Streets of Rage 2 on theSega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis was a staple title in my formative gaming years. I can count at least two times when my friend and I stayed up and had our first all nighter gaming session. Bashing the A, B and C buttons on the Sega Mega Drive controller and trying so hard to beat the game. Needless to say we never did. Sega got a lot right in the nineties. You wouldn’t have believed the Video Game Market crashed less than a decade before Streets of Rage 2 was released. Not in the nineties though; we were back and firmly in to a defining era of playing video games again. Streets of Rage 2 is one of those games that everyone cherished for its storyline, game play, variety and two-player prowess.
One year later
Streets of Rage 2 is set one year after the first game’s events and it seems like a lot had changed. With the introduction of Skate, the young brother of Adam, the storyline evolves in to a rescue mission that’s centred around the captive: Adam. Max is also added in to the deadly cocktail of characters and once again the streets are the backdrop for the long fights ahead. There’s not much more to say about the story other than, conclusively it’s a rescue mission. The formula seems to work really well.
Mechanics are everything
So how does Streets of Rage 2 play out. There are four characters to choose from; two of which are brand new to the series, Max and Skate. Blaze is the only female out of the quartet but I think there’s a sound balance in the abilities between the four. GameFAQs created a guide that sums up the characters abilities really effectively:
Very slow professional wrestler; powerful, though. He isn't as acrobatic as the others, so he can't vault over an enemy while grappling.
• Rush attack: A sliding tackle. Clears out enemies but does not send them flying.
• Back attack: Mule kick.
• Standing Special: Max spins with his fists outstretched; great for clearing enemies away.
• Moving Special: Max shoulder-barges forward, then rolls. Knocks enemies away, and does decent-enough damage.
Your bog-standard fighter. Average in all respects, but he's got good reach with his kicks.
• Rush attack: Axel scrapes the ground, clearing a path in front of him
and sending enemies flying.
• Back attack: A simple backfist.
• Standing Special: Dragon Punch - sweeping attack, hits all enemies in range.
• Moving Special: Axel wails on the enemy with a set of punches, ending in a neat uppercut.
Token girl, quick on her feet but lacking in power.
• Rush attack: Blaze cuts through enemies with an attack to their upper bodies. Sends enemies down to the ground.
• Back attack: Leg sweep. Can hit enemies on either side of Blaze.
• Standing Special: Somersault Kick - Nice for removing enemies in all directions.
• Moving Special: Energy ball attack, one-directional but cuts through to enemies standing in a line.
Fastest but weakest fighter. Double-tapping forward lets him run.
• Rush attack: A nasty-looking headbutt.
• Back attack: A backflip.
• Standing Special: A break-dancing spin kick, throwing away enemies in all directions.
• Moving Special: Corkscrew Kick - has a "cutting" effect that can deal more damage than you'd think.
I’ve played through Streets of Rage 2 with all four characters. Whilst Blaze feels incredibly nimble she seems weak compared to Axel. Max is way too slow for me which is highly frustrating when there’s a rush of enemies on the screen at any one time. In Streets of Rage 2 Agility is the key but coupled with the extra power of Axel’s biceps he is my preferred characters of choice. Okay so Max packs a punch too but he seems far too heavy to gain enough momentum in fights. What Streets of Rage 2 does so well with the character selection is the variety on offer. In Final Fight the different traits don’t feel as noticeable compared to Streets of Rage 2. This is one time where I’ll admit that Sega did something better than Nintendo. Let me know: Who is your favourite Streets of Rage 2 character?
Two player is a heap of fun. In fact I’d go as far to say that Streets of Rage 2 is better played with a companion. I love cruising through the stages saying things like “you get that pipe, I’ll get the next one”. It’s those types of moments that make the side scrolling beat-em up genre one of my favourite’s. Fortunately, there's not an ounce of lag in sight when playing two-player. I've played games previously whereby the sprites would slow right down as the numbers on screen increased. This is the case for Contra 3: Alien Rebels (great game by the way) but not for Streets of Rage 2. Bonus all around then.
Enemies naturally have different levels of strength with some of the boss fights proving to be very tough! I often used to wonder 'who named these guys?' Molecule and Particle are the seventh bosses! Who on earth decided that was a good idea? Let's look at the basic street punk too. Galsia is the name of the street gang that we often come in to contact with in the earlier levels of Streets of Rage 2. Some of their names include Surger, Talk, Garam and Jonathan to name a few and I remember (fondly) of laughing at these ridiculous names! For me, this all adds to the jovial memories of hammering Streets of Rage 2 back in the nineties.
The most deadly soundtrack in video game history
To this day Streets of Rage 2 has arguably one of the most iconic soundtracks in gaming history. The tracks are a blend of house, techno and electronic dance music. I don’t listen to any of this type of music at all but it seems like the fitting choice in this game. Yuzo Koshiro is the composer behind the hypnotic tunes in Streets of Rage 2. He was also responsible for some of the tunes in Ys and The Revenge of Shinobi. Sega sure knew how to pick them.
Over the last three years I’ve really started to appreciate how music and sound can amplify a game. If I wasn’t for such a catchy soundtrack, would Streets of rage 2 be as appealing? Probably not. What’s more is that Streets of Rage 2 is available to download on PSN which means I can play through with my Turtle Beach plugged in! What a way to take the sound to an even better level!
Streets of Rage 2 in today's world
Why are we still harping on about this game? I'll tell you why. Streets of Rage 2 is one of the best games on the Sega Mega Drive. A rich storyline based on friendship, trust and passion fuels the fire behind Streets of Rage 2. An eccelctic mixture of characters, enemies and levels provide hours of challenges with or without a friend on two-player mode. No matter who you are, you've heard of this game and I'm certain you'll continue to hear about it for years to come!
By Gemma @Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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