Streets of Rage 4 Switch Review – The Stuff Dreams are Made of

The iconic beat ’em up of the 90s is finally back after a 25 year wait. Wow that makes me feel old. Axel, Blaze, Adam and pals are back with avengence in Streets of Rage 4. Created by Dotemu; experts in bringing back lost gaming IPs, Lizardcube; beholders of beautiful hand drawn graphics as seen in the fantastic Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s trap and Guard Crush; beat ’em up game developers that love Streets of Rage. This is hands down  the definitive and best Streets of Rage ever made, perhaps besides the PC only unofficial Streets of Rage Remake but unfortunately for the world that was made before someone at Sega had the sensible idea of hiring Christian Whitehead instead of shutting his projects down. We all know how that turned out: Sonic Mania.

What sheer beauty!

Lessons learnt at Sega and we’re here: Streets of Rage 4. From the get go the nostalgia is real, this is a game for everyone but fans of previous titles are undoubtedly going to enjoy it more. Joining our trio of vigilantes from the original game are Cherry (Adam’s daughter, keeping the tradition of someone new from the Hunter family being playable) and Floyd (Zen’s disciple, taking the place of the muscle cake character). Play up to 4 players on one console or 2 player smooth as silk online (with friendly fire on or off) and save Wood Oak City once again, but this time from Mr X’s son and daughter: the Y twins.

Online is a blast.

The action is just as you remembered and that’s to say it’s freaking awesome. Jump, punch, combo, grab, throw weapons, blitz move (double forward attack) your way through all the foes you remember and love, just like the good ole days. But this isn’t just a rehash of old. Oh no no Streets of Rage 4 is no Star Wars VII because there are new enemies, new star moves taking the place of the police strikes from the first game but are invincible attacks by your character, a new defensive and air special, new mechanics such as having the chance to earn back your health after a special by laying the smackdown, wall bouncing and juggling enemies for extended combos, an addictive new points system whereby the more damage you deal in a combo without getting hit, the bigger the point bonus you get. The beauty of this is that it’s not a true combo, you don’t to Send an Kagura style a billion hit combo, just keep up the beat down with little time passing between successive hits.

Best environmental hazard ever in a Streets of Rage game.

The difficulty is just perfect, my first play through on normal I ended almost every level with half a health bar and no lives or star attacks left. Then moving onto hard I found it similarly the ideal challenge. When you play multiplayer things are a lot easier but with difficulty going up to mania just like in the classics, no matter how incredible you are at Streets of Rage it can be hard enough you’ll barely scrap your way through levels. When you do get a game over you start back at the beginning of a level but you’re given an option of adding extra lives and stars at the expense of your score for the level.

Uh oh spaghettios

Once you finish the 12 outstandingly nostalgic but new levels on offer in around 2-3hours you unlock Stage select, Arcade that gives you one credit to complete the whole game with no saves and Boss rush modes. Happily there’s plenty to keep you playing as you get a rank for each and every level as well as online scoreboards for score chasers. The biggest incentive to keep playing is a fans wet dream of the inclusion of every classic character from the first 3 games, complete with their original retro graphics and move sets. These characters are slowly unlocked as your lifetime score increases. There’s also 4 classic bosses from Streets of Rage 2 to find by tasing the Bare Knuckle (the Japanese name for Streets of Rage) arcade machines.

Excuse me while I go clean myself up.

I never imagined I’d get to play such a beautiful Streets of Rage game but thanks to Lizardcube’s stunning hand drawn graphics my dreams have come true. On top of that there’s two retro filters to distort the striking art style. All the sound effects and soundtrack are also remarkably nostalgic bringing back the best memories of childhood with the soundtrack partly written by legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro (who wrote the soundtracks for the original games), though the other composers did such a fantastic job you’d think the whole thing was written by Koshiro himself.

Even the retro filters are a thing of beauty.

Streets of Rage 4 is unforgivingly retro, it hasn’t got the mechanics or systems of many modern games but it has got everything that made the original trilogy so beloved and more, making it a true modern classic. If you’re a fan of beat ’em ups you owe it to yourself to get this game, rather than being the least bit disappointed you’ll be begging for more of this blissful retro action.

Even the story screams classic Streets of Rage.

A huge thank you to Dotemu for providing the review code. Streets of Rage 4 is available now on the Nintendo eShop for £22.49/€24.99/$24.99.

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