Beats of Rage (2004) by Senile Team
System:PC
Game Type: Beat-em-up
Players: 1-2

Review by PrimeOp

What began as a tribute to both the Streets of Rage and King of Fighters series evolved into one of the most interesting moddable games since MUGEN. The original Beats of Rage game stands on it's own two feet quite well and reminds us all why we love to walk down the street and beat the crap out of bad people.

It's a familiar story that you've played before, but you'll gladly play again: Mr. Y is a crimelord who has a stranglehold over the city and it's up to Max, Mandy and Kula to end his reign of terror. Sure, the story may not be original, but as you should be able to tell from the name, it's a homage to the Streets of Rage series. That's the entire point. What sets this apart from other homage games is that it also pays tribute to the incredible craftsmanship of SNK's King of Fighters sprites. Take that combo and add some seriously fine programming from the Senile crew and what you have is a very fun and challenging game. Basing the controls mostly on Streets of Rage 2's style, you have an attack button that you tap a few times to execute a combo, a 'special' button which activates a life-draining special attack and you can press Forward-Forward+Attack button for a super move that doesn't take energy, but isn't as strong as the life-draining special. The grappling is more like Final Fight: you can grab an opponent and either throw them or attack them some more. And like both Final Fight and Streets of Rage, you can either perform regular jumping attacks or jump then press DOWN+ATTACK to stun your opponent before you land and deliver more damage. Best of all, the SoR ability to land on your feet when thrown by pressing UP+JUMP is here... and you're going to need it. One drone in this game loves to throw people as much as Two.P or Yellow Signal. All in all, you have a good, standard set of moves here.
A familiar scene but with different characters walking the streets of rage. Yes, I couldn't come up with anything better than that. I'm sorry.
The characters in the game are from the SNK games, but in new roles. While Maxima, Blue Mary (known as Mandy here) and Kula are the three heroes here, you'll deal with various other KoF combatants in new, dangerous forms. While some are very simple and will just try to punch or uppercut you, others are great at catching you off-guard and throwing you. You even have to put up with motorcycle riders who try to run you down. Of course, a game like this has to have a great selection of bosses. Well, it does. In fact, most of them work so well as stage bosses that you'll wonder why SNK never thought of trying this themselves. And like any good side-scroller, there are great themes and in-jokes with the enemy names. Be careful though... because just like many of the Bosses in Streets of Rage, they'll make you pay if you grab them and don't throw them fast enough. SNK may have made the sprites in this game, but the Senile team did a great job on the background parts that they made for the game. They're full of nice, subtle touches that are impressive (look at the light shining on the fence in the second screenshot). Of course, you'll find a homage or two in the backgrounds as well. The compression format slightly muffles the sound, but the BGM still gives you some great tunes to combat to. The game is just very slick all around.
Take advantage of the moto-thugs' relaxed views of helmet safety laws by kicking them right in the face.

Senile has elevated the game tribute to a new high with this game, which gives beat-em-up fans (like me) a new game to play through as well as great engine to base other fan games on. It has most of the elements found in the best b-e-u games of the past blended into one title. Any fan of the genre should download this game and try it out. As great as this game is, it's scary to think how much better their fully-original follow up, titled Age of the Beast, will be once it's finished. Gameplay 7
Graphics 9
Sound 7
Control 8
Overall 8

Graphics © SNK/Playmore. Game engine and unique creations © Senile Team

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