Streets of Rage 2: A Top-Notch Genesis Brawler

Streets of Rage 2: A Top-Notch Genesis Brawler

Beat up the evil syndicate

Alex Legard

Written by for Retrospectives on 👊

Streets of Rage 2 was one of the best beat 'em ups of the '90s so let's have some fun playing through this classic brawler yet again.

Streets of Rage 2 screenshot 1
Axel steps foot onto the streets of rage

Streets of Rage 2 released during December 1992 in North America and January 1993 in Japan. For starters, it can be played solo or with a friend as players control one of four friends: Axel, Blaze, Max, and Skate. Axel and Blaze are former police officers, Max is Axel's friend, and Skate is Adam's little brother (Adam was from the first Streets of Rage). One day, Skate's house is trashed while he was at school and his brother, Adam, had been kidnapped! At the ruined house's doorstep, there was a photo of Adam kneeling before someone they know all too well: Mr. Ex, the syndicate leader! In the following days, the syndicate had taken complete control of the city. The police force, as Axel knew it, was gone with everyone he knew either transferred or fired so our heroes must save the city by themselves!

Streets of Rage 2 screenshot 2
Time to teach these thugs what being a pirate is really like!

To master the campaign, players must make it through 8 stages: downtown, the bridge, the amusement park, the stadium, the ship, the jungle, the factory, and the syndicate stronghold. Each stage also has a couple of different locales. For instance, in the downtown stage, you fight through the streets and then go into a pub. The levels look pretty cool but functionally, they are the same as you fight your way through the hordes of thugs. Each stage has an end boss as well such as a wrestler in stage 4 and a couple of robots in stage 7. There's a variety of different enemies scattered throughout the campaign, too, as you would expect. Some enemies are little more than punching bags while some may ride bikes or come at you with crazy hard-to-dodge aerial moves.

Streets of Rage 2 screenshot 3
Blaze enters the ring for one daunting wrestling match

Your own character can pull off simple attacking combos with B, jump and perform aerial attacks with C, and unleash a powerful yet self-damaging attack with A. Damaging yourself with your attacks feels really bad so I stuck to the other attacks; thank you very much. Players can pick up weapons from fallen enemies and use them against them. It's always fun beating down enemies with a huge crowbar as it has such huge range. Other weapons include knives and hand grenades, believe it or not. Also, the music in Streets of Rage 2 is exceptional; I'd describe it as some kind of light rock. Each stage has its own music track as well which is nice. Every time I hear such great music in Sega Genesis games, it makes me wonder how they managed to do it with the Genesis's limited sound chip.

No beat 'em up would be complete without a player vs. player mode and that's why we have duel mode! It's pretty self-explanatory: 2 players each pick one of the four main characters then fight it out to the death. Streets of Rage is a great beat 'em up but ultimately, I find the gameplay loop boring. All you do is walk up to bad guys and punch them to death and I personally find that to get repetitive pretty fast. Anyway, that's just my general dislike of beat 'em ups talking; it's obviously a great game.

Streets of Rage 2 screenshot 4
At the syndicate HQ, Blaze has the fight of her life!

If you call yourself a beat 'em up fan, you must play Streets of Rage 2 at some point in your life. However, if you're like me and find the genre boring for whatever reason then Streets of Rage 2 probably won't convert you into a genre fan.

Gameplay video for Streets of Rage 2 thumbnail
Gameplay video for Streets of Rage 2 9:15
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