I’ve been a HUGE fan of beat-em-up games for a very long time. While I liked fighting games at the arcades such as Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, they never had quite the long-term appeal that beat-em-ups did. While I never really played them at the arcades, I still clearly remember when my friend Justin got Final Fight for his Super Nintendo. We stayed up so late playing it! I loved the levels, variety of enemies, the number of attacks and throws possible, everything about it.

It wasn’t until I’d had my Sega Genesis for quite awhile before I discovered the Streets of Rage series. Primarily playing the second one, I remember that it easily equaled Final Fight, if not surpass it. I think like the Genesis compared to the Super Nintendo, Streets of Rage just seemed to have a bit more edge to it.

After a VERY LONG hiatus, wherein I complained to both myself and online on the lack of a new beat-em-ups, I began to hear rumblings of a new Streets of Rage! I tampered my enthusiasm, dismissed rumors, and remained in my past-game-grump. But before long teaser videos and a trailer emerged, confirming that a new Streets of Rage was coming! The previews of the artwork were stunning, the animation smooth, and even the hints of music instantly shoved me back to the 90s. Was it too good to be true?

After playing the game for several months, I can happily say that Streets of Rage 4 is not only a worthy sequel, it’s one of the best beat-em-ups period! Licensed by Sega to publisher Dotemu, the game was co-developed by Lizardcube and Guard Crush Games. The game runs on a modified engine from Guard Crush Game’s tongue-in-cheek beat-em-up (wow such dashes) Streets of Fury.

A far cry from that game’s look, Streets of Rage 4 is exactly what’s been needed in this genre. With a returning cast of characters, along with a few new ones, players will take on new enemies in new locations, all the while collecting familiar weapons, health, and power-ups. I highly recommend this game not only for fans of Streets of Rage and beat-em-ups, but for anyone who enjoys action games and is looking for something that can be played and enjoyed in a variable length of time, whether it’s simply to beat a single level or to sit down for a marathon session and go through the entire game.