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Streets of Rage 4 Brings Retro Sidescrolling Action to PlayStation Plus

Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind.

key art from Streets of Rage 4

Side-scrolling beat ‘em up games used to be all the rage. Back when arcades dominated gaming, beat ‘em ups like X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Simpsons gobbled up quarters like nobody’s business, and the genre stayed just as popular throughout early console generations. And while Metroidvanias and 3D action games have taken over the spotlight, there’s still plenty of appetite for classic beat ‘em ups, including some revivals of popular retro series.

In recent years, we’ve seen games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and River City Girls pick up the torch from old-school beat ‘em ups. One of the best games of the beat ‘em up resurgence is Streets of Rage 4, a direct sequel to a series that started on the Sega Genesis, and it’s now available on PlayStation Plus.

Streets of Rage 4 is retro fun for up to four players.

If you’ve played the original Streets of Rage series, you pretty much know what to expect from Streets of Rage 4. That may sound like a knock against it, but for beat ‘em up fans looking for some old-school fun, it’s the best possible outcome. Streets of Rage 4 doesn’t try to fix what isn’t broken, instead focusing on updating what was already great with snappier controls, a fantastic soundtrack, and a gorgeous new hand-drawn art style.

At lower difficulty settings, you can largely button-mash your way through levels and still have a grand old time, but Streets of Rage 4 has added some welcome variety to combat — without bloating the game with unneeded complexity. Simple attack combos and grabs make up most of your fighting repertoire, plus some cleverly added powerful moves that come with big tradeoffs. Some of your strongest attacks actually eat a chunk of your health when you use them, while ultra-powerful Star Moves have limited uses per stage. Both of these techniques require a bit more strategy to use well, since timing them poorly can be disastrous.

Once you advance to late-game stages or high difficulty levels, mastering these new additions along with the basics of combat becomes essential. Most players are better off sticking to standard difficulty, but anyone looking for a challenge to bring them back to the Genesis days will find it here, especially when facing off against the game’s tough bosses.

Streets of Rage 4 lets new and old characters battle together.


Fortunately, you don’t have to conquer the streets alone. Streets of Rage 4 includes a local co-op mode for up to four players, letting you bring more of the game’s colorful roster along with you in battle. Online games are limited to two players, but even just adding one additional fighter is a blast and makes it a bit easier to handle everything the game has to throw at you. All told, Streets of Rage 4 has eight original playable characters (some of which are only available with DLC), plus more than a dozen retro characters, which are pixelated sprite versions of characters from previous games in the series, all with their own set of unique attacks.

Enemies are a mix of old and new, too. Foes from previous Streets of Rage games return for the latest sequel, along with brand-new characters, many of which are related to classic characters. Anyone who has played the older Streets of Rage games will be able to spot references to brawlers from the original series all over, from character art and attack animations to the sound effects and musical motifs.

Combat is simple and satisfying no matter which fighter you choose.


You certainly don’t need to play the originals to enjoy Streets of Rage 4, but there is plenty more for old-school fans outside of visual references, too. The return of classic characters — or newcomers with close ties to them — adds a nice layer of continuity for players who’ve followed Streets of Rage from the beginning, without dipping so far into nostalgia that it alienates anyone playing the series for the first time.

Streets of Rage 4 has a pretty limited scope by modern standards. The campaign only takes a few hours to beat and its gameplay is barely more complex than its Sega Genesis ancestors. But that’s exactly what makes it special. By sticking to the series’ roots and focusing on making the basics feel as good as possible, Streets of Rage 4 appeals to beat ‘em up pros as much as newbies. Especially if you’re looking for a laidback game to play with a friend or three, Streets of Rage 4 is a throwback anyone can enjoy.

Streets of Rage 4 is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC, and included with PS Plus.

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