Streets or Rage – Review

SEGA Genesis

1991 – SEGA

Today I’m going to review Streets of Rage for the SEGA Genesis. I had the pleasure of owning this back in the day when it was originally released and recently playing through the series extensively with my son, who has taken quite a liking to retro beat’em ups. TrogBoy is a bit of a perfectionist so when we play a game like Streets of Rage, we master it. (see our Guardian Heroes review for the SEGA Saturn). So, without further delay I present to you.. the Streets of Rage.

The Story:

This city was once a happy, peaceful place…until one day, a powerful secret criminal organization took over. This vicious syndicate soon had control of the government and even the police force. The city has become a center of violence where no one is safe.

Amid this turmoil, group of young Police officers has sworn to clean up the city. Among them are Adam Hunter, Axel Stone, and Blaze Fielding. They are willing to risk anything…even their lives…on the…

Streets of Rage

The Characters:



Axel Stone

Axel is a blonde hair, blue eyes thug punching machine. As a police detective he is at home on the streets, laying down the law and delivering justice one kick to the face at a time. Axel appears in all the Streets of Rage games with this obviously being his first appearance. He brings a balance of power, speed and agility.

Blaze Fielding

Blaze is also in the police force. Don’t let her beauty fool you. What she lacks in raw power she makes up for with increased speed and jumping ability.

Character Art by: Fernando Carvalho

Adam Hunter

Adam is a former boxer who joined to police force. He has superior strength but is a bit slower than the rest of the group.

The Gameplay:

Streets of Rage (SOR) is a side-scrolling beat’em up games. At its core you have one job to do, walk right and beat the stew out of anyone who comes on the screen. You are confronted by a gang of different types of thugs and ne’er-do-wells. These bad guys will often come in different color schemes signifying a tougher version to fight. They will also come at you several at a time, from different angles and with different attacks. This works out just fine for you though as you can knock down entire groups with a well-placed kick or throw some unfortunate soul into a group of his buddies. Every enemy has a name and a health bar that appears when they are on screen. This is nice as you can see who takes more hits, who’s about to die and what you should write on their tombstone.

After fighting your way to the end of each of the 8 levels you will confront a boss. These guys a larger and much tougher than the common hired hands. Often, they have special moves and weapons that you will have to learn to be able to finish them off effectively. Once you’ve beat a boss they will often appear as regular fighters later on.

To accomplish your mission, you have a nice variety of moves. Each of the three characters can punch, kick, jump, flip, grab and throw villains all over the screen. In addition, you will come across weapons like large pipes, swords and even a trusty broken bottle to smash some faces with.

When all else fails each player has a Special button. Pressing this will call in a police car (driving a Nissan 300ZX no less) with an officer hanging out of the window with a rocket launcher! They will fire into the air and the resulting explosion will clear all but the toughest enemies in one hit.

Each player has a health bar that goes down with each hit. You can refill health with food that you find laying around in the street (5 second rule). Other items like phone-booths or barrels might reveal some food or weapons when destroyed.

The Controls:

Streets of Rage gets a whole lot done with just 3 buttons. By default, the “A” button is the Special Attach button. Pressing it will call in the air strike. The “B” Button is your attack button. And the “C” button is your jump.

You will do different attacks based on where you are and what you are doing. If you are just walking up to a bad guy, you will punch him right in the face. Keep hitting the attack button and you will follow up a couple punches with a combo that will knock them down. One punch to the face will daze the opponent and you can then move towards them and initiate a grab. From here you can, depending on which character you have, knee them in the groin a couple times and headbutt them. Or push a direction on the D-Pad and press attack to throw them into a group of other bad guys. Jumping in the air and pressing attack will result in various forms of flying kicks. If someone is trying to sneak up behind you, pressing B & C will do a quick little backwards attack. Combining all of these together makes for a very satisfying beat-down while only needing a couple buttons to master. Plus, if your fist gets to bloody you can just pick up a baseball bat and start cracking skulls with it, great fun.

One thing to note is that you can also hit your fellow player. This can get a little frustrating sometimes when your pal tosses a bad guy across the screen only to hit and knock you down with the rest of the street scum. And more times than I can recall an accidental punch to your buddy’s face, will result in him popping you back in the mouth before you both agree to get back to the real bad guys. It’s funny to get caught up in the fighting and then have to calm things down with your partner, but hey, these are the mean streets, it gets real sometimes.

Now while you can hit and punch each other, you can also use this to you advantage. If you grab a buddy from behind, he (or she) can use you as leverage to kick some dude in the face and then sling you over their shoulder into another group. It takes a while to get good at all the possible mechanics, but when you do you become a force to be reckoned with.


The Graphics:

The graphic and art style in SOR is fantastic. The characters and enemies are all well designed and colorful with some great animation. Let your character sit still for a second they will have some cool little idle animation as they wait for the next fight. The backgrounds of each level are varied and unique. There are cool effects on each level from multiple scrolling layers to add depth, detailed city skylines, lapping waves on a beach and more. And then there are tiny details everywhere. Trash blowing in the street, neon signs, torn posters on the walls and other small but very detailed graphics that showcase the work that went into this game. No two levels look the same.

The Sound:

The music for Streets of Rage is nothing short of legendary. From the very beginning intro music, to the kicking level 1 beginning all the way to the final boss fight, you may never hear the SEGA Genesis crank out any better tunes outside of the Sonic series. The composer for SOR is Yuzo Koshiro and this is some of his best work, it’s just that good.

The standard sound effects are no slouch either. Punches, kicks and screams are all great and when combined with the music, makes this game an absolute joy to listen to.

The Difficulty:

Streets of Rage is an easy game to pick up and start playing right away. The standard bad guy shouldn’t cause to many problems but when they gang up they give you a little challenge. The bosses get a little harder, but do have patterns that you can figure out and exploit. The levels rank up in difficulty at a pretty good pace and the game feels very balanced. You’ll most likely have to go at it a few times to win.


The Verdict:

This one is easy. Streets of Rage is 5 Trogs all the way. It is a top tier game that anyone with a SEGA Genesis should own. It’s an absolute blast to play. And while you can play it all day and have a great time by yourself, getting a buddy to play with and going at it two-players is where it’s at. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing back through this game, several times, with my son.

5 out of 5 TROGS!

What score would you give Streets of Rage?

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