Gameplay, Story and Value:
Streets of Rage 2 is a side scrolling beat em’ up game that borrows a few elements from fighting games, which results in a fun and tactile experience. The game allows 2-player co-op, has four playable characters and spans eight stages, each with multiple sub areas.
Controls are straight forward with A initiating a special attack at the cost of a small amount of health, B acting as your primary attack and action button and C for jumping. Your special attack changes based on how you’re moving. Attacks can be performed while jumping, and you can pick up various weapons and items along the way. Characters also have the ability to use special moves via a string of inputs, like in fighting games, though I could never get them to work consistently.
Everything handles really well, aside from the presence of friendly fire in co-op. This is actually one of my biggest complaints, especially when it happens as frequently as it does in this game. Not only can both players hurt each other with attacks, but something moving near each other without pressing anything will initiate a grab. Sure, it can get pretty hilarious at times, but from a gameplay standpoint it’s really frustrating.
Stages never stray too far from typical beat ’em up affair, but there are enough small variances in levels to keep things interesting. One stage, for example, has you fighting on a high-speed elevator while enemies fall from above. Enemies are generally uninteresting with most being recolors of each other, or just the same enemies with weapons. Unique enemies are added throughout, though, so it’s never too much of a problem.
Bosses typically follow the same formula, usually just being a bigger, stronger version of a normal enemy. After a boss is defeated you can expect to see lesser versions of that boss appearing as enemies in future stages as well.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
The game looks really good, almost like it’s going for an intentionally retro look, despite actually being retro. Brightly colored sprites, high contrast environments and flashing neon signs scream with personality, not unlike what you’d get from a game like Double Dragon. Sprites are large, and your characters generally do a good job of distinguishing themselves from enemies, as well as each other.
I’ve head a lot of praise surrounding the music in Streets of Rage, so I was a bit let down to find that it was only “pretty good”. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the music in this game, but for me it quickly faded into the background. The sound effects, on the other hand, were great. The “thwack!” sound when you make contact with enemies is infinitely satisfying, and the rest of the audio holds up nicely as well.
To be perfectly honest, I really don’t like beat em’ up games, and while this is a very good one, it’s not going to change my mind regarding the genre.
Streets of Rage 2 was another game that I’ve heard nothing but good things about, and between that and my not really liking these kinds of games in general I have to say it pretty much met my expectations. My wife and I played through this one together, and had a lot of fun doing it, but the constant accidental grabbing (groping) and attacking each other got old pretty quickly. Otherwise it was good fun, and I can see myself returning to beat it some day.