Spotlight on – Streets of Rage

More attitude than an ASBO teenager!

(Pictures captured after event for illustration!)

When Streets of Rage was first released on the Megadrive back in August, 1991, it was Sega’s answer to Final Fight on the Super Nintendo. They wanted a grittier, action packed thrill ride to really turn some heads and push the console’s sales.

title screen

27 years later, my brother and I would pick up the controllers on a whim and start our very own trip down memory lane!

This is a game that was MADE for two players. As we started out on the familiar first stage, I explained the controls. They’re not complicated. One button for punch, one for jump and one for your special move. Sam, upon hearing this last one, immediately smashes the A button and unleashes his special all over an empty screen.

title screen
Awkwaaard!

Once we’re over that hurdle, the fun can begin! We make our way through the first level, with me explaining how to throw enemies around and various button combinations, as Sam was a little rusty. Streets of Rage still looks glorious on my old CRT tv. Neon lights, grimy streets, and colourful characters who feel different to play. The whole piece just oozes attitude. Even the enemies look great, from the foot soldiers in Jean jackets to the murderous flame juggler!

All this is topped off with the game’s unforgettable music. Yuzo Koshiro was the composer here, and he went for electronic dance vibe. Low bass lines and fast beats work SO well on the Megadrive….. it really gives the game it’s identity!

As we’re smashing our way through each stage, it dawns on me that THIS is what’s missing from modern gaming. Sat on a couch together, having a laugh, a few drinks and a catchup…. you just can’t get this type of thing through an Xbox Live or PSN headset. Gaming these days is too competitive, and each gamer is locked to their own account at all times. Every stat is logged, every achievement recorded and all data is saved on a server somewhere. Here on Megadrive, it’s as simple as “press start.”

The game has a whole host of weapons to help deal with the army of bad guys, from knives to sections of drainpipe, and each level has it’s own quirks and features. You can boot enemies into pits on the second stage, but make sure you watch out for the robot arms in stage 5 – cross them at the wrong time and they’ll slam down, squashing you! The thugs you fight seem to get wise to your playstyle as the game progresses, and each encounter becomes more tense as you keep one eye on your health bar.

title screen
The Blanka ripoffs are going in that pit, so help me God!

We’re nearing the last stage now, and the moment I’m dreading arrives. The two Blaze sisters leap onto the screen and our happy little jaunt turns into a real fist fight. It’s chaos as the girls flip around, causing untold damage to our life bars, as we swing wildly and hit only thin air. Whoever chose Lara Croft as the beacon for female gamers never faced THESE two!

Eventually, we got the best of them. The final level was a tense affair too, apart from the tables that flew across the screen for no apparent reason! Stripped of our special moves, this was a real test of patience and skill. We’re confronted by each boss, all over again…. but nothing is stronger than brotherly love. We beat the game on our last credit and I realise I’ve never actually got this far before!

As the game’s ending plays out, we’re both grinning ear to ear. It’s well past midnight and Sam soon shuffles off home, with the promise of playing SOR 2 next time he visits. This ladies and gentlemen, is the sign of a great game. Streets of Rage might be 27 years old, with 2D graphics and simple controls. But it’s designed in a way that captivates your attention, draws you in and gives you an experience you won’t forget.

It would be nice to get you a video with some gameplay – leave it with me. Until next time!

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