Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis) Review

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Review by tankMage (January 2016)

Score: A-

Multiplayer Magic (Update November 2019)

    I’m adding this section to the review after finally getting some time to sit down and play this game with a friend; the original review is below. Playing Streets of Rage 2 by myself wasn’t exactly the most exciting beat ’em up experience I’ve had, but everything changed in two player mode. For starters, the strengths and weaknesses of the protagonists become more apparent as players work together to overcome opponents. Additionally, the action flows better as you plow through thugs and try to cooperate in boss fights. We even squabbled over who got to pick up food or weapons, which added an element of competitiveness to an otherwise cooperative game. This leads me to think that Streets of Rage 2 wasn’t just designed with a multiplayer feature, it was designed around multiplayer, which means I was missing out on the core experience by playing alone. 

With that said, I’m happy to bump the score for this game up from a B to an A-. Just bring a friend if you intend to play this brawler and it won’t disappoint. 

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    Streets of Rage 2 was a difficult game to score. It’s music and graphics are top notch considering it’s platform and era, but the title’s gameplay just isn’t compelling. There’s really not much more I can say aside from examining the elements that make up SoR2…

Story

    Nothing special here, just the standard go rescue your friend Beat ‘em Up plot. I’m of the opinion that a game does not necessarily need a good story to be worthwhile, but to some people this does matter and SoR2 isn’t going to provide the player with plot based motivation.

Graphics

    For a 16-bit console title made way back in ‘92, this game looks pretty. Some love went into the animations, backgrounds and sprite work and the game comes off as highly polished as a result. My only complaint is that the enemy sprites are a touch repetitive and generic; you’ll see the same set of punks and thugs throughout all eight stages of the game.

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Sound

    Nintendo happily bragged about their superior sound processor when comparing the SNES to the Genesis (and rightfully so), however, sometimes I am pleasantly surprised to encounter a Genesis game that makes excellent use of what the console had under its hood in order to offer up a great soundtrack. Streets is just one of those games. All of the songs are catchy and add some much needed atmosphere and the sound effects are some of the best I’ve heard on the Genesis. There were even a fair number of voice clips, which were quite fuzzy, but must have been impressive long ago.

User Interface

SoR2’s controls are ok. They didn’t feel quite as responsive as they should have been, but I’ve seen worse.

Gameplay

    This is where SoR2 falls short. The game has great sound and graphics, but it’s gameplay is not on par with it’s presentation. SoR2 is like a mediocre beer with a premium label on it; it looks great, but once you take a sip you realize it’s just ok. That’s not to say I don’t like the game, but it just doesn’t live up to its own standards.

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The main issue with this title’s gameplay is the speed at which your character moves. Each character had its own movement speed and with four characters to choose from, the player is given the options of slow, very slow and too fast. Combine this with the fact that many bosses flit around like flies (the only character that can keep up with them has the weakest attack power) and you get a game that is annoying at times. Enemies are also incredibly repetitive as well and even bosses are recycled frequently, which made the game boring at times. SoR2’s gameplay isn’t amazing, but it’s not a disaster either. There are a variety of attacks for each character and if you play on a harder difficulty, you need to use them effectively to win. Weapons help mix gameplay up as well. The final level is also quite climactic, which helps the game along a lot.

While I haven’t tried multiplayer mode yet, I can’t help but think this game is best played with a friend.

Final Thoughts

    Despite its bland gameplay, Streets of Rage 2 was worth my time. I had a lot of trouble sticking with this game, but it paid off in the end as the game slowly became more challenging and interesting. I may even enlist the help of a friend to tackle this title in two player mode to see if it’s more fun that way.

Recommendations

Streets of Rage 2 is not an essential Beat ‘em Up, but it is worthwhile.* Double Dragon fans would probably get the most out of this title since it takes a lot of inspiration from the series. If you are looking for a more exciting, flashy brawl then, go with TMNT: Turtles in Time or King of Dragons.

*After playing this game in multiplayer, I gotta say I was wrong; you should definitely play Streets of Rage 2, just bring a friend along.

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