PAX East 2019 Hands-On Impressions: Streets of Rage 4

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

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Streets of Rage 4 | key art

Title: Streets of Rage 4
Publisher(s): Dotemu

Platform(s): To be announced
Release Date: 2019
Website, Facebook

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to play Streets of Rage 4. Just the fact that I can even say that Streets of Rage 4 exists is beyond surreal. Funny enough, we almost got Streets of Rage 4 back in the later half of the 90s, however that ended up falling through on two separate occasions, one of which led to the creation of a completely unrelated series known as Fighting Force. The Streets of Rage series is one that I really enjoyed playing on the Genesis and really stood out back in the 90s for its music, atmosphere and memorable characters. The games are featured in various compilations today, so the games are more accessible than ever before and I highly recommend trying them out, especially if you end up enjoying this new entry.

Streets of Rage 4 | Gameplay 2

The first thing that really stood out to me was the art style and overall aesthetic. All the characters are hand drawn as opposed to traditional sprites like in the old days. I was concerned with how well these new designs and animation would translate to the gameplay but I am pleased to report that they did an excellent job. After all, the folks over at Lizardcube are working on this and they did a really great job with the animation in The Dragons Trap. If you’ve played that, then you’ll know that these people are very talented and have a knack for creating a world that truly feels alive. Everything moves fast and the animation is smooth. It really looks like a cartoon in motion and only adds to the atmosphere. One minor nitpick I have with the visuals is that the camera, at least in 2 player mode, felt very zoomed out. So you have to look real close at the screen if you want to fully appreciate the character art. The reason I point this out is because for me, one of the things that made the visuals in the older games so appealing was how big the player and enemy sprites were. You really got to admire just how much detail was put into each and every frame of animation. Streets of Rage 4 doesn’t do a terrible job in this regard, but I can’t help but feel like it will be more difficult to appreciate the designs because they are a little bit harder to see in motion in comparison to the older games.

Streets of Rage 4 | Gameplay 3

In an era where 2D beat-em ups were a popular and arguably over-saturated genre, Streets of Rage was always a bit of a breath of fresh air simply because it offered something many of its peers didn’t – options. Your characters have several moves and techniques they can pull off, including throws, partner attacks, special moves, crowd control attacks and even evasive maneuvers. Thanks to this the action never got old and you also never felt overwhelmed as you were given enough tools at your disposal to get through almost anything the game threw at you. Streets of Rage 4, does a great job following this trend. Axel and Blaze have most of their old moves here and many of the returning enemies have similar patterns to what they had in the Genesis games. Some of the more advanced tricks from the earlier entries also work here like holding up and jump when being thrown to avoid taking damage or taking advantage of some enemies’ hit stun to effectively stunlock them. You can also earn stars as you defeat enemies and use those to perform a stronger attack much like you could in Streets of Rage 3.

Streets of Rage 4 | Gameplay

It’s clear that the developers really took the time to study and understand the old games and are setting out to deliver an experience that is both familiar to the long time fans, yet different enough to feel like a new experience. It’s been a long time coming, but Streets of Rage 4 is finally going to come out and if this demo showed me anything, it’s that this is game we should be looking forward to playing.

Are you a big fan of Streets of Rage and looking forward to Streets of Rage 4?
Let us know in the comments

About Justin Guillou

Justin joined Operation Rainfall to share his passion and knowledge for some of the more obscure video games out there.