Streets of What?
Christmas Day finally came and after the tortuous wait of visiting family, eating a ton of food and doing the dishes, we eventually got around to opening our presents. It was the usual fare of socks, knitted jumpers and toothbrushes but the moment came when my parents brought out the big gun, or in this case, the cannon.
A large, wrapped box, was placed infront of me. I knew exactly what it was, but I put on the best quizzical face I could just so my parents could get a kick out of my ‘surprise’. I dove in, ripping every last inch of wrapping paper off, dribbling at the prospect of what was underneath. And there it was, in all its glorious 90’s packaging, sat my very first games console, the SEGA Megadrive. I gawped at the box for what must have seemed like an eternity; until I read something that injected a dose of realisation: ‘with game: Altered Beast‘.
“Wait!” I said, “It comes with a game!?” I couldn’t believe it, I was so determined to get a Megadrive that I had completely forgotten to ask for any games to play on it with. “What a stroke of luck” I thought to myself, Altered Beast looked kinda cool, with its anamorphic characters and demons to punch in the face. I got up to thank my Mum and Dad but was stopped in my tracks by my brother holding out two smaller wrapped gifts “One’s from me, one’s from the dog” he said begrudgingly. I looked at the family dog, Jess, who was too busy sleeping to acknowledge my gratitude. I took the two extra gifts and sat down to unwrap them. I started with the dog’s present first and low and behold it was a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog. “Sweet” I said, I had seen this game in the commercials and it looked pretty fun, “Thanks Jess“. She responded with a snore.
I then opened the gift from my brother, it was another game. The cover art showed two characters, a man and a woman, fly kicking some gun holding gangsters in the face. Fire and destruction riddled the backstreet that was the setting of the cover. It all looked super awesome and 90’s, but my first thought was, “What the heck is Streets of Rage?“.
And so it begins…
I decided that for the rest of Christmas Day I would play a little bit of each game in alphabetical order. I’ve always had some sort of OCD and this was no exception. First up was Altered Beast and it was pretty cool. Morphing into werewolves, dragons and bears, whilst taking down hordes of demons was a lot of fun; but I didn’t want to play too much as there were other games to try out. Next up was Sonic the Hedgehog. All I can remember was it being blisteringly fast that it actually started to hurt my eyes. “Hmm, I can’t see this game being very popular or sprouting any more games” I thought “Maybe I’ll give it another go tomorrow, it’s getting late and I still have one more game to play“. So with that I took out the Sonic the Hedgehog cartridge, and placed in my final game, the one called Streets of Rage. I powered on the machine and was met with this:
Panning across a city landscape, with an electric synth beat, captivated me instantly. Reading about how this ‘city’ was once peaceful but now over powered by a ‘criminal organization’ dragged me into its deep storyline (Hey! I was nine!). And the only ones who could stop them were three ex-cops: Axel Stone, Adam Hunter and Blaze Fielding. I was hooked!
For those not in the know; Streets of Rage is a side-scrolling beat-em-up. The game takes place over 8 various stages, with their own unique bosses. And it can support 2 players! These types of games were huge in the arcades during the 90’s. To have my very own was something very special.
The concept was simple: you select your character – I was always Axel (something about that blue hairband…) – go through the 8 stages, and take down each boss. Along the way you could pick up various weapons such as: knives, metal pipes and glass bottles to help you take down the cohorts of Mr X. If things got too hairy you also had the use of your ‘special move’, where you could call on a S.W.A.T car to rain a fiery destruction all over the playing field. Nice.
Each character had their pros and cons. Adam had the strength, but lacked the speed, Blaze had the speed, but lacked the strength, and Axel sat firmly in the middle, although his jumping ability wasn’t so hot. Their move sets included short combos, from hitting the B button constantly, Blaze would finish her’s off with a nifty looking backflip. Flying kicks, this is where Axel wouldn’t fare so well. Back attacks and various grabs, including: suplexes and shoulder throws.
You could also do team attacks in 2 player mode, where you could throw your partner across the screen. At the time it was very impressive, and it made me feel like a martial arts master as I would attempt these same moves on my older brother. Who says games promote violence?!
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