Streets of Rage 2 (1992) by Sega
System:Genesis
Game Type: Beat-em-up
Players: 1-2

Review by PrimeOp

While Streets of Rage was seen as a counter to Capcom's Final Fight, the game went far beyond being a mere rip-off by throwing it's own elements like throw recoveries, the classic SoR grapple system, and Sega's classic 'smart bomb' attacks to give the game it's own identity. While the first installment was a great game, it's sequel raised the bar to a level that very few beat-em-ups could hope to reach.

At the end of the original Streets of Rage, the three heroes had triumphed over the seemingly untouchable Mr. X. Although Axel and Blaze had left the police force after the events of part one, Adam continued to protect and serve. Unfortunately, Mr. X had been secretly rebuilding his organization. Adam was keeping tabs on him until he was caught by the thugs. Now, Axel and Blaze must rescue their ex-partner along side Adam's little brother 'Skate' and Axel's pro-wrestling friend, Max Thunder.But the Syndacate brought in some new blood and revamped/updated the old guard. Most of your old faves are back, including the "runs with knives" Galsia/Garcia, the chuckling fatmen, the whip-weilding dommes, the Two.P clones and even the wrestler Zebra returns! Added to the mix are lightning-fast ninja, motocross thugs, Muay Thai boxers, Jet Pack maniacs and much, much more. The game is really packed with lots of great "drone" thugs, instead of forcing us to fight a small group of bland enemies. Not only that, but this game features one of the most popular bosses in any side-scrolling beat-'em-up: Shiva, the assassin.
Axel is a great choice for higher difficulties due to his crowd-clearing special attacks.
The two new characters, Max Thunder and Skate, actually add a whole new dimension to the game by having different moves than the two veterans. While Max is slow, he makes up for it with his raw power (like all good big characters should). With Skate being the "speedy but weak" character, he was given a great array of moves that make up for his lack of strength. Plus, it's fun to watch him jump on top of someone's shoulders and knuckle-dust the top of their skull. The returning characters also get additions to their arsenal. Axel's greatest new asset is the Grand Upper: a powerful sliding punch that cuts down anyone in front of you. Blaze gets a few new moves including a chi-push move that knocks down enemies at the cost of a bit of her own lifeforce.
Hilarity ensues as Skate tries to avoid an uncomfortable moment by not looking at Electra's thong. Such is the price of early puberty.
The first major improvement Streets of Rage 2 has over it's predecessor is it's graphics. While the look of the first game is very similar to "the Revenge of Shinobi" in drawing style and sprite size, this game features larger Final Fight-sized characters that allow for much more color and detail. In fact, SoR2 outshines Final Fight 1 and 2 with it's breathing animations. Best of all are the ultra-responsive controls. There are far more moves available, including some 'super moves' that replace the 'police car striker' from the original game. The excellent grappling system from part 1 is still in effect, including the ability to land on your feet when thrown (hold up and tap jump right before hitting the ground). The gameplay may be linear, but there are quite a few ways to beat the crap out of people and each of the four characters have different methods of doing this. All of the above make it oh-so-fun. Once again, Yuzo Koshiro provides a lot of great music for you to fight to. He really produced some incredible beats that echo the level that accompany without sounding corny. Yuzo = genius.
'Get off my elevator!'

Despite the multipath gameplay of part 3, this one is considered by many to be the best of the trilogy. It's probably one of the most enjoyable games to play along with a second player.. There are effects here that I had no idea that my little Genesis could do (the mirrored floor of the construction level, for instance) and some very memorable characters. You can find this game for Genesis in many places even today or in many compilations (like the Sega Smashpack), but I think that the Genesis version is the best. This game is pretty easy to find for an inexpensive price these days, making it a true bargain.If you need some old-school style knuckle bashing action, this is one of the best examples of the genre. Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 9
Control 9
Overall 9

Streets of Rage, Axel Stone, Blaze Fielding, Adam Hunter, Eddie 'Skate' Hunter, Max Thunder and all associated characters © Sega,

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