By Gemma ~ @Juicygamereviews
Streets of Rage 2 is arguably one of the most iconic 16bit side scroller games around. Known as Bare Knuckle II in Japan, Sega released Streets of Rage 2 in 1993 across Europe and North America (the Japanese release got released slightly earlier in 1992). For me, this time was the start of an important era of gaming: The 16bit era. By the time Streets of Rage 2 was released its predecessor, Streets of Rage, had already enjoyed almost two years of glory on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Sega Master System. But where would this glowing series end?
Streets of Rage 2 has four playable characters, Max, Axel, Blaze and Skate. Max and Skate replaced Adam. Each character differs slightly in individual perks but my overall choice was Blaze as her perks are even right across the board (power, technique, speed, jump and stamina). It's difficult to talk about Streets of Rage 2 without mentioning the original streets of Rage. The sequel fell short of the special attacks whereby characters could call upon a police car for reinforcement. This was one of the defining features of Streets of Rage and I was deeply disappointed Sega had banished from Streets of Rage 2. What replaced the special attack was a different form of attack. A powerful kick or punch to be blunt; which would deplete the health bar slightly. Personally, I feel this was a poor move on Sega's part as some of the arcade charm had disappeared for me. You may have a different opinion though?
Streets of Rage 2 adopts a classic storyline which can be summed up as fighting bad guys, save your friend. Okay so maybe that's a little loose. Adam (character from the original Streets of Rage) was kidnapped and it's our job to rescue him by fighting through eight levels of enemies, dangers and varying environments. It's perfect. It worked. It's storylines like this that we loved and still adore today: simple and effective. Mechanics were a little different. The gameplay can be quite tough in places and I found myself dying constantly. What makes this worse is the lag when too many enemies crowd the screen. I didn't notice this much back in 1993 but now it's sadly apparent and even worse on the Master System version. Nonetheless, Streets of Rage 2 always had a fantastic charm that can be experienced as a single player or with a friend. Two player mode is a whole heap of fun. We used to have a tactic of "you stay at the top of the screen and I'll stay at the bottom" in order to avoid inflicting damage to one another. Did you ever do this with your friends?
Choose one of four warriors and slam your enemies to the concrete with dazzling martial arts moves! Bash 'em with poles or slash 'em with knives and ninja weapons! Get ready for the hottest street combat ever as once more you walk the streets of rage.
Streets of Rage 2 back cover quote
The levels in Streets if Rage 2 are some of the most stunning we've ever seen. In fact Sega announced recently that they are releasing artwork from Streets of Rage, Shinobi and more. I'm not surprised given the aesthetic appeal of Streets of Rage alone. That first moment when you are thrust upon the streets! The bright lights of the store signs, the reflections from the bins and other objects and the fore, mid and backgrounds look stunning. I have no complaints over the level design.
The worst 16bit game ever?
Absolutely nowhere near! No. Streets of Rage 2 is a near masterpiece. I say near masterpiece due to the excessive frame rate lag at times. Aside from this Streets of Rage 2 is one of the best 16bit titles ever released. I'm sure there will be people who disagree but how many retro games can you play today that still feel new? How many retro games have a killer soundtrack like Streets of Rage 2? Sure there are games that come close but nothing will match the iconic level that Streets of Rage 2 is at. Ever! Did you know that we almost had a 3D remake too? Streets of Rage HD looked gorgeous too. Check out my video below and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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