Yo, Ragers! It's clobberin' time again! In the grand tradition of side-scrolling, moon-walking mayhem, Streets of Rage 3 definitely has combat charm -- it may even knock you out.
Walking the Wild Side
In SOR 3, Mr. X is back to replace key city officials with robot replicas. Axel, Blaze, and Skate track X from SOR 2 to 3. This time, Dr. Zan, a renegade cyborg, joins the team, and if you're lucky, you'll find Roo, a marsupial friend. Punch in for one- or two-player action against X's gang, or if you just want to get it on against a pal, pull up Battle mode.
But if it's a street fight you want, then it's a street fight you'll get. X's X-menaces come at you in droves throughout seven mean stages. You must figure out how to outfight lowlifes like punkers with electrowhips, ninjas with throwing stars, and pistol-packing hit men. The stage bosses give your ego a good bruising, too, particularly Jet the aerial assassin and the mad robot maker.
ProTip: To beat back crowds, keep your back against a wall or the screen edge.
The Streets fight is familiar, fun, and ferocious. There are four endings depending on your final score. The challenge, even set on Easy, will knock out intermediate gamers. Don't hang at Easy, though -- you only play to Stage 5 at that setting.
Déjà Vu Destruction
Crossing from Streets 2 to Streets 3 is a breeze. Many moves are lifted straight out of Streets 2; however, a few SOR 2 standards are gone. For example, Skate has lost his slick Corkscrew kick.
At least Streets vets won't mourn lost moves for long. Not all the moves are listed in the manual, so you can discover them yourself. Great new moves include a Dash attack and directed energy punches and fireballs. Defense-minded fighters will like the new Duck and Roll that enables you to escape to the top or bottom of the screen. The game continues to put a nice mix of effortless moves at your thumbtips. You'll have a good time controlling your rage: Six-button controller support is a decided advantage over SOR 2's three-button finger fiddling.
- A Stationary Attack breaks a bad guy's hold, but if your Strength Gauge isn't maxed, the Attack eats your Life Gauge.
- The Dash Attack is almost unstoppable.
- To beat the three deadly red Yamatos at the end of Stage 4, quickly Dash (press Toward, then press and hold down Toward) and Roll (press Up or Down twice) to intercept them and avoid their running charges.
- Zan bowls energy balls when he picks up weapons.
An A/V Rematch
The graphics and sounds are in line with the Streets tradition. It's a third go-round for most of the regular evildoers, though the invisible samurai bosses are definitely cool. At least the Japanese MegaDrive version, Bare Knuckles 3, dressed some enemies in hip-per (some would say racier) costumes. Slowdown sometimes rears its woozy head during crowded two-player co-op combat. The audio raves on the strength of Yuzo Koshiro's now famous techno-rock Streets of Rage tunes.
- The Bulldozer at the end of Stage 5 won't harm you during a power attack.
Rage 3 and Thee
Streets of Rage 3 is like an old friend -- an old friend who won't stop trying to kick your butt! The fighting formula is still feisty, if familiar. But no one wants the Streets to be too safe, do they?
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