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3D Streets of Rage (3DS eShop)

Game Review

3D Streets of Rage Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Street smart

When Nintendo secured the domestic conversion of Capcom's Final Fight for its newly-launched SNES console way back at the dawn of the '90s, it left many Sega fans utterly distraught. Cody, Haggar and Guy's coin-op escapade was the hottest ticket in arcades at a time when the side-scrolling fighter was very much the genre of choice. Thankfully, Mega Drive / Genesis owners didn't have to wait long for a title which would fill the void; in fact, Streets of Rage arguably managed to surpass Capcom's effort, at least on home consoles, and it's now the latest addition to the growing selection of Sega's 3D retro classics on the 3DS.

3D Streets of Rage takes the walking-and-punching format laid down by Final Fight and seeks to improve it in every conceivable manner. While the character sprites are noticeably smaller than those in Capcom's game, it allows for more on-screen action — you'll often find the environment filled with enemies, but the smaller sprites and wider areas mean you never feel as cramped as you do in Metro City's back-alleys.

Three characters are on offer here, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Axel is fast and powerful but can't jump very high, while Adam has a similar level of power and is better in the air, but isn't as swift on this feet. Blaze is quick and can leap high, but is the weakest of the trio when it comes to dealing out damage. Each fighter has their own unique combo attack and can grapple with enemies to deliver close-quarter damage (Axel's head-butt is executed with an especially sickening thud) or throw them across the screen, damaging any other enemies they happen to collide with.

That's not the end of your offensive capabilities, though. When grappling with an opponent, a press of the jump button will cause your character to vault over your foe, thereby allowing you to slam them into the ground for extra punishment. In two-player mode, you can grab each other and perform special throw attacks, and instead of special moves — as seen in Final Fight and subsequent Streets of Rage titles — you can call upon the services of the local police constabulary, who duly roll onto the screen and deliver napalm death to your enemies, yet conveniently (and somewhat inexplicably) making sure to leave your character totally unscathed.

The sheer variety of moves and attacks available helped set Streets of Rage apart from similar games back in the early '90s, and it's testament to its playability that the title still feels fresh and exciting two decades later. While Streets of Rage 2 would unquestionably go one better, the original's pace and purity make it feel like a slightly more accessible experience. The level design — while not quite as varied and imaginative as that seen in the sequel — is also noteworthy.

Streets of Rage is also the game which many closely associate with legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro. Like so much of what is on offer here, the soundtrack is utterly timeless; the ground-breaking mixture of dance, funk and hip hop themes sounds as fresh and appealing today as it did in 1991. While Koshiro's work on the sequel is just as critically acclaimed, there are many who feel the music in this title is of a higher quality.

The transition from 2D to 3D has been a subtle one for Streets of Rage. There's not a great deal of parallax to be seen in the first few levels, although this does change as you progress through the game. The result is a game which doesn't use the 3DS console's auto-stereoscopic display quite as effectively as its stable mates 3D Sonic the Hedgehog and 3D Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, but the effect is always there, always noticeable and always welcome.

The single biggest issue with Streets of Rage is the lack of challenge. This isn't a tremendously tricky game, with many enemies being dispatched with just a single combo attack. Bumping up the difficulty level can prolong the lifespan of the game — and the fact that there's more than one ending also adds replay value — but you can reasonably expect to see the end credits roll within a day or so. Thankfully, the game's local co-op mode increases the longevity, as this is a fantastic title to play with a friend that's also picked it up.

Developer M2 has performed its usual magic when it comes to additional options — you can play either the "International" or Japanese version of the game (it goes by the name Bare Knuckle in its homeland) and remap all of the buttons to suit your own personal taste. The biggest bonus is the introduction of a one-hit kill mode by the name "Fists of Death". Here, enemies can be dispatched with a single blow, making it feel like you're playing an episode of Fist of North Star. It's an amusing distraction from the main game, but not a feature you're likely to use more than once.

Conclusion

Streets of Rage is often unfairly overlooked due to the incredible reputation of its sequel, which would arrive a year later. This is actually something of a shame, because when viewed away from the shadow of its illustrious successor, the original game is actually one of the best examples of a side-scrolling brawler you're likely to witness. It's fast, responsive and has more variety than most titles in this well-worn genre. Furthermore, it looks and sounds utterly fantastic, although the sequel would offer far superior visuals.

As a 3D Classic, Streets of Rage doesn't offer as many embellishments as some of M2's other efforts, but this matters little when the game is of such a high standard. We can only hope that the even better Streets of Rage 2 will get the same treatment in the not too distant future, but for the time being this is still a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

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User Comments (48)

Shiryu

#1

Shiryu said:

Hope the sequel comes soon, but having this on the go is quite the luxury! Ah, Yuzo Koshiro, you are such a musical genius...

readyletsgo

#5

readyletsgo said:

Hmm, maybe...

I got the 3D sonic last week, only played it a little bit and never went back, which is weird cause I loved it back in the 90's. Wonder would the same happen with SoR if I got it.

sinalefa

#7

sinalefa said:

Nice to hear it kept the co-op, not so nice to hear you still need two copies of the game.

TruenoGT

#8

TruenoGT said:

The "one-hit kill" mode is super fun. Also, the home screen sound bite for this is pretty baddonkey. The way they handled 3D is really cool and understated in the review IMO. It IS subtle, but they clearly put some care into the depth of objects even in the flat background layers (trash cans, steps, etc)

khululy

#9

khululy said:

I was really more impressed by the use of 3D in Streets of rage then I was with sonic or Shinobi III. While both awesome games, I really love how they added depth to the street itself even little things like stairs and pillars are popping out in the usually flat background, And the intro just ... oozes late 80's early 90's vibe with the music and scrolling cityscape while you read about the city being taken over by evil gangs (thank you The warriors for this endless stream of gangwar games.).

RadioShadow

#10

RadioShadow said:

I like the fact they modified the options so you can adjust the number lives / select a round. While this can be done in the original, you had to hold a button combination on the second controller to activate these options.

I loved this game when i was younger and what have loved to play it on the go. Now as an adult, I can! YAY!

drexegar

#11

drexegar said:

@Shiryu Totally agree, ALSO Yuzo Koshiro also suggest that you use the 2nd sega PSG emulation in the options, the difference you can hear is that second sound setting gives you more surround sound. So I set all my sega games to genesis 2, or megadrive 2 for people in the east.

drexegar

#12

drexegar said:

@unrandomsam Well after capcom figure out how to program 2 people into final fight, they never bothered to remake final fight 1, even though they did made final fight guy for the snes, (it final fight with guy instead of cody lol). Nintendo need to release final fight one from the GBA collection that one is perfect with the added alpha versions of guy and cody.

drexegar

#14

drexegar said:

@Shiryu I have the American version so I don't know if the sound options are backwards, but I do love the extra surround sound genesis 2 puts in streets of rage. But hey We all have our difference tastes.

Ahh, a FM genesis album? I'll check it out and download now!

Shiryu

#15

Shiryu said:

@drexegar No no, it's a rearrangement album by yours truly to celebrate the 25 years of the SEGA Megadrive. "Streets of Rage" is in there of course. Hope you enjoy!

BulbasaurusRex

#16

BulbasaurusRex said:

Eh, not enough of an upgrade to make it worth double-dipping.

Now if they could give us the third game with an option to play the Japanese version, that would be worth it.

Luna-Harmony

#18

Luna-Harmony said:

Great i love streets of rage series no2 then 3 then 1 are my list. There is nothing like playing streets of rage 2 late at night with the music cranked up its like a rave.

f00had

#19

f00had said:

My only complaint with this is the lack of download play, if you wanna do 2 player both players need to buy the game.

sdelfin

#20

sdelfin said:

@Shiryu it is a lot more complicated than the model one having better sound than the model two, though that's usually true. The last revision of the model one has the same messed up sound of the early model two systems. There were quite a few revisions of the model two. The early ones have audio problems including hiss. Others have a PSG volume issue. Later revisions of the model two that have the smaller PCB have better sound, but I don't know if it's any better than most model one units.

sdelfin

#22

sdelfin said:

I just played through this game last month on my Sega Genesis. I was surprised how fun it was and how well it holds up. The first Streets of Rage is still a good game. I did run into a few annoying enemy behaviors and timing issues and the game is definitely clunky compared to the sequels, but it aged a lot better than I expected. It's good to see how many options the developers are including in these releases. It wouldn't surprise me if they do a conversion of Streets of Rage 3 that lets people choose the Japanese version. That would be a great thing.

alvieao

#25

alvieao said:

Sega and M2 have consistently done a tremendous job with their range of 3D Classics titles. I still love the second game, but the original Streets of Rage is plenty of fun and Yuzo Koshiro’s soundtrack remains timeless. I'd be more than happy if M2 did 3D Classics versions of 2 and 3; in the latter's case, having the option to play the Japanese release Bare Knuckle III would be awesome.

sdelfin

#27

sdelfin said:

@Shiryu that's a good rule to follow for sure. Most of those are good ones. To add to that advice, I'd say to anyone getting the system to get a model one with "High-Definition Graphics" written on it as those come before the audio changes. That applies to the North American systems. I haven't yet researched the visual differences in Japanese and European systems.

Shiryu

#28

Shiryu said:

@sdelfin Over here in Europe they just say "16-BIT" but the Japanese takes the cake: It says "16-BIT" in giganormous font size and the logo reads "Audio And Visual Intelligent Terminal High Grade Multipurpose Use".

sdelfin

#29

sdelfin said:

@Shiryu that never stops being funny to me. I love it. Thanks for sharing. If you don't mind, could you tell me how you came to choose Shiryu for your name here?

Shiryu

#30

Shiryu said:

@sdelfin Not just here, I have used this nickname even before there was Internet over here in Portugal. It's a character from the "Saint Seiya" anime and a play on Capcom's "|S|trider |HIRYU|".

sdelfin

#31

sdelfin said:

@Shiryu I had a feeling it was anime related. It's a good name too. The reason why I asked is because I took my name from the Japanese wrestler Super Delfin. One of his main rivals in the 1990s was a guy called Shiryu. I thought it was a funny coincidence that we are having a discussion while using these names.

Shiryu

#32

Shiryu said:

@sdelfin Oh you mean Kaz Hayashi!? Yes, I do know him, I learned a lot of Japanese wrestling stars because of the many "Fire Pro Wrestling" games I've had along the many years and systems. Hmm, we need a Fire Pro Wrestling on 3DS ASAP...

sdelfin

#33

sdelfin said:

@Shiryu yes, Kaz Hayashi. Back in the mid 90s he wrestled under a mask as Shiryu. I was heavily into the Fire Pro games. I played the one for the Saturn constantly. I think that one was easily the best game in the series for several years. I learned a lot about Japanese wrestling from those games as well and followed AJPW a bit as a result. Those were some great games.

sdelfin

#35

sdelfin said:

@Shiryu Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium was my first import game ever. I was in awe when I first heard about it and amazed when I got it. I sold it to a long-distance friend when I got the Saturn game so that he could experience a great wrestling game too. I was just on ebay yesterday looking at prices and thinking about buying it once again.

MC808

#46

MC808 said:

I'm going to go out on a limb here and gues that you're happy it turned out well....?

Shyriu and sdelfin, go get a room you two. :-P

Kouji

#47

Kouji said:

wow!!!!! I was looking forward for this game and kept going on Wikipedia to see if it was released on the 3ds, I just found out today it was, a long time ago too! Why wasn't game advertised? I'm upset I didn't find out till now. Going to Eshop afer work with both XL and regular console to download. now we need the 2 and 3. Anyone beat SOR 3?? I did once, on the original Genesis console. That robot at the end was tough!

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