"Who needs some new socks and belts?"
Back in the late 80s and early 90s, the beat em up genre was highly popular with Sega bringing out arcade games like Golden Axe and Alien Storm to compete with others like Final Fight and Double Dragon. While they ported their games to the consoles, it seems they decided they also needed a game just for the home systems, and so Bare Knuckle / Streets of Rage was born. This trilogy of games was highly popular on the Mega Drive and is considered great even now. The games did receive a fair bit of censorship when coming to the west, with the 3rd game losing a boss and secret playable character, as well as receiving a much different story. While Sega never made a 4th game for the series, fans have created a fan game called Streets of Rage Remake which is worth checking out. Well, enough history, time to talk about how it all started.
Gangs own the city. Corrupt officials and cowards prevent the problem from being solved. Three officers quit the force, go vigilante and move forth to beat up some punks. Sound familiar? It should do, most games in the genre had a story just like this.
Graphically, this game is okay. However, if you have already played the later games in the series, you will notice that the art style in this game was different, with both player characters and enemies looking different. The style in this game is fine, but I prefer the later designs.
Now the music, that is damn awesome, as should be expected from the series. Some truly memorable tunes during the levels, that helped cement this series as proof that the Mega Dive can output some good music with its hardware.
The sound effects however, aren't so great. Some basics yells, screams, thumps and dings. Rather uninspiring.
The emulator used for this and other games in the Sega Mega Drive Classics supports use of a keyboard, but I highly recommend a gamepad if you own one. Easier to control that way.
Anyway, the game controls well, not going to have any difficulties performing the attacks and moving around.
When starting the game, you have the choice of three characters. Adam, who moves slower than the other two, Blaze, the weakest of the trio, and Axel, who just can't do a decent jump kick. Minor differences between the three, really.
When it comes to the combat, there isn't much to say. Walk right, punch everyone a few times, then move on. Much as with the story, you will already know what to expect. This game is all about beating up the nameless thugs that get in your way. Your character was unable to perform any special move themselves in this game, but you are able to call in support from a police officer who will fire a weapon to take down any enemies currently surrounding you. This has a limit of one use per level though unless you find a pickup for more. Outside of that, you have all the genre standards to take down your enemies, punching, kicking, knives, baseball bats and metal pipes.
Other than replaying this on a higher difficulty, the only other extra in this game requires a second player. Late in the game, you will be able to unlock a bad end by having each player choose differently when asked a question. Nothing special really. On the bright side, it actually had support for co-op, unlike Final Fight.
Well, all said and done, while this game isn't as great as either of the following titles in the series, it was still fun back when I first got to play it on the Mega Drive. It just doesn't do so well in comparison. It was still the birth of a great series, and for that, it deserves my praise. If only Adam got to stick around for the later games.
7 / 10