The Streets of Rage series is one of my favorites that were under SEGA’s umbrella. However, like many SEGA franchises I’ve cherished, the IP has remained largely dormant in recent years. But now, thanks to DotEmu – the same people who are reviving Windjammers – the series is finding new life in a numbered sequel. It’s just as eye-catching as Windjammers 2 thanks to its hand-drawn aesthetic. I learned, though, that this game is much more than just its visuals. I was given the opportunity to try out the game alongside this new entry’s programmers, Cyrille Lagarigue and Beausoleil Samson-Guillemette. Together, they showed me a Streets of Rage 4 I could have only dreamt of.
Streets of Rage 4 places an emphasis on presentation
The first thing I noticed about Streets of Rage 4 was its incredible style. As I mentioned above, the hand-drawn aspects of the game allow the visuals to speak for themselves on a first impression. However, the detail given to the background environments and character animations ended up being what held my interest as my session progressed. It is a gorgeous game, much like the beat-em-ups of generations before, which excelled with their sprite-work and spectacle.
It was refreshing to see the return of characters Axel Stone and Blaze, and they’re even more distinct from each other thanks to the particulars in the animation. With the new character Cherry, it’s also evident that the team has ideas and distinctions that fit within the same style of what came before. Wrapping up Streets of Rage 4‘s sense of style was an electric soundtrack, which I heavily suggest watching the behind-the-scenes feature for.
Surprisingly though, the gameplay is where Streets of Rage 4 shines brightest. Beat-em-ups aren’t particularly known for having deep or engaging gameplay. In fact, despite being a fan of that style of game, even I would occasionally get bored after a few hours of repetition. My fond memories of Streets of Rage were as reliant on the friends I was experiencing them with as they were on the gameplay. But while I didn’t have a significant amount of time with the game, and despite playing co-op, it quickly became evident to me that Streets of Rage 4 is doing a variety of special things to let the game hold up on its own.
Innovating a time-tested genre
With the special attacks in the game, there’s a risk/reward factor. Whenever you incorporate one of these attacks, a small amount of your health is diminished. This health can be recovered should you successfully land normal attacks on enemies without taking damage. Also, while there’s friendly-fire, your co-op partner’s hitbox is adjusted to be smaller than that of your enemies. Speaking of hitboxes, you can also juggle thugs in the air if you find the perfect spot to place your character after launching them. Thanks to these added mechanics, the game is slightly more forgiving than its predecessors, and it’s much more fun to play. Overall, Streets of Rage 4 elevates the skill-ceiling in how well someone can utilize the added mechanics and use flashy combos.
Since I was so impressed with how the game was built, I was happy to have the programmers there for my play-session. It’s obvious they’ve contributed with fine-tuning some creative additions, while also doing some heavy-lifting to ensure the gameplay is tight and engaging.
Streets of Rage 4 is a sequel that is addressing the common weaknesses of its encapsulated genre. It’s something that fans of this series have deserved for many years, which is because it’s a game that’s made by those very fans. While there’s still no release date for Streets of Rage 4, the game is shaping up very nicely. We’ll keep you updated here on the site should we hear anything soon.
In the meantime, are you excited for Streets of Rage 4? What’s your favorite beat-em-up series? Let us know in the comments down below.