If you think about the most popular video games genres of today, you'd probably think First Person Shooters, but back in the 90's when arcades were doing big business the genre you would see everywhere would be side-scrolling beat-em-ups.
Games that fell into this genre were "Double Dragon", "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "Vendetta" and the "Streets of Rage".
"Streets of Rage" is considered one of the best of them as well, it was over the top, had multiple characters to choose from with unique abilities and was extremely well animated.
The first in the series was actually developed for the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) in 1991 and made it's way onto other big platforms as well.
You had three characters to play as Adam Hunter, a boxer, Axel Stone the martial artist and Blaze Fielding a Judo expert, who are out to battle a criminal syndicate that has overrun a once peaceful city.
Now skip ahead to 2020 with the recent release of Streets of Rage 4 which is a beautiful continuation of the franchise using more modern techniques. The game is developed by Dotemu and Lizardcube who did the remake of Wonderboy III and Guard Crush Games. The game is available on Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One as well as PC. In fact, you can access the game as part of your Xbox Game Pass on both your console and PC.
The story takes place 10 years after "Streets of Rage 3" where the evil crime syndicate is back with mastermind "Mr X's" children now running it, "The Y twins". It's time for the old team to get back together to defeat the evil with some extra help from characters like Adams daughter Cherry Hunter and the cybernetically enhanced Floyd Iraia. In fact, there are 17 iconic characters to choose from.
The gameplay is a true homage to the original titles but adds a very modern look and feel with hand-drawn stylized animation, the body movement even when idle shows the true attention to detail the team have taken, while in combat the characters move smoothly and have great combos while still maintaining a simple button layout so just about anyone can pick it up and play it, that was always the benefit of this genre of game.
The modes include Arcade, which follows the simple rules of limited lives across the levels.
Story Mode allows you to pick up from the last stage you played at.
Boss Rush and even a Battle Mode which is Player Vs Player.
One of the best features of the game is the ability to play over the internet with three other friends, it can get chaotic on the screen, but that's all part of the fun.
Streets of Rage 4 is another masterpiece from the team that brought us the remake of Wonderboy III The Dragons Trap. The use of hand-drawn animation creates a world that feels like an old school 90's cartoon and delivers each punch and kick with absolute precision fun. Seeing the characters back on screen is like meeting up with old friends, it really does take me back to a time where I'd be sitting around the Mega Drive with some buddies arguing over which character we got to play as. There's enough replay value to keep you going well beyond the initial 12 stages so get ready to relive the joy of a genre we just don't see enough of these days and do with one of the best there ever was. It's like a champion returning to reclaim its title.