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Streets of Rage

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Reviewed by Michael LoCascio Side-scrolling beat 'em ups have historically enjoyed far more success in the arcades than on home consoles. For instance, while Tradewest certainly brought a reasonable translation of Double Dragon to the NES, there was no way that a little 8-bit cart could match an explosive arcade game. And when Capcom eventually brought Final Fight to the SNES, most gamers were extremely disappointed to discover that there was no two-player mode, and that certain characters and levels were dropped from the game. It wasn't until Sega released Streets of Rage for the Genesis that fighting fans finally got the arcade-quality action and graphics that they had desired for a very long time. Anyone familiar with the aforementioned beat 'em ups will know exactly what to expect from Streets of Rage. The game progresses from left to right, and your job is to beat the daylights out of anyone and anything that you encounter. There are three different characters that you can choose from, and while the game provides grades for them in three different categories (strength, speed, and jumping ability), they are all pretty much the same - and they can all get the job done. One of the most appealing aspects of Streets of Rage upon its initial release was Sega's inclusion of a two-player cooperative mode (especially after Capcom dropped the ball with Final Fight). Not only can two players handle the numerous enemy attackers more effectively, but it was also possible to combine and pull off some incredible moves that required the cooperation of both gamers. Speaking of moves, Sega originally advertised the game as having dozens of moves that the player can learn to pull off, but Streets of Rage is really a lot simpler than they made it sound. You basically have a single attack button; repeatedly hit that button and your character will pull off a multitude of moves as he or she bashes on the enemy. Very few attacks in this game require any sort of technique (the aforementioned two-player moves are exceptions to the rule). You also have a limited quantity of "special attacks" at your disposal. These attacks have absolutely nothing to do with your fighter; a police car pulls up behind you and launches missiles at the enemy. The graphics in Streets of Rage are fairly impressive; although they're not quite as good as the ones in Final Fight for the SNES, they also don't cause the abundant flicker and slowdown that was present in Capcom's title. The music is superb; the Genesis probably had the worst sound of any 16-bit machine, but Streets of Rage did a fine job of showing what the system was capable of. Like any game in the genre, Streets of Rage becomes extremely repetitive after a while, even in two player mode. It's also a very easy game to complete, with most of its difficulty coming in the end-of-level boss fights. These bosses can be pretty tough; they can take a beating, and it usually just takes them a couple of hits to completely deplete your life meter. However, if you save your special attacks for these battles, they become relatively easy to get through. With Streets of Rage, Sega gave a lot of players exactly what they wanted: an arcade quality beat 'em up with a two player mode. I still prefer Final Fight myself, but if you enjoy these types of games, you'll probably be very impressed with Streets of Rage. Overall: 8 / 10

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