Streets of Rage may my favorite game. I love RPGs like Fallout and the Elder Scrolls series and stealth games like the Metal Gear and Splinter Cells series, but the simple story of Street of Rage speaks to me on a deeper level.
The original game debuted in 1991 for the Sega Genesis. It’s the story of three former police detectives who fight back against the corruption and gangs in their city led by Mr. X. The game consists of side-scrolling beat ’em levels where the player(s) defeat wave after wave of enemies. The game play isn’t mind-blowing. There are plenty of game that are similar. What makes this game special to me it the music and the story.
That is one of the greatest game intros ever. The music influenced by the times was very club music, which is now called EDM, was a big thing. I know this is pure uncut nostalgia for me. Hearing the intro or music from a specific stage is like mainlining positive childhood memories. Games that I’m exposed to or play seem to have generic synthetic pop that have no heart or soul. The rest use the popular songs of the day. I’m indifferent to most and the rest I actively avoid and only hear them when playing sports games. This was the first game I played that had a different ending theme if the player chose the evil ending.
The story. Pure 90s action. A mysterious Mr. X has taken over the city. The people in power are all paid off. Cops, politicians, everyone. The first game gives little in the way of much else to the story. That being said, it’s one of my favorite game storylines. A city gets taken over and it’s cops who decide to fight back. It’s not some ex CIA soldier or Special Forces. It’s the cops from the city who after trying to do things within the system become vigilantes. They on their own except for one officer who’s used as a special attack and fires a rocket that takes out all enemies on the screen. Later games add the friends and younger brother of one of the protagonists from the first game. There did end up being a playable character who was a kangaroo. I mostly disregard that entry.
With so many other games sequels year after year and remakes. I don’t know why this can’t be one of them. The advancement in-game technology could make a great fun game with more than just fighting. Games like Ninja Gaiden, God of War and Bayonetta are examples of modern games that could be used for inspiration. I don’t want them to start running around with guns but I’d like to add some exploration and collectables that progress the story and help get a more complete ending. Maybe you have to find all the hidden documents to find out Mr. X’s true identity.
If I can’t get a new game I wouldn’t mind a movie. The simplicity of the plot lends to a plot that could be fleshed out. It could even be expanded into a trilogy. Part one is the rise of Mr X. The main character are still on the force trying to stop a new rise in violence. Part two could be a year later and the city overrun over and falling apart. This would be most of the original game. Part three would expand on the twist, as any good second film in a trilogy has, and set up a great conclusion. Then again it could fall into the hands of the worst director for video game adaptations.