Friday 18 December 2015

Streets of Rage 2 (Master System review)

Developer: Japan System House
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1993

Streets of Rage 2 is a PAL exclusive beat-em-up that was also released on the Mega Drive and Game Gear worldwide.

It supports single player only and your mission is to save Adam and stop Mr. X from taking over the world. Axel, Blaze and Skate are playable (Max was removed) and on top of your standard brawling there's weapons you can pick up including a lead pipe, knife and bat. Only six of the eight Mega Drive levels are here which is surprising given the original on the SMS featured everything. It has some familiar areas such as city streets and elevator stages but does omit locations like the baseball stadium. However, it does have unique settings including a battle on top of a moving train which is a nice addition. The enemy life-bars are now displayed in the top-right which allows you to work out which attacks do the most damage. Gone is the awkward Special Move mechanic from the first SMS game (where you had to press Pause on the console plus a face button) as it's been replaced by a combination on the control pad. However, the combat just doesn't feel right with ineffective punches / kicks that suffer from poor collision detection and it takes forever to wind up a weapon for an attack. Enemies are also much quicker than you and almost always beat you to the punch. The issue of having no grace period when you've been knocked down hasn't been fixed and often you'll lose an entire life as you keep being attacked when trying to stand up. Many of the bosses are the same yet weirdly some have been switched around, such as in Stage 2 where you fight Zamza instead of Abadede. The music is the high point and clearly resembles many of the classic tracks in the 16-bit version.
Streets of Rage 2 is an absolute chore to play and it seems as though it uses the inferior engine from the Game Gear original rather than the excellent Master System port. It's puzzling how this was messed up so badly when the groundwork had already been laid for a kickass sequel. 
Random trivia: The game has a hidden Level Select option; find out more here.

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