We’ve all wanted a new Streets of Rage game for over a decade, yet Sega has never responded. The trilogy was even left off the recently released Sega Genesis Collection, perhaps the most fitting place for the series to make a return this generation. After years of having their pleas fall on deaf ears, fans of Sega’s famous beat-’em-ups have taken things into their own hands. This past Sunday, December 31, BomberGames released the final version of its remake of what is essentially an amalgam of all three installments. Titled Streets of Rage Remake, this PC homebrew is more than just a few new sprites and backgrounds tossed together. No, this is a whole new vision of the universe that became one of Sega’s most famous, and notoriously forgotten franchises. Finally, Streets of Rage lives again!
Bigger, Badder, Better
From the moment you boot it up, you quickly come to realize that this isn’t the same Streets of Rage you remember. New, fresh artwork and animation greet you as a new storyline unfolds on your screen, and there are cool new dialogue boxes that further it along. Some of the characters have been redone from the ground up, and you’ll notice that the stages are much more detailed than before. This is a whole new Streets of Rage folks, and it does an excellent job of bridging that old school 2D gameplay with some of the bells and whistles that modern titles have made standard.
Games today are all about offering tons of modes of play, and Bombergames has brought this dynamic to its remake. The sheer amount of gameplay modes included here is incredible. You can play through the game with a friend or CPU-controlled second player, and there are extra modes like survival (think Golden Axe‘s dual) and even volleyball! A few of the extra modes are unlockable, so you’ll have to finish the main game to get them. An interesting addition is Flag Mode, which features two players dashing towards the middle of the screen to grab a flag. You can’t attack while holding it, and can only dodge and jump to avoid getting hit. The player who manages to hold the flag until his timer runs out wins.
In order to offer the best from all three games, the development team opted to go with an alternate universe setting, one in which Mr. X still runs wild over the city. Players can take control of a total of eight characters, two of which are secret at the beginning, and all the moves from the second and third games are available. Moreover, most of the team combo specials appear, and there are two police specials: a helicopter that roars across the screen and attacks everything in its path (the heroes save themselves by clinging to a rung ladder dropped by the helicopter!) and the classic police car, only this time it runs foes down as opposed to an officer stopping it to shoot a bazooka.
The most obvious change is to the levels themselves. There are now multiple branching stages (seven in all), like the flaming second floor of Streets of Rage 2‘s classic bar, and all the levels have been visually enhanced to include more levels of parallax, more color, and new atmospheric effects like fog. Interactive objects have been redone as well, such as the barrels that will explode after a certain amount of time after they’re hit. Not all the stages are merely enhanced, and a few that didn’t make it into the original three games, like the secret laboratory and jungle areas, have been finished up and included. Forty-three locations in all will ensure that you’ll go through this new brawler several times, as will the inclusion of four different endings (two good, two bad, and one “unresolved”). It was a blast to fight on rooftops, and the new areas added a welcome flavor of newness without compromising the what made the series so great in the first place.
More Character in Your Characters
The heroes themselves have also been greatly upgraded. In addition to the aforementioned moves, they can also move up and down while running, pilot new vehicles like motorcycles and jet skis, and even use guns! Adam, Axel, Blaze, Skate, Zan, and Max can make use of all the standard weapons like pipes and knives and replenish their health with apples and chickens. A word to the wise though: don’t think you’ll save that healing item until you finish mopping up all the baddies onscreen. Left unattended for too long, those juicy apples and poultry are fair game for the enemies themselves, and they’ll pick them up if you don’t! Thankfully, you can beat them to get the much-needed items back. The main character sprites are also editable, and you can tweak and adjust their colors to your hearts content. This little detail allows players to personalize their characters ever so slightly, something that will be pretty neat to have if the game should ever be played online (more on that later).
Speaking of foes, there are now a total of fifty-two of them to beat on, including lots of old favorites from all three games, and most of the original moves are present (about 430). There a bunch of new enemies, never seen before in a Streets of Rage game, which means you won’t be seeing the same old palate swaps using the same tired tactics. While not on par perhaps with modern offerings, it’s definitely a leg up over the actual cartridges themselves.
Hear That? That’s The Sound of A Beating
Bombergames strove to maintain as much of the atmosphere of Yuzo Koshiro’s seminal score, and great care has been taken to ensure that the new soundtrack is fresh but still appealing to longtime fans. Thirty-four different tunes, including new material and remixed classics, comprise the soundtrack, and some songs were provided by the Sega-16 forum’s own GeckoYamori! All the tunes sound great, so be sure to crank up your PC’s speakers as you play. After all, this is Streets of Rage!
All of this audio goodness is just a sampling of the customization that has been added. There’s a theater mode so you can view all the cut scenes you’ve unlocked so far (most of which feature new and exclusive artwork done specifically for this release) Players can also set up their own custom profile which can presumably be used for online play at a later date (it hasn’t been confirmed as of press time whether or not the game will have eventually have this).
A Worthy Remake
Let’s face it, Sega was never going to get around to doing anything with this franchise. Even the mighty Yuzo Koshiro was spurned in his efforts to get it going again. It’s only fitting then, that the same people who made it so popular in the first place — the fans — have now brought it back for another go-around. Rumors persist that the game may make its way to the PSP or Dreamcast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the developers decided to go that route. They’ve never stopped loving Streets of Rage, and Bombergames’ little New Years gift to all of us is testament to that. I urge anyone who’s ever enjoyed these games and wants to see a new take on them to head on over to Bombergames’ site and grab the 71meg download. It’s quick and easy, and all you need is a USB controller to get going. Don’t miss out!
Screenshots courtesy of Bombergames.