Saturday, March 27, 2021

Streets of Rage 4 (Switch, 2020)

FFVII Remake was only the SECOND-biggest retro revival of 2020, as we also got the long-awaited Mike Tyson's Stweets of Wage (Starring Mr. Dream). No word on if a fifth game is in development, or if they're just going to build a giant mirror in Portland or something. The real Streets of Rage 5 was within us all along.

We start off in some streets that were probably nice before all of the rage happened.

I choose Blaze because I didn't notice any of the other selectable characters. Are they in the game too? THERE IS NO AXEL, ONLY BLAZE.

Got my trusty pipe, as I confront...Orange Cassidy's Mirror Universe Evil Twin? Look at this douchebag.

Boss fight! It's a snake-charmer lady. She's got a pretty cool antique-tent here. In the new world of Stweets of Wage 4, there are no longer shops or homes, everything happens in tents. Karl Marx once said "Someday I will walk through the ruins of the old world" and who knew that meant tent antique shops?

Gotta address Blaze's design here. At first glance I really didn't like it. She's cartoony and has exaggerated features. However, the animations are REALLY good, and I'm glad she lost the pants and returned to the Tifa-like outfit of the first game. ...Now if we could get TIFA to return to the Tifa-like outfit of the original FFVII.

Mirror Orange Cassidy does a moonsault onto nothing!

Unleashing special attacks as often as possible (as they don't cost you health in this game, but need to recharge) is key. In other news, that dog? cat? statue on the right there is pretty rad. Reminds me of the sleek Antiqua dog of Secret of Evermore.

Her name is Diva, which brings back SaGa Frontier PTSD. My entire schtick now seems to be just mentioning old games and things that remind me of them. I'll try to stop.

Next stage has us ending up in the county jail, which looks more like a Turkish bathroom. Who thought it was a good idea to put an unarmed woman in a jail cell with a bunch of gang members, anyway?

SWAT guys with shields attack here. The shields are like, energy shields that change color when you attack them, which reminds me of Halo ALRIGHT I'M DOING IT AGAIN. The cool thing here is that the police and the punks actively battle each other if you stand back, then you can fight the winner.

Finally we're faced with the boss. I wasn't sure if the police force was corrupt / on the payroll, but it looks like they've just been deceived by the bad guys.

After that fight we get a good look at Axel, who is now an old-ass man. This takes place ten years after the other games (even though it's been 26 years real-time). Weird thing is he's the same age as Blaze and yet he looks at least 15 years older now.

The villain shows up. Mr. Y is the son of Mr. X from the other games, and wants revenge for his dad's brain. He sorta reminds me of Rufus from OH GOD I'M DOING IT AGAIN.

He wants our heroes to back off and let him have the city. He's also got a partner in crime who is equally dope: Ms. Y, the daughter of Mr. X. In the next game the villain will be their incestuous love-child, called Z. No, let's not do that.

Gotta say, the art direction of this game is solid. These visuals are similar to the Borderlands series (...argh) and they really work here as a sort of motion comic book.

The next boss is this whip-wielding dominatrix. She whips her male minions, which causes them to flash and no-sell everything temporarily because they're so hot and bothered, I guess.

I bust out the super-attack, which you have very limited uses of in this game. It's good for clearing an area. You want to be close to your foes before using it, though.

Next level. The previous level was a cruise-liner, and it actually crashes into the pier while you brawl with the pilots, which leads into the next level. Nice.

Man, this town really fell apart in the past ten years. It's like California. Does anyone have an actual home or possessions anymore?

The first really challenging boss is this giant German woman.

She absolutely beats the shit out of me. I don't wanna talk about it.

Looks like the police are still against us, at least for now.

Adam shows up so we can get away, and stuff. If I were Adam I'd be pissed that I got left out of so many SOR games.

Next level is the sewer. If there's anything I dislike as much as a jail level, it's a sewer level. At least it has this rad neon TMNT-style mutagen.

These chix in short-shorts are a real PITA to fight for some reason. They're all about the jump kicks. So it was great at this point when a bunch of them got juggled on a fire trap while I stood back and just waited for them to all keel over.

Here's a subway bathroom,, I thought the jail cell was bad.

Looks like Roo from the previous game has taken a job as a bartender. Thought I'd have to fight him here, but nope, we coo.

Not so coo: Motorcycle gang leader Barbon. Where's...Boboria?

Next up is Chinatown, which looks great in this game. It's got this... sunlight filter that I don't really know how to describe but it's really cool in-motion.

Blaze battles what appears to be Bas Rutten.

There's also a dojo here where you can get a kwondo for the only time all game. This weapon is SWEET.

I also battle a bunch of Joe Higashis with a katana. Just realized my favorite parts of these beat 'em ups are when I have swords and spear-type weapons. I should play more medieval-setting beat 'em ups.

Amidst the cherry blossoms, we battle our old nemesis Shiva.

He's another formidable boss, with the ability to summon shadow-images. I think the Large German Woman was a more difficult opponent, though.

Shiva finally turns face (officially) after being defeated, and tells us what's going on.

Looks like the Y Twins are broadcasting music with mind-control properties, and that's why everyone has gotten so crazy. So basically, they're the news networks?

Looks like we have to go to Y Tower.

This requires riding the top of a train, FFVII-style. Looks like the police still don't believe us, so we gotta deal with them too.

The Large German Woman appears again at the end of this level (she looks totally different in cutscenes). After defeating her and the Commissioner at the same time, she realizes that we're the good guys and decides to help us.

The next stage is the Guggenheim Museum. Least I think it is. It's located right where the Guggenheim is on the map (which is very similar to an NYC map).

The art direction gets really good in this stage. Some pretty snazzy exhibits to walk past here.

More snake-ladies are the boss here. that a distorted painting of Roo back there?

Now for the actual Y Tower. There's Mr. X. Before he was a robo-brain, he was a nefarious businessman.

An enemy-filled elevator ride is no problem with my trusted pipe.

At the top, the Y Twins are having a party. I hate to say it, but... they look really cool here. In any case, they blast mind-control music that gets Max from Streets of Rage 2 to fight our heroes for their amusement.

Luckily, a mild concussion is enough to over-ride the mind control.

Ms. Y is a legitimately scary maniac.

Our heroes are like "ok"

Our new police allies roll in and destroy their giant speakers, ending their tyranny over the city.

This leads to everyone jumping off of the tower. This is turning into a Fast & Furious movie now. Just absolute insanity.

I find the iconic Negan Bat on a nearby rooftop.

Here's the DJ that the Y Twins commissioned to use mind-control on the city. Is this whole thing some sort of statement on MKUltra? Regardless, I defeat him which finally ends the scourge of the evil music.

The bad guys try to escape on an airline! This really is a Fast & Furious now.

Blaze's idle animation still involves hair-flips. Good times.

As if one whip-wielding dominatrix wasn't bad enough, on the plane you fight 3 of them. Well, nothing in the series has been as bad as the two Blazes in the first game. Still not sure if they were clones or her sisters or what. I did find out that you fight them no matter what character you play as (meaning they won't be clones of the other characters, they'll always be Blaze clones).

Mr. Y is the boss. Wait...if we're fighting, who's driving the plane?

After giving him a proper thrashing...the plane falls into the ocean.

I actually thought for a minute that I'd beaten the final boss and Ms. Y would be saved for a sequel.

Nope, there's a secret final level that's off the map. Here's the NYC-esque map I mentioned before.

Y Island is their secret base, complete with a giant gate. Now that we've broken their mind control over the population, it's time to take them out at the source.

Not sure where this island is in relation to the city, but it looks like it isn't too far away.

Fun Fact: The stainglass windows here depict foes from the earlier games.

There's Mr. X, as I battle a mace-wielding robot. That's the final foe before...

...Ms. Y. It's pretty cool that the final boss (or half of it, anyway) is a woman. This game has a bunch of female bosses. They can be just as mean as men!

She's armed with a rapier. While Mr. Y basically follows the exact attack pattern of their dad (running around and shooting bullets), Ms. Y is much more of a melee fighter. Would be cool to play as her.

Get past that and the game STILL isn't over, as now you have to fight both of them at once.

I dish out my remaining special attacks. Lives are getting low, could this be game over? Either way, unlike the other games, this one saves between levels. So a game over isn't a terrible setback.

After you defeat one of them, they'll leap onto some sort of giant spider-mech that attacks while you're still fighting the other one.

The other one does the same thing, but at least you're only contending with one opponent at that point. Ms. Y, whatta badass.

That's officially the end, no more final bosses popping up. Gotta say, this game was a good time, maybe the best in the series which is saying a lot. It's great that they brought it back. It's also 2-3 times longer than the earlier SOR games, and it's clear that no shortage of effort went into it.

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