Streets of Rage is definitely one of my favourite Genesis/Megadrive games, although it has clearly not aged as well its sequels. The graphics do look quite dated, and even when I played the game for the first time in 1993-ish I wasn't impressed by them. Although this could be based on the game's age - it is amongst the first wave of Megadrive releases - I can think of lots of other games from this period that looked a lot better.

Of course a book should never be judged by its cover - or in this case a game by its graphics. Hidden underneath the dated visuals is some fine gameplay. The game is addictive and very fun to play, especially in two player. There are moments of genius throughout the game; I still find using the beer bottle weapon funny to use - where else do you have the opportunity to smash a bottle over someone's head without being arrested? Round 7 (the freight elevator stage) is also noteworthy, as throwing punks to their death over the side is hilarious. On the downside, the gameplay is not as polished as that of its sequels, especially when the number of moves available is compared (although it has to be said that it had more than most games of the genre at this time). The special attacks from the police car are ridiculous; check out the stupid animations that the enemies do just as the rocket lands! Also, could anyone be accurate enough to hit only the punks?

The sound is a mixed bag. The tunes from Yuzo Koshiro are damn good and really enhance the atmosphere, but the sound effects in the game are pretty weedy and unrealistic.

There are also several features I find annoying, especially after playing the later Rage games. The fact that points are given for kills and not damage means that 2 player can sometimes be quite frustrating, as you can all but kill an enemy but receive no points if the your partner kills them (especially with bosses, as the points from these could give extra lives). The lack of energy bars for the individual enemies is also kinda annoying. Also, you are not allowed to select your player if you join in a game as 2 Player - why? On the up side, special mention must go to the intro, which although simple, is a superb and atmospheric start to the game.

Streets of Rage laid the foundations for the rest of the series, but compared to Streets of Rage 2 or 3 it looks dated and simplistic. Overall my least favourite in the series.


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