What you need to make a follow-up this grand (Upper).
Rejoice, beat-em-up fans of 90s video games based after The Warriors! Streets of Rage is making a comeback with a fourth installment (fifth if we count the equally-awesome Streets of Rage Remake fan game) thanks to DotEmu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games.
Check out the Streets of Rage 4 video below which features Axel in a beard, Blaze who hasn’t aged one bit, and a short bit of gameplay that looks like a heavily-modified and brighter version of the original side-scrolling beat-em-up with lovely 2D animation.
Looks good, right? As a self-proclaimed retro-enthusiast, I do have a couple of requests for the upcoming sequel that has yet to have a release date. So here we go:
Bring Back Adam, Max, & Skate
While we need Axel and Blaze in this since they’re the official mascots of the game, we also need the rest to represent the streets. Adam is a pugilist cop guy who hits hard, while Skate is his younger street brother with the fastest movement speed among the cast. Max the (probably Hispanic) wrestler is the giant powerhouse who takes the “giant tank who walks super-slow” role in most beat-em-ups.
Having a balanced and colourful roster with varied fighting styles is a pretty important trait in a beat-em-up. And this goes without saying: 5-player drop-in & drop-out co-op.
Bring Back Roo Too!
There are too many humans and robots in the past games. Let’s change it up a notch and have Roo on board, perhaps bringing the roster up to 6 main characters. Also add in tigers, lions, bears (oh my), and a few other carnivores to spice up the vigilante violence lifestyle.
Make EVERY Character Unlockable, Then Add In A Colosseum Free-For-All Mode
Remember Guardian Heroes’ versus mode where you can play anyone and anything from the heroes to even the big bosses, as long as you unlock them in the main game? Bring that mode here in Streets of Rage 4. Have your Galsias, your Yellow Signals, and your Elektras selectable in an Arena mode once you beat up a sufficient number of them.
Then you can see how underpowered/overpowered they can be in a free-for-all with either the AI or your pals. It won’t be balanced, but it’ll be hella fun.
For the record, please bring back Ash. The world needs more gay stereotypes to raise unnecessary ire in today’s climate.
Bring In New Generations Of Bad Guys
Mr. X, his martial artist son Shiva, and all the other SoR staples like the Thai kickboxers and big fat guys may make a return. Some of them are already confirmed in the trailer above, but why stop there? Maybe bring in the younger versions of SoR’s Mona and Lisa (palette-swapped Blaze clones that are tough to hit), or new variations of the blue and green ninjas.
The new SoR shouldn’t get too hung up on the past and introduce new challenges and curveballs that make you switch up your spam tactics.
Add In Branching Paths
Some beat-em-ups introduce new pathways that lead to new areas or even new scenarios with new enemies and objectives. SoR did that with the third game: you can either beat up a Mr. X in a green mecha suit, or head to where the president lives and beat up a powered-up Shiva. The SoR Remake also introduced multitudes of different pathways leading to different endings.
SoR 4 should just outright take that idea and add in new kinds of stages like a bike run or a “rescue one guy before he dies” objective. The devs can go nuts here and even implement these stages as separate Challenge/Time Attack modes where you can upload your score on an online leaderboard.
Add In Some New Features In The Combat
Double Dragon Neon introduced the gleam system where if you dodge an attack, you deal double damage temporarily. SoR can surely introduce something new into its beat-em-up mechanic, like a simple fighting style selection or a method that rewards aggressive and evasive play depending on the character.
Axel has his Grand Upper and hard-hitting brawler moveset, but perhaps he can use an alternate fighting style which makes him a tad more defensive. Think Samurai Shodown’s Bust and Slash mode; feature two styles of attacks and supers for each hero to add a bit more variety in the combat system.
It’s still too damn early, but I’m pretty sure the devs might be working on some of these ideas if they’re true beat-em-up fans. One of them’s already in my good books: Guard Crush Games a.k.a the makers of the awesome digitized graphics side-scrolling beat-em-up Streets of Fury. They need to solve the repetitious nature of the genre while also making the art of close combat fun and addictive.
Few reboots & sequels have succeeded; let’s hope SoR 4 is one of them.