Hall of Fame: Streets of Rage 2
It’s that time of the month again folks, it’s time for us to delve into the depths of our mind, here at GodisaGeek.com, and pull out a game that we all just loved. Something that has a special place in our hearts and will be remembered for all time as something great. On this edition of the Hall of Fame we’ll be talking about one of those games that a lot of us grew up with, before even Mario was being called “too violent” we had Streets of Rage and its sequels, the game which we’ll be talking about today is the second of these sequels, Streets of Rage 2.
Colm Ahern: The side scrolling beat ‘em up has become a thing of the past (more or less), but at one stage it was the FPS of its day; although their sequels have a tendency to be hit and miss, sometimes they expand a little on what was already there or they simply don’t hit the sweet spot that the original did. With Streets of Rage 2, SEGA expanded on the original massively. Better graphics, better sound, better gameplay.
The inclusion of two new characters was a great thing as it made the gameplay more diverse with each having a different feel to them, let’s face it, Axel and Adam were basically the same character in the first one. Streets of Rage 2 has a very underrated soundtrack in terms of gaming history too. There are many tracks that I couldn’t possibly hum off of the top of my head, but once I hear them, I realise they have been driven into my head after countless hours of trying to get to Mr. X.
On top of all that, gone were the specials that called the cops and in their place was a bitchin’ move the character did themselves. No more arguing about, “WHO CALLED THE GUARDS!?!…WE WERE MEANT TO SAVE THAT FOR THE BOSS!”.
That brings me onto my next point that makes me love this game even more; co-op. I find it a crying shame that multiplayer has shifted so much into the realm of online, because Streets of Rage 2 is a prime example of why it’s much better with your buddy there next to you on the couch. Arguement and celebration went hand in hand in this game. Streets of Rage 2 contained the true meaning of co-op. No headsets or half way around the world crap. You, your friend, a Mega Drive and some “heated” discussions. That’s all you needed.
Memories of “NO, you got the last chicken, I NEED this apple anyway, look at my health for Christ sake!”, those annoying Ultimate Warrior lookalikes that just won’t die, the jump and kick method with Axel that nearly always worked, these are all reasons why I love this game. Also, no one ever wanted to be Blaze; maybe my friends were just sexist pigs.
Ray Willmott talks about the balancing of Streets of Rage 2 and why it’s a deserving entry into the GodisaGeek.com Hall of Fame.
Ray Willmott: SEGA didn’t create the side-scrolling beat-em-up with Streets of Rage, but they certainly got the attention of the world with it. It’s the second instalment in the series that offered a variety of characters to suit all tastes, a dexterous skater, a hard-hitting cop, a professional wrestler and an athletic dance instructor. Streets of Rage 2 was all about giving the player choice from the very beginning, and because of that, playing it through from start to finish still managed to feel fresh no matter how many times you fired it up. Of course, for each character’s strength, they also had their weaknesses, and the attention afforded to the balancing of the game is some of the best the genre has ever known.
Perhaps that’s why the game remains so timeless, and the crown jewel of the whole series. Perhaps that’s why it’s the one that gets ported to all major current formats and the other two are quickly forgotten. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the game’s brilliance comes from, yet when you put it shoulder to shoulder along other old school beat-em-ups that have been revisited, its quality is clear for all to see. For its balance, superior progress over the original, bare-knuckled brutality and co-operative excellence, Streets of Rage 2 is completely worthy of its Hall of Fame distinction. It may not have been the first, but it’s definitely one of the best.
Lee Garbutt talks about his love of the music in Streets of Rage 2 and poses a question to SEGA.
Lee Garbutt: Without a doubt, one of my favourite Mega Drive games ever. It improved upon the already amazing original by dramatically improving the visuals, increasing the number of available moves and adding more characters. On top of that SEGA made the fantastic move of getting Yuzo Koshiro to return and compose the game’s music. It’s hard to believe that he squeezed such listenable music out of a system that wasn’t as well equipped as the SNES in terms of sound. I still play the game every few months, by myself or with friends, it is the perfect arcade brawler.
Time for a real sequel, SEGA?
New writer Benjamin Maltbie talks about his love for the franchise, especially Streets of Rage 2.
Benjamin Maltbie: It’s hard to isolate and identify which part of the Streets of Rage formula made the games such a significant part of my childhood. Retrospectively, the games are laughably ridiculous in nature and, indeed, that is partially why I can enjoy them in my adulthood.
If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the emphasis on co-operative gameplay is what secured the cartridge a nigh permanent spot in my Mega Drive. In fact, if I were to go up into my attic and dust off the old console, there is a very good chance that one of the three titles is lodged in there now.
The mechanics of the game support co-operative gameplay in a positively impressive way. One that was almost unprecedented at the time. For instance, you could physically interact with your partner to create perfectly valid strategies for overcoming the thuggish hordes. You had to communicate and divvy up the enemies. You had to ration the items. You also had to not beat the crap out of your buddy for your own amusement. Great times.
Most importantly, the game was never unfair. Designed originally for the Mega Drive and later ported to the arcades, the game was void of impossible challenges designed explicitly for extracting quarters from the hands of teary eyed children. If you die, it’s your own damn fault. Man up.
Oh, one last thing, the ability to attack enemies behind you without changing direction was fantastic!