series with the upcoming release of Street of Rage 4.
During PAX West 2019, I was able to play a new demo of the game that features the newly introduced Cherry Hunter. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting a new character to be added to this series since I really just want to hang out with the old ones, but after smashing up some enemies with my guitar, that all quickly changed. What I notice most about Cherry is how she appeared to be part of this universe and seemed like a natural fit, even when interacting with the other leads. Her attacks and combos had a nice flow to them that easily made her a valuable part of the team.
During gameplay, many of my attacks opened up the possibilities of chaining together combos and juggling enemies without taking too much damage. Thankfully, the learning curve is extremely small and I was delivering some heavy-hitting attacks in no time. However, this also ties into one of the series’ staple features, friendly fire. Yes, this is a beat-em-up where players can hurt each other so communication is key to get through some of the more enemies infested screens.
The developer clearly paid close attention to what make a Streets of Rage game and it shows in the presentation and combos, but where I feel they improved on the series, I found in the gameplay itself. Sure, everything the series is known for is here, like the specials that drain your health and the need to clear screens of enemies before progressing, but the level control found in the character’s movements and versatility of the combos made this feel like a true sequel to a series that hasn’t seen the light of day since 1994. Being a true sequel, I was glad that they’ve clearly put time into improving the series without taking away what makes it special.
There’s a lot riding on Street of Rage 4, but from what I played, Dotemu knows what they are doing. I’m excited to get to fight my way through more levels and play as new characters in the future. For now, I’m glad to see that this series is in good hands since it is the true definition of cool.
Streets of Rage 4 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC at an unannounced date.
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