Recently a friend directed me to Streets of Rage Remake, a fan project from Bomberman Games. SoRR is a true love letter to the 16 Bit, 2D Side-Scrolling Beat 'Em Up, and the list of features is undeniably impressive. After so much as reading about it, I quickly downloaded the title for some violent nostalgia. From the outset, it is obvious how much effort went into this project. Hand-drawn cutscences, complete with Blaze's heaving chest, scrolling text and Axle's flaming strikes at the screen evoked memories of an age long since past. An age where a game that can be completed with little fuss and just as little time would be able to keep me occupied for weeks, months, and even years.
First impressions were deceiving though, as playing the game was a brutal experience.
The sprites and music remain faithful to the original series, but the jump in difficulty was completely unexpected (and not entirely welcome). To clarify, I've finished Streets of Rage 2 on the Normal difficulty setting, using no continues or any special attacks (for achievements, otherwise I would've been unleashing fiery punches at thugs en masse). For the first level of SoRR, I used both of my continues; staggering away to the next stage with no more than three lives. The first boss fight (against two femme fatales) was the greatest challenge, taking about five lives when the last thug was dispatched. They weaved around the dance floor, evading most of my strikes with the greatest of ease. The second stage featured a solid five minutes of motor bike-mounted combat which I believe to be new gameplay (can't remember it at least). It was solid, easy fun which was more in the spirit of the orginal games. I did manage to make it to the second boss fight, but there was no hope: I had two lives left, and Jet would not take a punch.
It was still quite a sight to behold though.
Criminals in brightly coloured clothes - the same that I had first fought with over a decade ago - once again attacked me in their hundreds. All the while, a thumping midi dance track catalogues each heated, physical exchange. Some of the stages are new, some have been recycled, all I know is: I loved all of those that I battled through. It was so intoxicatingly colourful and essential. The soundtrack for SoRR - which features tracks from each of the instalments (including those on the Game Gear) remixed by five musicians - is the true star of this retro melee. I only just wish it were a little bit easier so that I could enjoy more of it.
I strongly encourage all of you to download this fitting tribute to a much-loved series. There's no cost, and it offers hours of ferocious 2D brawling. The funny thing is that I'm not even scratching the surface. There are over one hundred stages to explore, I just lack the skill to make a dent in this package.
To download Streets of Rage Remake and learn more about the project, please visit the following link.
Source: SoRR Project
Dutch Note: For those of you who have purchased Dragon Age II new (regardless of platform) and redeemed the included Online Pass, you should know that you can now redeem a copy of the brilliant Space Opera RPG, Mass Effect 2 for the PC for free. Get on this great deal while it lasts!
Update (13/04/11): Kotaku are reporting that Sega have requested that Bomberman Games no longer make Streets of Rage Remake available for download. Hopefully Sega lift this embargo and allow the gifted developer to spread their retro beat em' up love letter. Best case scenario would of course see Bomberman Games being paid for their work and SoRR being made available via Steam, Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.