Streets of Rage, classic beat ’em up, celebrates 30 years!

Streets of Rage, one of the most beloved series in video games, was born in August 1991 in Japan. Bare Knuckle, as it was known there, arrived in the Americas shortly thereafter, in October, with the title we all love, and ever since it has been remembered as one of the best and most iconic brawling series ever made!

All this thanks to its cast of charismatic fighters, bespoke challenge, good variety of enemies and blows, plus an absolutely breathtaking soundtrack by master Yuzo Koshiro. So join us to celebrate 30 years of this amazing franchise, also on video on Voxel’s official channel:

Symbol of the golden age of beat ’em up

Although the beat ‘em up genre took a little off the radar when video games started investing in three-dimensional adventures, back in the days of arcades and 16-bit consoles it had some of the hottest names in the industry!

Until Ninja Turtles and Simpsons, the most popular cartoons of the time, shone a lot in these side scroll games where the idea was to spend a lot of chips or lives trying to punch your way to the next big boss. In addition to Konami, which released these adaptations, other major producers such as Capcom also discovered the format’s potential early on, gracing us with classics like Final Fight, as well as SEGA, another of the pioneers in the field.

if Golden Ax had already shown that the Mega Drive hardware was more than capable of running games of the genre well in 1989, it was with Streets of Rage that the home of Sonic showed that it was getting into it for real, with a heavy launch capable of directly rivaling the quality seen in the best arcades.

Designer Noriyoshi Ohba, who already had a good reputation within SEGA at the time, turned to composer Yuzo Koshiro with the intention of launching a punching game even more exciting than the classic Double Dragon, one of his greatest inspirations. We don’t even need to say how successful this partnership was, right?

an impeccable trilogy

The great achievement of the development team was to create eight very unique and well thought-out levels, in addition to caring for the charisma of heroes Adam, Axel and Blaze, being always possible to enjoy everything with two simultaneous players!

Each of the characters could use their own special attack asking for help from a police vehicle, which promptly eliminated all enemies on the screen, or pick up some objects from the ground and use them as a weapon. A real hand on the wheel to make way for Mr. X, the fearsome final boss not only here, but across the entire franchise!

The Mega Drive version was the flagship and a technical masterpiece, but the first Streets of Rage it was also ported to Master System and Game Gear, which helped the brand find even more fans in a well-attended genre. The same happened with its sequel released in 1992, considered by most players and critics as the best chapter of the series.

In addition to the obvious graphical improvements and the even bolder soundtrack, worthy of playing even in Japanese nightclubs, this is also where we meet new fighters Max “Thunder” Hatchet and dear Eddie “Skate” Hunter, the cool young brother from Adam, again with eight phases and lots of co-op action for no one to fail. It’s one of the greatest beat ‘em ups in history and one of the best titles in Mega’s library!

As early as 1994, the franchise gained what, for a few decades, seemed to have been its final chapter. Streets of Rage 3 he divided the crowd a little more with his boldness. Yuzo Koshiro himself, influenced by the hard techno that was on the rise in the music scene, ended up creating some tracks so groundbreaking that they preceded the dubstep boom decades later!

Here, Axel, Blaze and Skate team up with Dr. Zan and bonus characters Shiva and Roo, but some people felt that having a fighting kangaroo and cyborg was too exaggerated for the tone of the series, which even had an exaggeration or two here and there, but nothing so absurd.

This time all characters have the power to run and dodges, which ended up making the gameplay a little too easy and generating a bit of criticism.

It had everything to be the outcome of a solid trilogy, not least because SEGA never managed to revive the brand outside of occasional collections. New game projects for Saturn and Dreamcast didn’t make it beyond the early stages of production and it felt like the end of the line for the series…

The amazing resurrection!

But more than twenty-five years later, what seemed impossible has come true thanks to Dotemu and Lizardcube! In the widely praised Streets Of Rage 4, from 2020, all the best elements of the franchise were rescued in an impeccable tribute!

Classic characters have appeared in both traditional skins and a fresh look, this time joining newcomers like Adam’s daughter Cherry in the franchise’s longest campaign to date.

In addition to the two-player co-op mode, this time it’s also possible to play locally with up to four people at the same time. Another big hit was the graphics style, which bets on a cartoon-like aesthetic, capturing very well the essence of the world and its heroes and villains, in a real plateful for fans!

Considering how well received it was Streets of Rage 4, let’s hope players don’t have to wait another 26 years until their next numbered chapter is released, right?

But what about you, you also have good memories of the franchise Streets of Rage? What is your favorite game from the series? Let us know in the comments below!

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