Streets of Rage 2

. . . if you own a Sega Genesis and Streets of Rage 2 is not yet part of your collection, you must get your hands on a copy . . .

front cover image for Streets of Rage 2During my first year of college, we played a lot of video games. In fact, for at least a couple of us, it took the place of attending classes and doing the assigned work. We were young, we had our own apartment, and we had a Sega Genesis and a TurboGrafx 16 with the CD attachment (this was 1992, by the way. Yes, I’m old). The choice seemed obvious.

During that first year of college, Sega released Streets of Rage 2. Let’s just say that it didn’t make me more motivated to attend class, with its huge character sprites and responsive controls. It was a fun game, plain and simple. So, how does it fare sixteen years later (wow, I really am old)?

It still kicks ass. In fact, it ranks among the best side-scrolling beat-em-ups of all time.

There are many, many things to like about this game. For one, it offers you the choice of four different characters from the beginning. Unlike some of the earlier games, in which the difference between characters was more superficial, whom you choose in Streets of Rage 2 really has an impact on the way you play the game. If you choose Max, you are a massive powerhouse who sacrifices speed for sheer strength. If you are Blaze, on the other hand, you are quick and nimble. Plus, each character has special moves that can be unleashed to do more damage and/or get you out of perilous situations. One move is executed by pressing sideways twice and hitting the attack button—a beat-em-up standard of this era. For Axel, this does a ground sweeping uppercut with a flaming fist. For Skate, it’s a flying headbutt that turns into a spin attack. There are also special moves that can be unleashed with the press of the A button. If you do not hit left or right while doing this, you do a move that will inflict damage on enemies both in front and behind you. This move will deplete some of your own health, but only if you actually hit an enemy. If you hit left or right while hitting A, you do a different special move, but you will lose energy even if you miss your target.

The sounds in Streets of Rage 2 are good for the 16 bit era. The music is sometimes catchy and never annoyed me. Some of the sound effects are amusing. Often, the sound effects don’t seem to quite match up to what’s going on (why does it sound like glass is breaking when I reduce that chair to toothpicks?). The sound of a punch hitting the enemies is a solid thwack, which though not accurate, is satisfying.

For the most part, the controls in Streets of Rage 2 are very good. After many previous beat-em-ups in which enemies would surround you to get in many cheap hits, Streets of Rage 2 gives you ways to fight back. Whenever an enemy is behind you, you have a backward attack you can utilize, and if you get surrounded, a tap of the A button will clear the area around you. There are some minor issues that are common with this type of game. For one, standing over an item while punching will make you pick up the item and open yourself up to enemy attack. This can be frustrating if the ground becomes littered with items, such as when you’re fighting one of the enemies who throws knives at you. The good news is that the enemies suffer the same consequences when they attempt to pick up weapons, so you can let them keep trying to get that pipe while beating the holy hell out of them.

I could go on about this game, but I guess the most important thing I can say is if you own a Sega Genesis and Streets of Rage 2 is not yet part of your collection, you must get your hands on a copy. It is just too good to pass up. While others games sit in my collection after I play through them once (or in the case of Last Battle, before I can manage to even do that), Streets of Rage 2 is a game that I can return to time and again for a thug-beatin’ good time.

Highly recommended!

A little spoiler—Blaze fighting the final boss, Mr. X

My Sega Genesis Collection

This list last updated August 15, 2009.

The Adventures of Mighty Max
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alien Storm
Altered Beast
Bio Hazard Battle
Blades of Vengeance
Bugs Bunny in Double Trouble
Captain America and the Avengers
Castle of Illusion
Fatal Labyrinth
Garfield: Caught in the Act
Golden Axe (Sega Classic)
Golden Axe II
Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude!
The Incredible Hulk
Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football
Jungle Book
Lakers Versus Celtics and the NBA Playoffs
Last Battle
Phantasy Star II
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV
The Pirates of Dark Water
Ranger X
Ren and Stimpy: Stimpy’s Invention
The Revenge of Shinobi
Risky Woods
Rocket Knight Adventures
Shadow Blasters
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
Shining in the Darkness
Shining Force
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic Spinball
Space Harrier II
Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage
Splatterhouse 2
Splatterhouse 3
Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition
Streets of Rage 2
Sword of Sodan
Sword of Vermillion
Tommy Lasorda Baseball
Wonder Boy in Monster World
Zero Tolerance

Current game count: 56