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Cult Video Game Essentials: Streets of Rage (1991)

Streets of Rage  is a side-scrolling beat ’em up released by Sega in 1991 for the Sega Genesis. It is the first installment of the Streets of Rage series which was followed by Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3. The game was also converted over to Sega’s Game Gear, Sega CD and Master System. In 2007, the game was released for the Wii’s Virtual Console in North America and Europe, and in 2009 it was released for the iOS via the App Store. The game was again made available as part of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection in 2009 on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.

The once peaceful city has been taken over by a criminal syndicate, including the police. There is mass violence. Adam Hunter (an accomplished boxer), Axel Stone (skilled martial artist) and Blaze Fielding (judo expert) are ex-police officers who fight back the syndicate.

Depending on whether the game is played as 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.

Similar to the game Golden Axe which was released two years prior by Sega, enemies walk onto the screen from both sides as well as occasionally appearing from other locations. The player must defeat each opponent to progress through eight locations, known as rounds. With the exception of round 7, 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. As in contemporary games Double Dragon and Final Fight, weapons can be picked up, and these include bottles and drainpipes. 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 8, the special attack can’t be used.

As mentioned above, there are three playable characters in the game. Adam Hunter is noticeably slower but stronger than the other characters. Axel Stone is the most moderate of the three characters, as he is slightly slower but stronger than Blaze and faster yet slightly weaker than Adam. His only negative attribute is his weak jumping ability compared to the other characters. Blaze Fielding 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, and (because of her judo abilities) her throws and body slams have the highest damage.

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