Clench your fists, make a muscle, and get ready to ' throw your weight around those alleyways of anger -- again. Sega's latest entrant in the beat-em-up ring is none other than the long-awaited, overexposed, 16-meg Streets of Rage 2. For once, it was worth the wait. If Streets of Rage was a fantasy vacation in Maui, the sequel's a million dollar shopping spree!
Take to the Streets
Anniversaries are always memorable, but Axel and Blaze probably want to forget this one. Exactly 365 days after Mr. X met defeat in Streets of Rage, he returns from beyond the penitentiary to copnap Adam, the pair's partner in crime fighting. Axel and Blaze get mad, and vow to get even. They recruit Adam's kid brother Skate and Axel's best friend Max to help them clean up the streets and sign Mr. X's name on the dotted line of disfigurement. Looks like everybody's gonna be kung fu fighting!
Move It or Lose It
You alone or you and a brawling bud hit the streets armed with the widest and most potent array of martial arts moves ever found in a side-scrolling beat-em-up. All told, each hero packs 15 techniques, including standard kicks and punches, jumping attacks, running assaults, throws, hair-grab holds, combinations, and other special attacks. Pipes, swords, bombs, and knives also give you an edge. Rage 2 does have one major hole in its offense: there's no defense. You can't block or reverse enemy kicks.
- Hit enemies with jump kicks as they begin to stand up.
- It's a craps hoot, but sometimes you can disrupt an enemy's combo with a special attack.
The signature moves are awesome. Axel, the street-clothed police officer, injects the power of the Dragon into his fists. The sultry femme fatale, Blaze, tosses fireballs, pulls a clothesline, and makes running football-style tackles. Skate, the roller-skating bad boy on wheels, uses a break-dance spin kick and a Corkscrew kick.
- To score multiple hits, batik an enemy against a wall and use Max's Thunder Tackle or Skate's Corkscrew.
- Rear attacks are easier if you hold down B, and press C.
At first, SOR 2 seems out of control -- you'll clobber enemies and they won't even know what hit them. Then, it all starts to make sense and you begin to figure out the nitty gritty on how to make all the right moves.
The secret to successful fist-fighting is learning the range and direction press required for each move.
Sights for SOR Eyes
Not only have the street-fighting ranks swelled, the warriors themselves are maybe 50% larger in the return Rage bout. This produces even more graphic, adrenaline-surging battles than before. Compared to other side-scrolling, kick-butt games, only Final Fight sports bigger brawlers. Animation is clean as a whistle, and slowdown is infrequent.
You maul your way through eight slick-looking and excruciatingly long stages. Among other areas, you clean house in a baseball stadium, on a beach, in an amusement park, and in a factory. The colorful backgrounds and touches of multi-scrolling enhance the groovy graphics. You meet and beat a plethora of pinheads, thugs, and bosses en route to Mr. X's high-rise HQ.
- Use Blitz attacks to crash the bike riders on the bridge in Stage 2.
- Sidestep Big Ben when he exhales his bad breath. Then catch him from behind with a combo.
- Regular moves won't do the trick on stronger bosses. Outlast them with your special attacks.
Even with adjustable difficulty and two continues per game, SOR 2 leaves players of all skill levels battered and bruised. Most players should beat Easy without breaking a sweat, but experienced players will want to try Hard for a real skull-caving challenge.
- Don't, don't, DON'T play this game on Easy if you're a pro, or you'll ruin the ending for yourself. Go DIRECTLY to Hard, and don't look back!
- Beat the heck out of the Hard mode, and you'll learn a secret code to play a hidden challenge setting called Mania.
A Koshiro Classic
A well-known video game music composer, Yuzo Koshiro, is the man from Japan who strikes the sweet chords in Streets of Rage 2. His discoteque/funk/modern rockish melodies fill the screen with energy. Sound fx-wise, the game surpasses previous Sega efforts with a snoot full of digitized grunts, groans, screams, and yelps. Clarity is definitely lacking, but the voices pump you up even if you can't understand them.
Do Onto Others
In addition to the main game, SOR 2 also offers a diversionary Duel mode. Built exclusively for two-player head-to-head battles, Duel enables you to pick any of the four fighters and battle it out in one of eight battleground settings. Duel is a fun little "extra" and a great way to practice techniques. However, it lacks the blocking, combos, strategy, larger sprites, smoother control, and secret moves you need to compete with full-blown, one-on-one games such as Street Fighter II.
Stacked against the Final Fights and Super Double Dragons of the world, Streets of Rage 2 more than fends for itself. Sixteen megabits of great, improved graphics, massive sprites, top-notch audio, and multitudes of moves make it the 165-bit side-scrolling street fighter to beat. Would-be Genesis heavyweight champs, this game's right up your alley!