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  1. #1

    Streets of Rage 4

    Putting my money where my mouth is, I pre-ordered this at about 11.45pm, and downloaded it immediately.

    I’ve only played the first level, but initial thoughts are that it’s a worthy addition to the franchise.

    The front end is arcadey and fast. There’s no messing about. When you press a button, it’s instant. There seems to be a fair number of features to explore, but I went straight into the story mode. It’s set ten years later. Axel carries more timber around the midriff. Blaze is probably less of a wad. The two other characters have very briefly-referenced backstories, but I can’t remember what they were. One of them was Zan’s student, or something. Who cares?

    Mr X’s kids are causing bother. That’s what you need to know. I picked Axel and, about 1 second into the game, paused it and started to mess around with the settings.

    The retro filter is... ghastly. I must have played SOR2 and 3 on a 14 inch portable, because on a 32 inch HDMI tv, the sprites are just a big old mess. Kudos to the devs for including it, though. I switched back pretty sharpish. The animations are neat. They jar for a few seconds, then it clicks. The backgrounds are lovely and colourful, even when drab. There’s options to reduce background detail and stuff, too. I tried it and it got rid of a few rats and things from the setting, but I really do prefer the game as it’s intended to be played.

    The retro soundtrack is a lovely addition, but in contrast to the visuals thing, I decided to switch it off in order to give the new soundtrack an airing. It’s ok. Too early to tell, really.

    The other staples are still there. The food is the same (although you can change the art). The sound effects for collecting them. The GO arrow. It’s all there. The first level was vibrant and energetic to look at.

    Gameplay wise, it’s spot on. I found myself reverting to the d-pad after a few minutes, just because. Axel’s uppercut is there. The back punch. The jump. The grab. The standard punch. The special. It’s all there. And it feels great. It feels just as meaty as it ever did, ably aided by great sound effects. Kicking/punching the bins, the way the character moves up and down the play area - it’s all as-was. So much so, that I was on autopilot, and didn’t get hit for the first 5 minutes. I was performing all the old tricks. The grabs and throws, the timed movement up the screen to grab an opponent from a certain angle. Avoiding the knife Galsias. Jumping over the Y Signal slides. It’s superb. They’ve nailed it.

    Then it started to get a bit harder. The level has a mid boss and a final boss that are very, very familiar. Old stalwarts reskinned, I’ll put it that way. It was familiar, yet still a challenge. I’m out of practice and I’d had a few liquid isolation dampeners by that point. So my reactions were sluggish. I only just completed the first level. Pathetic, and indicative that it’s not a pushover,

    The beauty of the game is its familiarity, with its slight twists. I managed to defeat Galsias in exactly the same way as I’ve always done. Donovan still managed to get the cheeky slap on me before I unleashed the blows. It’s like playing 2 or 3 again, nuances and all.

    The one or two new enemies I spotted seem decent enough. They fit in the world. There’s one type of lazy bum character you’ll enjoy slapping.

    Only notes of criticism - and it’s of me rather than the game in some places. Despite the familiarity of the controls, I kept having to pause to check the special punch. The backslap, too. There’s no double-tap forward run, like in SOR3, which is jarring. I can’t work out how to land safely as I’m thrown (which has been a lot).

    Minor things, though. As far as first levels go, it’s like a comfy pair of slippers. Different visual style apart, it could have been made 25 years ago. There’s the odd touch which is lovely and thoughtful, yet not obtrusive. Such as Axel’s right-right-attack button uppercut, which now leaves a few flames scorching along the deck. It’s a welcome addition, and not offensive in the slightest.

    These devs understand this game completely.
    Last edited by prinnysquad; 30-04-2020 at 12:49 AM.

  2. #2
    Got to Stage 2 and the Commissioner kicked my arse but my oh my this really is awesome, deserving of the high praise it’s been getting.
    It looks and sounds quality, it immediately felt like I was playing a Streets of Rage game as soon as Blaze walked on screen and started punching some thugs.
    Also now being able to mid air juggle characters and combo them works so well, a very welcome update to SoR.
    Last edited by Family Fry; 30-04-2020 at 08:43 AM.

  3. #3
    This game is hard. I don’t know if it’s just me being out of practice, but it feels tough.

    I managed to complete stage 2 second go (those shield guys are hell), and stage 3 was a doddle. Stage 4, however, with what I presume is the end of level boss, is a pig. You get your lives reset at the beginning of each level (on Normal - I don’t know if it’s the same with other difficulties), but I just seemed to be surfing the edge of ‘Game Over’ the whole time.

    I’ve managed to find the throw land combo, which is good.

    Other nice touches so far:
    You can swap out your character at the beginning of each stage.
    There’s some nice effects on the ground when you land. A small thing, but just a little touch.
    The enemy interactions are a nice feature from Stage 2 onwards.
    The backgrounds have some neat features - at one point I was duking it out in the foreground, and in the distance I could see other brawls going on.

    This game really does play like SOR. It could have been made in 1995, gameplay-wise.

  4. #4
    Managed to get through Stage 4 by using an assist. They’re a decent feature until you can hone your skills. It stops you from hitting a plateau. I traded an extra life for my score being divided by 2.

    Stage 5 was great. A really strong level, with decent tunes and some attractive level hazards.
    Stage 6 was tougher. It’s another really nicely-designed level, full of character. I managed to get through the mid-boss any some tough minions, before inexplicably getting smashed to bits by a room full of Galsias wielding weapons.

    The weapons are another area that’s been developed well. I’ll not list them, but each one is very good, and fully in keeping with the series. Same with the new characters. One type never takes his hands out of his pockets.

    Loving the combos. It’s really satisfying to throw a guy against a wall, have him bounce back into your punches, then finish the move with a grand upper.

  5. #5
    I'm almost finished this now, on stage 6 (out of 8). It's an interesting one for sure, many positives and negatives.

    First off, they got the gameplay right. It feels like SOR, albeit a sort of hybrid of SOR1, 2, and 3. Some characters, such as Axel feel pretty limited and lacking in moves, but others, such as Cherry feel like they're from SOR3 on steroids. There are unlockable characters too which will be fun to play around with. Difficulty seems okay, it's somewhat challenging but not as much as the originals, especially as you save at the end of each stage and get a full refill of lives. There are even Nintendo style options to dumb it down and make it easy if you're struggling. There are of course some cheap enemies, but that's par for the course with games like this.

    Now the contentious parts - the aesthetics. Graphically, it's a mixed bag. A few of the characters look pretty good, but most look borderline terrible. The backgrounds are sketchy and kind of unfinished, with some looking more worked up than others. The overall impression is that it just looks misjudged. Lizard Cube's art worked okay Wonderboy, and I think would be fine in something like Rayman, but in SOR...? It just doesn't work to my eyes. It looks incredibly European, which I guess will work for some but not others.

    Then there's the music. The main level themes are by some French composer and are for the most part devoid of any melody and are essentially scratches, rhythms and dubstep type stuff. It's awful. The boss themes are from a range of guest composers and are far better, but none sound like they belong in SOR, and each is wildly different in style. Fortunately there's an option to use a selection of music from the originals, which is definitely how I'll be playing this.

    I'm playing this on PC and it runs fine and supports HDR, but it's turned way, way down and looks like SDR. There's no ultrawide support either, which wasn't a surprise.

  6. #6
    Pretty much agree with the above. Plays fine, art style is horrendous and the early music at least forgettable. Doubt ill put it on again, would rather play Mutation Nation or Final Fight.

  7. #7
    Guess the art style is marmite. I love the sketchy backgrounds. It gives the place an untidy feel that suits the aesthetic of the concept. I can’t be bothered with spoiler tags, so I’ll not go into details, but most stages have some wonderfully atmospheric backgrounds - both active and passive. I was super-impressed with the end of level fight of stage 5.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Baseley09 View Post
    Pretty much agree with the above. Plays fine, art style is horrendous and the early music at least forgettable. Doubt ill put it on again, would rather play Mutation Nation or Final Fight.
    Mutation Nation is very under rated.

  9. #9
    Best get Eurogamer do a retro review then. Just bung them a few quid.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by vanpeebles View Post
    Mutation Nation is very under rated.
    Just like lots of stuff on the Neo, sadly

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