Streets of Rage 4 is more than a love letter to the original franchise. It’s a wonderful addition to an already great beat ’em up series.
Title: Streets of Rage 4
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release date: April 30, 2020
I’ll admit, I had no interest in Streets of Rage 4. I had played the original trilogy on my Genesis back in the day and while they were great at the time, games like Castle Crashers, Scott Pilgrim VS the World and many more “beat ’em ups” added so many new features to the genre that I was too spoiled to go back into the basic set up of Streets of Rage. I had no desire to go back
When one of my friends kept begging me to get it, I was like, “Nah, I’m good.” Then someone purchased it FOR me because they were that desperate to get me to play it. I can be as hard-headed as I want but I’m not gonna pass up a free game. I started playing it and, okay, it got me. It brought me in hard and I’m here to tell you that Streets of Rage 4 is incredible.
Rarely have I played a sequel of a game where it actually felt like an evolution and continuation of the franchise but this killed it. The returning characters actually looked like they’ve aged. They have stories that make as much sense as characters in a game like this can make; one that’s featured robots and fighting kangaroos and obese men that breathe fire. The only thing that made me sad was that there were only four characters. That was, of course, until I realized that there are twelve extra characters to unlock.
The backgrounds are pure art. If you got me a print of almost any background from this game, I’d put it on my wall in a frame. It’s not just the same buildings or scenes over and over again. Every single stage contains thousands of little details. Graffiti, art, funny signs, one-off gags, throwbacks. Everything has a level of detail. Even the trash on the ground moves when you walk over it. It’s insane.
The controls are really solid too, especially if you play with other people. You can counter and combo off each other. Even if you play with a random person online without chat, it only takes a brief moment to recognize each other’s play style and start working as a team. I had a weird moment when fighting a harder enemy where I threw a weapon to my teammate, they caught it and hit the boss with it. I’m not even sure what compelled the action but it happened so naturally and I loved it.
It also makes me hopeful for DLC. While the game has a ton of characters to unlock, several of the bosses seem fully designed to be playable. Even in the concept art, each boss is listed with their own special moves and special attacks. Even Roo can be seen completely redrawn, washing glasses behind a bar in one of the stages. The concept art you can unlock also shows incredible characters that didn’t end up making the cut, which makes me sad because they’re exceptional.
For example, one is a Bruce Lee-looking fighter that also comes with a sentai style hero outfit. There was also a girl on roller skates that I would have mained in a heartbeat if she was included.
Streets of Rage 4 is not only an excellent love letter to the original trilogy, complete with a high degree of love given to the original canon and all its weirdness, but it is also a perfect addition to the series itself. It feels like the natural evolution of the series and I feel genuinely bad that I didn’t give it the chance it deserved. Don’t make my mistake.
All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.