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Streets of Rage 3 / Bare Knuckle III (ベア・ナックル III) - Genesis, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, Wii Virtual Console, iOS (1994)
Most of the time, when you have a trilogy of games, you'll have the first game, which introduces a concept, the sequel, which expands and improves that concept, and a third game, which keeps that basic concept and polishes it a little. (Unless you're Nintendo, where the second game is something wildly different, and your third game is where you expand and improve your original concept.) That's basically what we have with SOR3, which isn't quite as much of a leap in quality from the first game to SOR2. That's all right, though, because SOR2 was such a great game that any major changes would have probably done more harm than good. It's hard to say it's the best of the trilogy, for a few reasons, but it's still definitely worth playing for what it does improve on.
The game actually has two very different stories, depending on if you're playing Streets of Rage or Bare Knuckle 3. There are actually quite a few differences between SOR3 and BK3, much more than the two games before it.
Some time after the second game, Mr. X founds the RoboCy Corporation, a front company made to help him further his evil plans. With the help of the roboticist Dr. Dahm, Mr. X begins building robotic duplicates of city officials to replace the real ones. The police, once again, are mostly useless, as they're dealing with a series of bombs Mr. X has planted around the city to keep them distracted. Dr. Zan, a former RoboCy researcher, learns the truth about Mr. X's schemes, and joins up with Axel, Blaze, and Skate to beat up a lot of people and stop the Syndicate's plans once more. Adam is "too busy" to actually help out, only making appearances in the cutscenes. And poor Max doesn't even get that kind of excuse, aside from a very quick cameo in the ending.
What's interesting about the plot here is that instead of leaving it confined to the manual and the intro, there are actually cutscenes to progress the plot. They're nothing amazing in terms of writing, but they at least offer some kind of pretense on why you're going around to different places and beating people up. Thankfully, the story never intrudes too far into the game itself, since they're all kept between stages, and they're all freely skippable with a press of the Start button.
There's been a few changes and improvements since SOR2, although the basic structure hasn't been changed too much. The returning characters retain most of their moves from SOR2, although some characters have new moves replacing some of their old ones. All characters can now run by double tapping left or right, an ability that's no longer restricted to Skate. It helps give the game a faster pace, but the downside is that makes Skate a little less useful than he used to be. All the characters can also roll toward or into the screen by double tapping up or down, which is useful for the occasional last-second dodge. There's also a small meter to the right of each character's life bar. When it's full, you can use a special move without losing any health, and it'll recharge automatically after about three seconds. This is a pretty nice change, since it lets you go all out with your special moves a lot more without worrying about conserving health.
Every character also gets 'Blitz' moves, which are basically upgraded versions of their dash attacks. To earn your Blitz move, you have to reach a certain score threshold on a single life. Each time you do this, you'll get a star under your health meter. A single star will increase the range of your character's dash attack, while two will give them a new, more powerful dash. Hitting the maximum of three stars further increases this new dash attack, giving you a very powerful move you can perform at will.
There's a bit of a cheat you can pull off if you happen to have a six button controller, however. If you hit the X button, and then quickly input a few directions, depending on the character, you can pull off your Blitz moves for free. It's a little harder to pull off the Blitz moves this way, but it helps. You'll probably have to use this method a lot more than your standard dash attack, because it gets really hard to hang on your stars right from the start. The Y and Z buttons on a six-button pad can also be pressed to perform your character's combo finisher and back attack, respectively. While they're not really needed, they make handy shortcuts for quickly knocking enemies away or tossing whatever weapon you've got in your hands.
Every character also gets a few unique moves they can perform with certain weapons, which adds even more variety to the move set and makes weapon combat a little more useful. Unfortunately, weapons are a little less useful than they were in SOR2, as they now have a health gauge that drops whenever the weapon hits the floor or you hit an enemy with one. Once the gauge runs out, the weapon disappears, meaning you'll have to find another. The fact that it was so easy to lose a weapon from one good hit kept the weapons from feeling too overpowered, so this inclusion kind of makes it a little less fun to smack people around with a pipe.
Replacing Max's spot on the roster is Dr. Zan, who, as it turns out, is actually a badass cyborg. He can't really be classified as an "average", "speed", or "power" type, so he's a little more technical than the rest of the cast. He's also a cyborg, which means that he gets some cool moves like jet boots and hydraulic arms. He also doesn't pick up weapons like the rest of the cast, instead turning them into energy balls he can throw at enemies from a distance. His damage output isn't quite as good as the rest of the cast, but he has some great range on some of his moves, which makes him an interesting addition.
Aside from these changes, all of which improve on what was a pretty solid foundation to begin with, the basic gameplay isn't too much different. Once you've learned the new moves and gotten used to the speed increase, however, something else becomes very evident. This game is way, way, too hard. Sega, more than likely in some attempt to keep players from clearing the game in a single rental, jacked up the difficulty on the American and European version of the games immensely. Basically, what would have been 'Normal' in Bare Knuckle 3 is the 'Easy' difficulty, here, and it only gets worse from there.
All enemies are much more aggressive, in terms of how fast they move and how quickly they'll close in to attack. They also do a lot more damage, meaning that even the lowliest Donovan can take out a lot of your health when he suddenly dashes behind you and does a combo on you before you can react. The bosses are the worst for this, because not only do they get hit with the massive difficulty spikes the mooks do, they also tend to get double, or at times, even triple the health. This means that they take much longer to kill, so much so that you're likely to lose at least one credit fighting just one of the later bosses. While Streets of Rage 2 started off fairly easy, the difficulty curve it offered felt so right that a major change just feels wrong.
Aside from this infuriating design decision, the rest of the ideas both version offer still work fairly well. The small variations in terrain you'd see in the original game have been greatly expanded on, here. While the first two stages are pretty standard left to right affairs just like you'd see in SOR2, it's by the third stage where the game starts to throw a few curveballs your way. Stage 3 involves a construction site, where there are pits to toss enemies into, barrels that drop from above into anything in their path, and even a constant wind that pushes airborne characters backwards, all in one section of the stage. There's even a fun section where you get attacked by a Donovan riding on a bulldozer, where you have to smash through the barriers in your path while trying to keep the bulldozer back by hitting it. From this point on, the rest of the stages have plenty of hazards and obstacles to deal with while you're fending off mooks, and it helps the game more of a different feel than its prequel.
Stage 6 is where all this comes to a head, as it puts you into a Syndicate death trap where the chief of police is being held. You're actually not put on as much of a rail, here, as you can explore the doors lining each of the base's hallways once you clear out any enemies hanging around. Instead of heading to the far right of the level, you're trying to find the two rooms containing the computers you'll need to smash to open the cell the chief's trapped inside. Some of these rooms are traps, however, and are just there to waste your time, like one where you have to fight off a group of enemies while dodging the electric spark moving around the room. You'll also have to use the elevator to switch between the different floors as well. Since the game doesn't give you a map or an indicator of which rooms you've entered, this can be a little disorienting your first time through. Especially since you're on a fairly time limit, and when it expires, poison gas will slowly start to kill you and the chief.
If the chief dies, however, that's not the end of the game. There are actually two final stages, depending on if you rescued him or not, and this will actually determine which of the endings you get. If you free the chief in time, the final stage will be through a secret Syndicate robot factory, where you'll find Mr. X's brain waiting for you. Yes, apparently after the second game, you didn't just kill him, you killed him so hard they had to take his brain out. From here, Mr. X will arm a bomb, and you'll be given only three minutes to take out his final robot. If you can manage to beat the final boss in the time limit, you'll get the game's best ending. If you're too slow, though, you'll get the game's worst ending, where the bomb goes off in the middle of the city, and it's further implied that this will destroy the reputation of the good guys.
If you don't manage to rescue the chief in time, you'll instead be sent to City Hall as your final stage, which Sega of America promises is not the White House in any way. If you end up here, you'll have a rematch with Shiva as the final boss. The ending you get for this isn't all that great, either. And as the Western version of the game assumes you're one of those dirty, game renting types, your game will get two stages short if you're playing on the Easy difficulty. Here, Mr. X will tell you more or less straight up tell you to stop being a wuss and play on the Normal difficulty. How very Konami of them.
Once you've finished the game with the standard cast, you'll even have the chance to unlock a couple of secret characters, a brand new feature to the series. At some point during Stage 2, you'll end up in a fight with an evil clown and his trained kangaroo. If you can manage to take out the clown without killing the kangaroo, you'll actually unlock him for play next time you change characters. Roo, as he's named, is actually pretty interesting just for the novelty of beating up enemies with a shorts-clad marsupial, but he doesn't get as many moves as the rest of the cast. He's also completely unable to pick up weapons, which is fair, since he doesn't really have hands.
It's also possible to unlock Shiva for play by holding down the B button after defeating him in Stage 1, until the next stage begins. Much like Roo, he's also missing a lot of moves and animations that the other characters have, since he's essentially just using his sprites from when you fight him as a boss. It's still pretty cool to use him once or twice, given his boss status, but since he's also unable to pick up weapons, it's not very practical to use him. There's also one more secret character that you could find in Stage 1, but...well, while a Game Genie will bring him out for you, you're not really meant to encounter him in the Western versions of the game. We'll touch on that later.
The Battle mode from Streets of Rage 2 returns, but it hasn't really had any major changes that make it any more fun or interesting to play. Again, it makes a nice distraction if you've cleared the game and seen all the endings, but it shouldn't be used to replace any real fighting games you've got in your Genesis collection.
The graphics have a bit more of a dark, gritty look to them, since there's a lot more use of shading in the characters and stages. It's actually a pretty good look that sets it apart from the more colorful SOR2, and they've even gone through the effort of redrawing the old cast to fit the new style. There's still some nice touches as well, like the way the chains in the first stage will sway if somebody hits the floor hard enough. Fitting with the darker tone of the game, Yuzo Koshiro has gone with a soundtrack with more inspiration by genres like industrial and techno. This is going to be a divisive issue for some people, since it's so radically different than the style of the first two games. While it does fit well with the kind of tone the game is trying to set, the actual songs themselves just don't seem quite as memorable. While some of the tracks are pretty good, like the dance club in Stage 2, some of them end up sounding more like noise patterns than anything. Part of this is due to the fact that many tracks were composed with a random music generator, which makes for a soundtrack that's alternatively unique and abrasive.
In the end, Streets of Rage 3 is a pretty high point for the series to go out on. It isn't really as much of a revolution as the original game to its sequel, but SOR2 was so good that it didn't need all that much improvement in the first place. What the game does offer, such as the new moves and interactive stages, set the game apart well enough from its prequel for it to be its own thing. The only real sour points are the insane difficulty the Western versions offer, as well as certain parts of the new sound track. It's hard to say for certain if Streets of Rage 2 or 3 is the better game, but the series couldn't have ended on a better note than this.
Streets of Rage 3 never got any ports to any other Sega systems, but there's still an alternate version that's very much worth looking into. The Western versions of the game are actually heavily edited versions of what Japan would get. While the first two games were never edited that hard, maybe a name change or two, or a panty shot removed, they were still mostly identical no matter which version you played. Here, the two versions are so very different that they're both worth playing through just for comparion's sake.
Here, the game starts with the redundantly-named Wood Oak City being devastated by a nuclear weapon containing a radioactive element called Rakushin. The Syndicate ends up stealing a large quantity of Rakushin, and then goes on to kidnap the high-ranking General Petrov. While the original Petrov is against the use of Rakushin, Mr. X sends in Shiva as an impostor in an attempt to start a war so that the Syndicate can smuggle the Rakushin they stole. And you know that fancy looking government building you go to for the 'bad' Stage 7, the one that looks like the White House? Surprise, it turns out that it's actually the White House. No matter which of the endings you get, the heroes manage to expose the fake general and stop a full scale war from breaking out.
So, there's absolutely nothing in BK3 about robotic duplicates, and nothing in SOR3 about any nuclear weapons. It's hard to say for sure why the plot ended up being changed so heavily. Maybe Sega of America thought there were too many political overtones with the main cast trying to stop a war, or maybe they thought the old story was too complicated. The new story isn't really that bad on its own, but the original plot means that the stakes are a little higher than some guy trying to take over some city for the third time.
The most notable change is that the difficulty isn't nearly as brutal as it gets in the Western versions. Since enemies aren't quite so aggressive or take as much damage, the difficulty level is a little more in line with SOR2. The other biggest change to the gameplay is that there's a new mid-boss in the middle of Stage 1, who can also be unlocked as a secret character. After taking out a few of his mooks he sends in, you'll end up in a fight with Ash, who even comes with his own, very odd theme. Ash is...well, he's a very uncomfortable stereotype, given his outfit and mannerisms. Despite his less than threatening appearance, however, he's actually really strong when you use him as a playable character, with his basic combo being able to take out an entire life bar. Once you get past the initial awkwardness of playing as him, however, he's not all that fun, as he's got the smallest moveset in the entire game. If you really want to play as him, there's enough of his code in SOR3 that you can play as him just fine with a Game Genie.
There's also a lot of minor visual and audio changes to the game, such as all of the characters getting a different palette for no discernable reason. Some of the female enemies have also been changed so that they're wearing a little more, as well. Some of the voice clips in the game have also been re-recorded so that they're in English, which is a little odd, considering that they never bothered to in SOR2. It's not that the Western version is that bad, unless you're the sort of person who can't stand needless censorship in your games. The one biggest problem with SOR3 is that it's just far, far too difficult, which makes BK3 the definite version of the game for sure. Thankfully, there's a translation patch for Bare Knuckle 3, meaning that it's perfectly possible to play both versions for yourself.
While it's exclusive to XBOX Live, the Sega Vintage Collection is probably the best way to go for this series. All three of the games in this collection come with some great extra features like leaderboards and online play, something you won't be able to get with Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. You've even got the option of playing Bare Knuckle 3, in its original Japanese form.
Female Characters Comparison Screenshots
Bare Knuckle III Screenshots
After all the failed attempts by official channels, a few dedicated fans got together and made their own sequel to the series. And so, after eight long years of development, a small group known as Bombergames would finally release their tribute to the series, a testament to their hard work and their love of the games...Before Sega would demand its removal only a few days after its release. The exact reason for this reason isn't known for sure, but most people assume it has to do with the digital releases of the older games.
As the game had already been released, however, it found its way around the internet, although you'd have to poke through a shady file hosting service or two to actually dig it up. Eventually, Sega must have either changed their minds or have forgotten about the whole mess entirely, as the game is now freely available for download from the Streets of Rage fansite. The site also hosts a patch which will vastly increase the enjoyment of the game, fixing a few game-breaking bugs as well as balancing the previously brutal difficulty level.
As the name implies, Remake is less of a new game than it is more of a blend of the original trilogy. There's a good bit of new content in there, if you look, but for the most part, it's basically the entire trilogy brought together into one game. There's not really much of an obvious plot to Remake, aside from the fact that Mr. X is doing bad things and needs to go get punched a lot. Then again, anything too far beyond that just tends to complicate things, as Bare Knuckle 3 demonstrated, so a simple plot works just as well. While there are a plenty of cutscenes, done in the style of the third game, most of these boil down to the heroes seeing a bunch of bad guys to punch, and then going out to punch said bad guys.
If you're playing on the game's default settings, the game plays exactly like Streets of Rage 3, with every character getting all the new features like dashing, Blitz attacks, and special weapon moves. Remake also reintroduces the police call special, now mapped to its own separate button. Once per life, you can press the "Police" button to send in your long forgotten backup, who flies in on a helicopter and takes a minigun to everything on the screen. Pretty brutal, sure, but very effective, and a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately, the police call has a few more limitations this time around, as there are a lot of stages where it just won't work. Usually, these are places where a helicopter wouldn't logically fit in there, like inside buildings, but sometimes the game just won't let you call the police because it says so.
If you're not content with SOR3's mechanics, however, you're given a lot of free reign to change them. In fact, there's a ton of options letting you change the rules and features of the game around to cater it more towards your own favorite SOR, or even a mix of the three games, if you so desire. Sick of the weapon health gauge? Switch your weapon type to the SOR2 setting and bash heads in to your heart's content. Dashing, rolling, and the special meter not doing it for you? You can turn those off, as well. You're even free to set the delay between hits in a character's combo, if you're picky enough. The game never penalizes you for enabling or disabling any of these options, so it's best to pick between them until you've got something you're personally comfortable with.
From the start, you get six different characters to select from, gathered from across the entire series. Adam even makes his first appearance since the original SOR, and he even comes with a brand new set of moves to help him fit with the rest of the cast. The rest of the cast gets an upgrade, as well, with most of them getting new moves they can perform with or without weapons in hand. In terms of weapons, everything you could use on your opponents in the original games are here, although the beer bottles and salt shakers are sadly restricted to the SOR1 path. You can even find the occasional firearm, like uzis and bazookas, and while they aren't incredibly common, they're pretty fun to use. If something about the idea of the SOR folks using guns displeases you, however, you can disable their appearance at any time, leaving them in the hands of the bad guys.
Once you've made your choice of character, you're given a choice of four different routes to take through the game. Two of these are recreations of the first two games, where you go through mostly the same stages the original game would give you. The third and fourth routes are a mix of a few stages of SOR3, along with a few new stages exclusive to this game. There are even a few points during the game where you'll be offered a choice between different paths, some of which will take you down a separate route. You can actually change routes multiple times, if you're lucky, transferring from the first stage of Streets Of Rage 2, before ending up on a new set of stages entirely, with the option of continuing down your original path to finish the game. It'll take quite a few playthroughs to see where every path leads, which gives you an incentive to keep playing.
The SOR1 stages are fairly authentic remakes, although there have been a few changes in the places where they've needed it the most. All the enemies that didn't make the cut for SOR2 return here, like the dearly missed axe-juggling clowns. Even the enemies that lived to see the sequels are back to their old designs here, and they even have some of the old habits that made them so annoying to fight in the original game. The whip-weilding ladies still love to drop to their knees when you hit them enough, making them immune to all damage for a few moments.
That's not to say there's not a few surprises, however. You'll deal with the bikers from the later games from time to time, and you'll even have another encounter with Shiva before entering the final stage. You're even offered the same choice once you reach Mr. X himself, and with some of the characters you can play as once you hit this scene, the bad ending can be made absolutely hilarious with certain characters. While this route is vastly more fun to play through than the original game, it's still one of the weaker paths, overall. The levels are still fairly bland, despite the best efforts of the developers, and while it's fun to play through once, you're better off trying the other routes after that. It is, however, probably the definitive way to play the original Streets of Rage, as all the new moves make the whole experience go by much more smoothly.
The Streets of Rage 2 path doesn't have quite as many changes if you stick to the standard path. If you explore a little, however, you'll find a few alternate pathways leading to new areas. You can now go upstairs in the bar in Stage 1, where a random mook will set the place on fire, bringing you onto a fight on the rooftops. From here, you'll end up in an entirely new stage where you fight on top and inside a subway train. The original routes have their own share of interesting stuff, as well, including a few stages where you ride a motorbike and jetski. These are a fun diversion where you ride around on a vehicle, smacking enemies that close in behind you, occasionally ramping over things to avoid obstacles. They're not very long, but they add a little variety to things.
There's a few different endings, with the ones for the SOR1 and SOR2 paths being mostly based on their original endings. Certain routes will have Mr. X turn out to be the robotic duplicate from SOR3, who arms a bomb in his headquarters after you kill him. This starts a callback to Stage 6 of SOR3, where you have to search the Syndicate headquarters to find a keycard, disarm the bomb, and defeat Shiva under a pretty hefty time limit. If you don't do things right, the city gets blown up, with the heroes included if you don't escape in time. Even if you do everything right, the game will tell you to try another route. There is an ending you get for completing the game on Mania difficulty that seems like it's the definitive ending... but then things get weird.
Overall, since the game generally takes all its features from SOR3, it's just as well put together as the games that inspired it. There's not really any new ideas in there, aside from a few new moves the characters can do, and the multiple routes and paths you can take to the end. But seeing as the original trilogy worked so well on its own, it's a good thing that the team didn't throw a lot of ideas to mix up the formula, and it leads to a product that works just as well as the old games. The difficulty's pretty mild, as long as you make sure to have the patch installed, and the difficulty curve is generally comparable to Streets of Rage 2. The toughest points would have to be the SOR1 path, as there are a lot of pits you can end up getting tossed into that'll cost you a life. If you're unlucky enough to have a random Garcia knock you into one, there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.
Each time you finish the game, it tallies up all the point items you've collected and gives you money to spend in the shop. There's a lot of things to things to spend your hard earned gold bars and watches on, from secret characters, to cheats of varying helpfulness, along with a few bonus modes. The shop is apparently run by Blaze, and if you enter the shop during very late hours, you'll actually catch her napping. While Blaze is asleep, there's actually an atomically small chance you can grab one item from the shop without paying for it, but it's truthfully never, ever worth it. If you fail, Blaze will wake up and scream at you, and then bar you from the shop until the next time you beat the game. And on the tiny, tiny chance you do grab it, you'll be barred from the shop until you pay back what you owe her... which can take a very, very long time depending on what you stole. Crime doesn't pay, kids. Besides, she's a main character from this series, what did you think would happen?
Among the secret characters are the hidden players from Bare Knuckle 3, including the ever fabulous Ash. This time around, all the hidden characters have full movesets, with the artists supply new sprites for when they didn't exist for all the moves. Roo might not have thumbs, but he's now capable of wrecking some havoc with a baseball bat by putting it in his mouth. Ash, on the other hand... well, he's definitely interesting to play as, even if he's a little difficult to be really good with. On the plus side, he has a screen clearing special all his own. Let's just say he doesn't need a helicopter and leave it at that. You can also unlock alternate versions of Axel, Blaze, and Skate based off of their SOR1 and SOR2 variants. While their SOR2 versions play exactly like you expect, the SOR1 versions have different stats and a couple of moves the other versions don't have, which, while not very authentic, makes them interesting to play. There's also a few other new characters, including a couple of villians and a female ninja named Rudra, who sadly seems to be firmly entrenched in that sort of fan-fictiony "original character" territory.
Besides the standard story mode, there's a few other modes that can be played with one or two players. The Battle mode is now joined with a Volleyball mode, where the characters use their attacks to keep the ball from landing on their side of the net. Much like the battle mode, it's more of a distraction, but it's a fun concept, at least. On the single player side of things, there's a boss rush and survival mode, along with a mode that gives you twenty or so special missions to clear. There's also a utility called "SORMaker" that can be unlocked, which lets you create and play fan-made sets of levels. Sadly, there's no way to change the characters, enemies, or any gameplay features, so it's a little limited. You can, however, download plenty of fan-made content, including an admirable attempt at remaking the Final Fight trilogy. One of the most requested features for a game like this, online play, is missing entirely, however. It's understandable, given the time and effort something like that needs, but it's still a shame.
While most of the graphics have been kept mostly authentic to the original games, there have been a lot of parts where things have been touched up or redrawn entirely. This is most notable for the levels that you'll see on the SOR1 path, which have been redone so that they're a little more proportional to the characters, as well as having a little more visual detail to them. There's also a few extra visual touches added in the old levels, like lighting effects and transparencies. It's never a massive improvement, but it helps the game look a little more modern without messing too much with the original pixel art. The new stages look pretty good, as well, although they've got a more hand-painted look to them that means they clash a little with the older stages.
The characters, however, tend to be a mixed bag. The new sprites every character gets look great, and fit in perfectly with their old ones. The newer characters, however, like Adam and Rudra, look good, but seem a little off, for lack of a better word, most likely the way they're shaded. In another visual touch, enemies can actually be dismembered with bladed weapons, and they'll bleed profusely if they get shot, stabbed, or slashed. It's a little offputing, considering that you couldn't ever bisect people in the original games, but in fairness, that's just one more option you're free to turn on or off. The soundtrack's been redone entirely, with every song from the series having been redone. It's all been redone with more modern synths compared to the Genesis hardware, but it all sounds pretty great.
Overall, Remake is a fantastic tribute to the series and everything in it, and while it's not always perfect, it's definitely a professional piece of work. It manages to add enough new content to the older games that it stays interesting, while introducing enough of its own features that it's still distinct from the games that inspired it. While the lack of online play hurts, it's still definitely worth grabbing if you've enjoyed any of the classic trilogy at all.
The Sonic comics brought out by Fleeyway were probably the most popular game to comic adaptions out there, at least in Britain. In the Genesis days, there were quite a few other adaptions of whatever Sega games were big at the time, like Decap Attack, Shinobi, and Golden Axe. These adaptions were generally pretty dark, like making Sonic a complete asshole who constantly insulted and endangered Tails. Streets of Rage was one of the games that'd end up on the comic pages, but sadly, this adaption is generally too awful to be much more than a curiosity. There's a bit of interesting history for comic geeks, however, two of the four stories printed were written by Mark Miller, who'd go on to write much better comics like Ultimate X-Men.
The stories are a very, very loose adaption of SOR2. So loose that the first issue with Axel getting beaten up by a bunch of crooked cops in an alley and hospitalized. While the characters in the games didn't really have much personality to stray from, there's still something really off about seeing Axel shoot the hell out of an occupied car with a pair of pistols. The writing's not particularly great, but it's the art that really kills the whole thing. Almost half the pages printed has a face that looks massively off model, like the psychotic grin Axel gives while interrogating some random mook. While the final issue ends on a 'To Be Continued' note, with a new Mr. X promising revenge on the group, the adaption seems like it was quietly cancelled and replaced. Not much of a loss, to be honest. If you're interested in seeing the awfulness for yourself, Streets of Rage Online offers them all for download.
Streets of Rage 4?
SOR3 would, at the time of this writing, be the final game in the series to see the light of day. It wasn't for lack of trying, at least, but sadly, not a single attempt made it to production. The attempts lasted long enough that they outlasted Sega's console days, and there were pitches made even up to the PS3/360 generation.
The first attempt was made during the time of the Saturn, when Sega attempted to buy Core Design's unfinished beat-em-up Judgement Force. Apparently Sega intended to release the game as a Streets of Rage sequel, but for whatever reason, the plans fell through. The game eventually found release as Fighting Force, ending up on the Playstation and Nintendo 64, as well. While the game probably had more than a little inspiration from the Streets of Rage series, the third dimension just lacked the precision and smoothness that the SOR games had so well.
Another Streets of Rage sequel was pitched by Ancient, the development team run by Yuzo Koshiro's family, to be created for the Dreamcast. They went so far as to develop a demo that showed off a game done entirely in 3D, like Fighting Force, and also showed off the possibility of a first and third person viewpoint. Unfortunately, the series was always much more popular in North America than in Japan, so they were unable to get support from the Japanese side, and no one at Sega of America saw any potential in the project. As a result, development did not continue. A few short videos have been posted online.
As recently as the PS3 and 360, attempts were still being made at a new Streets of Rage, all of which would eventually end up being cancelled for some reason or another. Grin, the team that had brought out Bionic Commando Rearmed, worked on a 2.5D remake of the original SOR. They might have had the best chance of releasing something, too, if it weren't for their bankruptcy around the same time. A more ambitious reboot of the series was in development by Ruffian Games, the people who brought out Crackdown 2, but there's nothing left of that attempt besides a video floating around Youtube.
Streets of Rage Online A comprehensive fansite that covers all of the series in detail. It also has a lot of information on the cancelled games, as well as offering a link to Streets of Rage Remake.
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