Note: At the time of publication for this Streets of Rage 4: Mr. X Nightmare review, the expansion is still not available to the public on Nintendo Switch due to a technical issue, though Dotemu is working feverishly to fix it. However, Nintendo Enthusiast was able to review the game on Switch uninterrupted. [Update: The DLC is now available.]
It’s pretty much agreed Streets of Rage 4 is fantastic. Depending on whom you ask, it’s either better than or just as good as Streets of Rage 2. So, high praise. Not surprisingly, the game has recently received DLC for fans craving more dust-ups. Entitled Mr. X Nightmare, an add-on I was quite excited to review, the expansion adds new characters and a Survival Mode to the adventure. A free update is also included that brings about a harder difficulty, Training Mode, and color palettes for all the main brawlers.
Mr. X Nightmare tasks you to survive until you die
The main part of the Streets of Rage 4: Mr. X Nightmare expansion is the Survival Mode. Story-wise, there’s not much there. Gamers basically get a blurb explaining the roster’s anxiety about another attack after the main game’s conclusion. They get SoR veteran Dr. Zan to create a combat simulation from Mr. X’s brain to prepare for anything. This disappointed me because I thought we’d get a story add-on that brought Mr. X back to life. Regardless, what’s included in Survival Mode is still sweet.
Players get access to two types of simulations. There’s the Weekly variant, which has set levels, enemies, and perks every week. And there’s the Random version, which is procedurally generated. Users get one life to survive gauntlets until they expire. (It helps to bring up to three friends along for the ride, either online or locally.) Luckily, you’ll get perks after every stage is conquered. These range from risk/reward, like being able to hit for 100% more damage but taking 100% more damage at the same time, to strictly beneficial, like adding elemental damage to your weapons and special attacks. The more points you earn, the more stars you receive, which grant special attacks that wipe out screens of enemies.
Playing through Survival Mode is a ton of fun. Every level is filled with environmental hazards, enemies/bosses, items, and health boosts. Not only that, but some areas are 16-bit, complete with retro sprites and music. As you advance, every perk you obtain stacks, so you’ll soon be dishing out moves that electrify and poison your adversaries while double-jumping out of harm’s way. I played both alone and with my partner, and the furthest we got was Stage 14. By then, we were getting juggled between various stage hazards, which felt a bit much. It’s not an easy mode.
The best part? You can unlock new moves, weapons, and concept art the more you play Survival Mode. The extra attacks you gain mean you can fully customize your character, so it pays to access Survival Mode with every member from the main roster. New attacks and weapons can also be used in the main game once you unlock them. This means swordfish and bowling balls will appear for you to massacre the bad guys!
Familiar faces join the fray
What else does Streets of Rage 4: Mr. X Nightmare entail? Three new characters for use in any game mode. And trust me, they are all awesome.
There’s badass Estel, with her grenades and full-body takedowns. Max Thunder also makes an appearance. He is really strong and can perform all manner of wrestling moves with baddies on the receiving end. And then there is Shiva. Here is a man who is fast as lightning and hits hard. He always throws items, though, instead of using them for bludgeoning purposes. I guess he feels using weapons is beneath him.
A few freebies
I’d be remiss not to mention the free update that launched alongside Mr. X Nightmare. The best addition is the Training Mode. This includes general offensive and defensive tactics, as well as character-specific ones. It’s great to learn how each fighter works and also how to juggle thugs effectively, as well as to study interrupts and recovery moves. This mode really drives home the fact Streets of Rage 4 has more in common with a fighting game than a beat ’em up.
Outside of Training, you get some new colors to change your protagonist’s appearance. (I love goth Estel the most.) Also, there’s the Mania+ difficulty. This gives you 0 lives to start with, more enemies on screen, and speed boosts to their movements. I didn’t even get past Stage 1. Play with buddies; it might be slightly easier to manage.
All in all, Mr. X Nightmare is a great add-on for Streets of Rage 4. For less than $10, gamers get new characters and an infinitely replayable Survival Mode. The free update just adds a cherry on top. Grab it when you can, and enjoy playing while dreaming of a possible Streets of Rage 5.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Streets of Rage 4: Mr. X Nightmare was provided by the publisher.