Back in the early 90’s beat ’em ups were all the rage on the streets. There were Final Fights, Golden Axes, Double Dragons, some Bad Dudes, Power Rangers, X-Men, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then you had your Streets of Rage smack dab right in the middle of the frenzy of pallet swapping enemy punch-a-thons with friends. While hard to stick out in that busy crowd of what seems to be a pretty well-tread genre, Streets of Rage managed to hold its own. In particular for me I had a soft spot for Streets of Rage 2, and it’s youngest hero, Skate.
Back at that time I remember there being a clear divide between owning an SNES and Genesis. While Final Fight was out on SNES, it felt clean and lame by comparison. It felt like a stage play of what an actual brawling experience would feel like cleaning up a city. Genesis just felt like the edgier system with it’s reputation of quicker game play, with it’s EA sports games as well as games like Sonic, Truxton, and Shinobi. Plus their Mortal Kombat had blood in it! Silly to look back at, but isn’t that what being a kid is all about? Living in the fantasy of the world built up around you? Genesis was just every bit of awesome to an eight year old Chris.
Streets of Rage 2 delivered on that promise right alongside those other games. Being a kid and being able to play AS a kid tearing up the streets as Skate just felt so damn unique. Using his diminutive size to jump on the backs of enemies to start punching them in the head? The swagger of swooshing back and forth across the screen with the “cooler than you” traversal on roller blades could have only been improved if I had gnarly flame stickers on them. I must have played through the game at my friends house at least a hundred times it felt like as we casually would hang out… by a hundred times I mean probably about 15 in reality. We knew the story was garbage, but it was a blast to pummel junkies, brutes, punks, and boxers with fists or pipes found around the level. The most appropriate word I can think of to describe the attitude and music of that game is rad. Genesis and games like this were popular in my circles of Detroit at the time because attitude was everything, even at that young age. Only losers liked Nintendo. Mario was for babies with it’s goofy characters, bright colors, and corny jingles. Streets of Rage 2 on the Sega Genesis was what you played as an edgy soon-to-be teenager.
Sure in hind sight it’s all stupid reasons for having a preference of something. We’re always caught up in the latest trends of someway or another. The idea of certain systems or games being in vogue isn’t that far-fetched given we still argue over having to pick a side between Titanfall, Overwatch, Destiny, or Battlefield… but I still think that Streets of Rage 2 was a blast to play and the tunes it pumped out through that horrible Genesis chip are bitchin’.
Streets of Rage 2 is currently available on 3DS, as well as PS3/X360 via Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection.