Hype Train: Streets of Rage 4

I was reading various blog posts and otherwise trolling the Internet yesterday and came across a game I had no idea coming. Series as old as this one rarely get direct sequels, rather reimaginings or reboots or even remakes. But 26 years ago, the last entry in the Streets of Rage franchise released. That is, until Thursday. Seriously, I think perhaps the lack of an E3 this year or simply the fact that I haven’t paid as much attention to gaming news sources lately let this one slip by. I was a huge fan of this style of side-scrolling beat-em-up game in the 1990’s. Back then I was fully a SEGA kid, and I played all three games in the series religiously, along with others like it — the Golden Axe series and TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist for example. We can’t say that these games were revolutionary, mainly because there are so many of them and so many that did different things in different ways. I largely left the side-scrolling and platforming genre behind in the 90’s, until a few years back when I started playing some rogue-likes and metrodvanias that started making a comeback with current technology. It turns out I still enjoy the play pattern, though these games tend to hold my interest a little less than they once did. Still, this seems like the perfect couch co-op game, and also has some online functionality that could make it even better. I’m not sure if they’re going to take things to Dragon’s Crown levels of replay-ability, but it still seems to have enough features to feel like a worth while purchase, if nothing else for nostalgia alone. Take a look at the reveal trailer and you’ll see what there is to like.

The game looks pretty damn beautiful, yet captures the spirit of the originals. I can tell this by just looking at it, but it also seems to have improved the combat mechanics to a point where there are more things to do than just mash a button (though I’m sure there’s still a lot of that). Another selling point they revealed is the ability to play with all of the playable characters through the original trilogy, but also included a couple of new characters, so I imagine there’s a lot of different combinations there to play with, and I’m sure achievements could be bound to completing things with each. Also noted is the ability to play as retro versions of the characters inside of the new engine, which is a nice touch, though I think I’m more inclined to stick to new artwork for a new game.

It’s an interesting idea that also attempts to pull on the heart strings, but since I own copies of the originals I can get that experience anytime and would prefer looking at the new stuff. The final selling point is “battle mode” which I guess was something you could do with the old games? I honestly don’t remember. Anyway, here’s that:

It’s a thing. It looks like it could be pretty fun, it’s obviously up to 4 player brawls, but I also don’t see a lot of room for strategy either. I guess it’s sort of a mini Street Fighter game within a game. Whatever the case I think the package as a whole looks pretty damn sweet, and with a $25 price point I can’t help but pick it up. I’m hoping to rope the family into playing it with me, as a last feature I can note is that there is now 4 player local co-op for the game. I’ll likely have more to say about this one come the weekend as release is in just a couple of days.

Thoughts on Dungeon Punks

One of the free titles made available for Playstation Plus users during November was Dungeon Punks. At first glance, it looked like a pretty generic Golden Axe like game — a side-scrolling beat-em-up. Upon closer inspection however, I found that this game was much more like Dragon’s Crown, a game I played the hell out of a few years ago.

On the surface, yes it is just like Golden Axe. There aren’t difficult controls, you pretty much button mash your way through levels, trying to avoid damage while killing everything. Underneath the hood though, there are levels of complexity that the older game didn’t have, but it’s pretty much on par with Dragon’s Crown. You’ll level up, you’ll get new abilities and you’ll equip new gear. Pretty straightforward stuff but it’s still a good take on an old formula. I’ve definitely played worse games.

Characters:

You start by picking your primary character, and this game supports local co-op for up to 3 players. If you don’t have friends over (or don’t have friends in general) the computer will control them, and you can switch between characters on the fly (or if you die during a mission). It appears that levels are geared for certain level characters, so there is some replay value there, along with “emergency exits” that you’ll have to use to get upgrades and change out your gear, but when you do the levels will reset. This means you’ll be doing a lot of the same shit over any over, but that’s the name of the game with RPGs these days, is it not?

Gameplay:

Pretty standard side-scrolling beat-em-up action, but it’s still a spot of fun. I enjoy the character design very much, but they all pretty much do the same sorts of things, outside of their spells/special moves. I started off with the Wolf, but also played the Djinn a bit one time when I died. You’ll beat bosses to move on to new areas, and sometimes people will pop up in levels and give you side quests. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Menus:

The map looks fairly large and has a good amount of areas on it. In between levels you’ll head back to the ship where your captain will give you new quests, and also where you can upgrade your abilities (or learn new ones) along with buying/selling and equipping new gear. Drops are pretty common and adhere to MMO color scale rarity rules. As I say, it’s all pretty standard faire but it’s still a mildly entertaining diversion. If you can get it for free I’d recommend it. Not sure what they’re selling it for but if it’s like $10 it’s worth it. Check it out if you enjoy this sort of thing.