SEGA refuses to let us forget its most classic video games, and for the last few weeks it has been doing so in another way with the retro SEGA Vintage Collection. One of the latest to arrive has been the ‘SEGA Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage’, and it is precisely the one we are going to analyze now to see if it is worthwhile or not for collectors, and what features it brings with respect to other compilations, such as the ‘SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection’. Let’s get down to business.
Features of SEGA Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage
SEGA Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage’ includes the three deliveries of the famous SEGA beat’em up, that is: ‘Streets of Rage’, ‘Streets of Rage II’ and ‘Streets of Rage 3’. In all three cases it is a 100% faithful adaptation to the versions we saw in the Megadrive, with all its successes and errors intact. Apart from that in any of the three we have their European, American or Japanese (where the saga is known as ‘Bare Knuckle’). We can adjust the screen to our liking (even select between different backgrounds if we do not want to stretch the screen), and even soften the image so that everything is not so pixelated, apart from being able to define the controls to your liking (we will have a control of the Megadrive to guide us). This would be more or less everything in terms of configuration and common basics of the three ‘Streets of Rage’ in full.
The trilogy shares both local and online modes, to play up to two people in the story mode. The novelty comes from part of the challenges, although the truth is that these are anything but original, and are designed primarily for the more experienced in this saga. They are based on obtaining the highest scores within each difficulty level, or completing a specific area in the shortest time possible. Here we will compete against the rest of the people within a quite complete online scoreboard, since we will be able to see or download the repetitions of the others. Or save and upload our own, of course. In any case, there is something of more variety or some extra apart from the music box, from which we will be able to listen to the songs created by Yuzo Koshiro.
Streets of Rage. The beginning of a great beat’em up saga
Streets of Rage’ debuted on SEGA’s 16-bit console in 1991, and it shows. The machine’s potential was not exploited, and its appearance today plays against it. Not very detailed levels, small characters, not to mention the little variety of characters (three: Adam, Axel and Blaze) and movements available to them (the special for the three is identical; an attack from a police car). Throughout eight phases we will live one of the great burdens of that time too: the little variety of enemies, and the indiscriminate use of repeated bosses. But we must value it in its just measure, since without it we would not have received its sequel, which knew how to improve everything to the beast.
Each fighter has the same pattern of attacks: a normal one, which we can chain to create a combo (or press at a slow pace to take advantage of a small trick by which we can eliminate almost any enemy without giving them any option to react), a jump attack, an attack on our back, and then the keys (with three movements: short blow, throw, and back throw). Apart, of course, from the police special and the weapons that we can take for each phase (here, by the way, when using a key we will continue with the equipped weapon). More variety is missing, apart from the possibility of running, which is very necessary and which we do not have here. Although this feature is not available in the ‘Streets of Rage II’, and curiously enough, it is not so missing thanks to the different specials of each character. But we will see that in more detail later.
As for the soundtrack, Yuzo Koshiro knew how to compose some songs that are still very remembered today. To highlight for example the theme of the beginning (The Street of Rage) and those of phases as Dilapidate Town or The Last Soul. None of them will be heavy for us, if not the opposite.
Streets of Rage II. The perfection of the saga. The best
One year later SEGA embroidered it with ‘Streets of Rage II’. If we had to compare the big change (for the better) of this sequel with another one in the market, we would have to talk about a certain Capcom fighting game whose protagonist is a certain Ryu. Do you know him? Well, that’s how big the change was in this sequel starring Axel and Blaze, who repeated, along with Max, a big muscular but slow guy, and Skate, a skateboarding kid (who would have thought it, huh?) who is Adam’s brother.
Streets of Rage II’ came in through the view, with more detailed settings and larger characters. The game was more fluid and the main characters contributed to it thanks to their greater variety of movements. Apart from the basics of the first, here we had two more attacks for the air (one jumping without moving sideways, and another jumping and attacking downwards), and two as a special way (which take a little life), differentiating between them, apart from the attack itself, in the way to perform (one being still, another advancing). And although we still couldn’t run, there was a movement that in a way substituted it (very powerful) and that was done by quickly pressing forward twice in a row together with the attack button. Axel’s, by the way, said “Bare Knuckle”, which is just what the saga is called in Japan. A curious detail.
Although not the only one, in this sequel, if we had an equipped weapon and made a key, we would drop the weapon. Or what can we say about the phases, which in a way are a copy (in theme) of the first ‘Streets of Rage’. Although more varied, with areas in which we will go diagonally, and with different fragments. By the way, if we have to mention another curiosity, there is a certain thematic phase in which we will see an area clearly inspired by Alien. Or, while we’re at it, there’s another one about a boxer who could have come out of Nintendo’s ‘Punch Out’. And no, ‘Streets of Rage II’, as good as it may seem to us (a weakness of a server, by the way), also suffers from repeating bosses in advanced phases. But it was also one of the limitations of the time: recycling enemies to stretch the duration of the game a little. Here we had again eight phases, and a battle mode as versus (within the beat’em up style), to make the colleagues to bite.
Yuzo Koshiro was very inspired to compose the soundtrack of this ‘Streets of Rage II’, with unforgettable songs like “Go Straight”, “In the Bar”, “Dreamer”, “Under Logic” or “Wave 131”. No wonder that whenever this artist is mentioned he is remembered for this game.
Streets of Rage 3. The wear and tear and end of a great saga
Two years we had to wait to receive the last installment of the saga. Streets of Rage 3′ had everything to succeed (it came in a 24 megas cartridge), but unfortunately this was not the case, apart from marking the end of the trilogy itself (although it continued unofficially in charge of Core Design with ‘Fighting Force’, a 3D beat’em up). Why did this happen? There were several reasons, and in these cases each one will have his own. In my case I would say that the wear and tear, the lack of inspiration, the tedious development of the phases, and the inexplicable work of Yuzo Koshiro. Why did we start? For the beginning.
Despite the increase in memory, Streets of Rage 3 was not that different from the previous graphic release. We had new animations, such as effects caused by the wind, very cool for the time, although against the design of some phases was to hit their creators (the phase of the disco). We were grateful, however, for the greater variety of situations, without repeating the scheme of the previous ones. On the other hand, we had more traps, and some of them were bloody.
Streets of Rage 3′ was also faster than the sequel, and not only because now all the characters could run (as well as move vertically by rolling), and although it had fewer phases (but we had four different endings), they were longer, and with a slower and more tedious development. It is to emphasize that the use of bosses was not repeated, because it has always been a burden for this great and forgotten genre. We also had more characters (three unlockable ones, being the kangaroo Roo the best known), repeating Axel, Blaze and Skate, being the fourth in discord Zan.
As a curiosity regarding the other deliveries, in ‘Streets of Rage 3’ if we made a key with an equipped weapon, we did not lose the weapon (remember that in ‘SOR2’ we did), while with the specials on this occasion we could not lose life. Everything depended on a bar that was loaded with time, and that when we reached the “OK”, allowed us to use it without losing anything. Now, the trick of the basic hit without entering in combo (seen in the first two deliveries) here disappeared.
What is sad, and inexplicable, is the soundtrack that Yuzo Koshiro gave birth to. It had to be a difficult birth, according to what was seen (heard… or suffered, rather), because for the undersigned it is undoubtedly one of the worst soundtracks in the history of video games. And that’s saying a lot. Repetitive, crushing, and unbearable would be enough to describe it. Even so, it doesn’t detract from the great work of the composer in the other ‘Streets of Rage’. But it is certainly to be played without music. A pity.