2014 will be the 20th anniversary of the release of Streets Of Rage 3, the last game released for the once popular Streets Of Rage franchise. Why Sega never released another S.O.R game is still a mystery to fans of the series and these same fans have waited through 3 generations of consoles for another game, but none were forthcoming.
Streets Of Rage made its debut in 1991 on the Mega Drive, released as an alternative to Capcom’s Final Fight which never saw a release on Sega’s 16 bit console, and to some S.O.R is a superior game. The 1st Streets Of Rage featured 3 playable characters, Axle,Blaze and Adam each of them battling through 8 rounds of side-scrolling action to get to the final boss Mr X. The gameplay was sublime featuring special attack which saw a police car arrive on the scene and fire a bazooka which would clear the screen of enemies, in addition to this each fighter had their own set of moves. Axle utilized a punch and roundhouse kicks combo, Adam was much the same but with an added uppercut and Blaze finished off her flurry with a somersault kick.
The 1st game was also released, in a paired down version at least, on Sega’s 8 bit consoles the Master System and Game Gear. The 8 bit versions featured simplified graphics and animation, with the Master System version missing the two player option whilst the Game Gear omitted Adam from the playable lineup.
The music in Streets Of Rage is brilliant, the soundtrack written by veteran game composer Yuzo Koshiro, whose other work included The Revenge Of Shinobi, Ys II, Master System Sonic The Hedgehog and Shenmue to name but a few. The soundtrack is a techno masterpiece and could easily be listened to outside the context of the game.
1992 saw the release of the sequel, Streets Of Rage II which saw a marked change to the gameplay mechanic of the 1st installment. The “Police Bazooka” special attacks made way for Final Fight style special moves and Adam was relegated to supporting character to make way for “Skate” and “Max”. Skate was the weakest but fastest of the new characters, being able to dash across the screen and jump on enemies backs to pound them in the head. Max was the slowest character in the game, however his great strength more than made up for this, utilizing a devastating powerbomb move and other heavy throws and punches.
As with the 1st game, Streets Of Rage II featured 8 rounds of fighting, this time taking in locations such as a Bridge Under Construction,Amusement Park and a Baseball Stadium.
Once again, the music to Streets Of Rage II was excellent with compositions by Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima giving another slice of early 90′s Techno goodness.
The 3rd and final game in the Streets Of Rage series, saw release in the summer of 1994 and yet again changes were made to the cast of playable characters. Once again Adam was missing from the group and Max was ousted in favor of Dr Zan, a cyborg with a vast array of electrifying moves at his disposal. In addition to the 4 characters available at the start of the game (Axle,Blaze,Skate and Dr Zan) S.O.R.III also contained hidden characters to unlock whilst playing through the game.
The 1st of these, Ash was only available in the Japanese release (Bare Knuckle III) as the homosexual stereotype utilized for his character was seen as offensive so was subsequently removed from the western release. Secondly there was Roo a boxing Kangaroo, who was made available after defeating his trainer in round two of the game. Thirdly we had Shiva the boss of round 1 who was unlockable by pressing B as soon as he was defeated until the start of round 2.
Soundtrack wise, composer Yuzo Koshiro created a new composition method named “The Automated Composing System” this method allowed for fast Techno rhythms and was the most advanced technique at the time, utilizing heavily randomized synth sequences.
As with Streets Of Rage and Streets Of Rage II, the story line of the Streets Of Rage III revolved around the sinister Mr X getting up to all sorts of shenanigans, this time creating an army of cyborgs to replace government officials in a plot to take over the world! S.O.R III featured 7 rounds of fighting with the 7th stage being split into Part A and Part B, this time our heroes had to fight through a Harbour, a Night Club and a Construction Site among others to make it to Mr X.
Then there was nothing, for nearly 20 years now fans have waited for a new Streets Of Rage game, a 4th Streets Of Rage game was in development but instead of designing a game from scratch, Sega bought a half-finished game called Judgement Force from Core Design in a bid to change it into a 3D Streets Of Rage game. You can still play this game today as it was released as Fighting Force for the Playstation, N64 and PC.
We asked our readers what they would like to see from a new Streets Of Rage game, the consensus was that it should keep the 2D side-scrolling feel of the original trilogy but with updated HD graphics and sound. This seems like a better idea than a 3D fighter in my opinion as some games do not translate well into a fully 3D world. Take Street Fighter for instance, the 1st fully 3D Street Fighter game, Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha was a rare let down in the Street Fighter series and showed that the game lost a vital part of its charm in the transition to 3D. Street Fighter IV however took 3D graphics and put them in a 2D fighting environment, making an excellent new generation Street Fighter game.
This model could also work well with a new Streets Of Rage game, keep the 2D game play mechanics but utilize cutting edge next-gen graphics and we could have a winner on our hands.
Come on Sega the world is crying out for a new Streets Of Rage game, even a HD remix of the original trilogy would be nice…