05.02.2020 at 10:26 pm

Nostalgic Raging Streets

Streets of Rage 4 hits home, and it hits hard.

... You're thirty-five now and feeling your age. You've hopped around jobs a few times before landing on one you really enjoy, but you still feel drained from all the responsibility and monotony of adulthood. You make the best of it: you have a wife you love, a dog you adore even if it's a little shit, and enough disposable income to play whatever the Hell you want. Still, something is missing.

You hear there's going to be a new Streets of Rage game and you laugh to yourself bitterly, knowing it'll never be the same as when you were a kid. It just couldn't be. It's not made by the same people. And Jesus, look at that art style!

You remember playing Streets of Rage back on your Genesis with your best friend-- inseparable at the time-- and when you snap back to the present day, your heart sinks and you feel the weight of your responsibilities nearly palpable, like inhaling humid air.

Then you pause to think for a minute and remind yourself that you promised yourself you'd not let nostalgia get the better of you. Sure, maybe your friend who used to play with you all the time on Genesis doesn't come around anymore, but you've got new friends who have an interest in gaming and you guys gel just as well as your friend and you used to.

The topics of conversation may not be homework, Blaze's range, or how dumb the Atari Lynx is compared to the Game Gear, but talking about the variety of topics you have to delve into now, ranging from how awesome Cherry's mobility is to how the color blue was first described in history or maybe just about what's going on in the world seems endlessly more desirable anyway.

You've got more responsibilities, sure, but you're capable of making your own decisions about how to spend time and money. Now you and your friend play Monster Hunter World, Red Dead Online, Smash, Splatoon, or are on party chat while you both beat Control individually. Knowing that SoR4 is coming out, you decide to go back with your buddy and play through some of the older games. After, you compare your past experiences and talk about what made Streets of Rage feel even better than its competitors when you were kids (and how great it'd be if Golden Axe got a sequel after all these years, too).

Then you go to work (or stay home working because 2020 is absurd), spend time playing with your dog or taking her on a walk, watch Ozark with your wife as you talk about your days, and time passes. You almost forget about the release of the game until you see a review post on Reddit and you ask your friend if he's going to get it. He tells you he is. On release, after a long and tiring day, you get some time to relax and you shoot a text to your friend to see if he can get online. A few minutes later you see his response of "Yep! Getting on!" and freeze for a moment. You think about all the ways this could go wrong, how bad the game could be, and how it can never match up to what you remember. You shake those thoughts out of your head and take a deep breath before plugging in your headset, jumping into a party, and loading up the game.

The initial level of the game goes by in an instant. You feel the crunchy combat, are overjoyed you can turn off friendly fire, and express genuine surprise at how solid the animation is. As this happens, you barely register the idiotic, childlike grin plastered across your face. When the stage is over and you pause for a second to respond to an email, you hear your friend say over the headset, "You know, this... actually feels like Streets of Rage. This is actually good." It's right about then that you feel it.

You're home. It's not the same home, no, but... it's definitely home.

Streets of Rage 4's just been released.

The game not only holds a torch to the original, but carries it even higher.

The moves/combos, the art, the music, the characters - and considering how many hours I've spent on Streets of Rage 3, the subtle and not-so-subtle references and nods to the original series - all of it really digs into the nostalgic feel of the '90s Genesis yesteryears.

This is probably my game of the year.

So the above really hits home. Hard.

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