Streets of Rage 4
(Caution: Minor Spoilers)
Without a doubt, Streets of Rage is of the most celebrated side scrolling beat-em-ups of all time. Known by Bare Knuckle in Japan, it made its debut on Sega’s Mega Drive/Genesis in 1991 to a well received audience. The game expanded on previous entries in the genre such as Double Dragon and Battletoads by adding secret characters, a jamming 90s soundtrack, betraying plot twists, and multiple paths and endings. Anyone who played the series can still remember the first time you betrayed your partner (or they betrayed you) at the final boss. The sheer gravitas of the game has been influential to say the least, having inspired many gamers, game designers, and musicians who still pay tribute to the game today. It even spawned a few (hilarious) live action tribute videos. You only need to look so far as the Streets of Rage Remake project and other tribute titles such as 99 Vidas to see the impact it has had on many gamers, young and old alike.
The combat system in Streets of Rage has always been well polished. In my opinion it set the standard for the genre and over the course of several decades, I often compare other games in the genre to it almost immediately upon playing. The system has always been simple enough that anyone could pick it up and have fun doing so, but had a high enough skill ceiling so that finishing the game on one or two lives was certainly possible if your timing and spacing was good enough unlike many other similar arcade titles of the time. One would hope that the new entry in the series lives up to combat standards but it’s too early to tell from the short demonstration released in the announcement.
Music has always been the other high point of the series with the original scores composed by Yuzo Koshiro. Personally, I’ll admit to having been drawn into music arrangement by his work and there are many others with the same claim who have produced great arrangements and covers over the years on places such as OCRemix and the Dwelling of Duels competitions. The tracks across all three titles carried a blend of house, techno, and other electronic genres which almost perfectly captured the atmosphere of the game in every stage and encounter, which is a rarity in the vast majority of produced games. If Koshiro is not on board for this installation, there should be no shortage of artists who would like a stab at the OST, but I can predict a lot of backlash if the music doesn’t live up to the standards previously set.
Streets of Rage 4 is being developed by Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games, and Dotemu. It features a vibrant animation style over the time-trusted pixilation which will the first departure from the type since the 16-bit era. So far, only two characters have been announced and no word as to whether online play will be available. As of this time, the composer for the OST is still unknown. It will be interesting to see if the fourth (official) game in the series pans out and lives up to their hard earned reputation. With the television series also being announced some time ago, it is enjoyable for the older gamers to see some of their childhood novelties being remade in modern times. Hopefully, the producers of these games and movies are also fans and give these tributes the dedication and effort they deserve.