Streets of Rage 3 has been the victim of much flak over the past few years. Coming after the sublime Streets of Rage 2, the third installment had a fight (ho-ho!) on its hands to better such a fantastic game.
On paper, it certainly seems like it should be up to the task - the game clocks in at a whopping 24 megs - eight more than the legendary Street Fighter II on the SNES! However, the game was seen as something of a letdown. It didn't expand enough on the original concept, the music was 'terrible' and the plot a bit iffy.
In hindsight, it's easy to see why people were a bit cheesed off about shelling out for a game that wasn't very different from one they already owned. But make no mistake about it, Streets of Rage 3 is one of the finest scrolling fighters ever made, and easily one of the best ones on the Megadrive. The visuals are gorgeous, with loads of animation. The levels are varied and colourful, and there's plenty of challenge here too.
The music takes some getting used to - ironically it pre-dated the 'trance' era that came a short while after release (although it has to be said that the MD's sound chip isn't up to the task on some of the tracks). The plot is still a bit naff, but this can be forgiven. All in all, Streets of Rage 3 is a game worthy of re-assessment.
My advice is simple - if you're a fan of the series then Streets of Rage 3 should be near the top of your retro shopping list (assuming you're sad enough to have one). If you've never played any of the Streets of Rage series before, Streets of Rage 2 is probably a better entry point, but be sure to sample this third outing at some point.