One style of gaming that really did have its spot in the sun in the 1990’s was the side scrolling beat em ups. The 1990’s just had great game in this genre after great game. The Super Nintendo and the Sega Mega Drive just produced so many great games, but the series that was head and shoulders above the rest was Streets Of Rage. I loved Final Fight and from a graphical point of view the Final Fight series on the Super Nintendo looks better than Streets Of Rage, but Streets Of Rage is the greatest side scrolling beat em up series of all time!
Streets Of Rage is a great example of a series of video games that just expand on what the previous instalment did. But in doing so it just got better and better. The first game was really fun and a pretty big hit on the Sega Mega Drive. You had a choice of three characters in Blaze, Adam and the main guy of the series Axel. The game plays like a 80’s action movie. You walk along the streets bashing skulls with your fists, feet and head as well as picking up weapons here and there. And of course using your special move. The special move in the original Streets Of Rage was calling in back up who would blast the area with a magic rocket launcher that would destroy everything around you, but somehow leave you unharmed. In all it was a really fun game. With multiple endings it had a great deal of replay value as well.
Streets Of Rage 2 is seen by many as the pinnacle of the series. The game now had four characters with Axel and Blaze returning and newcomers wrestler Max and cool kid Skate. The game is very story driven and while it is all balls to the wall action. You at least have a reason to be kicking all these guys butts. Streets Of Rage 2 improves on the first game in pretty much every single way you could imagine. The game looks better with far more detailed levels and much more animation and variations to the enemies. The soundtrack is just phenomenal and one of the very best on the Sega Mega Drive.
As great as the game looks and sounds though it is the game play that still has people playing this game to this day. It takes the game play from Streets Of Rage, but adds in a ton of new moves. While you can just punch and kick you know have different special moves. Some of these require specific button combinations like forward forward then C for example. There is just so much depth to the game play and each character really does feel unique. Streets Of Rage 2 is the only game in the series to not have multiple ending, but in contrast to that the story feels much more focused. Still when everything else in the game is near perfect it does stand out that there is only the one ending.
Many gamers were just foaming out the mouth with anticipation for Streets Of Rage 3 and the game sure as hell tried its very best to outdo what its predecessor did. The game looks amazing the most notable improvement over Streets Of Rage 2 is the character animations. The various levels in the game are just so detailed that Sega must have worked overtime on the level design. It also has a much deeper plot and different endings depending on how you play through the game. There are also cut scenes that help move the story along. The combat in the game has been greatly expanded with many new moves that each character can do. Streets Of Rage 3 has a larger roster of characters to play as some of whom need to be unlocked as you play the game.
Streets Of Rage 3 is a great game and every bit as good as the 2nd if not better. It really is just down to personal preference as to which game you like best. Sega really did go all out to make this the best game that they could. Sadly when gaming moved into the world of 3D the scrolling beat em up was left behind.
Thanks to the success of the Streets Of Rage collection on Xbox Live and Playstation Network though we very well one day may see a Streets Of Rage 4.