In an out of nowhere, deus ex machina announcement straight from the beating heart of retro nineties Sega, Streets of Rage 4 was recently revealed triggering a miasma of reactions across the gaming sphere ranging from a mass of excitement, to apprehension, to scepticism as to whether the game would be a return to form, true to the essence of the original games.
Yuzo Koshiro’s Potential Soundtrack
Central to this was the pressing question as to whether Yuzo Koshiro, legendary composer of the brilliant pulse-pounding music that scored the original games, would return for a fourth instalment. That night, Koshiro was met with an outpouring of support from fans of his emotive, electro-infused music that scored the soundtrack to so many young lives in the nineties that repeated the enunciation of the same question that echoed across his Twitter account: “Will you be returning for Streets of Rage 4?”.
Koshiro responded that night, with a cryptic but very telling tweet indicating that he might be returning, but couldn’t yet confirm anything official. This was presumably to not conflict with publisher DotEmu’s rigorous and clever marketing strategy, to hold back certain announcements for later timeframes.
Known Details on the Game So far
Only two characters were confirmed upon the game’s announcement, Axel and Blaze, though there are definitely more to be revealed as co-developers LizardCube, responsible for the game’s art direction and developing the game in conjunction with Guard Crush Games have confirmed there will be more characters to come.
Recent interviews, primarily sourced from Streets of Rage 4’s hands-on demonstration at PAX that was privately made available to select press, have fielded questions ranging from whether the game’s signature police car assistance feature will return (it probably will) to whether Mr. X’s ominous appearance on in-game dollar bills, insinuating a ramped-up more frightening presence as the game’s nemesis, will return as the game’s final foe.
The Essence of Streets of Rage
To that question LizardCube were particularly coy, neither confirming nor denying either way, though odds are Mr. X will be in the game in some form. It wouldn’t be Streets of Rage without him. And speaking of that PAX hands-on, reports thus far are extremely positive. Secondary to whether Yuzo Koshiro will return for the soundtrack, a must as far as long-time fans are concerned, are questions that have been raised regarding the game’s art style.
With LizardCube on-board, famous for the glorious and beautiful graphics that were engineered for the Wonder Boy: Dragon’s Trap remake, fans responded with a rainbow of emotion, both positive and negative. Streets of Rage is famous for its gritty, urban realism, a neon synthesis of eighties America from a Japanese perspective that translated to timeless visuals that pushed the Sega Genesis to its limits particularly with the second and third entries, so fans felt the visuals had to accurately echo the original games.
Beautiful Graphics Fluid In Motion
On the one hand the graphics are beautifully imagined and up to the excellent standard of Wonder Boy. On the other hand many felt that they haven’t yet captured the unique essence of Streets of Rage, thereby weakening excitement for a fourth game that should have been overwhelmingly positive. And this seems to be the primary issue with the game at the moment that denotes why everyone wanted Koshiro back with such wanting determination.
Fans want this to be the true sequel we’ve waited two decades for and this concern has reached across to criticism of the game’s not quite there yet visuals. So it’s heartening and reassuring then to see that feedback from that press-only PAX hands-on has been super positive and overwhelmingly so. Impressions have been brightly glowing across the gaming sphere in a myriad of previews. Every preview from those that have played the game has indicated initial fears may have been entirely unwarranted, with feedback ranging everywhere from the game being rad, to awesome, to ultimately feeling like an upgraded Streets of Rage 2 and 3, with Guard Crush Games in particular and their ten years of experience developing side scrolling beat-em-up engines having nailed the gameplay with the precision of a laser.
Previews have indicated that the game genuinely feels like Streets of Rage, and those graphics that led some to comments of adoration and others to disappointment, apparently look much more fluid and beautiful in motion, indicating that graphically the game is a sight to behold too.
Glowing Previews from PAX
If these previews are any indication, Streets of Rage 4, even in these early prototype stages, is shaping up to be a worthy successor to the original games for die-hard Sega fans everywhere. The game has glorious visuals that make sense in motion, subtle tweaks to the gameplay that still ultimately feel like classic Streets of Rage and a developer and publisher trinity that as with the Wonder Boy remake deeply care about producing an amazing game. Word coming from PAX, from every major preview to even off-hand remarks on Twitter from those that have played the game promise a game that is the definition of awesome.
Impressions are so glowing that the game could even transcend its predecessors and reach beyond that nineties Sega magic that enraptured so many in their youth. And as for Koshiro working on the soundtrack, LizardCube have reiterated constantly in recent interviews that they realise how important the music for the game is, as important as the gameplay, and that an impending soundtrack announcement is coming soon.
Our thoughts? Koshiro is involved and that is the announcement that is forthcoming. Streets of Rage 4’s release date is yet to be confirmed, though the game is expected to arrive in 2019.