Retro Resolution Retro Review
System: Sega Megadrive/Genesis
Developer: Sega, Ancient
* Please note, this review was written in 2008 – certain dates and prices are accordingly now incorrect!
Very nearly 16 years ago Sega unleashed Streets of Rage II, the title promising an entire 100 per cent more angst than the original. Why so much Rage? Perhaps because back in 1993 when this bone-crunching side-scroller fought its way onto the Megadrive games regularly hit the £45 mark; according to a very, very dull House of Commons Library report, that would set you back roughly £80 today. That’s enough to wind anyone up.
Feeling like an evolution of the ZX Spectrum’s iconic Renegade, Rage II is set on the mean streets of a violent metropolis, seemingly a ghastly premonition of contemporary urban Britain; stabbings, hooliganism, and discarded KFC abound – but this is surely fantasy not prophecy, as the enemy reprobates are unable to hide behind their ‘human rights’, and beatings, not ASBOs, are meted out by the player’s character of choice (all, thankfully, more vigilante than Community Support Officer).
Most of us who grew up in the ‘70’s remember the institution that was the ‘roller disco’. Part of me likes to think that one of the game’s two new characters, eight-wheeled Eddie ‘Skate’ Hunter, was inspired by memories of pugilistic mayhem witnessed at just such an abomination (hopefully set to the sound-track of Saturday Night Fever).
Even more so than the fine original, the sequel’s game-play is immediate, relentless, and deeply satisfying. The four playable characters deliver convincing blows both with limbs and a variety of weapons, ploughing through the interactive stages and enemies alike – can any guy not wince at the knee-in-the-groin manoeuvre?
The action is complemented by an aural and visual feast in which fantastically atmospheric early 90’s dance music provides the backdrop to a cacophony of visceral, oddly satisfying thuds, cracks and screams. The graphics are at once vibrant and gritty; a walk amongst these streets is like a brawl in Tech Noir, without the Terminator as bouncer.
If you don’t have your Megadrive to hand then fire up your favourite emulator and transport yourself back to an era when rage-fuelled punishment beatings kept the streets clean for the good people of the land.
Links: Retro Resolution Retro Reviews