Hitting the Streets of Rage!

sega logoSo, this weekend I dusted off the old HateBox and decided it was time to actually do some serious retrogaming. I’m not sure if that’s what Queen Victoria wanted, but I imagine she would have supported my decision. So, this weekend I took a poke a beloved trilogy of games from the era of the 16bit wars, the Streets of Rage collection. This was the seminal series of side scrolling beat ’em ups for the Sega Genesis, and at the time of their release, were actually quite advanced, particularly for the music in numbers two and three.

Streets of Rage (1991)
Streets of Rage 2 (1992)
Streets of Rage 3 (1994)

Original System:
Sega Genesis

Streets of Rage: 3/5

  • the pixel art and sprites aren’t well detailed

Streets of Rage 2: 3.5/5

  • improved art quality but still not meeting the ability of the system

Streets of Rage 3: 4/5

  • detailed sprites, and attempts at emoting in cut scenes!

Streets of Rage: 2.5/5

  • not fun and the cats were sad

Streets of Rage 2: 3.5/5

  • fun, but still not where it could have been

Streets of Rage 3: 3.5/5

  • as above, but with more mood

Streets of Rage: 2.5/5

  • poor reaction time compared to the enemies

Streets of Rage 2: 3.5/5

  • much improved controls, still not where they could be

Streets of Rage 3: 4.5/5

  • some of the best beat ’em up controls I’ve used!

Streets of Rage: Fair

  • three characters: Axel (white male), Blaze (white female), and Adam (POC male)

Streets of Rage 2: Poor

  • four characters: Max (white male), Blaze (white female), Axel (white male), and Eddie “Skate” (POC adolescent on rollerblades)

Streets of Rage 3: Fair

  • four characters: Axel (white male), Blaze (white female), Dr. Zan (cyborg asian male), and Eddie “Skate” (POC adolescent on rollerblades)

Fun Factor:
Streets of Rage: 2.5/5

  • the game was frustrating because of the controls

Streets of Rage 2: 3/5

  • improved controls didn’t keep up with all the improved bosses

Streets of Rage 3: 4/5

  • with controls matching opponents for reaction time, this was crazy fun!

Final Scores:
Streets of Rage: 10.5/20

  • this game is showing its age badly, but still has a bit of potential left

Streets of Rage 2: 13.5/20

  • this game is about what I remembered of it, fun, but now its aging a bit

Streets of Rage 3: 16/20

  • this game has aged well, hitting near the limits for what the system can do


Damn. That was more fun that I thought it was going to be! I moved through the games in order, and you could literally feel the difference as controls improved, especially from SOR to SOR2. The original installment was the most hurting of the trilogy, showing its 1991 programming roots in a bad way. The final installment was, no surprise, the best of the three over all. SOR3 basically did everything SOR2 did, but a bit better. In a surprise move, SOR3 actually dabbled in serious storytelling between stages, and included cut scenes with shifting facial images to lend some emotive weight to the subjects discussed.

On the diversity scale, in honesty, the first game was probably the best. Adam was a solid character as far he went, and the game stuck with that 90’s combo of tight everything for the player characters to wear. Adam was omitted in the sequels, replaced by his younger (like, 13 or so) brother. Eddie “Skate” was not a good replacement to me, since it didn’t really mesh with the series, especially in SOR3 where he was scripted as an adult member of the team, but was still a child sized sprite. Dr. Zan was a confusing entry, who didn’t add anything except some weird cyborg 90’s goodness to the show.

Would I play these again? Yes. SOR2 and SOR3 have unfinished business with me. Especially now that I know there are code unlockable characters in SOR3!

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