[Review] Streets of Rage 4 – Nintendo Switch

Written by Derek Wright
  • Developer: Dotemu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games
  • Publisher: Dotemu
  • Release Date: 30/04/2020
  • Price: $24.99 / £22.49
  • Review code provided by Dotemu

Introducing: Streets of Rage 4 Switch Review

Twenty-five years is a long time. No matter if you are young or old, so many things can change. For a Twin Peaks fan, 25 years separated the 2nd and 3rd seasons. Sadly, many cast members had passed on, showing just how valuable time is as an asset. With it being a cult classic, many still found it to be a worthwhile endeavor. To a 34-year-old such as myself, 25 years is most of my life. I have spent a majority of my life waiting for a sequel to Streets of Rage 3. This is a big deal. I can still remember the first time I played each title from this series. Now we have reached a pivotal moment in time, as I have not only played Streets of Rage 4, but I have completed it several times. Did it live up to the insane amount of hype, or should SOR4 stayed a pipe dream? Go straight to find out!

Grab the Claw! (Grand Upper)

Many (25) years have passed since the defeat of Mr. X, which led to relative peace in Wood Oak City. Time has a way of making us complacent, and sure enough, an evil crime syndicate found a way to worm its fingers into every inch of the city. Mr. X was no where to be seen, but his two children, Mr. and Ms. Y are now leading the crime spree. Old allies, Axel and Blaze along with new friends Floyd and Cherry team up to stop them, hopefully once and for all.

The stories of Streets of Rage were never the main selling point of the series. They were always basic and serviceable stories, sometimes going a bit goofy (SOR3). This is where number four does something better. It makes a cohesive story that feels like it belongs. It takes the existing world and expands it greatly by adding new elements and characters that truly fit in. My favorite interactions in the story mode belong to series staple Shiva and newcomer Estel. Both fights felt truly epic, and their accompanying story scenes were great.

Why Now Grass!? (Final Crash)

The hype leading up to the release of this game had me feeling uneasy. Streets of Rage 2 is my favorite brawler of all time, and now a new game is finally coming out 25 years later? What if the game does not play well? Good news! This is the smoothest beat’em up game I have ever played. The team was able to create a game that feels like what we remember playing. Yes, they made a game that plays like our nostalgia induced brain wanted Streets of Rage to play like! Character movement feels extremely satisfying. Returning favorites Axel, Blaze and Adam are rejuvenated versions of themselves with all their quirks and specials.

One thing added to make the experience one hundred times better is the addition of a dedicated “pick up” button. It is literally used to just pick items off the ground and that’s it. As someone who accidently used an item during a battle, I was extremely happy of their inclusion. Along with this, you can now set a button for back attacks, which have been in the series, but it’s nice to be able to do it with a single button. Star moves are the last of noteworthy additions, it serves as a super move, like in a fighting game. It’s great to clear out a large number of enemies or to use as a combo ender.

Speaking of combos, the game places a higher priority on them, especially when it comes to points. Pull off a nice 40 or 50 hit combo, and a nice bonus will be added to your score, which is needed for unlocking characters and getting extra lives in Story and Arcade mode. These two modes are very similar to each other, with Story mode giving a set amount of lives for each level and allowing for continues if you die. Arcade mode is more old school, it does not allow for continues. If your lives are gone, it’s game over. The game can be completed rather quickly, which is a bit of a letdown, even with its 12 stages. Lastly, multiplayer is back in a huge way, allowing for 4 players on the same console or 2 online. The ability to turn off friendly fire is my favorite aspect of multiplayer in this title. I am prone to get in the way of my compatriots.

Continue Going Straight

One of the biggest changes in SOR4 from SOR3 is the graphical style. Instead of the classic and lovable 16-bit sprites, we are introduced to gorgeously drawn characters from the same team that brought us the remake of Wonderboy. All the characters are given more detail than I could imagine. Even small grunts are given great care. What pushes the notch even further is the love and devotion given to all the nods and throwbacks. Two of the unlockable characters from SOR3 are present in the background with Roo being a bartender and Ash being a pin-up model on the cargo ship.

I came into this game expecting perfection when it came to the soundtrack. This was a bad idea, as it could have set me up for failure. Yet, I found myself loving the music presented, not just because Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima came back to compose a few songs. The head sound design for this title, Olivier Deriviere composed the best songs in my opinion. I was blown away by all of his tracks and if we were to get another sequel, I would like to see what he could do for the whole endeavor.

Elevator Up

While thoroughly putting this title to the test in both handheld and docked, I can say without a shadow of doubt, it is a great production. I noticed no differences in the title from one mode to the other. Also, the game ran without a hitch, no bugs or glitches in sight. Hat’s off to the respective teams, it’s easy to tell this was a true labor of love.

Final Thoughts

Twenty-five years has certainly set my expectations high, to the point that most games would fall under their weight. Streets of Rage 4 isn’t most games though. The teams at Dotemu, Guard Crush and Lizardcube had a clear goal in mind and SEGA believed in them. While this isn’t a true redefining of the genre, it is a love-letter to the biggest and best of 90’s beat’em-ups. The gameplay is fast, fluid, and hard-hitting. The art and music make it pop, while the copious amounts of unlockable characters will keep fans coming back for more. This really is the full package of brawlers.

Pros

  • Ease of control
  • Phenomenal soundtrack
  • Dense with secrets & unlocks

Cons

  • Yuzo Koshiro < Olivier Deriviere
  • Game’s length

Verdict

The Streets are raging again, and I couldn’t be happier to thrash more syndicate bad guys. Streets of Rage 4 is the quintessential brawler of the new generation.

5/5

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