Back in the 90s, we had an embarrassment of riches in the beat-em-up genre, and the Streets of Rage trilogy was one of the absolute highlights for Sega fanatics.
With their addictive gameplay, catchy soundtracks, and suspicious roasted turkeys found under garbage cans, many hours were sunk into the adventures of Axel, Blaze and company. Half of those hours were probably spent intentionally hurling a knife at your friend’s head or flinging them into a pit, because being a jerk is somehow incredibly gratifying.
At long last, those days are almost upon us again, with Streets of Rage 4 poised to release soon on PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One. It introduces advanced mechanics such as juggling (enemies, not billiard balls), as well as new kids on the block, Cherry and Floyd.
They’ve certainly got a lot to live up to, because the series has seen its fair share of awesome characters for us to take control of. Today, we’re throwing down the gauntlet, pitting them against one another to determine once and for all who’s the very best out there… on the…
Streets of Rage. Cue title screen!
Low-key though, the real winner is the police officer who rolls out in his squad car whenever you use the special attack button. The way he’s able to fire off a blast of napalm without ever hitting the good guys is a damned art form.
Odds are, several readers will have no idea who Ash is. Originally appearing in the Japanese edition of Streets of Rage 3 (aka Bare Knuckle) as a mini-boss and unlockable character, he was cut from international releases for… reasons.
With his exaggerated movements and revealing attire, he was bound to strike some serious controversy in the States. As such, the change was made and his existence was basically retconned from history, denying a generation the opportunity to experience his true wonder.
He was slated to appear in the first stage, leaping from a boat to duke it out with players after they had disposed of his thugs. In his place, Mr. X’s second-in-command Shiva just drops them off like a disinterested soccer mom before speeding off and leaving them to die.
We’ve got to at least give Ash props for his unwavering loyalty to his comrades, as well as his bold Waluigi aesthetic and the fact that he is, indeed, the strongest character in the entire game.
Seriously, his standard attack where he rakes at people’s eyes is absolutely devastating. It’s quite the sight, unless of course you’re on the receiving end.