Monday, March 22, 2021

Streets of Rage (Sega Genesis, 1991)


Now THIS is a brawler. Sega's answer to Final Fight, also apparently starring Cody. Capcom should sue!

I was never a Sega guy growing up, and this is my first time playing this series. So far, I really like it. Tell you what though, even if I didn't like it, I wouldn't have a bad word to say about it. Just firing this game up gives you a rush of nostalgia. In my's other people's nostalgia. You can legitimately feel it. People grew up playing this.

The backstory. You play as a bunch of ex-cops who have to contend with a corrupt force, corrupt government, and the nefarious syndicate itself. They can't trust anybody. Well, it's good that they're ex-cops because they don't have to worry about Rules of Engagement anymore.

These are like the youngest ex-cops ever. It figures that Blaze's hobby is the sexiest Latin dance, Lambada. The devs might as well have just gotten rid of the stage select and the other two characters at that point.

It's worth noting that the game has a sound test in the options menu, something I'm guessing players of this game were well aware of. The music THUMPS. Most games have soundtracks attached...Streets of Rage is a soundtrack that happens to have a game attached.

The stage select. It's a little different from most brawlers in that it doesn't have a dedicated slow powerhouse character. Adam is the closest to that, but everyone's attributes are pretty close together. Cody Axel is clearly intended to be the balanced character for new players. Does he do Lambada and Judo in his spare time and have dynamite calves, though? No.

This has two-player co-op right off the bat, and I imagine it's a lot easier if you bring a cohort. However, I'm goin' it alone.

A swift jump kick to the neussen. You can break phone booths for powerups, as is tradition. It plays just like Double Dragon or Final Fight, with the slow vertical movement of the era. The thumping soundtrack puts it above either of them in terms of fun factor.

You get a limited number of special attacks, and it's the same attack for every character: A cop car pulls up and fires a rocket launcher at the bad guys. This violates all kinds of policing rules (and the Geneva Conventions) but desperate times and all of that.

First boss is this nondescript large guy with a boomerang. However it's a lot more memorable than it should be when you factor in...

...the THUMPING BOSS THEME. So much menace.

Speaking of menace, our hero now faces the scariest challenge of all: Walking home at night.

Most brawlers draw the line at 3 enemies onscreen, especially in this era when systems couldn't handle too much going on at once. Well, Genesis must really have Blast Processing because it has no issues piling enemies on.

The next boss is Freddy Kreuger. This guy is a real pizza. A real pizza shit! It took me a minute to figure out that the best way to attack was to get him in hold/throw attacks rather than trying to attack head-on.

After a menacing walk home, Blaze faces her next challenge: A walk through the park at night. We get these weird intermittent rain-showers that are only onscreen for a second and only parts of the screen. The SNES may be big and slow, but it had no issues rendering rainstorms. Maybe Blast Processing isn't so hot after all. And it just occurred to me that this era might have been the last console generation ever where Nintendo's system was the most powerful on the market. Depends on the metrics you use for the N64. 

The next boss is Ultimate Warrior. At least, I think it's supposed to be. 1991 was the height of Warriormania, so it isn't a stretch.

Check out the night-time cityscape in the background. Very 90's.

Next-up, a fire-breathing boss. Once again it's a matter of getting out of the guy's way. That seems to work with all of the bosses in this game. Let them do their big attack, then try to hit them from the side. Attacking head-on simply does not work.

The next stage takes us on the Jericho Cruise.

It is home to these jugglers that make ball-cupping motions in the air. They may be the most frightening foes of all.

I take that back, the most frightening foes in this entire game are right here. It's a pair of...clones, maybe? Blaze clones? Or maybe they're her twin sisters. Whatever the case may be, this fight is absolutely BRUTAL.

I got through it by spamming the special attack, which takes them out after a few shots. They are super difficult to hit otherwise. On a replay I'd probably try to conserve special attacks as much as possible just for this part. Talk about a difficulty spike.

After that the game gets easy again, as we traverse a machine factory.

This leads to an elevator from hell, where enemies attack in one wave after another. Dispatch them quick and there's enough time between waves for Blaze to toss her hair back.

This gets us to the final stage, the chateau of the villains. Get here with a lot of lives or else it's game over. At first it isn't too bad...

...then the game just GOES NUTS. Seems like you can prevent enemies from swamping you by not moving too quickly, though. Move up enough to spawn a foe, stop and fight. A lot of brawlers follow that rule.

Bosses from earlier return here, including this Freddy Kreuger bastard who saps my already-dwindling lives. This game would be like one-quarter as difficult as it is if you didn't have any boss redux fights later on.

That's nothing though. Here, I have to fight Double Trouble again. This time they have even more HP, and I don't have any special attacks to spam them with like I did earlier. Getting past this fight must have required preparation.

A moment of hope, as I manage to land some solid hits on one of them. They also spastically jump around during this whole engagement, making them hard to even land strikes on.


Just when I thought I finally had the fight almost-won...the timer gets me for the first time. For a second I was horrified, thinking this was a full Game Over and I'd have to start from the beginning. Nope, running out of timer just takes a life. You continue right where you left off, whether you use a life or a continue. Though I'm getting pretty low on both.

I chase the last one around as she backflips constantly and the timer ticks down. It's like that one part of Big Trouble In Little China when Wang just goes FULL DODGEMODE. I actually started to think I'd run the timer out a second time.

Guaranteed, this fight ended a TON of playthroughs back in the day. I bet these images could trigger nightmarish flashbacks for the kids of that era.

After I mercifully get past that part, it's off to meet the game's final boss. He's Willy from Double Dragon crossed with the Dragon Lord from Dragon Quest. Agree to join him (which is easy to accidentally do since the prompt pops up after a couple second delay, right when you'd hit the button to move the text along), and.... just bounces you back a few levels. Course, this is basically a game over with the limited lives.

Refuse, and he fights you with a machine gun. What's with the final bosses of these early brawlers always being a businessman with a machine gun? Double Dragon and Final Fight both do it too.

This is a MUCH easier fight than the twins right before this. The main problem is these shitter adds, as they say in the MMO world. Some of the boss fights in this game have 1-2 random goon enemies that accompany the boss at first. This guy keeps summoning more adds, but eventually they run out.

Once it's just him, the fight is easy. The game supplies you with a pipe for this fight and you can practically stunlock him with it. It also helps for clearing out the adds quickly, as long as you avoid dropping it.

With the city now saved, the rocket launcher guy greets our heroes outside.

Well, that was a great game. Bring on Streets of Rage 2.
I mentioned the thumping soundtrack. Well, here it is. Too many good tracks to only link some of them. My favorite track is All Of Them.

Note how on the box art, the characters are all wrong. Blaze is wearing a completely different outfit, Axel looks more like Lawrence from Karate Kid, and Adam isn't even there? Unless that's him in the back, like Bizarre.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how no one has a C in their stats, just A and B.

    Can't say enough good things about this soundtrack.

    Huh, I wonder if those two are always Blazes or just clones of the active character/s.

    There's an Adam in this game?