TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Is ‘Streets of Rage 2’ the best Sega Genesis game of all time?
Despite my lack of love and fanfare for the Sega Genesis, I am never against fully admitting when there’s a game in the system’s library that was done right, catching my eye when so many others failed to get my attention.
Today, on this second installment of Turn to Channel 3’s “Season of Sequels,” we will be taking a look at our second outing fighting with the gang in “Streets of Rage 2.” This is a game that even received the most votes from Genesis fans in Retro Gamer magazine as the No. 1 Genesis game of all time.
Now whether you agree with that or not, fellow gamers, is entirely up to you, but what we’re here to do today is take a second look at a game that went head to head with a lot of the big beat em’ ups of the era, most notably “Final Fight.” So, with that in mind, let us plug in our Sega Genesis, pop in “Streets of Rage 2,” and get ready for some serious battles on the mean streets!
“Streets of Rage 2” (Sega Genesis)
One of the first things “Streets of Rage 2” always receives a lot of attention for is its soundtrack, which is quite exceptional, and definitely something I will give it over the “Final Fight” franchise any day of the week. The electronic techno tunes of the game are really well done, with the boardwalk level’s tune entitled “Dreamer” the most notable, I’d say, but all the levels have some great music.
The sounds of punches and kicks connecting, the cry of anguish from a foe – all of it works so well with the music. It’s all flawlessly integrated, so you just know that a lot of careful planning was done ahead of time. I’d go on record as saying this may very well be one of the best soundtracks, not only on the Genesis, but also in games of this kind, period.
In my opinion, the original “Streets of Rage” had some pretty crudely done, kind of stiff-looking graphics, and I think that’s one of the main reasons the original just didn’t appeal to me that much. Thankfully, the graphics in the sequel are crisp, well done, with bright vibrant colors that, while candy for the eyes, still don’t take away from the gritty theme of the game. The main characters look great, as do the enemies and those bosses you face at the end of each level.
The levels themselves are all pretty unique and done in a way that, yes, capture the cheesy nature of games from this era, but don’t totally fall into every stereotype and expected location of the time. Everything, graphically speaking, about “Streets of Rage 2” feels like a breath of fresh air to the genre, which I’m sure it was for the time.
“Streets of Rage 2” is a tough game – definitely a tougher title than its other rival beat em’ ups, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to play, as kicking, punching, and throwing your adversaries around is just as fun now as it was back in the ‘90s. However, there is one signature thing about the original that was removed from this sequel, and for me, well, I wasn’t too pleased with it then and it still feels a bit empty without it now. Of course I’m talking about the special attack, which in the original was a cop car shooting a launcher of flames and bombs at your enemies, which in the sequel was turned into specific special attacks for each character. I will say I like this more expanded roster of fighters a bit more, too, as there seems to be a character for each gamer’s taste, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
That being said, man, are some of the bosses hard and chock full of cheap attacks! I was especially frustrated by the two female ninjas who just seemed to wipe the floor with me. I also found the jetpack guy a bit annoying as well, but that’s the thing about retro games, kiddos – they’re supposed to be hard!
To many, this is the best entry in the “Streets of Rage” franchise, and it’s hard to argue that point, as the follow-up would almost seem like overkill, and it never really had the feel the previous two entries did, despite expanding on some established ideas in the game. There’s a reason Genesis fans voted this game No. 1, and more than that, there’s a reason why it did stand toe-to-toe with other beat ‘em ups of the time, even surpassing some of them in certain aspects. If you have a Sega Genesis or are thinking of purchasing one in the near future, then “Streets of Rage 2” should definitely be on your list of must-have titles.
Join us next time when we journey back to the NES for the last entrant in our “Season of Sequels” portion of Turn to Channel 3. Warm up with some hot cocoa and a hearty dose of retro gaming!
Note: All ratings for Turn to Channel 3 are based on a scale of 1-10.