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Streets of Rage: Did Critics Love this Brawler in 1991?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 28, 2014   |   Episode 74 (Show Archive)  


Streets of Rage (Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

After seeing the success of Double Dragon and Final Fight, nobody was surprised when Sega announced Streets of Rage for their 16-bit Genesis. What caught some by surprise is its quality, which managed to outperform Capcom's best known arcade brawler. This episode of Review Crew takes a look at what GamePro, Electronic Gaming Monthly, CVG, Sega Pro, MegaTech and other magazines thought of Streets of Rage back when it was first released.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Streets of Rage
[ Company: Sega | Console: Genesis ]

GAMEPRO (October 1991)
5 out of 5

"Have you been craving a hot fist fighting type game for your Genesis? Well, now you can start dancing in the streets, Streets of Rage that is! Streets of Rage will knock you out! If you enjoy games like Double Dragon and Final Fight, you must slug it out with Streets of Rage." -Doctor Dave

96% out of 100%

"Basically this is Final Fight for the Mega Drive. Great graphics and some amazing moves. This is the best beat-'em-up game yet for the Mega Drive. Buy it and you won't be disappointed. (Could have been a bit tougher, though...)."

93% out of 100%

"The first time I saw this I almost wet Frank's trousers too. The Megadrive has been screaming for a truly brilliant beat 'em up for years -- and now Streets Of Rage knocks the competition into a cocked hat! Beautifully presented, the game smacks of quality from the moment you slap in the cart and prepare to slap heads." -Tim Boone

92% out of 100%

"Yes! The Megadrive needed a fabulous beat 'em up, and Streets of Rage more than delivers. With excellent sprites, backdrops and brilliant music, Streets of Rage is initially very appealing. Add in great gameplay and simultaneous two-player action and you've got an essential buy."

9 out of 10

"Now here's a real version of Double Dragon for the Genesis. Streets of Rage blows away all other home fighting games with superb graphics, terrific interaction and more forms of attack than you can imagine! A winner in a category that has been sorely lacking on the Sega 16-bit!" -Steve

MEGA PLAY (July 1991)
9 out of 10

"This is street fighting action at its best! For everyone who's been waiting for a Double Dragon on the Genesis, Rage should do just nicely! The graphics, sounds and play are great!" -Dave

(The Essential Sega Guide)
90% out of 100%

"The action is great, especially with two players on-screen at once! For once, the players act as a team, using each other to produce moves not available in one-player mode. The graphics are superb: at times the screen is chock-a-block with thugs ready to send you to your doom! A classic beat 'em up for the Megadrive, positively chock-full of action." -Rich

9 out of 10

"Final Fight, move over!! This is the type of fighting game I've been waiting for since Fighting Street! Two players, 40 attacks, 8 levels, large bosses, and music that rivals Sonic the Hedgehog, Street of Rage [sic] is the best fighting game around! Let's see how Street Fighter 2 turns out..." -Sushi X

MEGA PLAY (July 1991)
9 out of 10

"At first, I thought Final Fight would be unstoppable, but Streets of Rage is mind-blowing! It sports the best soundtrack of all Sega games available, as well as crisp graphics and control." -Mike

79% out of 100%

"'Two-player...Great graphics, superb sound and fab gameplay ... but too easy' was how this was described in our shoot 'em-up round-up. After some dispute, however, we've included it as a beat'em-up. Now will you shut up!"
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 91% - Streets of Rage was released at the perfect time. This was the height of the beat-em-up genre's popularity, and mere months before gamers would lose interest in favor of one-on-one fighting games like Street Fighter II. With three characters to choose from and two-player support, it shouldn't surprise anybody that Streets of Rage was a big hit with the critics. And coming off the heels of Sonic the Hedgehog, this was a game that really helped establish as a serious competitor.

Most critics pointed to the multiplayer and variety of characters, things that were missing from Capcom's Final Fight on Super NES. "The action is great, especially with two players on-screen at once!" screams a very excited editor at Mean Machines Sega. Mega Play called the game "mind-blowing," while CVG called the game a "truly brilliant beat 'em up." Then again, CVG's review started with talk of an editor peeing his pants, so who knows if we should take them seriously.

Speaking of which; if we were handing out prizes for strangest review, Mega Drive Advanced Gaming would easily win. At first they talk about how great the graphics, gameplay, sound and two-player support is. But then they immediately turn around and call it a "shoot'em-up." And because they clearly got a lot of letters about this, they reversed their decision and included it amongst the beat'em-ups, where it rightly belongs. Is all this just a misprint? Is that 79% score even for Streets of Rage? Should we take a critic seriously if they call Streets of Rage a shoot'em-up? I don't have the answers, but for now I am going to include it in the average.

STREETS OF RAGE VS. FINAL FIGHT - ROUND 1: I don't mean to be hyperbolic, but Streets of Rage was the Final Fight killer. While this shocked me as a kid, it does make sense looking back. Although Capcom was the king of arcade games, this was their first port for a system they had never worked with. Throw in the added pressure to get the game in for the Super NES launch, and it's easy to see how corners could be cut. Unfortunately, Capcom dropped some of the best material, including two-player support, Guy, a couple levels and even a boss fight.

Game critics felt Capcom cut too much, and ultimately awarded the game a low average of 80%. Streets of Rage was strategically timed to coincide with Capcom's brawler, so many magazines reviewed them side-by-side. When put next to each other, all magazines agreed that Streets of Rage was the better game. It averaged an impressive 91%, eleven points higher than Final Fight.

ON WEDNESDAY'S EPISODE: Get ready for another pulse-pounding episode when Review Crew tussles with Streets of Rage 2. Were critics even more impressed with this 16-bit sequel, or were they over brawlers in favor of Street Fighter II? Find out on Wednesday when the Review Crew tackles Streets of Rage 2. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!




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