Streets of Rage 2
Streets of Rage 2

Sega/Shin Force 
| Sega Genesis Review

Sega/Shin Force > Systems > Sega Genesis > Reviews

Shin Force ~ Genesis ~
Streets of Rage 2 | Bare Knuckle II
Geoffrey Duke
16 Megabit
Import / Domestic
Jan. 4, 1993
Dec. 20, 1992
Jan. 16, 1993
Beat'em up
6 Button
     > Axel and Blaze are back! Now they are joined by two new companions: Skate who fights on rollerblades (Adam's younger brother) and a huge muscle bound wrestler named Max who was clearly inspired by Haggar from Final Fight. Axel and Blaze have been reborn into more refined versions of their former selves. Not only have they changed over time but the old art has been made new again. Blaze is more beautiful than ever. This series wouldn't be the same without her. In any case, I'm glad the art didn't lose its soul by becoming generic or by forever standing still. It's interesting to see how the original characters change over time. Ironically, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

     > The original Streets of Rage was a side scrolling beat 'em up like Double Dragon and Final Fight and it showed a lot of promise. This sequel (a.k.a. Bare Knuckle II in Japan) takes the best parts of the original and improves upon it in every way to create a truly great game. The original gameplay has been perfected with improved graphics and music in addition to visually impressive special attacks. Streets of Rage 2 is what I call genre-perfecting. 

     > Like other games in this genre such as (most notably) Double Dragon, players can move up and down colorful 2D backgrounds that create the illusion of 3D via diagonal graphics. Like before, each character has powerful fighting skills at their disposal waiting to be unleashed. The sprites are smaller than Final Fight, but that was originally an arcade game. The Streets of Rage series was made specifically for the Genesis

     > The Street Fighter 2 ports to the Genesis weren't that good in my opinion due to horribly rough and muffled sound effects and lack of color. Back in the day, if Genesis fans wanted one of the best fighting games ever made, fans would recommend Streets of Rage 2. It truly stands above most other games of that era. Every Sega fan knows it. It was and still is a great game to play with a friend. 

     > The story wanders into familiar territory. Mr X has returned and has cast a dark shadow over the city. A seemingly never ending tide of evil incarnated in human form seeks to end all life. Just when it finally seemed like people could live in peace, Adam, one of the main characters from the first game, is kidnapped, and is being used as bait to lure his friends into a trap. In true heroic fashion, the forces of justice must put a stop to this evil once and for all. 

     > This isn't the most original story in the world, but you won't be playing this game mainly for the story. You will be playing mainly for the timeless gameplay and art. This game has tons of imaginative enemies that make it one of the greatest games of all time.

     > Streets of Rage 2 has colorful dark art (which is fairly unique and therefore timeless) and impressive special attacks. Axel has awesome flaming fist attacks that never fail to impress. The other characters have special attacks that easily stand out as well. Some art never ages, only graphics do (in the context of gaming). 

     > Many enemies are punkish like the first game but the graphics have been refined. Everything looks sharper and more colorful. Axel and Blaze have new character animations which have more character than the first game. Blaze is even more beautiful than before. She wears a revealing mini-skirt that easily draws your attention. This would drive many people completely insane these days even though she's literally pixels on a screen. Can't we appreciate beauty? This might be a good thing because it will tell the sane and insane apart.

     > Compared to the first game, Streets of Rage 2 is a huge improvement. It taps into the full power of the Genesis. With a genre-perfecting game like this, I'm not surprised the Genesis was so popular. Familiar enemies return from before including the punks that never seem to learn. Everything animates well. This is where the series peaked in my opinion, and even the genre at the time for that matter. The fact that people still play this game today should be a testament to how timeless some things can be. Sometimes the echoes of the past can lead you back to their point of origin.

     > Like before, you can perform combination attacks, but now you can unleash special attacks by pressing different D-pad directions in combination with normal attacks, or by combining attacks. You can also unleash powerful AOE attacks that clear enemies all around you if things become too overwhelming, but using these abilities costs health if they connect with enemies. That might be a small price to pay to survive though. Skate can, as you might expect, skate on his rollerblades.

     > You can also use weapons such as poles, baseball bats and katanas to clear a path faster. The controls are very simple and respond quickly. Tight controls such as these might make you take games like this for granted. Lest we forget, it can be far worse.

     > Like before, the soundtrack was composed by Yuzo Koshiro. His heart and soul obviously went into this because this is without a doubt some of his finest work. The music is a unique combination of techno and trance. This means you hear more rising and falling electronic melodies with synthesized instruments added to the mix, in addition to fast repeating beats of various kinds. I could be wrong about this, but it certainly sounds like that to me. The game has a highly memorable soundtrack that enhances the gameplay by audibly building up the action.

     > The boss music uses remixed air raid sirens again, thus creating a sense of alarm. I have to praise this because it really rises above most other boss themes. The game uses the same end of stage music as the first game which was not only great but creates a great sense of continuity. Streets of Rage 2 took all the best parts of the original game including the music. It's always best to conserve what is tried and true in my opinion (in an ethical context), and upgrade it, because some worlds survive the passages of time by anchoring themselves in safe harbors. I'm glad I am not alone in this thinking. Lights will never dim simply for the sake of change. Can you imagine a world without music? No I think I will hold on to that tightly and never let go.

     > The sound effects are good. Attack sounds sound like they make an impact. The game uses voice-overs for special attacks that sound slightly rough, but when considering this isn't one of the Genesis's strongest areas, they sound great for the platform. The music and sound effects couldn't be better.

     > Streets of Rage 2 has tons of imaginative enemies (such as what can only be described as an armored Blanka from Street Fighter 2) and many fluid moves with which to dispatch them. Foes aren't always easily defeated, as they can dodge you and use weapons against you too. You even face bikers who deliberately drive into you, evasive ninjas and enemies in flying jetpacks. Sometimes evil gathers all in one place. It's not an original idea, but the perfect execution is. You couldn't ask for more from this game except more of the same.

     > This is a great game to play with a friend even in the modern era because the art and gameplay never ages. You can save the world together or duel to your heart's content. Of course, there are tons of clones of various colors, but that's par for the course for this genre. Personally, the only game that surpasses the gameplay of this game for me is Guardian Heroes (Treasure truly are a treasure).

Bottom Line
     > Any retro gamer (or gamer for that matter) who hasn't played Streets of Rage 2 should add it to their list of games to play. This is one of the best games of the 16 bit era. When you consider how popular the Genesis actually was, it makes me wonder why it never became a bigger part of popular culture. Oh well. Their loss. If fans of Streets of Rage want to play an RPG with Streets of Rage-style gameplay (with combo attacks) then I highly recommend Beyond Oasis.
Overall: 10 | Graphics: 10 | Control: 10 | Sound: 10 | Fun: 10
~ Geoffrey Duke ~


Japan | Box / Cover Art

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