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Streets of Rage 4: Hands-on impressions with the upcoming sequel

After almost three decades of absence, Streets of Rage is making a comeback with an official sequel from Lizardcube and Guard Crush Games. Boasting a gorgeous hand-drawn aesthetic and the classic brawling fans know and love, this upcoming instalment could be far more than a homage.

Trusted Reviews has compiled everything you need to know about Streets of Rage 4 including all the latest news, release date, trailers and our hands-on preview.

Streets of Rage 4 release date – when is it coming out?

“It’s done when it’s done” is what the developers told us during a recent visit to the studio, suggesting that Streets of Rage 4 is in the early stages of development. Platforms are also unconfirmed, although we imagine a release for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC are quite likely.

Streets of Rage 4 trailer – how does it look?

You can check out the debut trailer for Streets of Rage 4 below:

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Streets of Rage 4 Gameplay Preview

The internet lost its collective mind when Streets of Rage 4 was announced out of nowhere earlier this year. SEGA has had the iconic beat-em-up franchise on ice for over two decades, excluding arcade ports to an endless number of systems.  

But now, a true successor is on the way from Lizardcube and Guard Crush Games. Responsible for the excellent Wonderboy: The Dragon Trap and Streets of Fury, there’s a pedigree behind this sequel that bodes well for something quite worthwhile.

While in the early stages of development, I recently sat down with some of the team behind Streets of Rage 4 and played through a couple of stages. Despite boasting a few placeholder assets and missing animations; I had an absolute blast.

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Streets of Rage 4

If you played any of the original trilogy, the moment-to-moment action in Streets of Rage 4 is immediately familiar. Playing as either Axel Stone or Blaze Fielding, within seconds you’re walking through filthy streets and hurling your fists into fools. Strikes land with a satisfying impact as enemies remain in place before flying across the stage upon the execution of a combo.

You can also juggle enemies now, surfacing as the team showcased how long they could keep a gaggle of thugs levitating in the air like punchmagicians. I wasn’t nearly as impressive, but even I, a punch apprentice, managed to hurl a few beefier enemies into the air with no issues. It’s a small addition, but fleshes out a formula that appears to remain largely faithful to the original series.

Heat Moves are another new mechanic jumping into the brawl, lending each character a visually stunning special attack activated with a simple tap of the Y button. Axel releases an arching fist of fury, covering foes in flames and taking away health overtime. Blaze, on the other hand, unleashes something a akin to a Hadouken from Street Fighter.

They’re awesome to use, although feel like they’re charged up far too frequently to feel special. I’d rather see light and heavy attacks for chaining together combos with special moves assigned their own individual command. At this early stage, it lacks a deep satisfaction that similar, more modern brawlers possess.

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Streets of Rage 4

There is a little bit of variety in combat at the moment, with supers usable both on the ground and in the air, although the timing window on the latter still needs a bit of work. I was warned that much of the music and sound effects were placeholder assets not representative of the finished product.

The soundtrack is yet to be properly composed, with many fans worried that industry legend Yuzo Koshiro won’t return for the fourth entry. I was told that the developers would be announcing more on this in the future, keen to stress that the studio is still busy prototyping new features that will expand upon the formula of clobbering bad guys and moving purposefully to the right.

One frustration with the entire genre is the way in which enemies will disappear off screen if punched into a corner. Having damage dealt by a threat you can’t even see is an obvious annoyance, and Streets of Rage 4 remedies this completely. As a result, it can be a little too easy stun-locking enemies into oblivion once caught in a corner, as they can no longer be knocked off screen at all. 

Taking what I assume is a cue from Bloodborne, the game emphasises aggression by allowing you to regain lost health with the use of a secondary gauge below your health bar. This faint green gauge rewards you for laying the smackdown on foes before they have a chance to deal further damage will result in you earning back lost life energy. It’s a cool idea, and could really shine once combat is expanded.

Weapons, wider environments and a more concrete narrative are all intended to feature in Streets of Rage 4, but the brief build I played through as both characters showcased no such inclusions. That being said, the foundations on display here are an infectious joy, teasing a beat-em-up I’m very keen to see completed.

First Impressions

Since it’s such early days, it’s hard to put my finger on how Streets of Rage 4 will end up. Lizardcube and Guard Crush Games have an astounding legacy to live up to, and they told me their determined to honour it while putting their own spin on things.

This isn’t a remake, it’s a sequel, and they plan to make that perfectly clear with much more than a fresh coat of paint, regardless of how supremely gorgeous it happens to be.

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