Streets of Rage: Replay & Review (RE)2

     Streets of Rage.  What can really be said about this game?  Anyone who had the privilege of playing it back when it was first released probably have good memories about it.  Which isn't bad at all.  It still holds up pretty well now.  Not amazing, but still entertaining and quite playable.

     Three fed up ex-police members want to take back their city which has been overrun by a crime syndicate.  Unfortunately the syndicate has also corrupted much of the police force, and the 3 vigilantes- boxer Adam Hunter, martial artist Axel Stone, and Judo expert Blaze Fielding- decide to do something about it.  And that something is fighting crime with brute force.  Of course the differences between characters are simple- Adam is slow and strong, Axel is the middle ground, and Blaze is fast and weak.  Finding one to fit a play style is easy, and only Adam feels slightly hampered as enemies tend to come in droves and are noticeably faster than the player.

     These cops have a surprising amount of combat depth for such limited button controls.  It's much more than Golden Axe or Double Dragon had to offer with the same 3 buttons- special, attack, and jump.  There is a range of combos and throws- and even a special move that, neglecting city safety issues, has another police officer shoot a bazooka blast into the area you are in- inflicting instant kills for small goons, and large damage to bosses.  Combat sensitivity causes there to be various moves, and each character has a couple only for themselves (Axel has a great head-butt)- and throws are range relative- just get in close and the grab is automatic- just point and toss.  It's a very useful way to clear a path of enemies.

    Along the way- players must beat down a steady stream of baddies- ranging from pitifully weak nameless punks to end boss and syndicate head honcho Mr. X over the course of 8 rounds (levels).  The streets are littered with usable items as well.  Phone booths, trash cans, and old tire stacks hide inexplicably left cooked meat, 1 ups, and a wide variety of weapons to help put the smack down on all criminals in your path.

     I've read that this was supposed to be a Final Fight killer, and while they didn't do that, they created one hell of a game.  All around decent and entertaining.  And after replaying there are two things I never noticed back then- the first is that there is actually a time limit for each level's individual section of enemies, and multiple endings.  There are two different endings depending on if there are 2 players and one or both agree to "join" Mr. X.
     What we've got here is great music, good graphics, and tight controls in a city in turmoil.  When boiled down Streets of Rage's best feature is that it spawned sequels, one of which stands as one of the greatest beat-'em-ups in history.  If you like the series it's a fun play, if not- try Streets of Rage 2- it's a lasting gem that has few rivals.

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