Genre: Beat-’Em-Up Developer: Sega Enterprises Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
Let me start off by saying that Streets of Rage II was my favorite video game on the Genesis. Based on how great it was, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on part three, which I got for my birthday. When I first played it, I saw that a lot of changes – some good and some bad – had been made.
Some great things have been added or return to Streets of Rage III. Just like in the original, if an enemy gets behind you and grabs you, you can kick and throw him over you. There’s also a few places in which you can throw or knock some enemies off of a platform or elevator, causing them to die instantly, no matter how much energy they have left. But that’s not all. Streets of Rage III also has many new features that weren’t seen in the series until this game. When you press up twice or down twice, your fighter will roll in that direction, which can be great for avoiding enemy onslaughts. For the first time ever, each fighter can also run. To make your fighter run, you just have to press left twice or right twice and keep hold of that direction the second time, and they’ll skate (Skate), skid (Zan), or run (everybody else) across the screen.
There are a few more great new additions that Streets of Rage III can be credited for. There are three different endings, two bad ones and one good one, that you can see depending on how you beat the game. If you get so far or get a certain number of points without dying, your player will get a star under their name (a max of up to 3 stars). This star represents a new kind of special, or an updated special that your fighter can perform while having that star. For example, if you get a star while playing as Axel, he’ll be able to do a more powerful “Bare Knuckle” (it was called the “Grand Upper” in SOR II) attack, and if you get more stars, he just might be able to do a different kind of attack. Another cool feature is being able to get hidden characters. If you do the right thing or put in the right code, you could earn the right to play as Roo the kangaroo or a famous enemy named Shiva.
Finally, there’s my favorite new addition. Each of the fighters (except Roo and Shiva) can use weapons in an awesome new way. Instead of just using knives to slash and pipes for bashing your enemies, depending on who your fighter is (each fighter has more skill with certain weapons), you will be able to use these weapons in a certain powerful way or two. For example, when you do the “Bare Knuckle” attack while Axel is holding a bat, he will swing it powerfully, Zan can use almost any weapon to bowl down enemies as if they were bowling pins, Blaze is very skilled with knives, and Skate can use knives to briefly fly at an enemy, or a pipe to swing around it real fast. But watch out, because all the weapons have energy to them and when that weapon’s energy runs out, you’ll have to just fight or find another weapon.
Axel, Blaze, and Skate are back from their perils in Streets of Rage II, along with a newcomer named Zan. That means there’s no Max Thunder this time around, and I didn’t like that idea because Max was my favorite. But Zan’s really not a bad addition. Zan is a cyborg who has great reach and a knack for using electricity against his enemies.
When it comes to the way Streets of Rage III looks and plays, it’s more like the first game than Streets of Rage II. The fighters and enemies look small compared to SOR II and even the graphics look more like they do in the original game. The levels this third time around are impressive and have a decent variety to them. There are the usual stages on the streets and inside buildings, but there are some new ones such as one where you get to battle a bulldozer, a disco floor full of dancers, and a subway full of ninjas and roaming subway trains. Once you get to the end of a level, you must face a boss. As soon as you get past a level, you’ll see part of the storyline unfold and then it’s off to the next.
There’s always a bar at the top-middle part of the screen that lets you know when it’s ok and when it’s not to do one of your special moves. For example, if you’ve ever played Streets of Rage II, then you probably know that it takes away a bit of your energy when you use a special attack against an enemy. It does in Streets of Rage III too, except for when that bar at the top-middle is full and flashing ‘OK’ at the top of it.
While you play through Streets of Rage III, be ready for a good challenge, because in parts such as the subway and certain bosses, the game will be pretty tough. If you don’t like the current settings, of course, you can always change them in the options screen. Also, if you would rather play the game with a friend, you can both go through the levels and bosses at the same time in a two-player game, or you can each select a character and duke it out against each other.
There are a few parts in Streets of Rage III such as the forest that are full of booby traps and ninjas, and the ending, that I thought had great graphics. However, there are other parts such as the street level where you fight Roo, that didn’t have graphics that were as impressive. Pretty much, some of the levels and backgrounds are very detailed and look spectacular, but others look like they were rushed through and look more like something from the original. The characters, including Axel, the other fighters, and all the enemies and bosses, don’t have nearly as good of animation or graphics that they had in Streets of Rage 2.
The sounds are a sort of mixed bag too. I like some of the sound effects such as when Axel jump kicks an enemy or head butts them, but others such as when Axel does his double kick or Zan punches an enemy, don’t sound so great. The voices in the game are impressive, but they could’ve been a little better. Finally, the music is ok I guess, but it doesn’t stand up to the upbeat techno music in…..yep, you guessed it, Streets of Rage II.
Even with all the great new features of Streets of Rage III, such as getting access to hidden characters and being able to use weapons in an AWESOME way, I still like Streets of Rage II the best by far. The reason is because Streets of Rage III just doesn’t seem to be as much fun and it doesn’t have some of the great features that SOR II had such as the great sound effects and the animation. Also, if you’re familiar with SOR II, then you’ll see that Axel’s, Blaze’s, and Skate’s moves haven’t changed that much except for maybe one or two new skills. To make it short, if you’re a huge fan of the series, then get this game without even thinking twice, but if you just get one game in the series, I recommend Streets of Rage II.
Streets of Rage III is my second favorite game in the series and I’ve played it a good deal. Even after beating it several times or playing multiplayer a lot, it’s still fun to play. It should’ve stuck to the look, sound, and the feel that Streets of Rage II had, only with the new ways to use weapons, being able to run and roll, and so on. If it would’ve done that, it probably would’ve been the best in the series, but instead the makers chose to make it more like the original in the series. If you ask me, I say that Streets of Rage III is the second best game in the series and it’s definitely worth buying.
SCORE: 8 out of 10