Streets of Rage holds up to the test of time and M2 has done an excellent job porting the game to the 3DS, while keeping it true to the original.
[Foreword: This review was originally meant to posted up along with all our other 3D Classics reviews, when they were released on the 3DS’ digital store – however, it was somehow overlooked/lost at the time. But as this month’s Game of the Month is Streets of Rage, now seems the perfect time to drag up this (not so) long-lost review]
Very few people know this… because it’s never actually come up in conversation… but Streets of Rage is the game that ‘sold’ me on a Mega Drive, not Sonic or one of the other popular games of the time – but Streets of Rage.
I went round to my friend’s house as a kid and her (yes a girl) brother had a Mega Drive and the one game we used to play together was Streets of Rage. I loved it, it blew my mind – I felt like a total badass beating up these street punks. And about a year later, I ended up buying my friend’s brother’s Mega Drive and that very copy of Streets of Rage I fell in love with.
Hopefully if you are a SEGA Nerd, you will have at least played the original game, so I won’t bore you with the details of what the game is about. Instead I’m going to talk about the new visuals, game additions and just how this SEGA classic has held up over the years – in terms of enjoyment.
Ooh you have the 3D-ness
Seriously, the 3D effects have really added some proper ‘depth’ to a title that, due to it’s style of gameplay, used depth and perspective. The 3D now makes objects and enemies really ‘pop out’ – with the subtle foreground objects, like cars and bushes seeming more focal and enhancing the illusion of playing a 3D title.
I guess it’s kind of hard to explain, but objects like breakable telephone boxes and trashcans and edible items like apples and turkeys (or are they chickens?) now look more like they are ‘3D’ – even though they are 2D.
Really, as I mentioned, it’s all about the depth – moving between the background and foreground of the screen just looks so much better now.
However… there is one issue with the 3D, which I will mention later.
As with the other 3D Classics, Streets of Rage has several added features, such as ‘screen mode’, ‘3D style’ and ‘PSG emulation’ – though not as many unique ones as some of the others, but just enough to keep even hardcore fans interested enough to play through the game at least one more time.
You can alternate between the International and Japanese versions of the game… which, while I’m sure have some differences, I couldn’t actually tell what they were… *goes to check Wikipedia*…
Ok Wikipedia doesn’t mention anything… *goes to Streets of Rage Online* … Ok – according to SoR Online, Streets of Rage and Bare Knuckle (the Japanese version) are identical – just different title screens and Japanese text at the end when Mr X (the main baddie) talks to you on the last level.
So… ok switching to the Japanese version is pretty pointless, but I guess fun to have. Hopefully if SEGA releases Streets of Rage 2 or 3 as a 3D Classic, we will get the same option to switch versions, because they did have some differences in the games.
Like pretty much all the other 3D Classics you can save your progress, though there is no level select – which some of the other games feature, which would have been a nice addition, because I still get a kick out of riding the elevator on level seven and seeing the beautiful 16-bit sights of the city. Now that’s Blast Processing at work!
Then there is one other mode which is unique to Streets of Rage: ‘Fists of Death’ mode. Now when I explain what it is, Fists of Death might seem like a bit of a cheat to some hardened fans, but I thought it was a nice addition. Essentially this mode means that it only takes one hit for you to kill every enemy, including bosses.
Yes it makes the game very easy – but it also means that gamers who may not have much time on their hands can play through and experience the whole game with ease; great for beginners and also veterans who just want a quick game.
Gameplay for AGES… sort of…
The downside of Streets of Rage, however, is the simplistic gameplay. Ok I know this might be sacrilege, but replaying Streets of Rage made me realise how repetitive the game is and during levels four, five and six, I did start to feel that the game was dragging on… but then level seven and eight it started to pick up again, as the game’s pace and level structure changed somewhat.
Back in the day, Streets of Rage was pretty much the pinnacle of scrolling brawlers, heck it still is the pinnacle of brawlers – but all these scrolling beat ‘em ups were plagued with a lack of originality after the first couple of levels, it just seems more apparent now than back then.
That said, if I may make a reference to How I Met Your Mother here, Streets of Rage’s combat and repetitive gameplay is very much like listening to ‘500 Miles’ by the Proclaimers on repeat: you love it, then you get tired of it, but then, just as you want to cut your ears off, it suddenly gets great again. *Note: I thought there would definitely be a clip of the 500 Miles scene on YouTube to show you what I mean, but it’s just fan videos not showing the joke I wanted… oh well, just go watch the show, it’s brilliant.
So for the most part, Streets of Rage still holds up as being a damn fun game, especially when you bring a buddy along to help out – just like back in the good old days, except now you have a little screen each to fight over who gets to be Axel Stone. Although the co-op could potentially be better and I will explain that…
Why the smeg did they do that?!
Ok, so it’s great that M2 (the actual developers of the 3D Classics ports) have included a co-op mode, but it’s only local play. So essentially you do need to be in the same location as your friend when you play together – which is still awesome, and I totally love M2 for setting this up. However, it would have obviously been even better if they worked out some online play for the game – allowing you to team up with a pal from across the seven seas would have made the game pretty much perfect, in my opinion.
But, while it’s an unfortunate absence, it’s not something that was in the original game. The local play is/was and the fact that it was implemented means that the game is still playable in it’s full original glory.
Aside from the slight issues with the ageing gameplay and lack of online play, there is one other real problem that occurred in 3D Streets of Rage – and that’s the 3D.
“Woah! Wait – you said earlier the 3D was great didn’t you?!” – Or at least that’s what I can only assume you might be saying right now. And you are correct, the 3D-ness is great in 3D Streets of Rage.
However on level six, where you are in the factory, there is a slight issue where the 3D actually hinders gameplay.
Anyone who’s played the game before should remember that level six features those random ‘pneumatic crushing machines’ (honestly I still don’t know why anyone would have them in a factory on the only path you can walk) which only activate and ‘stomp’ when you (the player) get near them.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun to wait for an enemy to come at you, and just as they approach the crushers, take a step forward – activating said crusher and watch them fall into the trap – mwahahaha!
Oh wait I was meant to be explaining the problem with them, sorry.
Anyway, the problem is that the 3D weirdly makes the crushers stick out slightly too much and make it harder to gauge where there ‘hit zone’ actually is. Several times I would be near a crusher and visually I was standing far enough away to avoid being harmed, but would actually still get crushed.
And really that is the ONLY genuine flaw I found in the whole of 3D Streets of Rage. Yes slightly stale gameplay at times makes the game feel aged, but, as I say, the game soon picks up again and I’ve completed it about 10 times since owning it on the 3DS – which is more game time than I’ve had on pretty much all of my ‘proper’ 3DS titles – with the exception of maybe Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64… but those are both N64 games… so basically the best games on the 3DS are super old retro titles that have been given 3D visuals… hmm. Oh well.
Anyway, as I say, the only issue or ‘break’ in the game occurs on level six and it’s easily avoidable, you just have to be slightly more wary of those crushers – which I imagine would cause numerous injuries to the employees of the factory on a daily basis.
While the repetitive gameplay elements are now starting to feel dated, Streets of Rage still holds up as being one of, if not the, best side scrolling brawler around.
The 3D visuals add an extra sense of depth to the playing field, though somehow screws things up on level six, and all the extra features allow all gamers to get involved.
Plus the ‘Fists of Death’ mode allows newer players to experience the game with ease, or for veterans to have a quick blast through, breezing through waves of enemies and levels like a boss.
Though 3D Streets of Rage doesn’t have as many additional or unique additions that the other 3D Classics have received, the fact that the game is still really enjoyable today shows that Streets of Rage holds up to the test of time and M2 has done an excellent job porting the game to the 3DS, while keeping it true to the original.
+ It’s frigging Streets of Rage!!
+ The 3D visuals add more depth and perspective
+ SEGA/M2 kept the co-op functionality in. Good call guys (and girls).
+ Additional features may be few, but add some extra enjoyment to an already great game
– Gameplay does feel dated at times now
– The 3D on level six messes with the perspective of the crushers