The digital delights of Sony’s scrumptious PlayStation Network service know no bounds. Aside from letting punters compete in online gaming, stream films, browse the Internet and more, its premier attraction rests in the copious supply of downloadable games ripe for the picking. From PSN exclusives to PSOne Classics, minis and plain old add-on content, Sony’s online space is chock full of goodies battling it out for your hard-earned digital dollars.
Welcome back to another installment of Inside PlayStation Network, where every Monday – Friday we’ll pluck a PSN release—be it new or old—and put it in the spotlight for a thorough dissection. Fancy getting a new PSN game but don’t know what one to plump for? Perhaps this feature will help. Didn’t realize that a game was available in your region until now? We’ve got you covered. Or, perhaps you were musing over what those lucky Japanese folk were tucking into over in the Land of the Rising Sun? You can be sure our coverage will extend to those rare regional exclusives as much as those firmly embedded on the public consciousness.
Today, we focus on the retro-tastic brawler, Streets of Rage 2.
Region(s) available: North America, Europe
Ask any avid gamer who grew up in the 1990s to name one of their favourite side-scrolling beat-em-ups, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wasn’t a fan of Streets of Rage. Back then, SEGA’s lauded brawler was to fighters what Sonic was to platform games. As a kid, there was no better way to spend an afternoon after school than teaming up with a mate and taking on Mr X’s goons in a game of co-op SoR2 – it beat the hell (albeit only figuratively) out of doing homework that’s for sure. Unsurprising it is, then, that the franchise remains one of the most requested among fans for SEGA to resurrect for a new generation, something which has sadly yet to come into fruition. Still, there’s always the classics to fall back on, and that’s exactly what SoR2 is; a classic, quintessentially 90s brawler that proves slapping about 2D pixels can be just as entertaining as gawping at today’s onslaught of wiggling, HD-augmented boobs and chisel-jawed, cardboard cut-out heroes.
SoR2 won’t win any awards for originality when it comes to its story, though the perfunctory narrative serves as the perfect excuse to duff up countless thugs. Big Bad Mr X has returned following his apparent demise at the end of the previous game, and has set his sights on taking over the city, and it’s up to a band of have-a-go-heroes to stop him. Returning brawlers Axel and Blaze are joined by a pair of newcomers, namely a massive wrestling bloke named Max and Adam’s pint-sized kid brother, Eddie “Skate” Hunter. Each character has their own set of weakness and strengths; for example, hard man Axel is an all-around performer, while Skate doesn’t pack quite the same punch as his friends, but more than makes up for it in speed.
Despite what you might think, SoR2 isn’t just another button-mashing affair. Sure, you can get away with using rudimentary punch combos for the first couple of levels, but on latter stages – or indeed on the harder difficult settings – you’ll have to dig deeper into your arsenal to come out on top. Characters each sport their own unique move set, whether it be Axel’s iconic ‘Grand Upper’ or Max’s health-draining backbreaker. Whether you prefer standard brawling or going in close for some grappling action, SoR2 has more than enough to suit your needs. It’s not just your fists and feet that will be doing the talking, either. Our heroes will have access to a heap of weapons to clobber their opponents with, including knives, steel pipes and machetes. You’ll need them too, as there are a myriad of foes to fight, from bog-standard punks and knife-wielding thugs to electric whip-wielding hookers, obese baseball fans and mean-spirited kick boxers.
That’s not including the bosses you’ll face, who range from claw-equipped nutters to hulking wrestlers. And to top it all off, you’ll face them multiple times under the guise of a new moniker – gotta love that old 90s boss-recycling-palette-swap trick. As always you aren’t completely helpless though; apples and chickens are spread liberally throughout each stage to replenish your health, and you’ll accumulate points that reward you with extra lives as you progress through the game. It’s pretty arduous though, and on higher difficulties and two-player, you’ll face noticeably more foes than if you were going solo or on a lower setting. Make no mistake – this’ll have you tearing your hair out in frustration on more than on occasion, but since it’s just so bloody compelling, you’ll never let up until you manage to lodge your boot up a Hard Mode-powered Mr X’s backside. The satisfaction is almost unrivalled.
Join us again tomorrow for another look Inside PlayStation Network.