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Streets of Rage 4’s Debut Footage Looks Great, But We’ve Got Questions That Need Answers

Streets of Rage 4’s new trailer drip-feeds us new info, but we’re left with more questions than you can shake a phonebooth turkey leg at

Streets of Rage 4

 

Yesterday, Paris-based indie publisher DotEmu released the long-awaited first gameplay trailer for Streets of Rage 4. And, as a lifelong fan of Sega’s beloved beat ’em up series, I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. The trailer, while brief, offered a tantalizing first look at Guard Crush Games’ upcoming brawler, which looks to do a solid job of bringing the franchise to the modern era. However, while this footage looks great and does a good job of highlighting the game’s bare-knuckle action, it left me with a few nagging questions that need answering.

 

Grand-er Uppers

Juggling enemies between players seems to be a key mechanic of Streets of Rage 4's combat.

Juggling enemies between players seems to be a key mechanic of Streets of Rage 4’s combat.

 

So, let’s start with what we do know — or can safely assume seems to be the case from what’s been shown so far. The biggest change to the Streets of Rage formula seems to be the addition of a rather robust combo system that puts an emphasis on juggling baddies. Throughout the debut trailer, we see multiple instances of series protagonists Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding pummeling foes back and forth like meaty tennis balls as they rack up dozens of hits. This looks to be a real game changer that should come in clutch against the game’s more imposing enemies and as-of-yet-unrevealed boss characters.

Streets of Rage 4

Axel prepares to unleash what looks to be a devastating new attack.

In addition to juggles, Streets of Rage 4 also seems to introduce some form of ultimate special attacks. At the end of the trailer, we see Axel engulfed in flames (shown above) before delivering what looks to be the mother of all Grand Uppers. It remains to be seen just how these attacks will be activated — either pulling from your health stock like in Streets of Rage 1 & 2 or through the use of a special gauge like Streets of Rage 3— they certainly seem to be devastating.

Though these two new features aren’t revolutionary by any means, they should be a welcome shot in the arm to make the decades-old Streets of Rage formula feel fresh while offering players more offensive options than ever before.

 

The gang’s all here

Familiar foes Big Ben, Signal, and Galsia get their comeuppance as Axel unleashes his signature flaming Grand Upper.

Another thing the trailer seems to indicate is that the nefarious Syndicate is alive and well. While a small handful of new enemies have been revealed so far, the majority of the punks going toe-to-toe with Blaze and Axel are rank and file Syndicate thugs like Galsia, Signal, Big Ben, Donovan, Raven, and other familiar foes. One face that’s been conspicuously absent from any footage or promotional materials so far has been that of the organization’s resident Razor Ramone impersonator and machine gun connoisseur, Mr, X, who was last seen as nothing but a brain in a jar during the final brawl in 1994’s Streets of Rage 3.

 

Streets of Rage 4 boss

Just who is this shadowy snake charmer?

 

Will Mr. X be making a cameo in Streets of Rage 4? It’s anyone’s guess. However, a certain snake-wielding woman has been featured prominently since the game was revealed. Could this mysterious woman be the Syndicate’s new head honcho? Given how much screen time she’s been given compared to how little we’ve seen of the game, I think it’s safe to say this serpent-favoring femme fatale is more than just your average stage boss. Only time will tell.

 

Sound Science

What we’ve heard of Streets of Rage 4’s sounds and music so far seems to emulate the quality of the Genesis’ Yamaha Ym2612 sound chip.

Of course, you can’t talk about Streets of Rage without talking about the series’ brilliant musical arrangements. Yuzo Koshiro’s work on the original three games is considered timeless, nearly 30 years since the original game first arrived on the Sega Genesis. Heavily inspired by early Eurodance and trance, tracks like Dreamer, Under Logic, and the iconic opening theme have gone on to become some of the most celebrated compositions of the 16-bit era, even if they’re not always entirely original.

As of last August, Koshiro has only vaguely mentioned the project, neither confirming or denying his involvement in the game. It’s worth noting that the music we have heard so far doesn’t come close to what we’ve come to expect from the legendary composer. That said, unless this snippet is a placeholder arrangement, I think it’s safe to say he’s sitting this sequel out. Still, it’s hard to imagine a Streets of Rage 4 without the man whose name adorned the title screen of the previous three games. After all, the franchise all but catapulted the man into VGM superstardom. Could it be Guard Crush Games and DotEmu are still working out the finer details before confirming his involvement? I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

While the track featured in the trailer leaves a bit to be desired, that’s not to say what we’ve heard so far doesn’t capture the flavor of the era the game is trying to imitate. From the crunchy FM synths to the slightly scratchy voice samples that seem lifted from previous entries in the series, it seems like Guard Crush Games is making every effort to emulate the sounds we’d hear pumping from Sega’s trusty 16-bit workhorse. Here’s hoping the end result is enough to do fans of the series proud.

The city’s hidden heroes

Perhaps the most intriguing bit of yesterday’s trailer happens to be the video thumbnail itself. Here we see the outlines of what looks to be two unannounced characters; one with a square jaw and mechanical arm (another augmented former-syndicate grunt like Streets of Rage 3’s Dr. Gilbert Zan, perhaps?), and a figure who looks to sport dreadlocks and a guitar. Considering no Streets of Rage game has had merely two playable characters since the 8-bit Game Gear, I think it’s safe to say these are likely two unannounced playable characters. Does this mean there’s a chance Streets of Rage 4 will include four-player cooperative play? Here’s hoping!

With no clear release date announced yet for Streets of Rage 4, there’s still plenty of time for DotEmu and Guard Crush Games to drip feed us announcements before the game rolls out presumably sometime this year. So, did you notice anything surprising in yesterday’s reveal trailer? What do you think of the look of the game so far? Be sure to let us know in the comments section.

 

Frank has been the caffeine-fueled evil overlord of HeyPoorPlayer since 2008. He speaks loudly and carries a big stick to keep the staff of the HPP madhouse in check. A collector of all things that blip and beep, he has an extensive collection of retro consoles and arcade machines crammed into his house. Before founding the site, Frank was a staff writer for the blogs Gaming Judgement and NuclearGeek.
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