Known in Japan as Bare Knuckle: Furious Iron Fist, Streets of Rage was SEGA’s 2nd major success with a sidescrolling
action, beat-em-up style game, the first being Golden Axe. Much like Golden Axe, which was released 2
years earlier, Streets of Rage had for it’s time fantastic graphics, excellent controls and engaging backdrops for each
level. That is where the comparisons end however, as Streets of Rage truly is a unique game in it’s own right.
Like most beat-em-ups, enemy characters can come from the right, left, above and below you. At times there are
so many enemies on the screen at once it gets very hectic,
but that is where the fun lies.
The plot of the game is as follows: A evil gang has taken
over your entire city. The once peaceful dwelling is now filled
full of criminals and corrupt police officers. Three honest
cops decide to quit the force and take matters in their own
hands to fight crime and take back their beloved city.
These three heroes are the playable characters in Streets
of Rage. Adam is an accomplished boxer, Axel is skilled in
martial arts and Blaze is an expert in judo. Due to their unique
specialties, each character has different characteristics and
that has a big impact in who you choose and how you play
Battling through each of 8 different locations, at the end of each level (with the only exception being the 7th level)
you fight a gigantic boss who is much bigger than you are. At your aide like many other games in the genre you have
the ability to pick up weapons and bottles and use them against your foes.
Streets of Rage is unique in it’s use of alternate endings. At the end of the game your player is presented with an
offer by the head villian Mr.X to go to the dark side and join the crime family. Many factors such as whether you are
playing single player or co-op and what the player chooses as his response to Mr. X will actually change the ending
of the game.
The other thing Streets of Rage has going for it (besides it’s classic gameplay) is the soundtrack. Recognized as
one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming, Yuzo Koshiro, the acclaimed composer was responsible for the music.
Koshiro has also made the soundtracks to such games as ActRaiser and the Revenge of Shinobi.
Streets of Rage certainly has to be considered one of the best in the genre and this first title went on to spawn 2
more sequels after it, although arguably neither one came close to the magic that was the first Streets of Rage.