Welcome to another exciting edition of Throwback Thursday! In this installment, we will be covering a game that is near and dear to my heart, maybe even the video game that opened my eyes to games all together: Streets of Rage! It was released in Japan on August 2, 1991. It was brought to the U.S. shortly after in September of the same year. As time went on, a few sequels were released (Streets of Rage 2, Streets of Rage 3) along with ports to many other systems such as the Game Gear, Sega CD, and the Master System. In 2007, the game was released on the Virtual Console for the Wii. In 2009, it was released on the iPhone. One of the later installments (Streets of Rage 2) was also released on the Xbox Live Arcade for 800 MS points as well.

Streets of Rage was the first game I ever played. I can still remember my first experience like it was yesterday, sitting there on the floor looking at my old television with my jaw full of drool, and messing around with the volume control on the old Sega. I decided to grab the controller and flip the power switch. The word “SEGA” appeared on the screen followed by the famous – I was hooked. The fact that Streets of Rage was the game cartridge still in the SEGA was luck. I have now been playing Streets of Rage for about 19 years, and it still makes me drool. Let’s find out why it was able to grab the attention of so many gamers.

Plot & Characters – 7/10

“Adam Hunter, Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding decided to forgo their careers in legal law enforcement and put their lives on the line. They are without weapons, but each possesses great hand-to-hand combat abilities. Take them into the heart of the city and battle the most dangerous wave of bad dudes and chicks ever assembled. Make the city a place where people no longer have to walk the Streets of Rage!”

There were a total of 3 characters that you could choose to play with. Not much but for the Sega it was pretty impressive.

Adam Hunter (left), an ex-cop and an accomplished boxer. He is noticeably slower than the other characters. This is Adam’s only appearance as a playable character in the Streets of Rage series, although he and his kid brother, Skate, figure largely into the plot of the sequels.

Axel Stone (center), an ex-cop and skilled martial artist. He is the most moderate of the three characters as he moves slightly slower than Blaze but faster than Adam and is stronger than Blaze but slightly weaker than Adam. His only negative attribute is his weak jumping ability compared to the other characters. Along with Blaze, Axel features prominently in each game of the Streets of Rage series.

Blaze Fielding (right), an ex-cop and judo expert. She is somewhat weaker than the other characters but is the most agile of the three as she can jump the highest and move about more quickly. Her jump attacks have the longest range. Along with Axel, she is playable in all three games of the series.

Back-Up Enforcer (not shown) He is not a playable character and is only seen during “special attack” sequences and during the ending credits. The one good cop left on the force, he has secretly allied himself with the three player characters and so provides fire support to all three throughout the game. He is summoned when the player is in tight situations – he clears the area with either a missile-launcher or heavy-duty machine gun.

Sound9/10

The game’s soundtrack was acclaimed, with several soundtrack albums being released. The soundtracks were composed by Yuzo Koshiro. Three soundtrack CDs were released in all, each of which now sell for high prices at auction and in Japanese markets. If you get a chance check out MegaDriver, they make great recreations of the sound tracks with real instruments.

Graphics – 6/10

The graphics in Streets of Rage have no significance compared to other games of the time. But as Streets of Rage 2 and 3 come along then they start to get much better and note worthy. Although I still try to recreate those graphics in personal projects but I can not seem to get there technique down. The style that they have is hard to recreate.

Gameplay – 8/10

This game reminds me of Golden Axe, which was released two years prior. Bad guys walk onto the screen from ball angles. The player must defeat each opponent to progress through eight locations, known as rounds. With the exception of round seven, there is a boss battle at the end of every round with a disproportionately large enemy. Unlike its sequels, none of the enemies are named within the game (only in the Japanese version’s manual) and only the bosses have life gauges. In Streets of Rage, the special attack is assistance from a police car, which will pull up at the level’s left and fire explosives, taking health from all enemies. The player is given one special attack per-life or per-level, with power-ups shaped like police cars giving another. In round eight, the special attack cannot be used. Depending on whether the game is played in one-player or two-player co-op, and the player accepts or rejects Mr. X’s offer to become his henchman, there is a possibility for an alternate ending where the player becomes the new head of the crime syndicate.

The gameplay is very addictive and has a quality about it that keeps you coming back for more, weather it be popping quarters into one of the cabinets or just hitting continue on the home console, this game has a bunch of replay value. The value of replay to me means that there needs to be an addicting quality such as getting a high score, collecting different items with each run through, or alternate endings.

Overall – 7.5/10

Overall, this game was not a mile stone, but that fact that it is still around today must mean something. This goes down in my book of “Games You Must Play Before You Die.”

Another great piece of information about this game is the fact that they had three six-part comic strip series based upon the games and appeared in Sonic the Comic in the early 1990s. The first two of these were written by Mark Millar, while the other was written by Nigel Kitching. The art for all of the issues was produced by Peter Richardson.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVPno1eYbVM&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL003BA1356EA0DA92]