STREETS OF RAGE (Sega, 1991-1994 - Mega Drive)
Some old series are so loved around the world, that you can’t seriously understand why their creators gave up on them. No matter how hard you try. Streets of Rage (ベア・ナックル, Bare Knucle) is definitely one of them!
Streets of Rage brings you back to a time when people knew how to get crazy and fun. A corrupted city. Rogue cops fighting for justice in the mean fluorescent streets. And lots of weapons to kick, smash and slash some punks’ butts. And some bikers’ butts. And some ninjas’ butts. AND EVEN ROBOTS’ BUTTS! Yeah, nothing could stop justice in the 90’s…
While three games have been made by Sega, Streets of Rage 2 (1992) remains my personal favorite, and the first one I’ve tried. And I guess I have to thank my mother for that one!
It was in 1993, I was 9, and I had been invited to a birthday party I didn’t want to go to. After all, I didn’t really know the birthday girl. She was just in my class, we never talked and I was sure to get bored. But there’s one thing to know about my mum : except if you’re feeling suicidal, you should never say no to her!
So here I was. Bored in the middle of all these screaming girls. Stuffing my face with candies and hoping for the cake to be a strawberry sponge. When suddenly the birthday girl asks me to follow her into the kitchen… because she needed someone to play Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers (1990, NES)! Turned out she also was crazy about video games, and just as bored and as I was with the guests outside.
This afternoon is a bit blurry after that. I remember playing the game with her for hours, that the cake wasn’t a strawberry sponge, and then that all the guests were gone but me. And while the girl’s and my mums were talking in the living room, my new friend stopped the NES and took me upstairs, to her big brother’s bedroom, to do something she was not allowed to do : use his Mega Drive!
We spent some time playing QuackShot (1991, Mega Drive), and then tried Streets of Rage 2. I had no idea what it was but I couldn’t care less: you could play as Blaze Fielding, an actual powerful fighting girl! That was not going to be the only surprise though. Not only the game looked absolutely stunning, but it was incredibly fun to play. The greatest was when we realised we could call for cops to come and shoot explosives from their car!
And of course there’s the music! The amazing and typically 1990’s soundtrack composed by Yûzô Koshiro (ActRaiser, Etrian Odyssey). Just the first few notes of “Go Straight" make me want wear tight jeans, roller skate in the streets, and smash bad guys with a lead pipe!! Too bad I can’t fight. Or roller skate. And I have no idea where to get a lead pipe.
After the three Street of Rage games, the series disappeared. But it seems Sega actually tried to make a 4th entry. Several times even. First by buying a 3D work-in-progress game by Core Design (Tomb Raider), before pulling out of the deal. The game would then become Fighting Force (1997, PlayStation). A second attempt happened after the Dreamcast’s release. But with the beat ‘em up genre considered dead at that time by publishers, they gave up on the idea. And recently, Backbone Entertainment (Death Jr., Bomberman Live) revealed they unsuccessfully pitched a new entry to Sega.
Fortunately, fans went on with creating their own Streets of Rage games. And if Sega isn’t ready to release a fourth entry, the amazing (and unofficial) Streets of Rage Remake (2011, PC) is the best thing that happened to the series in decades.
Such a shame though, when Platinum Games is right here! I dream of seeing Hideki Kamiya’s take on Blaze…