Monday, 3 September 2012

RETRO MONDAY - "Streets of Rage 2"

Well well well, what's to be said about this beaut that has not been said already...Greatest side scrolling beat'em up ever! One of the best games of its generation, the 16-bit gem that spurned a tonne of copycat clones.  Anyway you look at it, IT IS still a superb title and for me, holds it's own against some of today's' shiny diamonds.  I'm quite comfortable in saying that in it's heyday myself along with my old high school friend Phil Ross finished this (probably every other day) on a 2 player run through, then went straight back and played through it again using different characters.
My favourite character to use, along with everyone who played it was Axel. The high kicking karate man with the sweet headband, tight jeans and a superb energy sapping special move.  Double tapping either left or right with B made Axel dash forward with a fiery uppercut along the his now infamous sound-bite - "RET-A-TAR" (Grand Upper) finishing off a boss this way in slo-mo was THE BEST.  Especially the first end of level boss, with the rain pounding down around you, pure magic!!
I rarely used 'Skate' Hunter and Blaze, but Max Thunder (yep, nineties game names, aces eh!) the other new addiction to the roster was a badass wrestler with a penchant for throwing people around.  He could easily get the job done with his spinning lariats and large muscles (not gay.) Who ever you played it with, a fight would normally break out as to who gets to use Axel.
A testament to how much this game has stuck with me over the years, I hadn't played it for a while (after purchasing it on the XBLA marketplace) and due to nothing more than muscle memory I walked behind the truck at the opening of the first level and picked up the extra life. Straight off the bat, without thinking about it. Another trick of the trade remembered - when your character is being thrown by a 'friend' or an enemy AI keep UP and the JUMP button pressed and you'll land on your feet. Most impressive! That is when you know a game is under your skin for life! Remember pausing the game to see up Blaze's skirt during her flying kick...yeah you do.

One element of the game I wasn't really into was the DUEL, a player vs player arena match.  I always enjoyed working with someone to help clean the streets of "Mr X" and his goons instead of fighting against them, and perhaps I never was very good at it (True!)

Streets of Rage 2, known in Japan as Bare Knuckle II: Shitō he no Chinkonka  "Bare Knuckle II: The Requiem of the Deadly Battle" 

Now because most of the early nineties games of this genre haled from Japan, the box-art was always something to be desired.  The art in the above picture is a classic example of  'is that...' syndrome, Blaze looks like an extra from Conan the Barbarian, Axel looks like Van Damme that the Arnie himself looming in the background with a huge red face!  I love these retro game boxes, usually horrendous art with completely over the top images. Ahh bless the nineties eh!
There is NO way we can discuss Streets of Rage 2 without chatting about the music.  The iconic chiptune soundtrack was composed by Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima, still one of my favourite OSTs.  The soundtrack was influenced by electronic dance music, specifically housetechnohardcore techno, and breakbeat. The soundtrack for Streets of Rage 2 is considered "revolutionary" and ahead of its time, for its "blend of swaggering house synths," "dirtyelectro-funk and "trancey electronic textures that would feel as comfortable in 'club' as it would in a video game."  If you listen to the background music for the stadium level, it bares a REAL striking resemblance to 1991's The shamen's Move any Mountain.  I really love this soundtrack!!  

This isn't a review of any type, Retro Monday doesn't do that,  it's a look back at what we loved all that time ago.  This is my first proper one since writing for Gainboy and I'm surprised I haven't done it before today.  If you are reading this and haven't played Streets of Rage 2, 1) your an idiot 2) get it now.  I highly highly recommend anyone play this, it's a slice of fried retro gold and it deserves it's place in the 16-bit hall of fame. Get it on your phone or home consoles NOW!

Sega-Vintage-Collection-Streets-of-Rage - XBOX Marketplace, all 3 Streets of Rage titles for only 800 MS - App Store 

As always, please comment, follow and enjoy!!
Much love,
Marc aka Dr Sanchez

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