Retro Profile: Streets of Rage (Virtual Console- Sega Genesis)

If you wanted an enjoyable beat ’em up with a well composed soundtrack back in 1991, Streets of Rage was the game for you. Back then, the mere possibility of a Sega game ending up on a Nintendo console [without Tengen’s heroics] was almost unfathomable. But, as with everything else life, I’ve learned that anything is possible. While Sega’s console day’s are long gone, the Virtual Console provides the perfect platform to keep the Genesis legends alive.

Sega did a good job with making you feel as if you were really beating these punks to a pulp. There was always more than just one or two ways to get rid of the street thugs. You can use any combination of punches, kicks, and throws to get rid of your enemies. And hey, if you didn’t want to do that, you could always pick up a baseball bat, steel pipe, or a knife and have some extra fun cleaning up the streets.

Most enjoyable about this game is the two player mode. If you’re playing with a buddy, you guys can actually help each other to get rid of the baddies more easily. For instance, player 1 can hold an enemy in place, while player 2 two beats the life out of them. The only drawback is that most times you’ll be pressed for the needed space to successfully pull it off because there are usually about 3 or 4 punks surrounding you at a time. Plus, if you’re not careful, you will end up hitting your partner while he or she is holding the real bad guys for you, and that might tick off some of your friends. Of course I’m sure that you and your buddy will have fun fighting each other since nothing’s stopping you from “settling” an argument, should one break out between the two of you. But other than that, most will find the two player mode to be quite smooth. Besides, this is one of those games where it’s always more fun to play with somebody anyway.

An interesting thing about your attempt to clean up the streets is the ability to call for back-up in the form of a cop squad car pulling up behind you, and some cop fires off some heavy weaponry, at the bad guys. It’s freak’n spectacular, when you think about it. There’s one level that has you fighting on a boat out in the middle of the harbor, and you can still call on the cops. They roll up onto the boat and let off a few rounds of hot lead, then the action goes right back to you. The only way I figure that would be possible is if “Officer Johnson” is skilled enough to speed off of a nearby ramp to reach the speeding boat in time. Well, however they do it, you can always count on your law enforcement buddies to be there…no matter where you are. That’s always a good thing. The character designs were pretty swell too. You had street thugs, whip-wielding hookers, karate masters and everything in between. It’s true that eventually you will see the same enemies just colored differently, but Sega did their best not to get too repetitive in that department. Not to mention, the end level bosses were some of the most interesting people I’ve ever seen…especially the first one that tries to kill you with his boomerang and size 20 boot.

I dare say that this was one of the games that helped to establish the Genesis as the “cooler” 16-bit system. Why? Listen to the music. This made the game stand out from most other games of the same genre because Sega got one of the best composers known to the 16-bit era–Yuzo Koshiro. He proved to me that the Genesis’ sound capabilities ain’t so bad after all. The music is what really pulled me into the game from the intro, right on down to the last level.

Play or Stay? To be completely honest here, I can’t whole heartedly recommend that the majority of you readers out there rush to the Virtual Console to buy this game. While the game was good for its first outing on the Genesis, it hasn’t aged quite as gracefully as some of the other titles available. By comparison to the second game in the series (available for the same 800 points anyway), this one looks downright antiquated. Unless you just have to see how the Streets of Rage story goes from beginning to end or you just don’t care how you spend your points, you’re probably just better off skipping this one and moving on to the sequel.

Jamie Alston is somewhat of an unusual gamer. While most people crave the visual delights that can be found in many of the current generation consoles of today, he actually prefers the 8-bit & “super 8-bit” (SNES) glory days of yesteryear. This is probably due in part to the fact that his brother chose the Nintendo Entertainment System over the Sega Genesis back in 1989…or maybe it had more to do with that time when he fell and hit his head on the blacktop in elementary school. Whatever the reason might be, Jamie has an undying love for those unnecessarily big cartridges he spent so many summer afternoons playing. When he’s not raiding trucks that “have started to move” for rations and key cards, he stays busy supporting his gaming hobby by working as a Policies & Procedures Analyst for a financial company in Baltimore, Maryland. And when he’s not working for “the man”, he’s working on the next retro review for the week. And when he’s not fighting off writer’s block and much needed sleep, he’s raiding trucks that “have started to”—well, you get the idea. Currently living in Randallstown, MD, Jamie sums up his life long dream this way: “If I one day find myself driving on the highway in a 2004 Honda Accord with an NES directional pad for a steering wheel, you can bet that I’ll be holding the up direction for that turbo boost on the straight-aways. That’s when I’ll know that I’ve finally made it in life”.