And so we arrive at the very zenith of retro gaming. I still vehemently maintain that octogenarian dentures-incontinence-and-boobs-drooping-to-the-floor-like-gorilla-arms games don’t get any better than Streets of Rage. I’ve been known to challenge dissidents to this actual knowledge-fact to a vicious bareknuckle fight to the death. (There was hair-pulling, ball-kicking, all that shit. It wasn’t pretty.) The fanaticism is strong with this one, as Darth Vader once (almost) wheezed asthmatically.
The city quakes in the tyrannical grip of Mr. X and his goons. This guy’s criminal cornucopia is never detailed, but I’m sure he’s guilty of everything from failing to flush the toilet to running over someone’s hamster. (Either the hamster was in the road or the car was in the house... both seem entirely implausible, but that’s the kind of asshole you’re up against. Driving straight through your living room window to squash a small rodent sounds like just the kind of thing he’d do to liven up a rainy afternoon.) You take the role of one of a tenacious triumvirate of police officers, who have vowed to kick the many asses required to bring order back to the streets. You’ll also have to sweep up the vast puddles of rage that appear to have been wantonly spilled everywhere. I fear the bad guys hijacked the trucks of rage that were delivering it to the local emporiums of rage. What the hell will they do without their rage supplies? Local businesses are at stake!
But as I say, Axel, Blaze and Adam are on hand. They’ll progress through eight stages of scrolling beat ‘em up action on the way to Mr. X. Your journey will encompass a downtown area, a beach, some kind of factory, and more. There’s a whole miscellaneous mélange of locations and opponents. With only the ever-trusty jump button and attack button, you’ll take on hordes of weird punk guys, ninjas, wrestlers and dominatrix women with whips. (Quite a cosmopolitan place to live, wherever the hell this is supposed to be set. I never meet women like that around these parts, that’s for sure. The occasional sumo wrestler does stroll by, granted.) The bosses are a highly irregular bunch as well. The first of these is the guy on the right, who appears to be sporting a rather fine pirate fancy dress outfit. He also wields a razor-edged boomerang, and attempts to kick your teeth down your throat from right across the screen with those damn lanky legs of his. I don’t approve of either of these unscrupulous activities. As you can also see on the right, an oddly Scandinavian-looking dude in an unwashed Die Hard vest has appeared on the scene. By the look of it, he’s either going to beat him to death or have an impromptu techno-rave with the pirate in the middle of the street. (Probably the former, that place is festooned with enough neon lights to rival Akihabara. Madness.)
Streets of Rage really nailed the controls. There’s an inexplicably meaty feel behind each attack. There’s absolutely no form of feedback whatsoever, granted, but this is the sense I get nonetheless. The walking into an enemy to grapple and throw them about like the evil unconcerned by matters of personal hygiene punks they are mechanic is fantastic too. This is sorely missed in Golden Axe, making the game feel as abysmally archaic as your average cave painting by contrast. Streets of Rage remains a fantastic experience, and a timeless classic. The sequel may have been infinitely superior, but it doesn't share the nostalgic hold on me the original continues to have. It may have existed since the days when Neanderthals just learned to scratch their asses and touch themselves, (circa 1991 for the historically-challenged) but it’s still absolutely worth a visit today.
Here’s some footage, fun and good times with fire-juggling loons and Wolverine/Freddy Krueger fans abound:
Article by Chris Littlechild
Like my work? Have feedback? Hit me with your mighty word-fists on Twitter