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RELEASE DATE (NA): December 31, 1992 GENRE: Beat-'em-up
// review by SoyBomb

The rage comes from within.

Streets of Rage for the Sega Genesis was a major hit both in the Genesis' blossoming library and in the beat-em-up genre, rivaling Capcom's Final Fight and Technos' Double Dragon series. With solid sprite work, powerful gameplay, and a pumpin' techno-style soundtrack courtesy of Yuzo Koshiro rarely heard in games of its time, Streets of Rage was one of the must-have games for Genesis owners. But oh, the other Sega system holders wanted their own fighting games, too! We can't leave out the Game Gear community! So Sega grabbed Biox, a company known for mixed-bag portable releases (including the weak Mega Man II) before cranking out a bunch of fast food simulators and dying quietly, to patch together a portable edition of their soon-to-be flagship fighting series.

It's garbage.

Where do I begin? Let's start with the gameplay itself. At first, I thought this to be a nice conversion of a console beat-em-up, but it didn't take long to realize just how downright abysmal and cryptic in the heat of the moment the controls are. Hit detection is questionable at best, and you'll sometimes miss a target right in front of you, leading to some rather cheap pummelings from enemies that will easily gang up on you and whittle down your health bar. The manual says "Press Button 1 repeatedly for Axel's punch and kick combo. His sheer power is too much for almost any enemy!" ...if it connects, which it very well may not! Meanwhile, when you attack enemies, you can get them in a headlock, and then...the controls just falter and you set them free rather than toss them! The manual gives specific instructions on how to perform the toss, and it fails repeatedly, meaning you're just performing inappropriate moves in the street.

Also, the jump kick acts humorously, as the attack is really useful and smacks down most enemies despite there being no actual animation for a jump kick. At least it helped me get out of a few jams that I'd otherwise have needed stitches for.

This game pulls no punches. Neither does your character.

Beyond the game simply being terrible to play and far too difficult due to poor controls, Streets of Rage indeed suffers from the transfer to the small screen with cut content. The number of stages is reduced from eight to five (which may double as a boon if you're running off the Game Gear's limited battery power), and the playable cast is cut from three to two, meaning Adam is nowhere to be found. I guess someone has to keep an eye on the headquarters if they have one at all. Also, can I point out that both of the playable characters, Axel and Blaze, are 22 and 21 years old respectively, but both are described as "ex-cops"? How did they leave the force so quickly? Were they just REALLY bad at their jobs?

I realize the limitations of a portable system require some cuts, some slices, some compromises, but the end product probably might be better off not existing in its current form. Yet at least within the limitations, the Game Gear port at least TRIES to present itself similarly to its Genesis counterpart. Though scaled down significantly, the graphics do boast that Streets of Rage feel with characters being as easily identifiable as on the Genesis. Regrettably, the Game Gear sound chip just doesn't pack the same punch, so the gritty basslines and thumpin' beats simply cannot be replicated. Instead, we get tunes that, despite their best effort, sound squeakier, weaker, and devitalizing by comparison. Even the Game Gear drum kit doesn't elicit the urge to fight.

All in all, Streets of Rage on Game Gear is a game that probably shouldn't have left the drawing board; it's just far too inferior to be good. Biox buggered up Mega Man II, and they buggered up Streets of Rage. Bad Biox. Bad!

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